Hunt 101: Top 5 Reasons Never to Hunt Without Trekking Poles

Whether you’re heading to the backcountry on a hunt or out for a weekend excursion camping, there are few gear essentials as necessary as trekking poles. When my excursions take me into the high deserts and forests of New Mexico, one piece of kit that you will always find on my person is a good set of trekking poles. Trekking poles have a myriad of uses, and here are five reasons why you should almost always carry a pair of trekking poles.

  1. Trekking poles are great at probing for venomous critters and moving aside brush.

Depending on the time of year, the possibility of coming in contact with a rattlesnake can be high. An extended trekking pole is ideal for tapping the grass ahead of you and listening to the telltale rattle of a pit viper. Not only will a trekking pole alert you to danger, but the sharp end of a trekking pole is more than capable of killing an aggressive rattlesnake. Trekking poles can also be used to temporarily clear away brush and thorns.

Trekking poles are perfect for harvesting large game or shooting predators. In this picture, the author is using a push-pull technique. With his left arm, the author is pushing on the trekking poles, while his right hand is pulling the rifle into his shoulder. The rifle is anchored to the poles by the Harris bipod. Ideally, you would have a bag on your lap to support your right elbow.

  1. Trekking poles are great when packing heavy loads.

My first exposure to trekking poles was during an endurance race called Survival Trial. The Survival Trial is a 24-hour adventure race that used to take place in Raton, New Mexico, at the NRA Whittington Center. The race required competitors to navigate miles of rugged mountain terrain and achieve points by completing various challenges, all while carrying a 60-pound pack. Though I had not trained with trekking poles, several days before the event I stopped by my local REI and picked up a pair of Black Diamond Trail Pro Trekking Poles. Several days later, my teammate and I found ourselves rucking up the side of a mountain. My trekking poles were in hand and propelling me upward, and I felt as though they were a gift from the heavens. Trekking poles are great for rucking uphill, or when you have to pack an animal off the side of a mountain.

A Mossberg Patriot Predator and Black Diamond trekking poles are a lethal combination for hunting coyotes.

  1. Trekking poles are great for stabilizing on inclines.

When traversing across broken terrain trekking poles will give you additional points of contact. If you have musculoskeletal injuries, trekking poles will reduce wear and offer stability to your joints. Trekking poles are invaluable for going up-hill, by they are also handy when going downhill. This is especially true after a 20+ mile hike, when your body is sore and depleted.

To attach the trekking poles to each other, simply loop the wrist straps to the adjacent pole.

  1. Trekking poles can be used to make a hasty shelter.

In the event of an emergency, a trekking pole, when paired with a tarp can make a decent shelter. The weather in New Mexico can be unpredictable, and I have found myself on numerous occasions setting up a hasty shelter with a tarp and a trekking pole to get out of a rain or hail storm. For my backcountry excursions, I keep a Kelty Upslope Tarp that can be set up in a matter of minutes. The Kelty Upslope weighs a meager 1 pound, 6 ounces, and has multiple attachment points, most which can interface with a trekking pole.

Telescopic trekking poles are either twist lock or have external lever locks. Pictured are the author’s Black Diamonds with external lever locks. These are some of the best trekking poles on the market.

  1. Trekking poles can be used as a shooting platform.

One of my favorite uses for trekking poles is to make a shooting platform while in a sitting position. Earlier this year, I was hunting coyotes, and my shooting sticks fell apart. Fortunately, I had my trekking poles available, and I was able to use them in place of the shooting sticks. After several hours shooting off trekking poles, I found that they were more stable than conventional shooting sticks.

When I shoot off trekking poles, the first thing I will do is connect the poles to each other via the wrist straps. I will rotate the poles to create tension, then place the rifle in the “V” created by the poles. I like to have a bipod on the rifle when I shoot off trekking poles. My left arm will push the poles away from my body, and my right hand will pull the rifle into my shoulder. The bipod anchors the rifle to the trekking poles. If I have a backpack, I will place it on my lap to support my right elbow. This is a very stable position, and I would have no problem hitting a target out to 600 yards.

Trekking poles are typically very lightweight. They’re perfect for going on a backcountry hunt.

Last Impressions

Trekking poles are lightweight tools that can fill a variety of roles. In my opinion, Leki and Black Diamond make the best trekking poles on the market. Trekking poles usually come with twist locks or external lever locks. From my experience, lever locks are more robust and will last longer. As soon as I finish this article, I will be packing for a Pronghorn antelope hunt in Colorado. You can bet that my Black Diamond trekking poles will be part of my kit.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • John October 30, 2017, 3:04 pm

    In my Rocky Mts., they’re too noisy and don’t navigate brush and rocks well.,

    • Thomas Gomez October 31, 2017, 12:12 pm

      In my Rocky mountains, they are a godsend. They have the little rubber caps for the bottoms if you need to be ninja.

  • OFBG October 30, 2017, 2:18 pm

    Yes, trekking poles are great, and versatile. I must suggest that you try them on for grip-fit before buying. Most poles, like the Black Diamond model used by the author, have slightly-curved grips that are basically in line with the pole. This does not suit me in use. Leki makes at least one model that has the grips angled forward, which I prefer.

  • Campbell King October 30, 2017, 2:01 pm

    They are great ~ Wife n I used them in Ak…They worked well for steadying on rough terrain or just an extra push up hill..

  • Bob October 30, 2017, 1:49 pm

    Yeah the Indians & Pioneers NEVER hunted with things like this and many STARVED because of it….

  • Dave Hicks October 30, 2017, 10:22 am

    Good idea ,I use a 4 1/2 foot 1 inch round wooden oak staff ,where ever I go. Makes a good cane.

  • Minuteman October 30, 2017, 9:12 am

    Recommend getting trekking poles with cork handles (the cork absorbs sweat). Trekking poles are awesome when hiking, like having 4 wheel drive & traction control. I have the black diamond trail ergo cork trekking poles and am very happy with them. Think I picked them up for $90 off backcountry or amazon.

    • Thomas Gomez October 30, 2017, 1:25 pm

      Thank you Sir! My girlfriend has cork handles. They are nice!
      I hope this finds you well.

  • Alexander October 28, 2017, 6:53 pm


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