Outfitters and Gear
Links below for some of the specialized gear and the outfitters I have used.
Cabela's Outdoor Adventures. I've used their booking service a few times with generally good results.
Atcheson and Son's booking agency. Probably the most well-established, most reputable booking agency around.
High-Tech Customs. Rich Reilly of High-Tech Customs is the guy who built me my primary western big game rifle, a .300 Win Mag built on a Remington 700 Titanium action. Weighs 7 pounds 2 ounces scoped and shoots nice groups with handloads from Superior Ammo (see below).
Kifaru packs. Designed by Patrick Smith of Golden, CO. These are outstanding packs, designed specifically for the hunter, suitable for the most demanding conditions. The Kifaru SpikeCamp model is with me on virtually every hunt I make. Outstanding day pack, and with the Cargo Chair option, it can handle 50lb+ loads of meat.
Mammut Champ pants. These technical mountaineering pants look more like ski pants than hunting pants. They stretch when you move, they shed water and snow, they have good pockets, they're tough, and they're quiet. I tested them during my 2006 and 2007 elk hunts at 12,000 feet, and will take them on my backpack Dall Sheep hunt in 2008. Expensive, but you can get them on sale for about 25% off if you're patient. They're made in Europe and can be tough to find in the US. I look for them on froogle.com. They also make great ski pants, so at least they're multi-purpose.
Superior Ammo. I don't have time to handload, and am not interested in investing in the requisite equipment. But, I am attracted by the improvements in accuracy handloading offers. Outsourcing handloading for my .300 Win Mag is not significantly more expensive than buying premium ammo from the store. So far, I'm very pleased with the work that Larry at Superior Ammo has done for me.
Eastern Mountain Sports. Western big game hunters are outdoor athletes, and the place outdoor athletes go for gear is EMS. They offer well-made, technically advanced, and very lightweight clothes, packs, tents, and boots for those who Hunt The West. EMS is similar to their competitor REI, but EMS is much more hunter friendly. In particular, I find EMS-branded clothes to be a great value for the price. I use their TechWick long sleeve shirts as my base layer for all my hunts.
Lake Clark Air. Their Mulchatna River caribou hunts were good when I used them in 1999, but a subsequent moose hunt with them revealed that they just don't have a good area for moose -- the moose hunt was terrible.
Buckhorn Llamas. Llamas, rentable for as little as $40/day, can carry about 80 pounds each and open up interesting early-season back-country hunting opportunities. (I've used Buckhorn several times).
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