Every year hunters hit the brush. In Oregon (and many other parts of the country) it’s a rite of passage. More than a simple rite of passage, for many a full-on lifestyle. A dedicated hunter will plan for deer (or elk) season all year long. Much time, expense and thought (and matrimonial stress) is expended considering the perfect rifle, ammo, binoculars, knife, clothing, four-wheel drive, and ATV or side-by-side. And that’s just for starters. Although I don’t hunt for big game anymore, I have no problems with anyone who does. Just be sure to respect private land, care for the meat properly and then don’t neglect to send me a package of steaks. (Just kidding.) I learned long ago when the animal drops, the fun stops. That deer, elk or even bear has no compassion on how far up out of a canyon I have to carry his dead carcass, nor even all the proper skinning, butchering, wrapping and otherwise being responsible to care for the meat goes into the overall experience. Then there is the cost of taxidermy (if that’s your thing). All in all I still enjoy the great out-of-doors and am happy to ride along.
Hunters all across Oregon and the rest of the country, are honing knives and sighting in rifles for deer season. Thousands will be out looking for that big kill. Every year we hear stories of hunters who are thrust into a survival situation when bad weather moves in, they get disoriented and lose their way or somehow get injured and can’t make it back to their companions before dark. Some of those stories end on a happy note, others don’t. Almost without fail, the happy stories include, “I’m sure glad I had my (fill in the blank here!)
I have compiled a list of basic equipment every hunter should carry in his backpack when he hits the trail in search of wild meat. I am assuming he (or she) will have a rifle, some extra ammunition, a knife and sufficient warm clothing.
Two means to start a fire. Matches, flint striker, or disposable lighter. Along with that a couple of tinder bundles made from dryer lint, egg carton and candle wax.
Flashlight. There are so many cool LED flashlights these days it’s unthinkable that someone wouldn’t have a decent light with them. They’re compact and powerful.
Whistle. For when your voice gives out screaming for help.
Dry socks. If you accidently slip into a creek, cold, wet feet can be the difference between a miserable night or a somewhat comfortable night.
You’ve already got a nice knife with you, but if you can slip a lightweight machete into your pack, it will help with building a shelter or chopping firewood
A couple of bottles of water, or a portable filter system. LifeStraw is a great choice for $20.
Protein bars, jar of peanut butter or a can or two of Spam. Just something to knock back the hunger pangs.
You get the picture. Of course this is a bare minimum. You can keep on with the list and carry a few space blankets, bug repellent, and the list goes on. The more the list goes on, the heavier the backpack. Just remember every item must have a purpose and some of your choices will be dictated by weather, terrain and your individual situation.
As always, send your comments and questions to email@example.com. Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com. Dave Robinson is a retired Postmaster and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.