With the calendar change comes the usual events, one being fireworks for a lot of folks to celebrate the Fourth of July. Another is the official start of the sweet corn eating season. If you’re a fan of the Outdoor Channel you know that programming will start to transition from fishing shows to hunting shows. What the change means for me is my start of elk hunting training.

There was a time when I really, really looked forward to this training. I guess maybe the years of backpacking in the mountains along with just the years are finally catching up to me. It’s not yet to the point where I’m ready to give it up. It just seems that with every year I go west, the temperatures seem warmer and the mountains seem much higher than they used to be.

What does elk hunting training really mean for me? Well, for starters, it means that I shoot my bow on a regular basis. It’s not that I get out of tune when it comes to shooting but I’d feel guilty if I went out west without properly preparing for a hunt when it comes to shooting. Plus, shooting arrows is way less demanding than running or backpacking.

As for backpacking it’s a pretty simple formula. I place a 40-pound bag of rock salt in my hunting pack, load up and start walking. It used to be a 50-pound bag but I can’t seem to find that size anymore. To be fair though, I don’t look very hard for it. By hiking around with a 40-pound bag it makes my 18-pound hunting pack pretty manageable.

Another elk hunting prep is to get my camper out of storage. I need to make sure that it had another mice-free winter and that it’s good to make another trip. It’s not a big fancy Class A travel trailer but more on the other end of the camper spectrum. It’s a pop-up, pull-behind camper that is about as bare bones as it gets. What it is full of is memories of a lot of fun hunts with my brothers.

This last part of my training for elk hunting is key because if you’ve ever hunted or hiked in the mountains you know that nothing prepares you for the mountains except the mountains. The altitude is just something that you cannot recreate here in the Midwest. I mean, it does help to try and get into the best possible shape you can here, but mountain shape only comes from the mountains. So, here is my best training secret: starting on July 1, I switch my beverage of choice to the brand that is “brewed with Pure Rocky Mountain Spring Water.” That’s as close to the mountains as I can get from here.

What to watch for this week: As we get into July it's the beginning of the end for our Oriole friends. In July the southern migration starts and by mid-August most birds are long gone.