Rogue 36 Pack Wheel — Cow Elk Hunting

 

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For several months I have been working on building a Pack Wheel with the largest wheel possible, that being a wheel that is 36 inches in diameter. Thirty six inch wheels on specialty bikes are showing up more and more, especially for really tall people. Being a tall guy myself I have been really intrigued with the larger wheel. The larger the wheel the smoother the ride, as the angle with which the tire contacts an obstacle is lowered making going over obstacles easier.

There are a few challenges to designing a thirty six inch wheel to work with the Pack Wheel. Challenges in designing and building things my brain just loves to tackle, so bring it on. The two most significant challenges to designing this giant wheel to work with the Pack Wheel were first, redesigning the handle so that it would offer strength and stability in a lower-to-frame design. Something I refer to as leverage. The greater the distance between the handle and the center of gravity the better. The second major obsticle was designing the frame to handle the added braking force of the extra leverage from the huge diameter wheel. A few tweaks to the design of the handle and the frame accomplished both of these major obsticles with flying colors!

After working on the design for a few months I had parts cut and welded up just in time for our families late season cow elk hunts. Dallen, Landen and myself all had cow elk tags for an area that has some public land we like to hunt. The last couple of years I have hunted this area I have had to hike in over three miles to find what few elk have been in the area. This year we had a little more snow than the past few years so I was hopeful that we wouldn't have to hike three plus miles in for cow elk especially with my eleven and thirteen year old boys.

Not wanting to have three elk on the ground all at once I decided to have Dallen and I make an initial trip up and see if we could locate some and if possible bring a couple cow elk back with us.

We picked a good day of the week as there were no other vehicles in the parking lot as we showed up a little after daylight. We set out up the canyon with me pushing an empty Rogue 36 and Dallen pushing a 27.5+ Pack Wheel. The 27.5+ is a three inch fat tire that has an outside diameter of 29 inches, just a little smaller than the 29er tires that are on the Pack Wheel.

In years past we have hunted up the mountain for cow elk with Pack Wheels collapsed on our backs. Something that has worked really well for us. My personal Pack Wheels I have setup tubeless making them about nine ounces lighter. This makes my 29er right at twelve pounds of carry weight. Add the two pound meat panniers and I have everything I need to haul a completely boned out elk off the mountain by myself with just the fourteen pounds of extra carry weight with me.

This year we chose to just push the Pack Wheels empty up the mountain. This first prototype Rogue 36 Pack Wheel weighs in just over seventeen and a half pounds and the meat panniers are the same two pounds. In fact Dallen and I were taking the first set I ever sewed up and another very early set. Both sets have carried many elk and a few deer off the mountain and are still holding up strong. These two sets of meat panniers were most recently used to carry out Dallen and Landen's mule deer from the 2016 Utah rifle deer season.

Pushing the Pack Wheel along empty worked great. I wondered if it would annoy me but it didn't at all even going up some really steep inclines. I actually enjoyed having it to lean on and help keep my balance similar to a walking stick.

After hiking for a half mile or so we climbed up the North side of the canyon hoping to glass and find some elk in the area. Nope, nope and nope. After an hour or so we finally found three cows an a calf about a mile further up the canyon and on the thick brushy north facing side. We made a note of them and continued up the south facing slope that we were on. After another half hour we noticed that the three cows and calf had moved one ridge line closer. With not seeing anything on the side we were on we decided to drop back down, cross the canyon, and hope that we might be able to get within range be able to see the elk on the oak brushy side that they were on.

Some time later we were hiking on the other side along the edge of some oak bush when we spotted them at three hundred and fifteen yards. Well within range of my X-Bolt in 270 WSM shooting a 150 Gr SST and Dallen's new 300 WSM shooting 200 Gr ELD-X bullets. However, there was a one major problem, that being we were behind a line of oak brush and getting two of the cows to be in a window to shoot through at the same time highly difficult. Given they were feeding their way towards a ridge line and could disappear from our view, when the largest cow came into an opening I told Dallen to take her. Dallen made a very well placed heart shot and she quickly did a death run mixed with death slide into the brush. The remaining cow and calf ran and paused not far from cresting the ridge line. I had to quickly maneuver into a shooting position that wasn't the most steady but I had a narrow window to the elk through the brush directly in front of me. As I touched off the shot I was right on her back and that was exactly where I hit her. There went a good five pounds of back strap. :( Oops.

By the time we hiked up to them, had them both boned out, and loaded on the Pack Wheels it was after 10pm. As I get older I'm noticing that I can't bone an elk out as fast as I used to. 

Once we had them loaded, off the mountain we cruised. The giant 36" wheel was amazing in the snow. If I could change one thing I would like a really knobby tread like the Hans Dampf or Knobby Nic tires that are on our 26, 27.5+ and 29er Pack Wheels. There just aren't many tire options to choose from that are 36 inches in size. The tires that are on the 36" Pack Wheel are knobby just not super knobby. The reason I would prefer the super knobby tires is for holding your position going around a steep loose side hill. 

There was a hundred yards or so of going around a side hill and the 36 inch tire worked well it just didn't grab and hold it's line quite as well as the knobbier tires I am used to using. I dont' see the tire being a problem I just noticed they slipped a little where the Hans Dampf tires would have held their ground better.

One of the things we knew was going to happen from other snow experiences is the extra resistance of a fatter tire that was on the 27.5+ Pack Wheel Dallen was using. Wider tired have more resistance in un-groomed, wet and deeper snow. I prefer the 2.35" wide Hans Dampf tire over the wider Fat tires in the snow. The reason being is unless you have perfect hard pack snow conditions the fatter tires still sink into the snow. It's a lot easier to have a narrower tire cut through the snow than a fat tire. There just is more resistance along the front edge of the tire. I knew this but still wanted more experience with a fat tire so the Pack Wheel Dallen was primarily using was the fat tire Pack Wheel and I was using the Rogue 36. 

Both Pack Wheels worked great however there was a two hundred yard stretch of sage brush flat that had a layer of a foot of powder on top of a crusted layer of around another eight inches of snow. The 36 inch wheel went through all eighteen inches of snow with ease. The fat tire took some energy to move in this section and a few small rest stops to make it through this two hundred yard stretch. The fat wheel would sink just as far into the snow but it had considerable more resistance to push through the snow just like we have found in other experiences we had last fall while hunting mule deer in heavy wet snow. I knew this but wanted to get a little more experience with the fat tire in the snow. It still worked in the snow but I definitely prefer the standard 2.35" wide tires in the snow. 

We did take turns using each size of the Pack Wheel so that we could better get a side by side comparison.

One thing was for sure and that is the giant 36" tire is now my hands down favorite in the snow and I'm betting it is going to be my all around favorite for all of my outdoor adventures. I'll bet I'm using it on all of my trips this year. :)

Other than a slight slow down for the fat tire on the 200 yard flat, we cruised off the mountain in the dark. 

Did I mention how much I loved the giant wheel? Dang it rolled really nice!

Next up getting Landen's cow elk tag filled.

 

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