#537 Deer Hunting – Fitness Attitude defines the hunt – Michael T. Merrill

Deer Hunting - Fitness Attitude defines the hunt - Michael T. Merrill
The only way to make an awesome early morning trail run better Michael T Merrill

And we’re heading out to Salem, Utah, and Mike Merrill. Mike talks about Deer Hunting – Fitness Attitude defines the hunt.  Michael comes from a very large family. And we’re gonna talk about the hunting tradition, how it started. But, Mike, with Fourth of July like coming up tomorrow, I just wanted to say thanks, you know, for being with me this morning.

And it’s gonna be fun talking about, you know, as you coin it, “If I can see it, I can get there,” or, you know, “Hunt hard, go further.” And that’s kind of your motto. Those here two mottoes. And so let’s jump right in right there and talk about Mike Merrill, why when he sees a meal, they’re better down X miles away across a couple of drainage’s, he knows he can get there.

I appreciate it, Bruce. Yeah, I think the key to that mentality is preparation. And, you know, as we’ve talked a little bit prior here, last few years I’ve gotten real serious about my fitness and kind of off-season training, so to speak. And I love the coined phrase, “There is no off-season.” So I do train year-round, shoot my bow year-round. Even, you know, on two feet of snow, I’m up there on the hillside shooting my bow. People look at me cross-eyed and crazy. But, you know, when it comes time for the hunt, there’s absolutely no hesitation whatsoever to pick that bow up and sling arrows where I want to.

Can you talk about no off-season

. In the Whitetail world, you know, we’re hunting Whitetails 365 days a year, that’s an open season. But all the rest of time, we’re taking care of our herds. Now you’re taking care of your body 365. Why did that start? What made the decision for you to say, you know, “I’m gonna be able to, you know, not chug up these mountains,” like I do, “but I’m gonna be able to bound up these mountains.”

so, actually, it’s kind of ironic. A few years ago, it’s actually, it was in 2014, so about four years ago, I was with my father-in-law, Stan Goodrich, and we were up American Fork Canyon, and they just kind of come up over the top up by the Sundance Ski Resort, Robert Redford is placed up there, and steep mountains and big mountains. And we spotted a nice mule deer buck, probably a three-year buck. He was actually a 3 by 3, we call him, with mule deer. And, you know, I decided that I’m gonna take this buck.

So we hiked up and got just under 400 yards away. And I’m pretty proficient at that range. And so I found a rest and a tree to lean up against, and got the right angle, and so we got him where we were ready. And I got my aim, pulled the trigger, and “bam,” the buck disappeared. And I thought I hit him. I felt like it was a good shot. But I couldn’t see him, didn’t seem to take off anywhere. And so I got a little panicky thinking, oh, man, I got to hurry up there and, you know, in case I need to get another shot off.

So we made a plan. My father-in-law was gonna stay down there and keep his glasses on the area the buck was in, and I was gonna just hightail it up there as quick as I could get there. And so I went just trekking up that hill as fast as I could. And at the time, I probably weighed close to 250. And I’m about 5’11, have kind of, you know, broad shoulders and a stocky build. So I carry the weight okay, but, man, I was out of shape and was not physically fit. And at, you know, 9,000 feet, 10,000 feet elevation, going that fast, you know, in there. Man, I was exhausted by the time I got up there. Well, sure enough, I got close to where this deer was. And there he laid dead right in his bed. So, I mean, he died within seconds, which was great, you know. I was really happy about that.

But the second I saw that deer, it was if somebody flipped a switch. And all my energy was gone. And all of a sudden I’m feeling light-headed and almost dizzy. And I feel like almost, like, I was gonna pass out because I just…this adrenaline rush and thin air and no oxygen and not in good cardio shape. Even my father-in-law is sitting there calling and saying, “Hey, did you get him? Do you see him?” And I couldn’t even talk. I mean, I’m so exhausted. I said, you know, “I’ll tell you about it a second. I gotta sit down.” And he’s kind of laughing a little bit and hoping I’m okay. I mean, I sounded like I’m really in rough shape. And I was.

So I sat down on a log, and I sat there huffing and puffing. And I actually, you know, buried my head in my hands, you know, kind of slap myself and said, “This is so stupid.” Here I am doing what I love as much as anything in this world for, you know, my spare time, and I’ve just had hunting success, and I’m, you know, on top of the world, so to speak, and yet I just feel like garbage. And I can’t even start taking care of this animal right now because I can’t catch my breath.

