Each hunting season brings different conditions – what you encounter in an early spring hunt is very different from the conditions you find during an end-of-autumn hunting trip. That is why each season I like to empty out my daypack, replenish anything that needs to be and add in a few items that I don’t necessarily lug around with me during the spring season.
A New Daypack
After many years of working and recreating in the bush, carrying weight incorrectly (or too much weight for the gear) and just “pushing through it” has started to take its toll on my upper body; so this season, I purchased a new day pack, complete with larger, padded shoulder straps and good hip support to help properly balance the ever-changing load requirements of a daypack.
While we do get used to the convenience of having our cell phones on us at all times, carrying a satellite communication device such as an inReach or Spot in or on your hunting pack is at the very least good for your peace of mind, and at the most important moment may be your only way to signal for help in an emergency situation. I typically like to leave my cell phone at home while hunting, so the inReach is perfect keep by my side.
Despite always carrying plenty of fresh drinking water while out in the bush, a Lifestraw is always tucked away in my pack in case of emergencies. It is small and weighs very little, so this is a must have in my hunting pack year-round.
Dressing in layers is the name of the game when spending time out in the field – but it helps to have a few extra essentials on hand. I like to keep a spare set of gloves, a toque and an extra pair of socks tucked into the bottom of my pack.
As always, I carry a small first aid kid, fire-lighting materials (in a waterproof bag), a set of knives, flagging tape, and other miscellaneous little items such as an emergency blanket, that are useful if a person were ever to find themselves in a situation where they had an accident or had to spend the night in the bush.
Let There Be Light
A good quality headlamp (with fresh batteries) makes late-evening walks out of the field – or the gutting process if you were successful – safe and easy, especially as the days seem to get noticeably shorter one after another.
When You Have To “Go” In The Woods
This one is definitely one of those items that you really could make do without if you absolutely had to (I’m thinking leaves or socks… I’ve donated many socks over the years), but a partial roll of toilet paper kept dry within a zippered bag has to be in my daypack. Nobody likes to be caught unprepared!
Gearing up for the September season opener is when I like to rotate out any snacks that might be in my pack. Granola bars, a small jar of canned fish and some crackers, and mixed nuts are packaged away as an in-case-of-emergency food source, in addition to the food I pack before a hunt, the amount of which varies depending on how long I am planning to be gone.