The climb to the top of the knob is steep and you slip, banging your knee on a sharp rock. The adrenalin is flowing, you shake it off as you reach the uppermost vantage point. Wiping the sweat from your brow you settle in and begin looking for the buck. Twenty minutes have gone by and nary a soul has moved in the valley floor. “He has to be there,” you say to yourself, “He couldn’t have gotten away.” You pause to give your eyes a break from glassing, hours have now expired and the big buck has evaporated into thin air.
You decide to roll a few rocks into the draw below in hopes of spooking the deer from its hide. Upon rising an excruciating pain shoots through your leg and knee, you can hardly stand from the pain. Its now 2:00 pm and the sun is directly overhead, you feel the heat on your thinning brow and long for the hat you left behind.
You are miles from camp, walking is extremely painful, you are thirsty, feeling a little nauseous, and a pounding headache is getting the best of you. Anyone care to trade places with our intrepid hunter? I didn’t think so… Whether he realizes it or not, he’s in big trouble and this may be his last hunt.
We can see how a simple hunt given a few twists and turns can go completely upside-down. These are simple scenarios and can happen to anyone. What matters is can we survive and do we have the necessary gear with us to do so?
Let’s take a look at the gear every hunter or hiker should have in his or her possession when going afield.
1) Parachute cord at least 50-100 feet of genuine military grade cord. You’ll know it’s real if it has 7 white strands inside the green sheath. Para cord has hundreds of uses, tying shelters, snares, making a splint, tying up bad guys, etc.
2) Good knife, no cheap junk. Purchase a quality hunting knife with a 4-6 inch blade. Most hunters have a good hunting knife, or should. Your knife should be scalpel sharp every time you enter the field.
3) Compass. No matter how familiar you are with the area, take a compass and a map of the area showing roads, streams, etc. A simple sketch of the area will suffice. Note roads, landmarks and their location relative to camp. Laminate or waterproof for best results.
4) Flashlight and mirror with extra batteries. I like AA versions as they last a long time. Mirror can be used for signaling. Buy quality gear, not cheap Chinese junk.
5) Blast Match Fire Starter... Single most important tool you can have!!!!!! These units allow the user to build a fire with only one hand. If you can’t get a fire going with a Blast Match you deserve to be taken out of the gene pool.
6) Small Gransfor Bruks axe. Great shelter builder and works equally well for quartering up animals if you are a hunter. Small and lightweight, this is ONE HANDY TOOL. It too must be razor sharp. Can be used as a defensive tool if your car breaks down on the wrong side of the tracks.
7) 6' x 8' plastic sheeting or tarp and a sponge. Pretty self explanatory. Sponge is used to soak up water, and can be used as a compress on a wound.
Obviously water, and some food depending on the time of the year and amount of gear you want to carry. A fanny pack or small day pack can be used to carry the above gear without looking like the Michelin Man. Practice making a fire with one hand. Be realistic in testing your gear. Be sure you can make it work under inclement conditions. If lost, make camp for the night with plenty of daylight. Don’t wait till dark to gather supplies and get situated. Morning comes soon enough and you’ll save those precious flashlight batteries in the process.
There are plenty of other things you can carry, but with the above you can last several days and come out a survivor. Have the right mind set. Don’t be a wimp and give in to Mother Nature’s desire to overtake you. Get tough and do whatever it takes to make it out…
Be safe and enjoy the great outdoors. If you are prepared, chances are you’ll never be called upon to perform. Leave all your gear in camp and you’ll be a featured guest in my next story....
Until next time....
Darrell Holland is a Custom Riflesmith and designer of Advanced Reticle Technology in Leupold, Schmidt & Bender and NIGHTFORCE rifle scopes. Darrell offers an intense 4 day shooting school that is ideal for long range hunters and tactical enthusiasts.
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