And so I had to sit there for probably five minutes to gather myself. And, you know, the terrain was steep enough, and he was actually on kind of an edge of a cliff, about a 20-foot cliff, caught on a tree. So it was, you know, my father-in-law was down below. I was alone up there. We had decided that I would just drag that buck down. It was steep enough. And we would get him down there where it was a little flatter. And he would wait for me.

So, man, it probably took me, you know, 25 minutes to get to him. And I should have been able to do it in 10. And so I told him there, as we took care of that animal and broke it down, that, you know, this is the last season I’m gonna ever be on this earth where I’m not in physical shape that I can’t do that in my sleep. And so that’s where I made myself that promise and that commitment. And I made a new year’s resolution, January 1st, 2015 that I’m gonna start running and get myself in shape. And that’s exactly what I did. And I haven’t look back, and I don’t ever wanna go back.

Deer Hunting - Fitness Attitude defines the hunt - Michael T. Merrilla lot of people can go, “Gee, I’ve been there,” but a lot of people don’t do what you do, and you stay committed to it. You just said, “This is what I’m gonna do. This is how I’m gonna be in shape.” And by your photos, you know, like you said, you’re bounding up those mountains. And, folks, that’s the thing, because we’ve all been there. I just got my butt kicked. And, you know, this is not gonna happen next year. Then next year it happens. And you didn’t do what you needed to do for the previous 365 days. So you’re in the same shape. And they only get harder…the harder it is. There’s absolutely no question.

there’s some superstars out there. And you look at at guys that are crushing it, doing these ultra-marathons, and great hunters and all that. But that’s great for them and I’m happy for them. But if we can just stay consistent…That’s my thing. Like the other day, I’m walking fast, mile and a half, two miles, three miles consistently to get my cardio up, because I got enough strength. It’s just I don’t have the cardio for the mountains. And, you know, when you go out hunting, it could be a 5 miles, you know, just to get in, and 5 miles to get out. That’s 10 miles. And, you know, day after day, you know, you can put 50 miles easy, you know, easy on a 5-day hunt, you know, looking for elk.

“The mountains never lie,” or “The mountains don’t lie,”

there’s a phrase I love. I don’t know who coined it. But it says, “The mountains never lie,” or “The mountains don’t lie,” and that is that is the truth, brother.

Yeah, and they don’t care.

No, they don’t.

Bruce: The mountains, you know, the mountains don’t care. The mountains are there. And if you choose to saddle up and get it on them and get it going, the mountains will take the best you you’ve got, and they’ll turn the worse you into you into mush. And, unfortunately, that happens every year. People all pissing vinegar and hit the mountains. And within two or three days, they’re done. I mean, they’re flat done. And, you know, and would soon thinking and reading and talking to people. It didn’t have to be that way. It really didn’t. And it’s a shame when that happens. But it happens every year.

So, you know, here it is, July 1st. Season opener is August 28th, I think 29th, 30th, sometime in there, you know, in Colorado. So we got two months. And I always put 100 miles on, minimum, you know, before the season, minimum, at 6,800 feet. And then I’ll take a couple of swings at the incline or some, you know, some steep stuff, you know, just say, “This is what it’s gonna be. It’s gonna be hard. It’s gonna suck. You’re not gonna wanna do it, but do it anyway,” kind of thing. That’s my thought.

“Embrace the suck.”

you’re, you know…And there’s times, and you hear the phrase, too, “Embrace the suck.” And a few years ago, I was that guy sitting on the sidelines, or on the couch, so to speak, right, you know, point my finger at…armchair quarterback and stuff. And I got to tell you, once you get to the sunny side of this stuff, you’re just thinking, what in the world have I been doing. I spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to get out and enjoy this time, and I’m not prepared.

And so, you know, like I said, 2015, I decided I’m gonna start running. And so what I did, and I tell people all the time, you know, just start by, you know, running a little bit, just something. But you’ve got to do it consistently. A few times a week, even if it’s 1, 2, 3 miles, 2 or 3 times a week. Just do it consistently and get to where you’re doing it 3 and 4 times a week, and now you’re going 2 and 3, and 3 and 4 miles. And what I did is I just set a goal for Easter and said, “I’m gonna run 250 miles by Easter.” And I’m not gonna run it all in three weeks at the end, right? I’m not gonna procrastinate. I got to get started chipping away. And on New Year’s Day, I started running.

