Re: Items needed for a long stay in the backcountry.
I can't speak about backpack hunting in the US, as I live in New Zealand, but my preferred way of hunting is ultra light solo backpack hunting. I hunt with my pack on all the time, and simply fly camp at the end of each day (mostly with a bivy bag). I have a basic rule, and that is never to be separated from my kit or my rifle.
The weather and rough terrain here can be the biggest killers, so the very first thing that I pack is my Personal Locator Beacon. It is always physically attached to my body. I've yet to need it, but I wouldn't hesitate to use it if I needed it. It provides me with a lot of flexibility and offers great comfort to my family. If you don't have one, rent one. They're really cheap to rent and worth while.
I totally agree with getting out there and simulating a trip .... preferably on a weekend where the weather man predicts wild or wet weather. Try and cover a fair amount of ground with all your kit. That will tell you a lot. How does your camp stack up. How good is your insulation system. Can you keep warm and dry. Can you cook etc in the pouring rain. Can your systems provide with a way of navigating if your GPS fails. If you're finding it easy, hamstring yourself. Say OK ... what could I do if this was broken or that didn't work. Try and have solutions that offer you a way of cobbling backup plans together.
Can you cook if your cooker was to totally fail on you. It can happen. Last year, I got ready to make my dinner, and my gas cooker was covered solid in ice. It wouldn't fire up. I had to thaw it out first and get the ice to melt before I could use it. Visualize potential problems that could occur. What are your Plan-B's. Go though the "what if's" with your hunting partner. What if one of you got injured. What if your backpack broke. What if your tent got ripped. What if your gas leaked out.
I got into another situation last year where I was summiting a mountain (about 10000'). There was a fair amount of wind above us, but other than that it was a beautiful day and we were fairly lightly dressed. We were climbing with packs, crampons and an ice axes. The last 500 meters to the summit was solid ice, so it was pretty precarious. What we didn't know was that the wind above us (which we could not actually feel, but could see) was caused by a blizzard on the other side of the mountain. We landed up climbing straight into it, and there was nothing that we could do. We were climbing ice at a 45 degree angle. My immediate focus was to find shelter and to get warm, but we were in a treacherous position, and we could not risk taking our packs off for risk of falling. It took 15 minutes to find a place where we could dig in and where we could shelter, but by then I had lost a huge amount of body warmth. We had no choice but to climb that 15 minutes directly into a 100km/h headwind filled with sleet and snow. I lost all the skin on my face during that short space of time, and if I could have gotten to my protective clothing I would have been fine, but there was just no way. By the time we found a spot were we could shelter, I was literally freezing, but because I had drilled with my kit, I just got into it and got my protective clothing on, got my shelter up, and got a cup of tea into my stomach and was in my sleeping bag in no time. It took over 2 hours for my body temperature to restore to normal. Not every situation can be anticipated. I had not anticipated the situation that we found ourselves in, but I had anticipated other situations and could draw on the plans that I had for those and cobble a solution together from those plans.
I absolutely agree with getting out there and testing your kit ... and testing yourself. There is no better way to test / become familiar with your equipment, and your backup solutions than to get out there and test them in less than ideal conditions.
Have a blast.