Let’s be real. The majority of hunters in the world do not bivouac out for days and days on end. But, there is still a high number of hunter who still do that. In the animal covered mountains of the west, you could see a number of different types of hunter. The hunters who don’t get out of their trucks, the guys who drive their quads around all day, the “lets just sleep in this morning” guys, the up before crack of dawn guys, and the off the grid for a week guys. Having mentioned all these stereotypes, I thought it would be interesting to talk about the food we eat. You might be reading this thinking, “oh my gosh, here we go, I get to be told again to change what I’m eating.” Well, sir, you are wrong. Because, this isn’t Rachel Rae’s, and I’m not your cardiologist. The fun sized snickers are still crammed into a ziplock and put right in with the rest of my food.
So with my years of being the “Bowhunter on a Budget” I thought I’d share some of my tips or knowledge if you will, about the food I eat. There’s nothing worse than having to chose: spend money and go hunting, or spend money on stuff to hunt with.
For the guys who don’t get out of their truck, and those stuck to their quads. The odds are you’ve probably got a slick set up back at the camp. And you most likely have the luxuries of a camp stove with a frying pan. So let me blow your mind with a couple recipes of my own.
One year while chasing spring bear, my cousin and I discovered we forgot the oil to fry our burgers with. Well, Instead of butter or oil, I dumped half of my Corona in the skillet. Without saying anything to one another, we just stared, curious to if I had just wasted half a beer or not. But before long the beer started to basically boil, and we put our patties into the brine. Eventually, we had what is still to this day the best burgers we have ever had. Corona Burgers are now a spring bear hunt tradition and it’s not going anywhere soon. For those who like their burgers a little crispier on the outside, once they are done in the Corona just throw them onto a hot skillet with no oil for a couple minutes and watch ’em brown.
Chicken. Man, I love chicken. Another repeating meal year after year, yis the Italian chicken. It’s pretty much elementary to do and tastes like heaven. At the grocery store pick up a couple bottles of the Italian salad dressing, as well as boneless chicken breasts. Cut the breasts into chicken strip sizes and place in the pan, like the Corona and burger patties, dump the bottles of dressing into the pan and let it simmer until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. Your welcome.
The truth is you could literally cook whatever you wanted with the way your hunting. And I’ll admit it, I’m jealous. I’ve woke up a couple mornings in the backcountry with slobber all over my pillow due to my dreams about scrambled eggs, harsh browns, and sausage. But I’m stuck with instant oatmeal.
To the guys who spend more time in the woods than in camp, Hello. I am one of you. I used to be a truck and quad man, but now I’m am here. Although Im venturing more and more into the backcountry as we speak. My deal, is I don’t feel like spending an hour making something to eat after I’m dead tired from chasing elk around all day. I’m tired. I want to eat and be asleep in 30 min. The easiest way for me to do that is going to my camp spot prepared. But if your back at the truck every night, you’ve got the abilities to go all out with the cooking. So you really don’t have to many excuses do you? But if you’re like me and don’t like spending the precious sleep time, I’ve got a couple tips. Taking some homemade clam chowder in a ziplock container, and heating it up real quick is one go to meal of mine. (Works with anything canned such as chili)
Another meal is cottage cheese with a can of diced pineapples on top, it might take 2 minutes to make. It often times hits the spot perfectly. To be honest I’ve gotten sick of burgers before, “really? Again burgers? For the 5th night in a row?” They get boring. There’s just something about this meal that really does something for me mentally.
Usually I’ll stop by KFC on my way in to the trailhead and throw a 12 piece bucket into the cooler, that can last me up to 3-4 nights depending on my hunger. I like cold chicken too, so it’s pretty convenient to just slam the drive through, run in grab some condiments for the day pack, and throw my bucket in the ice cooler. I can do the same thing with pizza. Cook up a meat lovers the night before you head out, throw it in the freezer so it’ll stay colder for longer, then in the cooler. Cold pizza.
To the guys who only see there truck at the beginning, and at the end of their trip, you don’t have to many choices. And unless your paying a ridiculous amount of money to get a drop camp with stove, propane, heater etc. Your gonna carry your food in one way or the other. There are some obvious choices like mountain house. But you’ve already covered those bases.
I was in the high country of Colorado with a friend of mine, while I was attempting to get my jetboil going, I noticed he was eating something. I asked him what he was eating and he replied with this. “Oh. Dude. It’s money. Flatbread with peanut butter and honey.” He had discovered all natural peanut butter in little serving sized packages. He snagged some “honey sauce” packages from KFC earlier, and brought in some flatbread. Now I’m not a fan of 100% natural things like this, they usually taste like garbage. But, this combo. Is ridiculous, I absolutely love it. And for the ultra sensitive person about what they are packing in, I’m sure you could find 100% whole wheat flatbread to give your body more nutrients.
