Each hunting method is a category of its own and demands a certain skill set, experience and preparation. However, there are few and far between that can match the difficulty and physical exertion typical of mountain hunts. It’s the kind of hunt that boasts the prettiest panoramas, magical valley, river and mountain views but demands peak physical condition and concentration or we will miss out on the joys of mountain hunts laid at our feet.
When hunting will miss, we are usually quite removed from the comfort of cities with their shopping centres. That’s why careful pre-planning and preparation are vital, as it is bringing all the necessary equipment pieces with us. If we mistakenly leave something at home, we won’t be able to and mountain back and retrieve it.
Basic equipment that is a must on mountain hunts:
- spare clothes (a shirt or two, waterproof outerwear, socks, a hat and a pair of gloves)
- plasters and first aid
- food and drink
Specific equipment needed, depending on the season:
- protective sun cream (summer)
- hookaroon and climbing irons (winter)
- photo camera
- compass or a similar navigation device
- Swiss army knife
- lighter, matches or a fire starter
- UV-blocking sunglasses
So leaving without a backpack simply won’t do. I suggest specific backpacks that allow for the transport of hunted game so that it won’t dangle around on our descent through dangerous and rocky terrain, which could, after all, put us at risk due to the restriction of movement and affected body balance. I use the Beretta M.O.L.L.E. backpack, although it can be often impractical due to its large capacity of 65 litres. Lately, I much prefer the Rauter Gore backpack, made by a Slovenian sewing manufacturer.
Once we assembled all equipment pieces necessary for every responsible mountaineer, it’s time to shift our focus to the hunting equipment.
Hunting binoculars present a big part in the
CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR
Make sure that your outfit fits the occasion. Namely, the clothing and shoes should be well-ventilated and comfortable on long walks. When in mountains, the wind is almost a constant companion so make sure your clothes are appropriately resistant. Activewear shirts and fast-drying underwear will be especially helpful, as we will be met with daunting mountain ascents and physical exertion that will make us sweat – repeatedly. Before the hunt, be absolutely certain that you’re wearing comfortable hiking boots of the right size that will protect your ankles. Otherwise, the hunt will turn into a nightmare. In Slovenia, native brands like Alpina and Planika offer top-notch products.
It is of utmost importance that weapons (along with mounts, shooting optics and ammunition) used in mountain hunting are precise. Most shots occur at large distances so we have to be especially confident in the reliability of the equipment. Before the rifle purchase, special attention must be paid to the trigger mechanism since it is one of the key determinants of the shot accuracy. Lately, presets have been steadily removed from sales catalogues of some of the most renowned arms manufacturers. Instead, they aim to manufacture quality single-stage triggers with relatively small (or adjustable) pull forces, which can be of great help when making the shot.
Although market trends show that bolt-action rifles garner the most attention, I believe that mountain hunters with a slightly more sophisticated tastes will continue to see the beauty and show interest in single break barrel rifles with rifling. These rifles are, due to their simplistic structure, legendary precision and exceptional light weight, optimal for long hikes in the mountains where every gram of surplus is felt. I mean, a singular shot is the one that usually counts, isn’t it?
Because of the long-range shots, mountain hunters often utilize bipods that ensure stability and with that, an improved shot accuracy. Lately, carbon fibre tripods are most used thanks to their small weight. If the bipod is attached at the butt of the rifle, employ your backpack, folded jacket or a multi-purpose bag to additionally multiply the chances for a precise shot.
Popular calibres, used in mountain hunting are those with a gently sloping curve of travel. That usually means smaller bullet diametres and a stronger filling and with that an accelerated bullet speed. Calibres used in this method of hunting rarely surpass 7 millimetres.
Binoculars are the most crucial device and without
A spotting scope is the solution to the difficulties of accessing game at large distances. It’s very practical since it enables us to watch animals at a great range, therefore the game won’t be spooked or might not even notice that it’s being monitored. That will give us ample time to decide on which individual animal we’d like to hunt down. A correct evaluation is the key to a sustainable wildlife government and it is paramount to always be absolutely sure and act in accordance with regulations and one’s moral sense before taking the shot. A spotting scope can be of a great help with that. Extendable spotting scopes are one of the most popular spotting scopes in mountain hunting. Insofar as a spotting scope with a fixed housing is your preferred option, those with the lens diametre of less than 65mm are advisable. Bigger models tend to be too heavy to carry and not particularly practical for use. I chose one with the ocular in the same, straight line as the objective lens because I feel like, after the first cursory scan with binoculars, a straight spotting scope allows me to spot game faster. The downside of such ocular type, though, is that looking at hillsides is made more difficult without a tripod (we have to use a pad or a prop, levelled at a sufficient height – otherwise the spotting scope cannot be used properly at all).
Because of physical challenge in stalking hunting, small and light equipment helps a lot.
In the mountains, the distances are huge and chances of us getting up close to the wildlife are relatively slim. A laser rangefinder is therefore an indispensable tool. Only so, we’ll be able to measure the exact distance and perhaps prepare for the shot. I recommend laser rangefinders that can measure both the line of sight and the equivalent horizontal range as the latter is a crucial piece of information for an accurate shot. Most rangefinder devices are designed as stand-alone pieces but those that can be also installed onto riflescopes or hunting binoculars are especially useful. The obvious advantage there is not having to carry around another piece of equipment. Not having to move your head away from the target and switch between two separate optical devices is just another benefit of riflescopes with built-in laser rangefinders. A simple click of a button will give us the exact distance measurements without moving our eyes away from the target.
A riflescope mounted on the rifle is somewhat of a prerequisite for a successful hunt. Devices with bigger magnification ranges are recommended and the very nature of mountain hunts also calls for high power magnification to effectively combat large distances between the hunter and the prey. The objective lens brightness and the lens diametre are the two specifications that can take a bit of a backseat here. Hunters only rarely decide to hunt in the dusk or just before the night falls since the search for game and moving closer to the killed animals is made that more difficult. That means that objective lens with a 56-millimetre diametre is more of a hindrance than a help. Instances, where the hunter had to spend a few hours before finally reaching the killed game are not a rarity. The mountain terrain can be ruthless, difficult to conquer and highly unfavourable towards the hunter. That’s another reason as to why riflescopes with 42 or 50-millimetre objective lens (end everything in-between) are the most popular choices. Right now, BDC (ballistic drop compensation) turrets are extremely useful in mountain hunting as they help us achieve better accuracy shooting at varying distances. Due to the aforementioned varying and extensive distance ranges between the riflescope and game, the adjustable parallax option is a strong recommend. That’s just one of the requirements for a reliable, accurate shot on target from a considerable distance. At the moment, the absolute paragon of optical devices meant for shooting is the dS riflescope, made by the renowned Austrian manufacturer Swarovski.
My personal favourite equipment combination for mountain hunting consists of the following pieces: Merkel K3 Extrem single-shot rifle, Innomount mount, Kahles CSX 2.5-10×50, Swarovski Habicht 7×42 GA binoculars, Zeiss Dialyt 18-45×65 and Leica Rangemaster CRF 1000-R.
Author: Renato BRODAR