Essential Gear for a DIY Hunt

Essential Gear for a DIY Hunt
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Preparing for a DIY hunt with Nancy Jo Adams: Physical fitness, weapon choice and quality optics.

As co-owner of Life in Camo Media with her husband, Richard Holt, they enjoy hunting the nation and working together in photography/videography capturing their hunts in multiple states annually for various game animals.

Once you have made the decision to embark on a DIY hunt, and you have carried out your planning, research and preparation for a DIY hunt, it is time to focus on the following key areas:

By this point, if you had to apply for the draw or privileges for the state you are planning your hunt, you should have received the results. You also should be well into the planning phase of your hunt. It is time to start gathering the essential items you will need for this DIY hunt in efforts of making it a successful experience.

As an experienced hunter, you already have a well-established inventory of hunting gear such as your weapon, clothes, footwear, and backpack. Add the elements of a DIY hunt, out-of-state, travel, hunting unfamiliar territory, and your list of hunting gear will start to grow. Other essentials and ideal items you will need to consider are gear storage, gear bags, quality optics, reliable rangefinder, a mapping device, emergency communication device, storage banks, rechargeable light source, First Aid kit, and knives.

Gear Bags/Weapon Case

Having all your gear organized in one place will save valuable time when in cramped lodging; however, the most valuable asset is keeping your clothes and gear scent-free. There are a variety of specialty storage products available and some with built-in ozone generating devices to assist in removing human odors from gear. The simplest option is a large storage container with a sealing lid. These rubber containers can be purchased in a variety of sizes so that you can store your clothing and bulky jackets in a larger container and your other gear items in a smaller container. Keep in mind that these containers need to travel well.

If you are flying commercially, look for gear bags that allow you ample room, with a telescoping handle, and easy rolling wheels—this will help at the airport with multiple bags. Do not gamble on the safety of your weapon; be certain that your case for your bow or firearm a quality airline approved case that incorporates TSA approved locks. Using a hand scale to weigh each bag prior to checking. Often, it cost less to add an additional bag for checking than it is to pay for an excessive weight fee. Gear bags and a weapon case are purchases you will want to splurge on; if your gear doesn’t fare the trip well, your hunt will be over before it ever started.

Quality Optics

Reliable optics are essential to any hunt but none more important than a hunt on an unknown property with terrain you have not hunted before. Having a pair of quality binoculars and a powerful spotting scope can let you glass an area from a distance, inspecting it and help you pick the best route to get there. The Hawke Sport Optics Endurance line is known for optimum clarity and sharp images; being waterproof, fog proof, and lightweight make them ideal for hunting. There are several models available from 8×32 to 12×50, and all come with a carry case, neck strap, and lens covers.

Using a spotting scope gives you the advantage of viewing game animals from a great distance. Having a spotting scope that is packable and easy to carry affords you that advantage while in the field. Hawke Sport Optics Endurance Spotting Scopes offers a full-size, yet lightweight model or you can opt for the ultra-compact style. Both models come with a zoom eyepiece, lens cap, and protective scope cover with carrying strap.

Reliable Rangefinder

Many hunters are skilled in judging yardage. When terrain changes, especially terrain you have never experienced, and situations you are unfamiliar with similar to hunting in an open range versus tree stands or blinds, actual yardage can get skewed. Putting the time, research, and money into this DIY hunt, the last thing you want to happen is missing your mark, or worse, wounding an animal due to a skewed yardage perception. Investing in a quality rangefinder will aid in the accuracy of your shot.

The Hawke Sport Optics LRF 900 features 6x magnification and adjustable diopter, waterproof, and fog proof—everything a shooter needs for accuracy in archery hunting to long range shooting. The unit allows for angle compensation for tree stand hunters or angled shots. The Hawke Sport Optics LRF is available in 400, 600, and 900 meters and comes with a zippered neoprene carry case, wrist strap, and CR2 battery.

Mapping Device

If you have been using a mapping program in your research and planning, you have probably marked areas of interest such as parking/access areas, pinch points, staging areas, possible stand locations. Having this information on a cell phone or GPS is going to be an advantage to you in the field. Of course, you could go old school and carry a paper map with you, but mapping programs and apps have live tracking and can be accessed even when there is no service. Most apps add exclusive data collection, which includes not only public and private land boundaries but also private landowner information that can be used for contacting the property owner for access. Having access to maps, even without service, allows you to leave cumbersome, dispensable paper maps behind.

Emergency Communication Device

If you are venturing off into areas where the risk of injury is higher than normal, or the terrain is challenging, having a good device for emergency communication will be imperative. Cellular service is not always dependable or even available in rural areas. A satellite communication device is a small satellite communicator for two-way text messaging via a global Iridium satellite network. These devices are capable of an SOS alert to contact the GEOS 24/7 emergency response team. There is a service fee for this type of security, but in comparison to being stranded in a dire emergency or a life or death situation, it is a small price to pay. If you will not be using this type of device often and want to spare the expense, there is the option of renting an Iridium Satellite phone for one-time use. Having a 2-way messaging option with a 24-hour, 7-days a week SOS function can be a lifesaver in the event you get lost or injured during your hunt, especially if you are solo. The expense is a small price to pay for your safety and peace of mind.

Power Bank/Charging Cables

Being off-the-grid requires being prepared with backup energy. A power bank with ample storage of power can keep all of your electronics charged in the field, even while the gear is stored in your backpack while on the hunt. A power bank that is designed for outdoor use is going to be ideal for the hunt in case you experience inclement weather. A power bank with at least 15,000 mAH can charge several devices on an all-day outing. Many power banks offer dual charging that works simultaneously and an LED light which comes in handy before sunrise or after sundown when searching for items in your backpack. Having the resource to charge your cell phone, satellite communication device, GPS, flashlight, or any other USB chargeable device can keep you in the field longer and provide you with the power you need to stay on the trail to the next scouting area. Remember to include the proper cables you will need to power your devices.

Rechargeable Flashlight

A USB rechargeable LED flashlight is indispensable on any hunt and handy for every imaginable situation where light is needed. Having the ability to be rechargeable, even while in your backpack, is convenient. With the power bank and charging cables at the ready, you are guaranteed that you will have a light source when you need it. LED flashlights are available with selectable varying light levels, and most have an SOS light feature. You can opt for a flashlight with non-rechargeable batteries; however, it is recommended that you carry spare batteries with you into the field.

Knives/Processing Kit

A good all-around utility knife can come in handy for various predicaments when on the hunt; as well as, a good field dressing knife. Specialty knives for processing game are designed to keep a sharp edge through the entire process of cleaning game for packing out. Adding a small knife sharpener can keep the blade sharp and speed the process up of preparing your game to pack out; especially when trying to beat sundown. Remember to pack both for the trip keeping in mind that they will need to be packed in your checked luggage if you are flying.

First Aid Kit

A small First Aid kit that contains common necessities can make a day in the field more tolerable if you encounter cuts, burns, blisters, splinters, or other aches and pains. Pre-packaged kits can be purchased in various sizes, or you can build your own. Not only are Band-Aids, gauze, blister protection, and tape important, remember to include aspirin, antihistamines, antacids, and ointments such as anti-itch and anti-bacterial. A small pair of tweezers and nail clippers can also come in handy. As with many situations in life, the cliché, “It is always better to have and not need than to need and not have” could not be truer than in the situation of an out-of-state DIY hunt. Being prepared with the essential items will afford you the advantage and best chances of a successful hunt.

Follow Nancy Jo on her DIY Hunt.