And my wife is a lifelong runner. She’s been running, you know, over 25 years. And I’ll be 45 this year so I’m not really a spring chicken anymore. But I feel like I’m 25, and it’s because I started running. The day before Easter, 2015, I hit 256 miles. I exceeded that goal. And then I thought, okay, what am I gonna do from here. And I did the math, and I multiplied it out, and I thought, well, if I times it by 4, that’s 1,000 miles. So that’s my goal. I’m gonna run 1,000 miles this year. And so I went from running 0 to 1,000 miles in the very first year. I ran two marathons during that time period. The first one I ran, five and a half months after I started six months, you know.

So it is possible if you set a reasonable, achievable goal. And like you said, it’s gonna suck. It’s gonna be difficult. But, you know, get over it. Just make the decision and go for it. And that’s what I did, still doing.

you know, a lot of good people out there, you know, Jeremy Koerber, Fit To Hunt, you know, Jeremy, he’s helped me immeasurably. He helped me tremendously get ready for my last sheep hunt. And, you know, you see those guys and you go, “How do they do it?” And we’re all built differently. We’re all wired differently. But how does he do it? He just stays after it day-in day-out. Yeah, it’s his job.

So you think, you know, oh, it’s his job. He does that. Okay, I’ll challenge everybody, who likes to get up every single day and go to their job, you know. And God bless you, people that have a job, and you crush it every day at work. And, you know, you’re so alive being at your work. I work because I had a family and I’d like to do things, you know. I work, you know. I didn’t live to work. I work to live. That’s for sure.

And that was a great motivator, you know. Because I knew, you know, I knew what I wanted to do and how to go. But you think about that and you just think about what Mike just said, folks, is that he started, he set a goal, you know. I stated my goal is 100 miles, you know. So you get 100 hundred days. It’s a mile a day. That’s all it is.

But if you do 100 miles, if you put 100 miles on your shoes, on your boots, with a little 20-pound pack on, put your hydrator on, put all that stuff on, and just walk a hundred miles, just like that, you’re gonna be amazed how much better you’re going to be. Plus, the consistency of it. The mountains won’t break you. They’ll allow you to just move through them at your pace.

and the thing, too, is, you know, your mental state, the mental strength that you gain by tuning your body physically is indescribable. Your body wants to move. It’s built to move. It’s not built to sit and rest all the time. It doesn’t want to. Sometimes our minds tell us we do. If we don’t have a good diet, you know, we can fool that body, and our brain starts following that. And so, you know, my dad always said, “Mind over matter,” [inaudible 00:15:01] young age. And so doing hard things was just something that we as Merrills did. And so I was blessed to have a good example of motivation. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to wanna do it. You got to do it for you.

And just like I said, with running. I love sports. I was in athletics, really into baseball. I mean, I had aspirations to go on to higher levels of baseball. And as I got older, and I got married at, you know, 21, 22 years old, I’ve started a family. And you’ve got to work, and you got to pay bills. You realize pretty quick, you know, you got to feed the family first, and baseball wasn’t going to do that for me. So, you know, I got into construction and learned how to work hard. And I’ve just taken that same approach into hunting, and it’s led to not only hunting success but, you know…

I always tell people over 99% of my joy of being out in the woods and out in nature and hunting has nothing to do with releasing an arrow, pulling a trigger. I mean, that’s just the very end, a few seconds of my journey, before it comes time to break an animal down and pack it out. In my case, I love to take that game. I cut up all my own meat. I wrap it all, label it, do it just how I want, take care of it, keep it clean. And then when it’s time to break out the grill or the traeger smoker, I like to prepare that for my family.

And so, literally, from field to table, I’ve participated in every part of that journey. And I got to tell you, there is no satisfaction you can have on this planet than physically going yourself and bringing that to your family and providing that for them and sharing your success with them and nourishing their bodies and enjoying that together around the dinner table of the family.

Well said. Because hunting, to me, it’s a complete journey. It’s adventure. And to travel the places I’ve been able to travel, meet the people I’ve met, it’s all part of it, you know. Once I pack up, and head to the airport or head, you know, east or west, north or south, you know, that’s when my journey begins. And some of the memories I have are late night and in blizzard, sitting in tents, a gazillion miles from nowhere and candlelight and just talking and having conversations.

