By Mark Fike
I hunt on the East Coast and sometimes in the South as far west as East Texas. Hunting on the West Coast or in the Rockies may necessitate different gear, but for the purpose of this article I want to review things I always have in my deer hunting day pack.
I put nitrile gloves in my pack to make the field dressing chore a clean chore. I have heard from plenty of guys that say I am a sissy for doing that, but hey, I protect myself from any bacteria and disease the animal may have, not to mention the bacteria found in the feces and urine should I get that on me. I also have clean hands to eat later and I am not using up my water to wash my hands. I keep a few pair in my pack and they weigh nothing.
Flashlight and extra batteries
How many times have we had to track a wounded animal after dark? I have to say that I make every effort to drop my deer on the spot. But, if you hunt long enough there will be tracking. Some deer I have tracked for well over a mile before recovering them. Doing this chore at night is not fun. A good light with extra batteries or a portable recharger is priceless.
I don’t like to hike back to the truck to get extra batteries or a light in the middle of my tracking chore. If I walk back to the truck I may as well get supper, a spotlight and drop off my firearm or bow too.
A good knife
I personally carry three knives with me in addition to my personal pocket knife. I carry a Knives of Alaska, and I carry both Outdoor Edge’s SwingBlade and a RazorLite. The RazorLite is perfect for the quick incisions and processing chores. For the surgical cuts and removing the backstrap, the RazorLite is the way to go. With the SwingBlade, I appreciate the gut blade. There are no mistakes made with that tool! It is perfect for NOT puncturing the stomach. I flip the blade around to cut out the organs.
I also carry the Knives of Alaska Brown Bear Combo. It is heavy and it does take up more space but if I want to hack through the pelvic joint, I’m further from the truck than I normally am, or perhaps I am camping, I like to have the option to have the heavy cleaver to do camp chores or for survival situations. The heavy blade can even cut small pieces of firewood in a pinch.
I always try to carry survey ribbon in a bright color if my tracking job ends up taking me longer, is at night or through thick areas. There have been times I have had to stop tracking and go back later so the survey ribbon helps me find where I left off. For hunters having to pack out their meat, I would think that survey ribbon is a must. Survey ribbon can also help others find you if you call for help tracking but get on the job yourself first instead of waiting for help to arrive.
It goes without saying that a fire ignition source is a good idea no matter what. Be sure to toss a little bit of firestarter (there are many options) in the pack in the event you really need to use the matches or lighter. Having that with you makes starting a fire so much easier than going from scratch.
Food and water
Another no-brainer. I always carry a bottle or two of water and a few protein bars or piece of fruit with me to tide me over until I can make it back to the truck. If you venture further from the truck you may want more.
Again, obvious. TP doubles as flagging or firestarter in a pinch too!
This list is based on a day hunt. If you are in hairy territory, camping, multiple day trips or other scenarios, your pack will definitely be bigger and have more in it.