Nate is a happily married father of four currently living in Boise, Idaho. As a former college football player and Deputy Sheriff, Nate loves to get off the beaten path with his wife and kids. Together, they love to explore everywhere west of the Mississippi in their truck and their 2018 Highland Ridge Highlander.
How I Use My RV as a Hunting Basecamp
I am one of many that moved away from an urban city in search of adventure and freedom. As a father of four boys under the age of ten, my goal was to change the course of our lives from barely seeing nature and scenery to appreciating and thriving in the outdoors. Additionally, as descendents of American Indians, making a closer connection to nature was a big part of that decision.
When we did ultimately move to the Northwest, in an effort to deepen that natural connection, I told myself I would learn how to hunt. For those that know, hunting and hunting tactics are ever-evolving and ongoing. Many hunters have different approaches for getting out to their “spots” and staying there. So this year, when I got the chance to pursue elk, deer and bear in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, I decided to try something a little different. Not only did I bring my nine year old son along for the experience, but I chose to use my Highland Ridge Highlander 31RGR as our hunting basecamp.
To me, hunting is more than just the meat you bring home. It’s about the experience of the real outdoors—the animals, the smells, the weather, the people you bring with you. And regardless of the method you prefer, whether it be a duck blind, tree stand or on a mountain bike, having an RV as your basecamp makes for some great hunting. Here are a few things I’ve learned to make the whole experience that much better and more enjoyable.
- Location, Location, Location. The old adage for real estate also applies to your hunting camp. Some of the best parts about having an RV with you are the ability to get away from all of the other visiting hunters (I call them “lodge hunters”), and you can bring the best of your own comfortable world right to the hunting site. But you’ll have to put in work in order to find your perfect site. Studying maps of the area, going out on scouting trips, looking for animal signs and tracks, even swapping information with fellow hunters are all great places to start.
2. Tools of the Trade and Trail. Hunting exposes you to the elements, so it’s important to pack a variety of items and equipment for whatever Mother Nature might throw your way. This includes things like extra tools and supplies in case any of your gear breaks, and either a satellite phone or GPS tracker for when you go off the grid. This year, I drove our Highland Ridge Outback 34 miles down a dirt mountain road, where there was no cell service and the nearest gunsmith was two hours away. Needless to say, don’t assume your hunting trip will be like a standard family camping trip
3. Fire Safety First. This is particularly important for anyone who plans to hunt with a gun. As a hunter and former cop, fire safety is something I’ve really taken the time to learn over the years. Simple target shooting can turn into massive fires if not handled properly. I’ve investigated my fair share of accidental and preventable fires, and so I want to caution people to be aware of the potential hazards and to have safety gear in place to help prevent any fires from starting. Three things you should always consider are packing a shovel, bringing a fire extinguisher and knowing where the nearest water source is.
4. Your Guide to Essential Supplies. When it comes to hunting in the great outdoors, your basecamp has to be both a corner market and hardware store at the same time. If you plan on being successful, or even just hiking as far as you can, you need to make sure you’re never short AAA batteries when your headlamp is needed most. And what’s a camp without a campfire? Most hunters know how to safely set up a campfire with respect to the area around them, but you still need wood. I always bring a bow saw, hatchet, axe, and my favorite cordless chainsaw for easy, quick wood processing. Pro tip: Keep an eye out for fluffy, dried lichen that looks like “old man’s beard,” as my kids like to call it. It’s an excellent natural firestarter and something informative to teach your children.
5. Practice Target and Cleaning Gear. As both a rifle and bow hunter, there’s a different need for each situation. When it comes to taking the shot, confidence is key. Being able to take mid-day reps or practice the night before can be a crucial way to improve your confidence, as well as ensure that your instrument is tuned. You also want to bring a full cleaning kit along to make sure nothing fouls your chances at a precise shot.
6. First Aid. I cannot stress this one enough. A lot of states require a bow hunter safety class separate from the usual hunter safety requirements. One benefit of these classes is learning about first aid and the strange and unexpected accidents that can randomly happen. As a former deputy sheriff and EMT, I know that having a slightly advanced first aid kit on hand can literally be a lifesaver. Unlike “normal campers,” the hunter is handling and working around advanced-level dangers. When you’re two hours from cell service, every second of lifesaving capability is crucial. That’s why I strongly recommend having at least one Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT) on hand and educating yourself on how to properly use it.
7. Dog Containment and Control. There are a few extra things to consider if you have a hunting dog along for the ride. I keep an extra large kennel in the back of my Highland Ridge so my dogs can stay safe and secure. I also recommend an e-collar system. These collars work by buzzing or alerting the dog when it needs to do something—they’re great for both training and keeping your dog near the RV. Just make sure to get a waterproof collar if your hunting dog will be working in water or wet conditions.
8. Enjoy Your Hunting Down Time. When you find yourself with some hunting down time, drop a fishing line. Keep some fishing poles on hand for those times when the long pursuit is better exchanged for a nice long cast. Hunting also doesn’t have to be a lonely affair. I love the fact that my Highland Ridge is big enough for my family of six. And while I don’t always bring all of them with me, when they are with me, I want the days to be good ones. A soccer ball or football goes a long way. As does a well thrown frisbee.
Truthfully, the simplicity and relief of coming back to your home on wheels makes the hunting experience that much more enjoyable. And having the opportunity to share all of this with my nine year old was truly incredible. I’ll never forget what it was like when he called out “goodnight dad” from his room on the other side of the RV. It was just the two of us, at our basecamp, right in the middle of an incredible adventure.