When I began to go along on hunting trips with my Dad and later with an uncle and cousin, we drove any road we wanted to, parked where we wished and hiked from there.
That was then and quite frankly we saw less game in those days. Forest road closures, have changed all that. And the face of hunting is changing. On the negative side, many hunters don’t have access to all hunting areas. On the positive side, deer and elk are less harried. The more distance a hunter can put between himself and a traveled road, the more game he is likely to see.
One way to cover a lot of ground in a hurry is on a mountain bike. They may not be standard hunting equipment for most hunters yet but many people are finding out just how useful they can be.
A mountain bike, properly equipped, can carry your water and food, your weapon, tent and sleeping bag, even the game you bag.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. I bought mine used. It doesn’t have disc brakes or shock absorbers, it doesn’t have a carbon-fiber frame. But it has two wheels and eighteen speeds and scoots along at a pretty good clip when it’s loaded down with me and my gear.
The first thing you need is a way to carry your bow, shotgun or rifle. Racks are mounted to your handle bars and can be purchased at bike shops and sporting goods stores.
Next in order of importance is a way to carry extra gear. A rack mounted behind the seat is a handy place to carry game bags, rope and lunch. A water bottle mounted to the frame can be a lifesaver on a hot day.
Be sure you also have a battery powered light mounted up front to light your way on moon-less nights. A helmet is a good idea too. Because the weight distribution on the bike is changed with the extra gear, chances of a spill are increased.
At first glance, a closed road is an inconvenience. You need to find a new place to hunt or figure out a different mode of transportation. A closed road is simply a new challenge, a new opportunity.
The mountain bike is a way to travel farther and faster than your boot-sore brethren. Properly outfitted, your bike can carry you far from well-traveled roads and the blaze-orange horde to the high-country meadows and thickets where deer and elk are less pressured and the hunting opportunity can be fantastic.