I have been riding a bike since I was 5. My parents gift that year was a little bmx style bike, and I learned to ride with my dad coasting me down a grassy slope in our yard. No run bikes back then. I fell down a couple times, but soon I was off on mini- adventures in our seaside neighborhood. Cycling has been a huge part of my life since that point. I also became interested in hunting about the same time period, as mentioned in an earlier blog. It is a natural fit that the two past times meld together into one giant ball of awesome!
Over the years of cycling on back roads in the area, I have seen my share of game. Bears, deer, upland game birds, fur bearers, and waterfowl all live in the areas where I frequent. So do many gates. Private forestry lands surround the general vicinity of my biosphere. Years ago we could travel freely on these roads, now only atv's and motorcycles can get around the blockades. Since I do not own on of these machines, nor do I wish to. The bicycle becomes my number one option to access these areas.
Quiet, faster then walking and the ability to carry equipment and game with a trailer makes a mountain bike an excellent choice for hunting. I am one who enjoys the hard work of riding up hills, and within a few hours, I can be from my front door into sub-alpine heights. Accessing public land close to home is easy by bike too. Follow a known multi-use trail for some distance, searching for sign. The bike can be locked to a tree, away from obvious eyes, as you still hunt or sit. A tree stand could be easily transported on a bike trailer, with climbing sticks. Or a ground blind. Wearing drab clothing, not camo, and folks walking the same area would not suspect you are looking for dinner. Almost without saying, one must ensure the area being scouted is open to hunting. Others sharing the woods may look unkindly upon hunting in a nature reserve or park.
I would highly recommend that tire repair items be included in your kit. Countless times has a spare tube and a pump saved the day while out on the trail. Other times a forgotten Allen wrench or tire levers can make for a long, disappointed walk home. At the least one should have a spare tube, quality tire pump, allen key set(metric is most often on bicycles), some chain lube and a patch kit as small items that can be stashed in your trailer, backpack or seat post bag. A bike can travel great distances as long as the tire will roll. If a pedal breaks or a chain snaps, you can propel yourself by dropping the seat post and use your feet. Tune-ups before the season at your local bike shop are worth every penny. They know how to tune the machine and give you the most efficient equipment for the job.
I am going to use a well loved child trailer. This is a department store trailer, has been used with four kids in three different families. It still works well, however it is showing its age and is time to be re-purposed. I feel like I could fit a good sized deer or a boned out black bear on the trailer, plus my mountaineering camp gear. Packing light is important, saving space for the most important piece to get home, if one is lucky enough to harvest an animal. Dried food, small tent, merino wool clothing, down sleeping bag and insulation layers, backpacking stove and pot. Pack as you would for an over or multiple night hiking trip, only the bag can be in the trailer, not on your back.
A weekend spent camping and exploring in the hills, away from all the noise and smells of civilization is perfection. The sound of tires on the gravel and the ravens company is all that disturbs the still air of an early fall morning as I climb ever higher in search of a blueberry fattened black bear. My quarry in the best shape of the year, thick fat hiding under shining guard hair. A startled blue grouse takes flight at my approach, offering no shot. My un-braced long bow still in the home engineered rack on the rear of the bike. A beautiful tent site over looking a mirror calm tarn, cutthroat trout rising to late hatching mayflies. One may find its way onto my supper plate, if I can convince one to bit a dry fly from my four piece five weight. Binoculars ever present and glassing, looking for black shadows upon the hillside. Lush blueberry shrubs cover this section, sure to lure in Mr. Bruin.
I fantasize about such things often. I have not actually hunted with a bicycle yet, aside from the trips of my youth with a slingshot wrapped around the handle bars. No luck harvesting game, but the weapon always joined my adventures. Hopefully as hunting season comes around I can have some adventures with bike and bow to share with the readers of Beaufort Traditional.