Posted on October 07 2015
ReadyMan Challenge 5, Episode 1
by Jason Ross
Every ReadyMan Challenge so far features regular guys being thrust into uncommon survival situations while Special Forces guys watch, coach and comment.
This time, we’d be turning the tables.
None of our SOF staff had ever hunted big game. They’d spent their entire adult lives hunting and being hunted overseas by men. Soon they’d find out that hunting big game was a challenge all its own.
We told Jeff Kirkham (28 year Green Beret,) Evan Hafer (15 year Green Beret) and Chad Wade (7 year Navy SEAL) to pack their bugout bags for an “overland movement” and to bring the weapons of their choice. To make matters tougher, it was the dead of winter in the Rocky Mountains.
Then, we let them loose pursuing Rocky Mountain Elk. We gave them each an outdoorsman guide to teach them elk behavior and we set up a bet: whoever scored the best shot on an elk could pick the shirts the other two SOF guys had to wear in their next two videos.
Day One turned out to be a disaster. The SOF guys either forgot, or didn’t think to grab, many pieces of critical gear. Among their biggest regrets:
- Travelling overland in winter means dipping into north-facing slopes with eight-foot deep snow. Their lack of snowshoes made it cold, wet and excruciating.
- For some reason, a decade of urban combat experience didn’t make a soldier think to grab his binos. The boys felt like idiots constantly asking their guides to borrow their binoculars.
- Lighter Rifles. Evan Hafer brought along his LaRue OBR .308 rifle. weighing in at 9.5 pounds plus the suppressor and magazine. After hiking 12 miles in the snow, he was ready to leave his $3,500 rifle leaning against a tree and walk away. It’s arguably the finest .308 battle rifle around, but heavy is heavy.
Evan and Jason didn’t have good enough glass. Jason was carrying his Swarovski 8x32 binoculars – ultra-light but under-powered. They ended up walking several miles only to discover that the “elk” they were stalking was actually a cow moose.
By the time night fell, Evan and Jason did in fact find elk – about ten of them and all within shooting range. But, every single one was a big-ass bull elk. They boys were carrying cow tags only, so the sun went down with the boys profoundly frustrated.
To add insult to injury, Evan and Jason had ranged out so far that their hike back to the ATVs turned into a brutal, cold, wet march. They almost had to bury the cameraman in the snow along the way.
Many hours later, laughing and wiped out, Evan and Jason reached the campfire.
Wisely, as it turned out, Jeff had stayed close to the vehicles. Chad Wade, on the other hand, put on a serious hike with his bow hunting guide, John Spears. They too got absolutely soaked plowing through the deep snow without snowshoes and they had zero luck locating elk.
As is often the case when hunting, a supposedly “easy” winter hunt had turned against the hunters. Because of weather conditions, elk were scarce – probably ranging lower than the boys’ hunting area. Furthermore, the snow was patchy and wet, leaving open patches on the ridgelines and deep, wet snow in the valleys.
Cow elk are usually and one-day affair, with minimal hiking, packing and strain. But, the boys found themselves up to their armpits in a good, old-fashioned ass-whooping.
Check out the video to see the ass-whooping unfold.