Hunting vs. camping dilemma - feedback?


New member
Mar 8, 2014
Ok, I\'m hunting a totally new area this season. I\'ve zeroed in on an area that is one NF road with a few closed roads coming off to the side, each of which goes back in for miles. One specific closed road forks after about a mile and goes around the rim of a killer basin with some clearcuts on top and on the opposite sides, and the area has a bunch of elk now. At the closed gate there\'s a nice little camping spot where I can put in my little base camp trailer. if I want to spike back in on either end of the forked closed road, I can take off from there on foot.

On the GE view from Sept 4, 2012, I don\'t see a camp in that spot, nor do I see many camps anywhere in the area. I know everyone debates about hunting where you camp vs. driving to the spots. Problem is, all the jump-off points on this NF road are visible to anyone driving it, so there\'s no secret about where someone is hunting. If I plunge back on there on foot to spike camp, I\'ll be leaving my vehicle there anyway, and my camp trailer will look abandoned somewhere else.

I\'m thinking maybe if I camp right there, not only will it appear that my camp is occupied while I\'m out spiking for a couple days at a time, but it might discourage others from hunting down that closed road system. The game warden told me very few people hunt away from roads in that area, preferring to road hunt on ATVs or hunt meadows close to the road.

I\'m going back and forth on what to do, but it seems to make sense to camp there, in that nice spot, and make friends with anybody else hunting there, vs. camping a couple miles away and driving to park there in the mornings. FYI, I am hunting and camping alone.

Whaddy think??
I 2nd what Brad says. By camping there, you certainly will discourage some from hiking in. Probably not all as there are guys who just don\'t follow the rules. :dk:
Going out on a limb here, but I\'ll just bet we see another great bull on the meat pole this fall with the ferals tag on it. :upthumb:
I don\'t know your area and the competition for it. Where I hunt I would worry about vandalism and theft. I would prefer not to be in a location where people walk by, and see the camp is empty day and night. It is not just that you are not there, but how close people will pass by your provisions. I think you are probably going to be okay, but I would worry if I left anything of value behind. Some people just hate it that anyone else is around, or that they could be doing well hunting. If fact I have known some of those rascals.
I would camp on the road ...

Then, when I got there, there\'d be two camps already set up. That\'s my luck.

When I\'m car-camping, it seems there\'s always someone in \"my\" spot. How do you plan to deal with that possibility?
i would camp there. if somebody else is camped there i drive on by an look elsewhere. im surely not the only one to do that. might help keep some people out
Sept 4, 2012 was a Tuesday. Not a weekend. Get there on Thursday Aug 28th or sooner due to opening weekend falling on Labor weekend.

2 years ago, I left my base camp (tent 50 yards from road) and spiked camped up higher. My car was not parked at my base camp. I did not have an issue. I do not leave items out. Everything was in my car or in my tent.

This year I am adding a trail cam to my base camp. It was a tip from Brad. If someone comes around my camp, I will have something to show the sheriff\'s deputy. Last year, there were some new youngsters that showed poor ethics when they followed a regular hunter into the forest. I know which small town these kids are coming from, so it wouldn\'t be too hard to find them.

At the closed roads in my area, people rarely camp at the closed roads with or without the barriers/gates. Only one year did I see a new group of 4 camp at a closed road. Their normal area was closed due to logging, so they were new to that GMU. Their camp there did not stop me or others from launching into the forest from that closed road. We all park there every year and branch off into the forest from that closed road. I never saw another hunter despite 4 guys camped there, plus the 4+ other vehicles that normally park there. There must be some unwritten rule that regular hunters in the area don\'t\' camp there, however, it isn\'t really a good camping spot because of frequent traffic at the junction there. It is a small spot and hard to put a pop up there like the 2 they had.

When I came out of the forest, those new hunters were extremely nice and revealed they did not even hunt down the closed road. None of us encountered another hunter while hunting despite the 4 of them, me and 4 other vehicles all parked at that spot.

Yes, do camp at the closed gate. However, do not expect the regular hunters who frequent those closed roads to not hunt from them just because you are camped there. I have to be honest, it would not discourage me simply because I know from the above case that there are many directions to branch out from closed roads to hunt. If a frequent hunter to that spot sees your camp, they will likely hunt the area like they did in past years.

If there are regulars that camp there, you may find new pals to chat with around a campfire. Show them your animal hats. That is a great ice breaker. They will either laugh or think you are insane and stay away from you. :p
I know a couple of guys that set up 4-5 tents to make it look like there is already a small army of hunters in the area. It discourages other hunters and they drive on by. Seems to work for them! Cheap tents can be bought for $3-$5 at yard sales. Might be a worth while investment. :wtf:
I have to second what most are saying and vote to camp at the road. If you are camped there with a truck, no one really knows where you are truely hunting. However, if you camp elsewhere and just park your truck there in the mornings, everyone knows where you went.

One other word of caution: those GE dates tend to be inaccurate. I definitely wouldn\'t base the number of expected camps in the area off of that date. I have noticed that those dates can be weeks or even months off. Just something to think about...
Thanks to all for the input. The problem in this area is that there is no place \"off the road\" to hide a camp, because it\'s either an open road or a closed road in this NF. Due to the massive rains last September and again this June, the vast majority of side \"roads\" have now deteriorated into ATV-access only, and some of those are really spooky even to an experienced ATV rider.

I did verify that the date is Sept 4, because I spotted a friend\'s camp in another part of the unit and he confirmed it. In fact, I\'ve \'flown\" the unit and pinned every camp I can find in this part of it. Most people tend to camp and hunt in a different part of the unit where it\'s easier. The game warden, with whom I\'m close friends, told me that this area is very lightly hunted for some reason and he\'s not sure why. When we were loooking at maps earlier this summer he even pointed out this closed road and another one a few miles away because he said nobody goes further than a half mile from the road anywhere around there. There are three wilderness areas in the unit, and the \"Cam Hanes wannabes\" mostly all plunge into them from the trailheads. The entire area is popular with ATV\'ers, which he suspects discourages most serious hunters. He said most of the hunters are older guys who hunt off ATVs or road hunt, even during archery. Also, this closed road was open to ATV\'ers until year before last, which also may have discouraged hunters from going in in the past.

I plan to get there on Wednesday afternoon and erect a tent along with my camp trailer. I do have a trail cam to hide as well.

This spot could definitely be hunted by several hunters because it\'s pretty huge once you get back in a mile or so. The campsite is pretty small, and it\'s at the end of the vehicle road before it gets so bad that only ATVs can travel it. You\'d need a small trailer or a tent. The campsite itself looks fairly lightly used, no game pole. The next available camping pull-off is two miles back, in a big meadow, and I can only see one trailer camp there. Then there are a couple other pull-offs several miles back from that, with no camp visible in either. This was opening week, and in other parts of the unit there are BIG camps, with multiple trailers, tents, vehicles, etc.

So I guess I\'ll find out after this season!! Thanks again for the input!