Whenever you go out hunting there is always the chance that something could go wrong. If you practice hunter and firearm safety, the chances of this are greatly reduced. Even so, it is a good idea to bring along some basic items with you. If the worst does happen, you will be prepared to handle it.
I bring the same four items with me on every hunt:
- The first item is a small (8×5 inches) fabric kit with some essentials inside. The kit I use is the medium-sized Backcountry Organizer by Outdoor Research. I keep the following inside:
- SOL Lightweight Emergency Bivvy Blanket. One cold January I was doing a late-season archery hunt and got lost in the woods with no cell reception after dark. It almost turned into a very bad situation. Bought this the next day.
- 2 Spare batteries for my flashlight
- Waterproof match container with waterproof matches and several extra flints
- Manual Compass
- Emergency whistle
- Waterproof envelope with current hunting tags and my ID
- Bic lighter with the handle wrapped in duct tape
- Enough toilet paper folded up to take care of business, should the need arise
- Two pairs of Nitrile gloves: great for field dressing or dealing with a wound
- A couple of different body and hand warmers
- Two sanitizing wipes in a ziplock bag: The bag is good for saving the heart from the animal you harvest and the wipes can clean off anything you need to sanitize.
- Superglue: Good for sealing up a deep cut or laceration in a pinch and could repair a broken piece of gear too.
- Small pack with Benadryl, antacids, and Tylenol: You don’t want the first time you find out you’re allergic to something to be when you’re deep in the woods away from cell reception
- Several gauze pads, a few assorted band-aids, and a small roll of medical tape
- 1 pack of bleed stop powder: Great for sealing up a cut that may need stitches later and getting the bleeding to stop
The total weight of this kit is 1.7 lbs. Depending on the season some of the items could be left out to reduce weight. For example, in the summer I would skip the bivvy blanket, matches, and hand warmers while keeping the Bic lighter.
2. Dark Angel Medical, D.A.R.K Trauma kit: This kit contains Halo chest seals, Quikclot combat gauze, gloves, eye shield, tourniquet, and trauma shears. It weighs just over 1 pound and basically contains everything you would need to stabilize someone with a gunshot wound or severe trauma.
3. Hunting knife: I have carried several different Benchmade knives, but for now have settled on the skeletonized Altitude knife by Benchmade. It weighs just 1.7 ounces and features a razor-sharp super steel s90v blade. Also, it includes a Kydex sheath. The blade is three inches long and features aggressive jimping for added control. It is a great knife for dressing animals or light survival needs.
4. Garmin inReach Explorer+: This cell phone-sized device weighs7 ounces and features a satellite link. It can be used to call SOS anywhere you have a clear view of the sky. Also featuring a GPS it is a great tool to ensure you can quickly get back the way you came in. Includes text messaging to cell phones via satellite as well. Not a cheap device, but worth its weight in gold for the ability to call for help anywhere you are.
The total weight of my four items is right at 3.5 pounds. When heading out in the woods, I know that I will always have these things which will help me stay comfortable and deal with a variety of situations that could come up. The last thing I want to do is have to cut a hunt short because of a small laceration and head back to get a bandaid or something else I could have easily packed with me. For a severe medical issue that may arise, my goal would be to stabilize the situation enough to buy time until help arrives.
Your list of essential items for outdoor adventures will likely vary from mine, but I hope it gets you thinking about what you may need if things go wrong. Choosing your items is a balance between weight and preparedness and everyone has to make that decision for themselves. Be safe, stay prepared, and enjoy your time outside.