That’s what I hold true. Yes, you know, pulling the trigger, bringing the meat home is as important as all the rest. But that’s the part that people, in my opinion, that don’t understand hunting or have never hunted, they don’t get the other part, the part of the journey, and the part of interaction with other people of other cultures.

 And I hunt birds and, you know, I’ve hunted waterfowl and chuckers and doves and pheasants and, you know, and all kinds of other game, also bears and, I mean, you know, just about everything out there. I don’t shoot anything I’m not gonna eat. So that’s one rule I’ve got for myself and had for a long time. And I enjoy that part of it. But, again, I try not to start anything that I’m not gonna finish.

it was December 15th when I completed my goal of 1,000 miles that year

And so even, you know, that first year I started running, I actually, you know, it was December 15th when I completed my goal of 1,000 miles that year. And my wife didn’t even know this, but I ran on a Tuesday. I started at about, I think it was 11 p.m., and I finished, it was almost 2 a.m. I ran 16 miles on my treadmill, and I stopped at 999.9 miles. I did all the math, and I stopped. And I thought, if I’m gonna hit this goal, I’m gonna crush it. I’m not gonna just run 1,000 miles and go on my merry way, go skipping down, you know, the yellow brick road. And so my wife said, “What are you gonna do?” And I said, “I don’t know. I got to think about it.”

Deer Hunting - Fitness Attitude defines the hunt - Michael T. MerrillAnd so I thought about it, thought about it for the coming days. And December 15th, I believe it was, it was a Saturday, and I got up at about 6 in the morning, it wasn’t quite light yet, and I proceeded to plot out a path, and ditch Gatorade in the bushes and granola bars in the weeds and I put food and beverage along the path that I was going to run, and I ran a marathon to complete my goal. Now I wasn’t 10 steps into this marathon and I’d already hit my 1,000 miles. But I wanted to explode that goal and do it with gusto and not just achieve it, but really kill that goal.

And so I did. When I got done with that marathon, I still had fuel left in the tank. I felt pretty darn good for having run a marathon. And hit my 1,000 miles, and I thought, this is awesome, and was in the best shape of my life. I’d lost a bunch of weight, and was trim and fit. And, man, I’ll tell you, when I got out in the in the elk woods and in the high mountains, I could just go and go and go. And, you know, that’s been a few years now. And I’m still doing the same stuff. I’ve got a little smarter about it.

Now what I do is I take my…I have my bow and my target in my truck, got a, you know, quad cab Dodge or whatever, you know, crew cab, I take that in there, I’ve got a pack usually with trail cameras or bait, buck jam and salt licks and trophy rock. And so sometimes I’ll pack that on, and then I’ll go running up a trail. It’s about a three-and-a-half-mile loop, about a 1,000 feet of gain in the first mile on this trail that I run on. And I got three or four trail cameras along the way. And so I will get out and run that mountain, swap SD card, since I’m running, past my cameras. And then when I get back, and I’m huffing and puffing just a little bit, I pull that bow out, and I’ll sling a couple dozen arrows or more.

And it seems counter intuitive, but you’ve seen these guys. Cameron Hanes is somebody I’ve followed for five or six years now. And I’ve just loved, and learned a great deal about, you know, that mental toughness that I didn’t have before. And so I’ve definitely used him as a pattern in some of the things that I’m doing. And I can’t believe, even though it seems stupid to me at first, why in the world would I shoot my bow when I’m tired. I’m gonna wait. Oh, there’s a breeze. Let me wait till the wind dies down, then I’ll shoot my bow. Well, you don’t get to do that when you’re hunting. I think when the breeze is there, that’s when your shot is happening. When the rain is coming down, that’s when you have your chance.

So if it’s raining, snowing, I actually get excited about those conditions now. I like to run in that stuff. I wanna shoot when it’s 103 degrees outside and I’ve just run three or four miles in the mountains. Because that is hunting conditions. That is as tough as it’s gonna get. And if I can overcome that and practice like that several times a week, all year round, and embrace that suck, so to speak, then when it comes time to hunting, another phrase I love is “Train hard, hunt easy.” And, you know, the hunting is sometimes a break from what I’ve been training for in some of the conditions I’ve put myself in. So then you can enjoy it like never before.