Another meal that is often overlooked is tuna on crackers. Yes, you read that correctly. Starkist, makes “Tuna Creations” that come in small serving sizes packages, there are multiple flavors, lemon pepper, sesame, barbecue, ranch, olive oil and vinegar, to name a few. These added with a Ritz cracker, now that’s something I would eat at home.
Another friend of mine who is backcountry nerd also introduced me to a majorly high calorie meal that might make you think, “what the frick.” Most of us have heard of Cameron Hanes infamous bacon and peanut butter bagels. But one day in the backcountry I asked my friend what he was eating and he said without missing a beat “the Cameron Hanes Bagel 2.0.” After I stopped laughing he explain further just what was in this beast. A blueberry bagel covered in peanut butter, with Nutella, honey, and bacon. I could help it, I told him that it was the grossest thing I had ever heard of. And then after a couple minutes of bickering I agreed to taste it. Well… I was pleasantly surprised. I now have to admit, not only was it good, but it was very filling. Also, because of the calorie content, it is definitely something that will go into my pack the next time I bivouac out.
Idahoan, makes small 2 serving sized pre packaged instant mashed potatoes. Eating some hot buttered up calorie filled mashed potatoes when your 14 miles from the trailhead is just comforting. Especially if you add a touch of Sriracha, packing in a bottle of this can save your taste buds lives. It tastes good yes, but mentally, I feel my spirits re-inflate after a solid mashed potato massacre.
Truck and quad guys. Your guys’ choices are just about limitless. Anything that you could carry in your truck. Or put in the compartment of your quad, and you don’t even have to carry it. You’ve got this figured out, don’t you?
Honest to God, I saw a guy driving very slowly down a gravel road, with another man cooking on a barbecue that was strapped down in the bed of the truck. Now that is what I call ingenuity. But seriously, cold pizza, chicken legs, salad, hot coffee, sushi, Taco Bell, whatever you could want really.
Day hunters, our choices are quite a bit more limited than our brothers in the trucks. But we still have choices. Personally I have done cold pizza before, it’s great for the soul to be on top of a ridge far from the roads eating pizza, I’m not sure what it is, but it’s good. Granola, dried fruit (apples, apricots, mangos, bananas etc), granola bars, trail mix, jerky, the list goes on and is still fairly large.
Pocket jerky is one thing that’s a fairly common snack among us. Getting large, and thick chunks of jerky from the local butcher to shove in our pocket, comes in clutch. Sometimes we just need to occupy our mouths throughout the day, this and a bag of cashews is what does it for me.
Backpackers. The reality of snacking when your in the field, everything gets boring. Eventually. There’s nothing worse then eating the same pro bar that you’ve been eating for the last 5 days. Eating food almost becomes a chore for you to do, you don’t eat because your not hungry. You don’t eat because nothing you have in your pack sounds good. Your eating because your body needs the energy to keep going, and to wake up and do it all again the next morning. That’s why I always try to mix it up (Flavors, brands any variation at all and I’m on it). Every morning is a different flavor of the instant oatmeal.
Mio is a water enhancement liquid, I’ll bring three different flavors on a trip. This helps tremendously when I just can’t stand another drink of water.
Sriracha. Man. Saved my bacon in Colorado. I took a decently sized bottle of the stuff into the high country and my mind was blown. I used it on dang near literally everything. I put sriracha on my sriracha. Mountain House meals are way better with that stuff, Instant potatoes, and I even put it in my oatmeal one morning.
Seems like we don’t have to many choices. Pro-Bar, has a line of backcountry edibles that personally are my favorites. Their “Meal” line, which consists of, Superfruit Slam, Wholeberry, Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Blueberry Blast, and a couple more. They also have a “Base” which contains a Chocolate Cookie Dough, and well as a Chocolate Mint. They also make some energy chews called “Bolt”, and my favorites in those are Berry Blast and Fruit Punch.
I love cashews. When I bivouac in, I carry a sandwich bag full of cashews for each day. As far as calories, protein and energy, these nuts pack quite the punch to replenish your system with all your energy being spent. GU has multiple flavors in their energy gel packets, also MtnOps has “Blaze” energy drink made for the trail and small enough to pack.
Hope this has given you some useful information for your next hunt. Go farther and shoot straight!
Rookie Outdoors, Team Full Draw