[su_heading size=”37″ margin=”1″]Hunting Pro Tips – Kirstie Pike [/su_heading]
Story and photographs by Kirstie Pike
[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”4″]H[/su_dropcap]unting season is fast approaching, or maybe not fast enough. There are many different schools of thought on how to pack your day pack for hunting season, and I personally prefer the minimalist approach. Less is more. I do not believe that there is a need to pack 50 pounds of unnecessary weight on my back, so my goal is to pack as light and as smart as possible. For the overpackers out there, answer this question: When was the last time you used even a quarter of the gear you packed each day? 1992? I thought so!
If you are in a water-rich environment, why pack water around? It weighs a ton. I prefer a Lifestraw, which weighs almost nothing and filters 99.99 percent of the impurities from water. I just drink from a stream if I need water. This way I can hydrate all day if necessary and I’m not weighed down. But I fully realize there are many areas that do not have flowing water, and if that is the case, I fully encourage the use of any type of water-bladder system. Most hunting packs have an integrated water bladder, or at the very least, a system that can be used with one. It’s just a matter of finding the pack you prefer.
Think this through. If you are hunting in the West and are going to really exert yourself, you will need nutritional support. My recommendation is to condense your food and ensure the best possible protein and carb loads for your physical requirements. I pack a handful of protein bars, string cheese and hardboiled eggs. I also take a small bag of nuts, a couple of Power Blocks for extra energy and a few instant coffee packs to fuel my caffeine demon. All of this takes literally no space and weighs ounces. If you are working out of a blind or are doing a more stationary hunt, your physical requirements are less and you can pack accordingly.
If I am bowhunting or packing into the high country on horseback, I always pack a pistol with an extra magazine in the event I have to put an animal down. If I am rifle hunting, the sidearm, in my opinion, is unnecessary.
Bring additional ammunition, but don’t go crazy. You most likely don’t need to tote boxes of ammo with you each day. Personally, I tend to pack additional rounds in the pockets of my pants for easy access. Game calls should also be readily accessible.
A high-quality range finder is a must in all hunting situations. I recommend any product that effectively compensates for uphill and downhill ranging. Additionally, binoculars are as important as your weapon. High-quality glass is a game changer. While it may be spendy, I recommend Swarovski products, but there are many products out there with great quality at lower pricepoints. Also, binoculars should not be kept in your pack. Keep them somewhere where they can readily accessed.
I am a huge proponent of layering, and I will limit what I carry in the field. I prefer a merino-wool base layer. I often opt towards vests for core warming and will choose a jacket based on the temperatures and conditions. If it is cold, I bring a packable down jacket. If it is not, I will bring a lightweight jacket with wind stopping capabilities. If rain gear is necessary, pack the lightest option you have. There is absolutely no need to pack three jackets. Choose the most functional gear for your body type, climate and geography. I will typically have my jacket secured on the outside of my pack or on my saddle. I will not pack a jacket into my day pack; it wastes space and can become a huge nuisance.
A lighter and some lightweight fire-starting product like Wetfire, a type of tinder, is perfect. I like this because you can light it in the rain. I keep these items in a plastic bag and squirrel them away in that one random and illogical pocket that is in every backpack.
You can pack a prefabricated kit or make your own, but think of weight and space. I prefer a SAM splint, Ace wrap, needle and dental floss for emergency sutures, medical tape, gauze pads and iodine tablets to make a disinfectant. Bend the SAM splint and pack supplies in the splint then wrap it all with the Ace wrap. This takes less room and the contents stay secure. I have seen some first aid kits that are loaded. While there is nothing wrong with preparation, you can make due with the supplies I’ve listed for most injuries.
My tip? Carry all of your licenses, all states and all game at all times. I keep mine in a plastic bag inside an internal pocket of my pack. This way, no matter where I go, I never forget them. This works great for me because I use the same pack for hunting and fishing.
And that is it. All of this gear has minimal weight and covers most of your needs. Again, consider that what I have described here is for a day pack. Proper planning and packing can truly reduce your energy expenditure when it is needed most! ASJ
Editor’s note: Kirstie Pike is the CEO of Prois Hunting & Field Apparel for Women.