Let’s talk about a recap of your hunt. But before we do that, let’s talk about, gee, I wish I knew that now, you know. The one big thing that you know now that you wish you knew 5, 6 years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, what would that be in regards to hunting?

So I have, you know…I know we talked a little bit before. You like to reload. And, you know, I do reloading a little bit too. One thing I do now, I flex my own arrows. I weigh stuff. I have learned to hone my craft, right, hone my passion here on hunting to a degree where I’m controlling all the variables that I can. And if I can do that with confidence, and I’m as prepared as I could be physically, and I’ve worked my way through what my plan is mentally, when it comes time to execute, there is absolutely no hesitation.

And so I would just say that “off-season preparation,” the mental side of it, the physical side of it, your weapon, being familiar, shooting your bow or your gun on a regular basis, don’t just pull it out the weekend before the hunt, or worse yet, I see guys that haven’t even shot their weapon since last season, but make it something that you put into your regular routine. So that year-round, you are familiar with every piece of that weapon and that process that you’re going to embark upon.

Because when the hunting season starts, those seasons are determined by the calendar and the clock. And so when it’s go time, it doesn’t matter if they’re rutting hard or not at all or it’s sunny or there’s sleet and hail or rain. The hunting season, just like the mountains, it doesn’t care. So be ready. And then when it comes time to execute, you won’t have to think about it. You’ll be able to just react and get the job done.

So what I hear you saying, be prepared, know your gear, practice, and be confident, you know, that you don’t have to think about…the muscle memory is already built in for your release on your arrow and everything, you know, your back muscles are strong. Everything needs to be there

So what I hear you saying, be prepared, know your gear, practice, and be confident, you know, that you don’t have to think about…the muscle memory is already built in for your release on your arrow and everything, you know, your back muscles are strong. Everything needs to be there. So this isn’t…you don’t have to think about it. Because so many times, people say, “Oh, I gotta be this. I’m gotta do that.” And you’re already…if you have to think when you have game in front of you, you’re screwed, in my opinion. You missed the opportunity. Because one step, and that deer is gone. One blink, and that elk is gone, the bear, whatever you’re hunting.

Because if you boil down…I should do this someday. If I boil down every single close-encounter kill shot I’ve had, how many seconds that is. And that’s over 52 years of hunting. How many seconds of actual, you know, kill shots?

Why in the world wouldn’t you do everything you could do to make that the most you can, because that…

that’s an interesting thing, you know. Take a guy like Jim Shockey. Okay, he’s got minutes. A guy like him might have hours. But most of us have literally seconds. Is it 120 seconds? Is it 332 seconds? I don’t know. But the timing we set to pull that trigger, you know, it’s literally seconds in all those years of preparation. All that money really comes down to seconds. And so why not be the best you you can be when that time comes?

Yeah, and you’re in control of that destiny when you prepare. And, you know, practice doesn’t make perfect. You’ve got to have perfect practice. So proper practice, get some coaching, get take some video. I was amazed the first time I took video of me shooting my bow. Why am I doing that that? Well, that looks funny. You know, get some coaching, tune your bow, get some help with your rifle, make sure that you’re talking to people that know a little bit more than you. Get on YouTube, do some research. If you do everything you can to make sure that you are 100% prepared for that go time, like you said, that muscle memory, not only will it happen but it will happen without a second thought.

I took an elk this last season with my bow at long distance. And I got to be brutally honest. That 15, 20 seconds of pulling my blow up, releasing that arrow, and actually doing it again. I got two arrows in this elk within a few seconds of each other. And it wasn’t a blur. I remembered all of it. But I didn’t even give any of it a second thought. And, you know, in 30 seconds, that elk was on the ground, and not long after, had expired, and I just…It wasn’t easy. None of it was easy. But I was amazed at how hard it wasn’t for me to execute when it came time for that opportunity.

we’ve been talking about a lot of different things here: physical condition, persistence, consistency, preparation, preparation, preparation.

So, folks, we’ve been talking about a lot of different things here: physical condition, persistence, consistency, preparation, preparation, preparation. You mentioned something earlier, you set a goal. Talk to me about the visual actualization, you know. When you see a base and you need to get there because you just saw a nice [inaudible 00:29:07], and it’s gonna be arduous, but you don’t care, you know, how do you see yourself there, you know, with that shot?

