There’s nothing quite like communing with nature in the way humans have done for millennia: on the hunt, in the Great Outdoors. Woodsmen relish the escape from civilization that hunting provides. Yet that same distance from society can prove deadly if the outdoorsman is unprepared. Every hunter should have the following five items when venturing into the wild this winter:
1. A fully charged cell phone or 2-way radio.
You’ll need it if things go south. If you injure yourself, become lost, or get sick you’ll need some way to alert emergency responders. If you’ll be out for multiple days, remember to bring a charger for your cell phone. Rugged solar chargers are now available. If you’ll be in a remote area a 2-way radio may get better reception.
2. A waterproof light source.
A dependable LED headlamp or flashlight is a critical item for your hunting trip. If you become stranded overnight, you’ll need it to do anything after dark. And you’ll also want a strong light source for signaling emergency responders.
3. A metal container for boiling water.
Water straight from backcountry streams can give you Giardia, a nasty digestive bug. Always filter or boil stream and lake water before drinking it or cooking with it. Bring a metal cup even if you don’t intend to stay out overnight—that way you’ll be prepared no matter what happens.
4. A good knife.
Yes you’ll have one for cleaning your kills. But you’ll be surprised how handy a knife is in the woods. From cutting firewood to preparing food to administering first aid, there are innumerable uses for a good blade when you’re hunting.
5. Emergency food & water.
Even if you’re only going out for a few hours, it’s smart to carry some sort of food. Beef jerky, hard candy, and energy bars are good options for shorter trips—and don’t forget that water canteen! Avoid sugary/caffeinated drinks, which may actually dehydrate you while making your shooting hand shake.
And of course, every hunter must have his or her hunting license before heading into the hunting grounds this winter. Other survival items to include in your hunting pack include any daily medication you may require, a whistle for emergency signaling, emergency shelter such as a space blanket, a first aid kit, GPS/map and compass, and condition-appropriate layers of clothing. Remember, “cotton kills” because it passes on cold when it is wet. So, always avoid wearing cotton into the backcountry.