Every year hunters hit the brush. In Oregon it’s a rite of passage. Although I don’t hunt for big game anymore, I have no problems with anyone who wants to hunt, care for their meat properly and then be sure to donate a package of steaks to me. (Just kidding.) I learned long ago when the animal drops, the fun stops. That deer, elk or even bear has no compassion on how far up out of a canyon I have to carry his dead carcass, nor even all the proper skinning, butchering and wrapping and otherwise being responsible to care for the meat goes into the overall experience. Then there is still the cost of taxidermy (if that’s your thing). All in all I still enjoy the great out-of-doors and am happy to ride along.
My 18-year-old grandson will be driving across the state (with friends) this weekend in search of Rocky Mountain elk. He, along with thousands of others all across the country will be looking for that big kill. Every year we hear stories of hunters who are thrust into a survival situation when bad weather moves in, they get disoriented and lose their way or they somehow get injured and can’t make it back to their companions before dark. Some of those stories end on a happy note, others don’t. Almost without fail, the happy stories include, “I’m sure glad I had my (fill in the blank here!)
I have compiled a list of equipment I expect my grandson to carry in his backpack when he hits the trail in search of elk meat. I am assuming he will have his rifle, some extra ammunition, his knife and sufficient warm clothing.
1. Two means to start a fire. Matches, flint striker or disposable lighter. Along with that a couple of tinder bundles made from dryer lint, egg carton and candle wax.
2. Some means of flashlight. There are so many cool LED flashlights these days it’s unthinkable that someone wouldn’t have a decent light with them. They’re compact and powerful.
3. Whistle. For when your voice gives out screaming for help.
4. Dry socks. If you accidentally slip into a creek, cold, wet feet can be the difference between a miserable night or a somewhat comfortable night.
5. You’ve already got a nice knife with you, but if you can slip a lightweight machete into your pack, it will help with building a shelter and chopping firewood
6. A couple of bottles of water, or a portable filter system. LifeStraw is a great choice for $20.
7. Protein bars, jar of peanut butter or a can or two of spam. Just something to knock back the hunger pangs.
You get the picture. Of course this is a bare minimum. You can keep on with the list and carry a tent, a couple of trash bags for packing out meat, and the list goes on. The more the list goes on, the heavier the backpack. Just remember every item has a purpose and some of your choices will be dictated by the weather, the terrain and your individual situation.
Dave Robinson is a retired Bandon postmaster and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.