Season-ending ritual: Emptying the ‘stuff'

Okay, I get it. Deer season has been over for some time now, but I’m just now getting around to putting my “stuff” away. I’ve already stored my treestands, climbing steps, ladders and safety equipment but my hunting pants and jacket have been hanging on a hook in the garage for the past six weeks. Now it’s time to put the “stuff” contained in the pockets away for another year.

The pants were the first to undergo the annual unloading and I wondered how on earth I didn’t lose them while walking to and from my stands. The belt and suspenders helped, of course, but nevertheless, I began to wonder if indeed I carried too much “stuff.”

In an effort to streamline things for next season I took an inventory of what I was carrying and why I thought it was indispensible to my time in the field. What I discovered surprised me. 

Undoing the buttons on the two cargo pockets on the pant legs, I reached in and removed not one, but two high-intensity flashlights. The first light was necessary in case a blood trail had to be followed in the dark, and the second, I reasoned, was needed in case the first light failed. Made sense to me. 

Further mining efforts produced a puff bottle of wind check and wind floaters, used to determine breeze direction and air currents, along with a short bungee strap necessary to secure my fold-up umbrella to the tree in case of rain. The next item to be removed was a gob of toilet paper, there for its obvious purpose but also deemed necessary to mark a blood trail. Next came a pair of lightweight wool gloves. 

Along with the gloves came two packets of a chemical hand warmer that remained liquid until a small metal oval was snapped inside the plastic pouch to activate it. It worked great and generated good heat, except it kept going off whenever I bent over or pressed my leg against a tree limb. I never did get to use it when I needed it and wondered aloud if it would be worth toting around next season. 

An eyeglass case was the next to surface and it contained, of all things, a small grappling apparatus I picked up somewhere a few years ago. It’s a marvelous idea and an item every hunter who hunts from a tree should own. If I drop something – say, a glove, or even an arrow – I simply lower the small grappler and it hooks the fallen object like magic. Pulling it back up the tree is a simple matter and saves me the trouble of climbing down to retrieve whatever it was that fell. Makes things safer as well. 

Moving on to the other pocket, I discovered a pair of pruning shears and my fold-up pruning saw, both items indispensible for removing small twigs or saplings that might possibly deter an arrow or bullet from finding its mark. Accompanying the pruners was my small headlamp. The headlamp, I reasoned, was necessary to aid in field dressing a deer in the dark and to light the way out of the woods while I was dragging it back to the truck.  

While emptying the second pocket I discovered yet another glove. I was always losing one glove and this one may have been the mate to the one I lost last year. In any case, I figured it was good to carry a spare. The remaining objects included a hank of sturdy string, some Tums, three sticks of bubble gum, three AAA batteries (for the lights) and an acorn. I can give you a reason for the first four items, but how the acorn got there eludes me.

Finally, with the pants unloaded, I washed them in unscented, UV-killing detergent and put away until next year. The jacket, however, remains another project best saved for another day.

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