Deer season is here, instead of grabbing a pack, throwing some random gear in and heading out to the woods, lets take a look at some items that should be considered. The way I look at it, your pack needs to contain everything you need to track a wounded deer, find your way back back to the truck after dark or spend an unexpected night in the woods.
This could be anything from a school book bag, to a good quality pack like a Maxpedition Sitka or Maxpedition Noatak. You need something that is not going to tear apart when your tracking a deer as the last bit of the sunlight fades away. For my current load out I am using the Maxpedition Noatak.
GPS & Compass
When you get off the trail back to the truck, you might need something to help find your way. Or worse yet, if you and your buddies have to track a deer through a thicket in pitch black dark.
Mark the truck before you head out and set the GPS to go back to the truck before you head out. This will tell you how far off the way point is.
Get familiar with your GPS and compass “before” you have to use it. Make sure you understand the difference between heading and bearing, and which one you need to set your compass to.
Learn how to set and read a compass.
If the GPS says you need a bearing of 130 degrees, would you know how to set the compass to 130 degrees in order to find your way to where you want to go?
When possible, I like to have a TOPO map of the area. A GPS is nice, but electronics can fail, batteries can go dead,,,, a physical map is difficult to beat.
But, in order for everything to come together, you have to know how to use a map, GPS and compass. Having a TOPO map in one hand and a compass in the other hand does not do any good if you do not know how to use them.
Utility, Skinning or Survival Knife
Something a little larger then a pocket knife. In the case you have to spend a night in the woods, a good knife can be used to build a shelter.
In my case I use a Gerber Big Rock from Rocky National.
Gerber Big Rock Features:
Textured SoftGrip overmold ensures secure grip
Ergonomic contoured handle
Full Tang, fixed blade
Nylon Sheath includes protective insert
Gerber Big Rock Specs:
Overall Length: 9.4″
Blade Length: 4.5″
Weight: 6.3 oz.
Blade Material: 440A stainless steel
Blade Style: Drop Point
Blade Type: Fine edge
Handle Material: SoftGrip overmold over a hard substrate
Sheath: Ballistic Nylon with protective liner
Rest Of The Hunting Gear List
Toilet paper in zip-lock bag
32 ounce water bottle
Digital Camera – I like cameras that use AA batteries, they act as spare batteries for the GPS
Hand sanitizer – also helps to get a fire started
Bible – King James version old and new testament. Bible measures 5 x 3 x 3/4 inches
Flashlight – Surefire 6Px Pro. Dual output 15/200 lumens and only weighs 5.2 ounces
Pen for filling out the tags on the hunting license and for leaving/taking notes
Pencil for when the pen fails, or you need some shavings to start a fire
Twisty off a loaf of bread to secure the tag to the animal. Take 3 or 4 of them.
Lighter for building a fire
Cord for making a shelter
Cover scent – such as doe urine
Rain poncho – not only for keeping you dry but it can be made into a shelter.
With this load out we should have basic list of wilderness survival tools:
Shelter – rain poncho
Food – snacks
Water – 32 ounce water bottle
Fire – toilet paper, pencil shavings and lighter
Warmth – solar blanket and clothing that the hunter should be wearing
Communications – cell phone and signal mirror. Texting with a cell phone uses less power then making a call. If you get lost, send a text with the phone, when you get signal the phone will send the text. A lot of people will keep an eye on their cell phone wondering when they will get signal. Instead of checking the phone and using battery power, use text messaging.
Full Disclosure: I received the Gerber Big Rock and Maxpedition Noatak at no cost to myself. Even though I received the items at no cost, I try not to let that influence my opinions.