Before you head out on the game trail this year take a close look at your gear and ask yourself a few questions. Do you have everything you need to stay comfortable if you get turned around and have to spend a night in the woods? Can you navigate back to camp or your car if you happen to drop or break your GPS? Do you emergency first aid covered in case of a hunting accident?
Epic Tactical took a look at some of the most common problems and emergency situations that every hunter has to deal with, and we’ve made a list of the 9 things that every hunter should be carrying.
[expand title=”9 Things Every Hunter Should Carry”]
Don’t Forget Your Hunting License
We’re going to start out with the obvious one, and remind everyone to carry their hunting license with them at all times while they’re out on the game trail. The fines and fees are pretty steep, and depending on your state you could even lose your right to go out hunting next year. A small waterproof pouch pinned to your vest or pack is a great way to make sure that you’re never without your papers.
Be Prepared in an Emergency with a Tactical Tourniquet
Every hunter should really think hard about carrying a tourniquet for emergencies. It does take a bit of training to learn how to deploy them effectively, but nothing stops bleeding from a bullet hole or arrow puncture in your limbs better than a combat tourniquet. Lynx Defense carries a combat tourniquet that’s gotten great reviews, and it’s available at an affordable price.
Another option if you don’t have the time to study up on how to stop bleeding with a tourniquet is styptic powder, which is popular in first-aid kits under the brand name QuikClot. Unlike a tourniquet, it doesn’t take any training to pack a wound with a styptic-soaked sponge, and it can be nearly as effective when seconds count.
Take A Mylar Emergency Blanket Just In Case
Depending on how you hunt, it might be an excellent idea to bring a mylar emergency blanket along with you. They’re lightweight and small, which makes them easy enough to tuck in your pack. You won’t want to use them for warmth in the stand or in a blind, since they make a bit of noise as they move and will startle game, but if you find yourself spending an unexpected night out in the woods then nothing beats a mylar blanket for its combination of warmth, weight, cost, and convenience.
Make Stalking Simple With Binoculars
A solid pair of binoculars is one of the best ways to spot game in plenty of time to line up your shot. If you’re used to scanning the treeline through a rifle scope, you won’t believe how much easier a pair of binoculars can make spotting and stalking. Scopes trade off precision accuracy and a clear image for a relatively short eye relief, which makes it harder to take a quick peek downrange. A good pair of binoculars will let you keep an eye on your surroundings without straining your vision.
Hands-Free Hiking With A Headlamp
It can be surprisingly hard to keep on the trail if you head out early or stay late. Taking a headlamp along with you can be a great way to light your path and still keep your hands free for carrying your rifle, shotgun, or bow. In fact, most hikers and hunters prefer a headlamp to that old standby, the Maglite. Not only is it lighter, but a headlamp is always pointed at where you’re walking, so your odds of turning your ankle in a hole or stumbling over a rock in poor lighting drop considerably. LED headlamps also use smaller batteries, last longer, and can be just as bright as traditional flashlights.
Bring A Compass So You Don’t Get Turned Around
A lot of hunters rely on GPS, either through a dedicated device or on their smartphone, but if you can’t get a signal or your batteries die then you could end up in real trouble. A simple compass, along with a topographic map of the area, can help you get out of even the trickiest swamps in a hurry. Using a sighting compass makes getting your bearing even easier, since you can use it to shoot a line to the next landmark and put it back in your bag until you arrive.
Keep Cozy With Hand Warmers
Rather than carrying bulky gloves or mittens, a couple of hand warmers tucked in your pocket are a great way to make sure that your fingers stay warm all morning long. Every hunter should be carrying a couple of affordable chemical hand warmers. They’re available in bulk online for less than what you’d pay in the store, and since they keep for a long time it doesn’t hurt to have more than you need.
Field Dress Your Buck With A Skinning Knife
Having a good, sharp skinning knife on your belt is almost as important as carrying enough ammo. After you make your kill, you really should try to field dress your deer as soon as possible, especially if you made a less than ideal shot. Proper field dressing helps to make sure that your meat won’t get tainted by bile or bacteria, as well as making the carcass much easier to carry. Some of the best buck knives are relatively short, with a drop point blade and a handle that won’t discolor when it gets bloody. A top notch skinning knife can help make an unpleasant job go much more quickly and easily.
Carry It All In A Waist Pack
A waist pack is the best way to carry your supplies and keep your hands free. Unlike a traditional backpack it won’t interfere with your aim, since there are no shoulder straps. Since they’re easy to get on and off, tree stand hunters will appreciate being able to take the pack off for comfort and put it back on when they’re ready to track their kill. Regardless of how you hunt, a waist pack is a much better way to get your gear in and out than any other option.
One of the best packs on the market comes from Lynx Defense, an online survival retailer with a great reputation for quality products at affordable prices. If you’re looking for a convenient way to carry your gear, check out their new tactical waist pack.
Be Prepared, Stay Safe, and Bring the Basics
Obviously there’s a lot of other gear that you might want to grab depending on how and where you hunt. Nobody wants to have to deal with a heavy pack full of gear that they probably won’t use, but bringing in the basic items that we’ve covered in this list can be a great contingency plan in case you get lost in the woods for a night.
Other things you might think about adding to your pack include water purification, a fire starting kit, extra socks, and paracord cordage. Remember that you’ll be carrying every ounce in with you and, if everything goes well, you’ll be carrying it back out again with a big buck or a few turkeys. Keep your hunting gear as light as you possibly can while still covering the bases in case of an emergency.