How To Thrive in the Backcountry With Kody Kellom of Born and Raised Outdoors

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Kody Kellom from Born and Raised Outdoors has made a successful hunting career from living out of a backpack and hunting elk and deer deeper in the woods than most hunters dare to go. He has dealt with mountain weather, exhaustion, low morale, and other difficulties that come with sleeping on the ground while wet, cold, and tired.

Below, Kellom offers some of his insights on the gear, planning, and mindset he needs to survive and thrive in the backcountry.

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Don’t Forget the Creature Comforts

Kellom isn’t the kind of guy to count ounces when loading his pack, but he does have to keep things light when going out for eight, or more, days. When he does splurge on weight, it’s for a high-quality air mattress. After hiking up and down hills for miles over uneven terrain, you need to rest and recharge for the next day. That’s hard to do when you toss and turn all night and wake up with a sore back. Aside from providing warmth and a better night’s sleep, splurging on a new mattress is probably only adding ounces to your pack and not pounds.

Before he hits the hay, however, Kellom likes a little taste of home with his hunting partners. He’s a big believer in winning the psychological battle that can linger over you while chasing elk in the deep woods and passing a bottle around the campfire underneath the stars can remind you why you spend your time in the woods. Sometimes the little things are what give him, and the rest of the Born and Raised crew, the steam to keep lacing up their boots every early morning.


“The biggest advantage is just sitting around the campfire, telling stories and lies about the day with your buddies.”

Know Your Terrain and Know What To Expect

Kellom chases elk through multiple states across the West and has set foot on many different trails of varying quality. Hunting on an unfamiliar trail can be challenging and demoralizing. There is some information a lot a paper maps can’t tell you about a trail, and because of this, Kellom has had to hike all the way back to his truck and drive for miles to find a better way into his hunting ground.

This is the first year Kellom is trading in his GPS and chip for the Hunt App, which will allow him to know his surroundings and everything the trail will throw at him. He is looking forward to using the new Trail Slope Layer in particular.

This layer not only shows you the trail ahead, but it also color codes it with darker colors representing the harder, steeper sections. With colors changing from green to yellow, yellow to orange and orange to red, Kellom knows what he’s in for. When combined with the Trail Mileage Layer, you will know the trail like the back of your hand and that knowledge can play a major role in keeping your mental game strong.


From his experience, Kellom said when you’re exhausted with almost 100 pounds of elk on your back, knowing when the rough section is ahead of, or behind, you is another step in winning the all-important mental battle.

This fall, he also plans to use the Trail Slope Layer to circumnavigate windy and steep sections of trail for a more direct route to camp, or the hunting grounds.

Surround Yourself With The Best and Prepare For The Worst

Kellom keeps a tight-knit group around him on hunts and suggests one of your best assets on a hunt is a trusted friend. You’ve read his thoughts on the importance of mental toughness, but the only way he stays elk strong is with dedicated hunting buddies.


Steve Howard and brothers Treavor and Trent Fisher make up the rest of the Born and Raised team. They act as an essential support system for the man next to them. Whether they help with the burden of packing out an elk, or provide one another with moral support during the hard times, Kellom and his crew survive their harsh schedule in the mountains through support for each other. The team has a grueling schedule as they hunt across five different states this fall and their success is dependent on each other.

“To have a hunting partner who works harder for you to succeed than themselves, that’s the basis of success for us.”

Written by Cavan Williams