With my favorite season approaching fast, I wanted to do a quick round up post and explain some of the must-have things you need to get sorted before venturing out on your next hunt. Because spending the day in the great outdoors is one thing, but it’s on you to be prepared with everything you need should there be an emergency or crisis while you’re out hunting. If you don’t have the right gear, you can find yourself in big trouble and fast.
As the saying goes, if you fail to plan ahead - you’re planning to fail.
Start with a decent gear bag
I’ve been mocked by the amount of kit I like to take with me on a hunt, but after an accident a few years ago that had us we spend an additional two nights living off the land, there’s no way I’d go anywhere in the wilderness without a decent bag, packed full of gear. You want something that’s comfortable for you to wear, large enough to fit everything you need inside without being too heavy or too cumbersome, and without any metal parts that’ll rattle and scare off any of your target prey. Oh, and make sure its tough and study too so it won’t fall apart as soon as you start using it.
Get comfortable for the day
Next comes to where you’re going to setup for your hunt. I’ve always had the best results getting into a decent position and then sitting still, which often means hours and hours waiting for the perfect shot to present itself. Small things here make a big difference in passing the time, like a small solar strip to keep my phone charged, as well as these two little rifle rest sand bags I picked up recently. You can fill them once you arrive and they’re perfect for stabilizing your long-distance shots so you never miss when its crunch time.
Cover your key survival bases
When I’m packing my kit I like to cover the key fundamentals of survival. Ensuring I’ve got enough calories for at least 48 hours, water and a filter just in case, as well as everything I need to start a fire, throw up a quick shelter, and keep myself safe, warm and secure should I ever find myself in a bad situation. It’s almost like a smaller version of my bug out kit that I take with me, because you never know just how a day will go when you’re in the wild, and being prepared in advanced will save you a world of headaches if things go south.
Throw in a small fishing kit
I know you’re out hunting bigger game with your rifle, but trust me. If you get stuck, bored or there’s nothing to shoot, having a small fishing kit can be a smart way to bring home something to put on the table. I like to set up a few lines and leave them tossed out into the water, and only circle back to check them later in the day. It takes just a few minutes, and more often than not I’ll get a fish or two to bring home as well. Or if you’re going to spend a day or two out hunting, a nice fresh feed of fish always goes down well.
Plan to spend the night outside
We all like to push it when we’re on the hunt, and there’s been many times we’ve left it a little late and have had to spend the night in the woods. But without preparing beforehand, you’re going to have a cold and miserable night. Think ahead and make sure you’ve got everything you need to comfortably spend the night outside and under the stars. I’ve got everything from mylar blankets as a little extra insulation from the cold ground, to a flint and steel to get a roaring fire going should we end up staying overnight.
Don’t forget about first aid
An accident in the middle of nowhere is always going to critical, and it’s important you’ve got a first aid kit in your pack to treat simple injuries. Bandages to close up a wound, and enough strapping tape to support a rolled ankle or whatever other injury you’re dealing with so you can hobble your way back to your vehicle and seek out proper medical care. I’d also recommend a tourniquet for good measure, it can save a life if something has gone seriously wrong, and you need to cut off the blood flow to stop a friend bleeding out.
Bring enough batteries and light
It always amazes me how fast darkness falls in the woods, so make sure you’ve got at least two different sources of light in your kit, and they’ve both fully charged. I always wear a cap when I’m hunting and this last Christmas the wife got me a LED headlamp that clips perfectly to the brim. It’s handsfree and I love it, but I’d also recommend having a proper flashlight too. Getting caught out in the dark is never fun, so bring enough light to ensure you can always pack up properly, remove all traces of your camp, and find your way back to your vehicle to get home safe.
Remember to stay connected
Depending on how far you go into the woods, you may find you’re out of range of the cell towers so it’s important you’ve got a way to communicate with everyone else in your party. We’ve got a few systems that we use, from portable CB radios to a simple whistle I like to wear whenever I’m in the woods. The sound carries quite far, and it’s even got a signaling mirror built in if I need to attract attention to someone a little further away.
By thinking ahead and adding just a few key bits of gear to your kit before heading out on a hunt, you can be ready for whatever you’ll face in the woods. And that’s definitely a good thing. Being prepared is fundamental to good survival.