The end of spring hunting seasons signals the beginning of another season for archers, 3D tournaments. Bowhunters get to satiate their thirst for the hunt by climbing mountains, crossing creeks and making their way through the brush, to kill foam. It’s great preparation for the upcoming hunting season and it helps pass the 3-month drought between spring and fall seasons.
The NW Mountain Challenge is a PNW bowhunters dream. With three locations spread out across Oregon, Idaho and Washington, the experience captures all the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and then some.
This year I made it to two of the three legs of the challenge, and I have to say, it was worth it. I was expecting gorgeous views and challenging courses, but I think what was most surprising, and truly wonderful, was the people I met. It’s not often that I get to be amongst others who are as passionate about archery as I am. As bowhunters, we share a camaraderie that a lot of other hunters don’t understand. It is evident at events like this. Everywhere you go, folks are talking about their equipment, which courses they like, future hunts, and of course the big one that got away or the one on this year’s hit list. In the evenings, everyone gathers together to listen to the musical stylings of Tony Winthrop (a PNW bowhunter who loves to sing about hunting, fishing and living in the Pacific Northwest), take part in elk calling contests, watch the Full Draw Film Tour, and see who won the raffles and giveaways. It’s a perfect way to unwind and enjoy the beautiful setting amongst friends.
If I had to choose a favorite, it would be Hoodoo. I really enjoyed the courses. The terrain isn’t nearly as rugged as it is at Steven’s Pass, so it’s much easier to squeeze 2-3 in a day, and it’s much more family-friendly.
Hoyt: The Hoyt course had targets ranging from about 20 yds to 63 yds and it was a fairly simple hike straight down the hillside. This course is great if you have kids in your group. All together it took about an hour and a half to finish.
Born and Raised: Another family-friendly course. Similar to Hoyt. Shots are shorter distance and the terrain is less rugged than Camofire and Pure Elevation.
Camofire: The Camofire course was more technical. The shots were harder and the terrain more rugged than Hoyt. Still, it’s definitely a course a young kid could do with some assistance. I personally wouldn’t bring any child under about 8 years old. It really depends on how athletic the child is. Again, there is some steep, rocky climbs.
Pure Elevation: This is the competition course. Pure Elevation is just as it sounds… straight up! It’s a fairly steep climb with extremely challenging shots. The farthest shot is about 100 yds.
Phelps: The Phelps course was a challenging hike. The first 400-500 yds or so was a hike across the rocky mountain face to the first shot. Then it was another solid 400 yds straight up the steepest part of the mountain shooting. If you’re looking for a good elk hunt prep course… this is it. No irony in it being the Phelps course. ; ) After you finish , it’s a long walk to the bottom.
Camofire: Not nearly as rugged as the Camofire course at Hoodoo. Moderately challenging as you walk down the hillside. Similar to the Hoyt course at Hoodoo.
Pure Elevation: Not for the faint of heart. I didn’t shoot this one. I was working a vendor booth for Slumberjack and the course took roughly 6 hours to complete. From what I gather from those who braved the steep course… it is the most difficult 3D course many of them have ever shot. Be prepared for 100 yd shots and exceptionally intense terrain.
If you’ve never shot a 3D shoot, the NW Mountain Challenge is a great jumping off point. Each venue offers a little something for everyone, lots of fun for the whole family and of course the opportunity to meet and mingle with like-minded folks. We plan on making it a yearly tradition.