The Hunter’s Pack – The Little Things

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Fall hunting seasons are fast approaching. Hunters are beginning to review gear lists, paying attention to what needs to be cleaned, updated, or replaced. If you are planning a hunt that requires carrying gear on your back, one of the most valuable pieces of equipment is your back pack. I can testify that if your pack doesn’t fit well, then you will be miserable at some point during your hunt. My shoulders and back have left me aching far too often due to a pack that didn’t fit quite right.

While paying attention to the proper fit of a pack is critical, doing inventory of what goes in your pack is equally important. Often the big items get the most attention; spotting scope, knives, rope, food, jetboil, water filtration, etc., but let’s take a moment and focus on some of those little items that are many times over-looked.

We’ve picked a few of these light weight, small items to highlight what we consider “must haves” for your mountain adventure, or even handy for those late season white-tail hunts. These are the items that over the last couple years we’ve learned to toss in our pack because they really don’t add any extra weight or space, but could possibly be the one item that “saves the day.”

1. Fishing Line

You read that correctly. A fellow EvoOutdoors ProStaff member (Evan Williams) suggested this to me last year. Cut several yards of fishing line and store it in a small plastic sandwich bag, stuff it in an empty chapstick container or any other small container.

Why fishing line? We’re hunting not fishing.

Here is why … If you find yourself trying to prop up that trophy of a lifetime for that perfect picture, then you’ll quickly realize that having fishing line comes in handy.  Simply tie it to the antler and then a nearby tree branch. The fishing line won’t show in the picture and you will no longer be struggling to prop up that big bull elk. Although it is possible to get that perfect picture without this little help, it may make the difference if you find yourself by solo out in the field. Taking that shot with your camera on timer just got a lot easier!

2. Chapstick / Lip Balm

DealinIMG_2284g with sunburned lips while hunting can be miserable. Plus depending on the type of hunt that you are preparing for, there is a good chance you will be doing a considerable amount of calling with some type of mouth reed. Towards the end of the day you’ll be thankful that you remembered to toss chapstick in your pack. (Make sure it has sunscreen included – it should tell you on the label.) It will not only save you from a miserable sunburn on your lips, but will also bring some much-needed relief from all that calling.

3. Salt

Last month we completed the Leadville marathon and heavy-half marathon. As a runner, I’ve learned the importance of keeping your muscles fueled and keeping proper electrolyte balance to help minimize heat stress. Of course, I had to learn this the hard way. During my first marathon I found myself hunched over and unable to move due to a my calf muscle cramped up. A fellow runner gave me a salt tablet and within a minute or less I was able to stretch out my muscle and walk again. Since that day, I’ve understood the importance of the role salt and electrolytes play in our bodies. This year, I was well supplied with salt tablets.

I know that during a hard hunt or packing out a quarter of an elk up a mountain, having salt tablets and / or an electrolyte solution is invaluable. Adding a couple of these salt tablets in your pack will ensure that you can quickly give your muscles a boost when needed. Plus … if you find yourself eating a meal of backstraps over a fire, you may want to season it with a little salt.

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4. Pepper

Meat is the number one reason why we hunt. After an unfortunately incident a couple of years ago where we attempted to haul an elk off the mountain in 80+ degree weather, nothing we did could keep the flies off the meat. Afterwards, a suggestion from fellow hunters of carrying along some pepper to rub on the meat during times like this may actually save your meat. I’m not sure how much pepper would be needed, but since coming home with meat is the trophy in our mind, I most likely will add a plastic bag or small container filled with pepper.

Again, this is multi-functional.  My mouth is watering thinking about that backstop over a fire, now seasoned with both salt and pepper.

5. Blister Gel Guard Band-Aids

These are seriously amazing! I recently tore up my heel after a long run (Leadville) and was in need of something to provide quick relief / healing. I purchased a box of Blister Gel Guard band aids. They not only instantly provided relief but I’ve been able to run without any pain or additional damage.

We’ve also used moleskin for helping with blistered heals during hunting season. While it does work well, it was necessary to cut it down to the right size, which is not always ideal when you are needing something quick. This year, in addition to moleskin, I’m adding a few of these gel band aids to my pack. They won’t add any weight and if it allows me to able to walk comfortably, it will be well worth it!

6. Back-Up Mouth Reeds / Calls

Finally, we’d like to suggest adding a back up mouth reed / call. This is especially important for elk hunting. It’s not going to add any extra weight to your pack and if you lose or rip your mouth reed and there is a bull bugling his head off, you’ll be thankful that you have that back up.

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Of course, there are many other items that you need to include in your hunting pack, but hopefully one or two of these not-so common items that we add to our packs each Fall will help you in preparing for your upcoming season.  Good luck on your next hunt!