July Book of the Month: Backcountry Bowhunting

July Book Of The Month: Backcountry Bowhunting- A Guide to the Wild Side

Author: Cameron Hanes

Page Count: 287

Wilderness is an area, the backcountry is a position.  A place of mystery and peril.  One of the last places survival of the fittest rules without mercy.    We as hunters are intrigued by its mystery and adventure.  Many travel to these far haunts in search of game and adventure, few succeed, many are beaten. 


If you’ve noticed, there has been a change in the overall approach we take to hunting in the past ten years.   The mentality towards preparing for the hunt, where we hunt and how we hunt, while influenced by many, has been largely influenced by the work of Cameron Hanes.  

For those unfamiliar with Hanes work, he has redefined what preparation for hunting looks like through exercising and healthy living- inspiring hunters around the globe.  At the heart of his preparation, is his incredible passion for hunting the western backcountry.  His Oregon Roots and first hand lessons from the Eagle Cap Wilderness area are perhaps the best teacher anyone could ask for.   To help other extreme hunters, he translates those lessons into the book he claims is the pinnacle of his writing career, Backcountry Bowhunting- A Guide to the Wild Side.

Although originally published in 2006, our July book of the month still is completely relevant.  

Ok, so there is new gear and some technology has changed yet, the tactics, methods and purpose behind the book still speak wisdom.  Besides the tips, I throughly enjoy the incorporated stories from Hanes which help demonstrate how putting all the steps together can result in a a notched tag.  Paying attention to the stories not only provide great entertainment but are inspiring. 

If planing a western hunt, reading this book helps you understand from a mountain weary veteran the level of work and personal discomfort success requires.  

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What I like most about this book aside from the stories, is how Hanes discusses  the “soft skills”. Hard skills are often defined as technical abilities, soft skills are just the opposite.  They are your mental toughness, character and grit, which are not as easily taught as the hard skills of shooting a bow or reading a topographical map   Not only is this book loaded with strategies and practical tips, like switching alkaline with lithium batteries, Hanes spends considerable time  talking about the mental games and personal trials one faces in the wilderness.  Personally, the pages discussing fear, desire, and mental conditioning I believe are the most valuable pages in this book.  In an age where the playing field among hunters is fairly even when it comes to gear, mental fortitude is the last great separating barrier among hunters in the field.  Hanes’ insight to mental preparation, fear and desire is enough to make anyone want to jump off the couch, throw away the potato chips and head for the weight room.  It has.  His social media page is filled with success stories of countless inspired hunters.  From scouting to off season conditioning, preparation is the heart of this book, and the core of Hanes success as a bowhunter

Not only is this book a great learning and teaching tool, it is also a resource for planning your own trip.  Inevitably, as your eyes sweep across each page, you build your own mental image of what a trip could look like.  Our minds  begin spinning with the prospect of exploring new country and being challenged.  While beginning to calculate the lowest cost rout to a high thrill adventure, we choose a target specie of animal and think about different states to hunt.  The last section of the book is Cameron’s Loss of Life or Limb Rating System. He briefly describes several high adventure low cost DIY trips for people like you and me.   His rating system is based upon a five skull and crossbones rating.  Five being the most dangerous in which buying a one way flight ticket might be best to save money.   One skull and crossbones reflects the self inflicted danger of going into a hunt half hearted. He outlines DIY trips for elk in Idaho and Wyoming, mule deer in Nevada, and Sitka black-tail, Caribou and black bears in Alaska.  These short descriptions of fantastic DIY hunts are the flame you need to begin researching these areas and packing your gear.

photo1-1Look, I’ve hunted the Eagle Cap Wilderness myself.  It is just as unforgiving as Hanes says it is.  Eagle Cap is down right brutal.  Because of that experience several years ago, I can attest- there is not an ounce of fluff in this book.    Whether you have the ability to travel to the west or not, even if you are like me and only have the ability to hunt whitetails in a neighboring state, Backcountry Bowhunting- A guide to the Wild Side has something for each individual hunter.  A book you will never want to have too far away.