My first goal was to get away from the crowds and see new country. If I happened to harvest an elk, that was just icing on the cake.
My job kept me in excellent shape, and that first year I averaged 12-14 miles a day just exploring and seeing what the backcountry had to offer. I spent 17 days in the field that fall and did not harvest an elk. What I did though, was rule out a lot of spots and formulate strategies for the following year. Bivy hunting requires more time for planning, scouting, packing, and simply getting to where you are going. If you like to cover country, explore, and get away from the competition, however, it is definitely a great option.
Being a bivy-style hunter allows you to cover a lot of ground with all the essentials on your back. My strategy is to leave a secondary vehicle in a flexible location roughly 20 miles from where I would park my main vehicle. Then, whichever way I decide to go, I’m never more than 10 miles from a ride. This gives me the flexibility to head any direction I wish to go, within reason, but without worry of going too far.
One important limitation to consider is how far you are willing to pack out an animal. This can be limited by the type of country, as well as the weather. Bivy hunting favors rifle season in my home state of Idaho due to cooler temperatures, as it allows the meat to keep for a longer period of time as you pack it out of the backcountry.
Bivy style hunting also gets you away from the competition, oftentimes, even horseback style hunters. You can target areas with limited trails and target small benches in rough country. This allows you to set up camp and rest, instead of hurrying back to the vehicle every day and getting up early to hike back in again the next morning. Why not stay where the elk are? In areas where you are forced to adapt to pressure from other hunters, the elk’s habits often become skewed and finding them can be a guessing game at best. Bivy hunting allows you to hunt elk in their normal environment, which in turn, allows you to learn more about them. Additionally, some of my best scouting has been in my tent at night, set up on a vantage point that allows me to listen to nearby bugling bulls.
Not to mislead anyone, bivy hunting can be very demanding, both physically and mentally, but it can also be extremely rewarding!