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Discover East Meets West Hunt Podcast With Beau Martonik
We’re going to head to Pennsylvania and talk with Beau Martonik. Beau is the host and Founder of East Meets West Hunt Podcast. I’m excited after our warmup, I’m ready to go hunting.
We could have talked for hours before we even hit record about the upcoming honey season. It’s getting excited with the stories.
It’s amazing. I know you started in Pennsylvania hunting mountain bucks. Let’s start with the beginning. Go back to when you started hunting bucks.
I grew up right in the heart of Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania. A lot of people think of Pennsylvania as these giant tracks of public land, but we have over 2.1 million acres of public land just in Northern Pennsylvania alone and most of that are just big woods. Some bits are steep, some bits are more rolling, it’s a big timber country. I grew up hunting whitetails there. My family is a huge whitetail hunting family, specifically using archery. I learned to do that at a young age. It’s one of the things I’m always involved in loving whitetails, wanting to get better at hunting them and going to new places to hunt them. Growing up, I always thought that hunting in the big woods was a disadvantage to what I’m seeing on TV with these people hunting, the agricultural field, food plots and everything. As I grew older, I realized that it’s special in its own and I honestly prefer it. A lot of times, you might not have the antler size that some of the ones that are getting fed a bit better, but you’ll get some old gnarly deer that grow up in this country and I got my teeth on it. I’m doing it until the day I die.
Who got you started on hunting?
My dad for the most part and both my grandparents. Both my grandfathers on each side were big into it, so from a young age I was around it. Always watching them, I wanted to be like my dad and my grandpa. They would come back in October, as a kid I’d always be dressed up for Halloween and they’d bring their deer back and be so excited with it. I’ve always looked up to them as a role model in life and they’ve put me down the path that I am now.
Was that basically the genesis of East Meets West Hunt Podcast?
Yes and no. The idea behind the podcast started when I took a different turn. Up until 2016, I would only hunt Pennsylvanian and Ohio whitetails. In Southern Ohio, I only hunted in a big timber type area similar in Pennsylvania. In 2016, I went west for the first time and chased elks. When I did that, I fell in love with it, I came back and wrote an article about it. At that time, I was not a writer. I just wrote it for myself a story to hunt and ended up submitting it to an online magazine that ran the story. I got a lot of feedback from people saying they wish they could do that or wished they had that kind of money or time. All of that wasn’t true. I don’t have a lot of money. I just do a lot of research to figure out how to do it. I realized that there was a gap in information for those of us in the East Coast and even through the Midwest that to plan these adventure, you’re able to do that through a do-it-yourself over-the-counter tag type hunt and do that on a relatively low budget, that’s in reach of everyone if you plan it out correctly.
My goal was for myself to learn more about Western hunting by talking to some of these great guests I’ve had on but also to be able to throw the mic on and have everyone else learn and be inspired to try it out. What I learned in the process was that, what I was doing my whole life in Pennsylvania hunting mountain bucks is that’s an adventure to a lot of people too, including myself. There are some adventure style hunting close to home. You might live in the Pittsburgh area. You can drive two hours and be in the “Mountains of Pennsylvania.” I’ve encompassed the two of them in my slogan of, “How do you define adventure?” What that means is that adventure is yours to define, whether if that is an Alaskan sheep hunt or a mountain buck hunt in Pennsylvania, it’s up to you. I want to give people information on these types of hunts and inspire them to be able to do that.
I love how you said that because many people that I talked to in my podcast are misinformed. They think they need to have a lot of money to come to Colorado and go DIY elk hunting. I put in for a limited area tags, I don’t get them every year but I can go hunt elk every year in areas I know there are bulls. To me, at this position, it’s the journey and adventure, making memories with your brothers and sharing those adventures. That’s what gets me stoked about this whole hunting journey that I’m on. I think that conversations in warm up, you are exactly the same way.Make a decision to hunt the west - Learn from East Meets West Hunt Podcast Click To Tweet
You couldn’t have said it any better. For me, at least for the Western hunting stuff, I don’t care about the size of the animal or anything. I’m hunting the experience. Don’t get me wrong, I 100% go there and try to fill the tag and I would love to shoot a big bull. I love that but that’s not all of it for me. I’ve been able to do this on a regular working man’s budget. I have a full-time job, I work every day and I’ve been able to plan my life a little bit around it. Hunting is something to me that is deeply ingrained. I’ve made it a priority. There are things that come first like bills and family and anything else. You can make those a priority and still do this on a relatively low budget. It’s not out of reach to anyone.
With your show, let’s talk about your guests and why you invite them on so they can share something educational and knowledge.
What I’d like to do with the podcast is I try not to go too far out of their realm and niche that I have with it. I try to think of questions that I had as far as an Eastern guy heading out west for hunting. I want to bring people on and talk about these things. Don’t assume that people know certain terms, I’ve learned so much from a lot of the Western hunting podcasts out there, but it took me awhile to even get to the baseline of what they were talking about. I want to make people not feel intimidated about it. I want to hear their stories but I want to make sure that everyone’s got a takeaway from it and realize that it’s not out of reach. I don’t want to make it sound like it’s extremely easy by any means, but I wanted to show that with some work and some planning that you can make that stuff happen. That’s what I look for when I’m looking for guests for certain topics. For anything else, I have that idea in my mind and ask people that they would be a good fit for those specific ideas.
Most of my readers are whitetail hunters and covet the opportunity to come out west and hunt elk. If you could be so kind as to share with my readers the top five or ten things that you’ve learned with your program with them?