You know, it might sound silly to some people, but the first thing is, if I find a base in a place where I wanna get to, I’m gonna go there beforehand. I’m gonna figure out the right path. I’m gonna I’m gonna look and see where I can safely and quickly, efficiently get to a location. I’m gonna know where my, you know, with my bow. I mean, I know my yardages from this bush and that rock, from this knoll or point. I’m gonna have all that figured out as much as I can, so that when that opportunity presents itself, I don’t have to spend a whole lot of time second-guessing myself.

Deer Hunting - Fitness Attitude defines the hunt - Michael T. Merrill
Michael T Merrill

And in my case, I love hunting with buddies, and my brothers, and other people, but I do get a great deal of satisfaction sometimes when I’m just all by myself and there’s nobody to discuss or, you know, have differing opinions with, or arguments. I can just go get it done and not have to worry about whatever someone else is thinking.

So that’s hunting by yourself. Now, how do you…can visualize yourself, you know, getting that shot, you know, going through all the yardages effort to get there. Do you do that? Maybe the right question is, do you visualize yourself taking that shot?

So I do. I have a routine, you know, when I’m shooting my bow or my rifle. I do have a routine, how I’m breathing, you know. I try and breathe in and hold when I get ready to shoot. And so I practiced that. I practiced that, you know, with my rifle, too, at the target range. Practice those things that are, you know, realistic.

When I’m setting my rifle in or when I’m shooting my bow, I like talking to people. I like having distractions going on around me while I’m executing. Because, then, you know, the mag pipeline in my view or whatever it is that’s going on is not going to take me away from what I’m focused on. I definitely visualize the entire sequence. And I think familiarity with the process, I think that muscle memory, I think envisioning what you’re going to do is critical.

It’s just like setting a goal. You got to write it down.

There are steps to get to it. They’re achievable

It’s just like setting a goal. You got to write it down. There are steps to get to it. They’re achievable. So I’m gonna hike up to this point. I’m gonna move over by this tree. And if the deer, the elk, or whatever you’re chasing doesn’t move or if it’s betted or…you just play these scenarios out in your mind beforehand so that you’ve kind of already narrowed down your options and your choices, and you can choose to move quickly when the conditions change when something isn’t what you expected.

And, you know, this elk kind of I was talking about, there’s a few different scenarios that happen during that hunt where exactly the unexpected happened, and yet I’d already envisioned what I was gonna do, and it worked out perfectly in that case. So I was really glad that I played that out in my mind first.

How do people get a hold of you if they want to follow up? How do they reach out to you?

So my Instagram is just @michaeltmerrill. The Twitter is https://twitter.com/michaeltmerrill, Facebook is Michael T. Merrill,  yeah. So I’m just social media mainly. Email is michaeltmerrill@gmail.com. They’re all pretty much the same handle.

So are you on any pro staffs?

You know, not officially, really. Haven’t really aligned myself with anything too specifically. I mean, I like certain equipment, and I use those things religiously, and I love supporting them. But I do other stuff professionally, so I haven’t really done anything officially that way.

So tell us about your gear that you like?

So I love my Hoyt Carbon Defiant Bow https://hoyt.com/. I’m trying some new broadheads right now. I’m trying the Valkyrie JAGGER BROADHEADS https://valkyriearchery.com/shop/jagger-broadheads/. Those are new for me this year. I’m just kind of working on some stuff there. As far as rifles, I shoot Rugers. I’ve got several different calibers. And I have a Benelli Shotgun. I do like to invest. And I’ve got like a SWAROVSKI OPTIK https://www.swarovskioptik.com/hunting, and some Vortex http://www.vortexoptics.com/, scopes and different things. So I do try and invest in those things so that I have the best gear and equipment that I can. I love the Under Armour Mountain Gear. Also, I have a lot of Sitka https://www.sitkagear.com/. And those things, they’re all very high quality.

They’re not cheap, so you’ve got to spend a little bit of money. But I’m not buying new gear every year, I’ll tell you that. A lot of it I’ve had for 5, 10, 15 years, and it just keeps on trekking like I do.

Good gear is critical

Hunting Deer Gear Deals
Hunting Deer Gear Deals

Yeah, that…pardon me. Good gear is critical. And one thing when I first was starting out this journey, the people that I knew, you know, we’re down the road. They said, “Bruce,” you know, “yeah, you can buy X, Y, and Z, but you want the best optics you can get.” They said that’s the number one thing. And, you know, first is your optics, your binoculars, and your spotting scope. Get the best you can afford. Whatever that is, that’s what it is.

