Archery season is here for some and fast approaching for others. This time of year can be sitting in a tree stand, spot-and-stalk from the truck, or hiking deep into the backcountry. Of all the ways to archery hunt this season, one thing is for sure - you need the right gear. For those who spend their season in the backcountry, it requires an almost obsessive amount of planning and gear prep. Not everyone is willing to put in the work - it takes a special type of person. It takes someone who loves the process, and professional guide Alex Gruin is one of those people.
Alex grew up in Michigan hunting small game and fishing every weekend with his father. Alex’s father decided to try big game hunting for the first time when Alex was 11, and just before their hunt together Alex’s father passed away. Following his passing, Alex started big game hunting and developed a deep passion for the sport. “I really think it would have been something my father wanted to do,” said Alex. “And I would go hunt in his honor, only to fall in love with it more than fishing.”
Alex moved to Colorado when he was 23 and was fortunate enough to hunt all over the west learning the sometimes complicated draw and tag systems while also hunting as many over-the-counter (OTC) tags as possible. During his time in Colorado he flew back and forth to guide in Michigan where he now guides full-time. Alex later spent a few years in Nevada where he continued hunting elk, mule deer, you name it, all over the West and honed his skills for western big game hunting.
Alex now resides in Michigan guiding for turkey, bear, and whitetail. He still spends 20 to 30 days each year out west hunting with friends and clients, spending most of his time in the backcountry. In addition to guiding in Michigan, he consults on western tag applications and offers hunt planning for almost every western state
Being an expert in backcountry hunting and an experienced professional guide, we asked Alex to share his essential gear for archery season and life in the backcountry.
“They are great as all around base layers for the warm weather. They wick moisture really well, I feel that they are super durable and I can get away with only one legging and one long sleeve all week long due to no odors.”
“I use it as a base layer on a cooler morning. Keeps temps more tolerable and I feel warmer, especially if I’m glassing for longer periods of time at dusk or dawn.”
“I used this pretty much all the time in the mornings until it warmed up a bit and if there is a wind that’s whipping. If it was cooler than 40 degrees, I’d add the hybrid glove as well to keep my hands warm while glassing.”
“These are great for October hunts. They are very warm, the heatwave technology works well, and I love that the face fabric is soft and very quiet. My only complaint is that the pants and jacket are quite heavy.”
“Very packable and comfortable if it gets really cold out and I want to put this jacket on under the Calor jacket. Also used it as my outer layer in the 50 degree temps if I’m just sitting and glassing.”
“I have had a lot of boots, but these are hands down the most comfortable boot I have ever owned.”
Some great packs that can hold enough food and gear for a 7-10 day hunt.
“I always have the rain cover for my pack no matter what just in case I get stuck in a downpour somewhere.”
“I keep this in my optics kit because I fill it with water or rocks and hang it underneath my tripod … if I don’t it will shake around quite a bit”
“This has gone above my expectations. What I love about it is the all-in-one access as well as being able to put my license in the back of the harness, I store my little glass cleaning wipe, my windicator powder, and I slide my iPhone on the top of the harness in a spandex slit. It is awesome and it makes everything super easy-access.”
“I couldn't imagine hunting or doing work with clients without this service. Of all the things I use, this might be in the top 3 things for me.”
So, if your fall hunt includes hiking into the backcountry or getting off the grid, hopefully this list of gear we put together with professional guide Alex Gruin can offer some advice while you’re prepping. If you are looking for help with hunt planning out west or looking for a guided deer, turkey or bear hunt in Michigan be sure to check out @east2westhunts on Instagram.