-By Randy Cooper
When I started hunting about 40 years ago, I would take nothing but a box of shells and a dove vest to go hunt squirrels all day. I usually got a sack full and came home tired and satisfied that I was becoming a hunter. As I grew older and wiser I started to be more careful when I went to the woods and would actually tell someone where I was going. After I married and had two wonderful kids, things really got serious when I went hunting. Safety began to take new meaning. Now I carry so much stuff that some of the deer I see don’t weigh as much as my daypack.
Seriously, I’ve changed the way I do things now in the name of safety. After all, I love my wife’s husband and want to see him come home safe and sound after a hunt. I’d like to share the items I carry every outing for comfort and survival. The list has whittled down over time to the necessities. It may sound like a lot, but at least when I need it, I’ve got it.
First things first, I carry everything in a camouflage daypack with many pockets. It has padded straps for my shoulders and a quick disconnect strap for easy removal. I start loading it with the basics:
- Water bottle and half-a-dozen trail mix bars (just in case I get turned around, the water alone could save my life)
- Headache medicine and antacid tablets
- Toilet paper (for what it is intended and also to track deer – mark the track you take following the deer with TP to get an idea of the direction the deer was heading)
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Cigarette lighter and small, lightweight fire-starter blocks in case I need to make a fire
- Lightweight poncho to keep dry or provide shelter (plastic ponchos also insulate your body by holding in the heat)
- Compass and cell phone with freshly charge battery
This basically covers what I need to survive if the worst happens. I also pack the following for comfort and peace of mind:
- Extra shirt and cold weather gloves
- Game calls, extra release aid, two razor sharp knives and a leatherman utility tool
- Pliers in case a bolt needs to be tightened on my stand
- Screw-in utility hooks for hanging my rangefinder or pair of rattling antlers
- Small atomizer with scent killer
- Parachute cord to tie back limbs that may obstruct shooting lane
- Fluorescent pink surveyors ribbons and pill bottle full or bright eyes to mark my way in and out of new hunting spots
- Small grappling hook I rigged with three hooks and 22-ft rope to retrieve a fallen head cover or glove
Everyone is different. You may not want to go to these lengths. Consider a fanny pack or day pack next time you go to your stand. You can take a lunch with you and stay on stand all day during the rut. A day pack will leave your hands free to hold your bow or gun and you can hang it on a hook when you get into your stand to have everything close by. It makes staying on stand a lot more enjoyable you have what you need.