All too often, Search and Rescue teams are tasked to locate folks that are lost, poorly prepared and are not carrying the right gear. It’s carrying the right gear in the backcountry that I’d like to focus on for a moment.
Check lists for hunters abound on the Internet. You can find suggested equipment checklists on forums and chat rooms, retailer’s and outfitter’s websites. All good stuff.
Personally, I build my check list on the foundation established on the “ten essentials.” From the ten essentials I’ll add hunting specific items. Here is what I use as my baseline:
- Navigation (map, compass & GPS)
- Sun protection (Sun screen, sunglasses, a hat)
- Insulation (extra clothing, gloves, knit hat, a sit pad)
- Illumination (head lamp, flash light)
- First-aid supplies (Check with the Red Cross’ web site or McCann’s book listed below)
- Fire starting material (metal match, cotton balls soak with petroleum jelly, REI’s storm proof matches, BIC lighter)
- Repair kit and tools
- Nutrition (extra food)
- Hydration (extra water) & filtration system
- Emergency shelter (not a space blanket but a windproof water proof shelter, and a blue poly tarp)
I’ll then add hunting specific items to the list by including:
- Communications (signal mirror, a SPOT or ACR locator beacon, cell phone)
- Knife, saw and game bags
- Shooting sticks
- Surgical gloves
- Hunting license
I’ll take this list a step further by checking two of my favorite reference books:
- Surviving a Wilderness Emergency by Peter Kummerfeldt
- Build the Perfect Survival Kit by John D. McCann
The intent of carrying all this gear is that should you have to spend the unintended night or nights out you will be prepared. You may not be comfortable but you'll have far better odds at surviving.
I also recommend you involve children in the development of your family’s gear check list. Listen to their recommendations. Have them carry their gear too. Start them early and teach them what you know. Let them participate.
Have fun and be safe.