It is the season for hunting deer in the US and in my home state of Oklahoma bow season is a few weeks in and primitive and rifle are fast approaching. As many people know when going into the woods you never know what may happen. As a responsible hunter you want to track down any animal you shoot, and depending on your shot you may be tracking it for several miles. Knowing that you should be prepared going to the wilds and that you may be tracking an animal, which means who knows where you may end up you especially should be prepared for anything.
What I have listed below is what I consider the minimum I go to the woods with during deer season in Oklahoma. Of course, if you live further north you may have a few different minimums and the same for a little further south.
- Fire – I have not always had a prepper mindset, but even before I did I never went into the wilds without a way to make fire. A minimum for me is a Bic lighter and a magnesium/ferro rod. I usually take a small tin of tinder also.
- Water – A bottle of water is a must, but a good backup is needed also. Either some water purification tablets or a Lifestraw is my usual go to.
- Shelter – A small emergency bivy is the perfect choice for this need. This time of year, it can get cold at night and unless you are experienced at building primitive shelters you will need something to keep the cold and possibly wet out and the warmth in.
- First Aid – Going into the wilds for any length of time I always have a small first-aid kit, but during hunting season I put a little extra in it. I have the usual Band-Aids, gauze, emergency blanket, and those kind of things, but for hunting season I add hand and feet warmers because they are light, inexpensive and work great if needed. I also throw in some Ace bandage in the event that a joint injury occurs.
- Light – Most people that will be reading this likely carries a light source on them every day of the week, but it is especially important when in the wilds. A Flashlight is a minimum, but a headlamp is what I prefer. A headlamp keeps your hands free for navigating unfamiliar terrain, and if you have to field dress an animal after dark it’s a pain with a flashlight in your mouth.
- Food – Some people hunt all day long, some hunt portions of the day from dawn to mid-morning and midafternoon to dusk. Either way you will want some snacks to munch on and if you’re with a child it’s an easy way to keep them occupied. You will want at a minimum either energy bars, trail mix, or some beef jerky. There are many options on what to take, but you should take something.
- Signaling Device – Since you have no idea where you may end up, a way to let people know where you are is a must. You end up tracking an animal a distance and even if you can call someone on your cell phone can they come directly to you. A Whistle is a great way to let people know where you are. A signal mirror is a good backup option.
- Radio/Cell Phone – For safety it’s a good idea to hunt with a partner or two and a way to contact them is even better. Not only can you inform them that a deer is heading their way, that you couldn’t get a good shot at, but if you need assistance they are a radio or phone call away if you need assistance.
- Map – You should know where you’re going and where you’re at when hunting, but it’s always good to have a map of the area you will be in just in case. There are cases where a person walks into the wilds that they have been in for years and gets lost. A map of the area in a Ziploc is a can help you get your bearings in the event that you get turned around.
- Moleskin – Like any boots, the boots you wear hunting should be broken in and comfortable, but this still doesn’t mean that you are immune to blisters. Most hunters will not do much walking unless they get an animal, but this is small, light, compact, and is great when it is needed. If you do end up walking and a blister starts forming this is a life saver.
- Poncho – Either a regular poncho or at least an emergency poncho is a must. A trash bag is better than nothing in a pinch. I made the mistake once…..and only once of not having one. Especially this time of year the rain is usually cold and a walk back to camp or your vehicle will leave you soaked and freezing.
- Knife – I debated about even having to put this on the list, but I decided to cover all of the bases. A good quality knife is needed for field dressing at the minimum, but as many know can be a tremendous tool on its own.
- Socks – One of the most important things to take care of is your feet. Cold wet feed can lead to big problems and an extra change of socks can get a life saver.
For many, hunting is a yearly event with family and/or friends. I have spent many a night around a camp fire with my father and I am now enjoying it with him and my kids, but like all things in life you must be prepared. To my fellow hunters; be safe or if you know someone that is a hunter tell them to be safe. People get lost in the wilds all the time. If you are a stand hunter, make sure you are strapped in and if you feel drowsy; get down and hunt at the base of your stand. Every year hunters fall out of their stands because they start getting drowsy and nod off.
It has to be said that this is not a list of items needed for hunting, but a list of items needed in the event that hunting becomes something more. If you are hunting with a bow, primitive, or rifle and what animal you are hunting will dictate what else is needed for your hunting trip.
Stay active, pay attention, and get prepared.