One of the things I want to start out with is the hurdles I see with the budgeting and price. Everyone thinks that you need to have a lot of money in gear and everything else to do it. I’m a gear junkie, I love that kind of stuff. When it comes down to if I can get a tag to getting the newest gear, I’m going to get a tag. It’s all about getting out there. The first thing you need to do is commit, plan it, put it down on the calendar, say you’re going to do it. Everything else after will take some more work and planning but the biggest thing is committing to doing the hunt and figuring out what your expectations are. If you want to go out and you’re happy with the experience, you fill a tag, then that’s great. If you don’t, that’s still great. That’s going to be different as far as your goals go than if you plan on going out, shooting a 330-inch bull. All you care about is checking that off a bucket list. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with either of them but you have to have that upfront. If your idea is shooting a bull, then you’d have a better chance in saving money going with an outfitter. If you want that adventure side of things and everything on those lines, you need to buy a tag.
The going rate, let’s take the top five states. Looking at Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, you average that it’s somewhere around $700 for an elk tag. Some are less, some are more. If you can get a couple of buddies talked into it with you to drive out there, you can split the gas. You can go out there on a 3,000-mile round trip, gas is $2.5 a gallon, it probably would be $500 for the round trip. If you split that up between a few people, you’re looking at around a few hundred dollars a person. Then with the central gear, there are certain gear items that you probably should spend some money on, say $500 to $700 in gear for your first trip going there and $200 in food you should be spending on groceries. Your total cost of the hunt would be somewhere around $1,900 to $2,000. You can definitely bring that down depending on what your needs and wants are from a gear standpoint and how you logistically figure that out.
Let’s say you’re planning on doing that a year out. That’s $165 a month. If it was two years, that’s $83 a month. That’s still a lot of money. When you think about the things you spend your money on daily when you have Netflix subscriptions or Sirius radio, and say you have a newer truck that you’re paying anywhere from $400 to $600 a month. What if you turn your vehicles into something a couple of years older and save a few hundred dollars a month? There are different things from a budgeting standpoint that you could do to make this happen. I bring these things upfront again, because the biggest roadblocks that I’ve seen from people is the money thing.
After that, when it comes down to preparing for the hunt, this is another thing that’s a big learning curve. There are so many tools out there. The biggest rule is your mind, the knowledge that you gain, like listening to podcasts, just try to get that information in and learn as much as you can. One thing that helped me out a lot when I started going out west specifically for elk hunting was Corey Jacobson, his Elk 101 has the University of Elk Hunting. It’s an online course that you subscribe to. It lays it out from beginning to end, everything through it to make that elk hunt happen. It’s a little bit of investment with about $100 a year. In the grand scheme of things, it’s nothing for the knowledge you’ve learned and how you can be a lot more prepared for that hunt. That’s another thing that I’ve found helpful. It’s investing yourself in knowledge and having plans going forward.You don’t need a lot of money to go hunting. Do a lot of research and figure how to do it. Click To Tweet
With whitetails, that way I grew up, I wanted to go into an area and scout it out. I’ll strap on my boots and I went for a hike. I looked for the rubs, scrapes, bedding areas, trail features and all that. What’s nice now with things like onX has their hunt app and Google Earth, you can scout from a couple of thousand miles away and at least have an idea of what you’re getting into. By utilizing that information, you’ve learned on a podcast or reading with where the elk live. You can put those pieces together and create yourself a hunt plan and stay organized. Have five areas that you think would go to, one being your primary, then having backup spots. Once you go on some of these trips, you get out there and you don’t find elk and you don’t have a backup plan, you start scrambling. You start stressing yourself out and it makes it a lot easier for you to quit. When you have a system in place to prepare for that, then you’re a lot more apt to succeed because you’re organized. It goes that way in anything in life. When you have that plan in place, it seems to help out more.
Another thing that I’ve learned from personal experience and as well as from my guests is the physical preparation. It’s physical conditioning for going on these hunts. Am I saying that you need to be in the best shape possible to succeed? No, I’m not saying that. One of the things I always say is, “You’ll never wish you had worse shape.” I thought I was in good shape. I get out there and the elevation would hit you. I felt like I was short on breath and the mountains looked a lot bigger than on the internet, that’s for sure. That was a big thing for me. Some of the things that I did to prepare for that, I worked out every morning. It’s one of those things that I just stayed disciplined with, wake up at 4:30 in the morning and go workout. What I think is more important than the type of workout your doing is just being consistent with it. If you’re walking two miles a day, then all of a sudden, you’re doing three miles, 2.3 miles or 2.4 miles, that’s better than the day before. It’s constantly working on it and staying consistent. The physical conditioning aspect has been a big proponent in getting ready for a hunt.
Switching back to the gear side of things, whatever gear you decide to use, make sure you know how to use it, you know the ins and outs of it. Practice on packing your bag, put everything in there and take it out again, put them back in, put it on your back and see how it feels, take it out and do it again. When you’re out there and the weather gets bad or it gets dark and have your head lamp die, just having the knowledge on how to work yourself around, like what they teach in the military, is super helpful. From personal experience and talking to a lot of guests, there are a few items gear-wise that I think are worth spending money on, the quality gear. A backpack is important for these types of hunts because if you’re going to be hauling meat out of the backcountry yourself or with some buddies, a quality pack can increase your comfort. That’s what’s on your back every single day. Something like that is important. My first trip, I found a Memorial Day sale on a backpack. I bought it and it was supposed to be a good pack, ultra-lightweight but it ended up failing. I tightened down the straps and the bag ripped and had a main buckle break. I made sure that I bought a quality pack the next year. With that being said, it didn’t ruin my hunt but it’s something that I’d rather not happen.
The other thing is boots. You spend every single day on your feet, finding the pair that fits you and your feet is essential. Finding a place to try on boots for Western hunting is difficult in the east and midwest. I found that looking for places online that allow free return shipping and exchanges is crucial. Wear them around the house, climb up your ste