The big game hunting season for deer opens in about a week and like the rest of the hunters who will be going afield, I’m making preparations for the big day. A hot thermos of coffee, several sandwiches, some fruit, and a candy bar are pretty much standard items for many of us, especially when faced with an all day sit. There are, however, other items other than my lunch, that I find necessary to include so, a foam ground pad and lucky dragging rope are included as well.
Like most others, I carry a cell phone in case I need to contact someone to help drag out a deer or, in the unlikely event, there is an emergency. In addition to the cell phone, I also carry two small auxiliary battery packs to charge my phone throughout the day. Ok, I’ll readily admit, I do find myself texting a hunting buddy from time to time to pass the time when things are slow. Besides, it’s nice to know he may be experiencing the same thing so it makes sitting in one place more endurable.
Sitting for extended periods in cold November woods means being comfortable and comfort is my number one priority. As anyone who has spent time in a deer stand knows, cold extremities are the quickest way to end a hunt. To keep my fingers warm I always carry several packets of chemical hand warmers. Depending on their size, these readily available warmers provide up to 10 hours of consistent warmth for any cold weather activity, but I find them especially handy in a cold deer stand. I used to use Jon-e warmers but they require filling with liquid fuel. They work well but often they went out just as my fingers were looking for some additional heat. With the chemical warmers, the only thing I need to do to activate them is to open the package and shake it. It takes a few minutes to feel the heat but once inside my mittens or jacket pocket the warmth they generate is welcome.
Another piece of equipment I wouldn’t leave home without is my Leatherman Multi-Tool. This handy item is about the size of a pocket knife and has several essential tools that often come in handy. Mine has 16 different tools that include a flat and Phillips head screwdriver, scissors, knife, bottle and can opener, and a small saw. You don’t always need to fix, cut, or open something but, it’s nice to know you can should the need arise.
Small nicks, cuts, or scrapes can be annoying if they occur and are left untreated. That’s why I carry a small first-aid kit in my hunting jacket anytime I’m in the woods. A few band-aids, some aspirin, and a small package of antiseptic cream are usually all I need to take care of any minor mishap when I’m far from my truck.
The weather can change abruptly in November and it could start raining at any time. For just such a scenario, I carry a small, folded plastic poncho. These ponchos are cheap and readily available in Dollar stores. They fit almost anywhere, are smaller than a pack of cigarettes, and weigh even less. These ponchos won’t take the place of quality rain gear but they will do in a pinch. More than once they have saved me from getting soaked and then having to dry out my clothes for the next day’s hunt.
I’ve killed deer late in the afternoon, but it can get dark quickly in late November, especially with cloudy skies. Consequently, I’ve learned to carry a small flashlight just in case I need to follow a blood trail or navigate dark woods. I also have a headlamp to wear on my head in case I have to field-dress a deer and it sure beats trying to do that task in the dark.
Last but not least, ticks are still a problem where I hunt so, I also take the time to treat all of my outer hunting clothing with Permethrin. This way I don’t have to worry about any of the nasty critters hitching a ride and causing problems later.
Every hunter I know has a list of essential items they always carry and some may pack more than others. The nice thing about my essentials is that they all fit into the pockets of my hunting coat so there’s no need to carry a backpack.