And then from there, your rifle scope, and then, you know…Because a lot of rifles shoot really well, you know. I’ve shoot Rugers and Remington’s. They’ve shot well for me. You know, I get them tinkered, and I take him to a gunsmith and do, you know, some sexy things to them. And so I get them as custom as I can without paying a custom price. And all the rest just comes.

I mean, trial and error. You buy a pair of pants, and they last one hunting season. You throw them away because you just blew $50, $60. So then you go buy some other stuff that costs $200 but they last 5 or 10 years. I’ve got kicking them out. And, you know, my wool, elk hunting clothes for cold weather, and I don’t know how old they are. And they’re as good as, you know, the day I bought them, you know. They just are. And, you know, costs a lot of money but, you know…

And I do the same thing with my fishing gear and in the hunting gear. So that’s one thing I would throw in the mix, is to just get the best you can and save up, you know, get on eBay, you know. Find the brand and get on eBay. And there’s a lot of ways you can get good equipment for less than store, you know, box-stores prices.

Mike: Yeah, those are investments that you’re making, and I’ve been blessed to know that for a while. Again, my father-in-law I remember…I mean, back in the ’90s, he had SWAROVSKI Binoculars before…I didn’t know anybody who even knew what they were. And he’s been running ZEISS for, you know, 35, 40 years. And so I learned from him, Leupold, you know, great gear, great warranties. So I, even at a young age, in my early 20s, I started investing in those things. I bought some Danner boots. . I got Crispi boots, I’ve got Kenetrek, I’ve got Zamberlan.

You’ve got to make it happen

I’ve got some Under Armour Fat Tire boots that I absolutely love for trail running. I feel like I’m running on marshmallows. They were a couple hundred bucks, but, you know, they’ve lasted me for years. And my feet are dry. They don’t get blisters. I hunt and hike hard. And, you know, in most cases, I mean, if you’re on a sheep hunt or something pretty rough, your feet are gonna take a beating no matter what you have on probably, eventually, but you’re gonna help yourself a lot. You’re gonna be able to hunt harder and longer if you have proper gear. And so that is one place that I will not cut a corner, I mean, for any reason whatsoever, all the way from broadheads to arrows to boots.

Yeah, and I’ll give Russell Moccasins, I got introduced to them years and years ago, and I probably got three pairs. And they’re not cheap, but they’re handmade to my feet. And I’ve been to their store in Wisconsin and their factory in Wisconsin. And, you know, every single pair of those boots were as good as they were the day I bought them, or you just send them back and they rebuild them, you know, and it’s just, you know…And that’s the investment.

They were investment, but they’re good for the lifetime. It’s like everything else. Any variable you can control, any variable you can take out of the equation. And, yes, my boots are going to be good, my GORE-TEX jacket is not gonna leak my pants. They’re not gonna tear. They’re gonna hold up. My feet are gonna be good, you know. My rifle is gonna shoot straight. My scope is gonna be on, you know, whatever it is. My broadheads are gonna stay sharp. Like you said, you’re investing in those just minute seconds, microseconds sometimes where it’s go time. You’ve got to make it happen, and you need everything to be in the best possible situation and shape it can be. And investing and planning ahead, buying proper gear, that’s almost as important as making sure you’re in shape and that your equipment is accurate.

And with that, we’re gonna wrap up this segment, this episode of Whitetail Rendezvous with Mike Merrill from Salem, Utah. Mike, it has been a pleasure to have you on this morning. And, you know, I think of the Wasatch Range, and I used to run the Wasatch Range back when I was working, and I had some great trails. They put the hurt on me, but there were great trails to run. That’s when I was running. That’s when I was running trails up and down.

I’d never challenged, you know, Cameron Hayes, but, you know, in my own way, I did it pretty good. So saying that, you just have a great Fourth of July, sir. And on behalf of hundreds of thousands of listeners of Whitetail Rendezvous, thank you for being a guest on our show today.

Thank you, Bruce. It’s been a pleasure. And I look forward to speaking with you again in the future.

Enjoy a cup of Buck Wild Coffee while you listen to the episode..https://whitetailrendezvous.com/shop

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