About a year ago, I jotted down a post about what is in my pack, and what I consider to be essential “kit” that goes with me every time I set foot in the wilderness. Having wrapped up a tough week in the elk woods in mid-September, and a few day hunts here and there, my overall list has stayed more or less the same, with a few tweaks. One, I added in another bag to my Sawyer water filter kit, more as a back up than anything else. I doubled up my headlamps, carrying a smaller spare; getting caught without a light 3 miles in is not a fun thing to do, especially when you are racing to get back, or have a heavy load of meat weighing you down.
I polled a few of my friends and hunting partners on what they consider key pieces of gear that go with them each time they head out. It was interesting to see the lists and where we match up, and the new things they pack that I would consider very useful or may become part of my own kit. Thanks to Josh Kuntz and Reed Watson for their info and gear lists. Here are a few of the more useful gear choices they provided:
- 1 small Polycro tarp (for laying meat on to cool down)
- Small square of K-tape (for blisters; this stuff is much more durable than Moleskin)
- Piece of Paper w/ Patient Assessment Notes on one side & area to write SOAP notes on the other (Josh’s wife is a doctor, so if you are not sure what SOAP notes are, check it out here. It is a good thing to be familiar with in case of a serious injury and to keep key details in one place for responders or ER staff. )
- Wool socks for stalking. Cut off just above the ankle.
- Kindle – in a Ziploc bag (Some may scoff at this, but being stuck in a tent riding out a storm gets boring very fast; being able to have an entire library in your hand which weighs about the same as a small paperback is a life-saver. Well, at least sanity saver.)
- McMurdo FastFind (this is a PLB, or Personal Locator Beacon. As Reed is a new father – and responsible family man – this is something that can help out in case of a serious emergency. Reed is a very capable and fit hunter, so it would have to be one helluva “incident” for him to hit the button. But, as a father myself, it does get me thinking about PLBs such as the SPOT, etc.)
- Bivi sack and down quilt – even on day trips when solo. (Another solid idea, especially during the colder days of rifle season. Both Reed and Josh prefer down quilts designed for lightweight backpacking, as they are versatile and very light for their warmth factor. Toss both in your pack, and you have a solid system to ride out an unforeseen night stuck in the woods.)
Gear selections are as unique and varied as the hunters carrying them, and it is always interesting to find ways to improve, lighten or modify my own list, refining it each season, so when a buck or bull goes down, or a freak snowstorm rolls in, I am prepared to come out smiling.