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November 06, 2012

How to Pack for a Hunt

By David E. Petzal

“The only time I ever got my s**t together, I couldn’t pick it up.”—Roger Miller

Packing successfully for a hunting trip is far more important than making out a will which will hold up. If you die and your will is successfully contested, what do you care? You’re dead. If, however, you bring only longjohn bottoms on a hunt and leave the tops at home, you’ll regret it bitterly for a week or more.

Because I’m at the age when I have trouble remembering who I am, much less all the stuff that I have to take along, I’ve developed a system that’s worked pretty well. First, take out all the hunting gear you own. I mean everything, even if it has no place where you’re going.

Second, assemble what you need, and don’t do this by simply slinging it into a duffle bag. Don’t assume that you have patches and gun oil in your cleaning kit. You may have taken them out on the last trip because the TSA doesn’t allow gun oil. Are all your batteries fresh? Have you gained so much weight since last season that, when you button your heavy pants, little purple veins erupt on your nose?

Pack everything in a well-lighted place so that nothing gets lost.

Do not pack small pets. They like to nest in duffles.

Now, go lie down on the couch so that the blood runs freely into your brain and think these two thoughts: I’ve forgotten something. What is it?

When you remember what it is, put it in your pile and go back to the couch and think some more. You probably won’t forget your ammunition, but you may forget your alarm clock, because who cares about alarm clocks? Try and recall the obvious stuff.

Try not to pack to the point of being ridiculous. Years ago, Gene Hill coined a unit of measure called a “Zern,” after the late, great, Ed Zern. A Zern is defined as the maximum amount of stuff a single human being can carry for any imaginable situation on a given hunt. Ed could get away with it because he was elderly, and someone could always be conned into carrying his gear, but you will probably end up lugging your stuff yourself.

Good luck, and I hope this system works as well for you as it does for me.

Comments (43)

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from tootall75 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Great post, we are in the third week of our four week deer season and the last two weekends I have been to our camp I have forgotten something (can't blame age, I'm only 37). I even have most of my stuff in the same place and rarely move it... It's never anything major but it still drives me crazy that I forget things...my wife suggested making a list, very logical...except I would probably lose or forget that too. I will try your advice and lay on the couch to remember and if my wife says, what are you doing laying down...I will tell her Uncle Dave told me too!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tootall75 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

*To remember what I may have forgotten I meant to say.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Amflyer wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

On the flip side, I was recently invited to a private South Dakota pheasant hunt, and instructed to bring "Dog, shotgun, and Scotch...the rest is optional."

I suspect that the dog's owner was optional too, except that my Shorthair is not allowed out of the house without me. But keep in mind that I am married and therefore have a self-esteem problem.)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I packed half as much stuff for this year's elk hunt as last year and still had twice as much stuff as I needed ....

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Michigan Gunner wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Make a list. As you pack, check items off the list. Then, when you load your vehicle, check off each major item. Like......Duffel Bag #1, Duffel Bag #2, Rifle/shotgun, etc. Then you will not forget anything!

PS. Line your duffel with a garbage bag. So, when it falls in the mud or water, with will stay dry inside.

MG

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Happy Myles wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

After more than sixty five years packing for hunting trips I have it down to a discipline, if not a science. Whether planning for a weekend or a month, everything must go into one large duffle bag. Always the same one, green canvas with leather trim. It may be half full or stuffed to maximum. The contents may vary depending on the type of hunt. Each type of hunt has a typed manifest, listed in order of packing, bottom to top. These items may be packed in zip lock bags

Have had some outfitters ask for two medium bags more readily packed on horses, which in my experience always turn into two large bags. Each typed list has at the top in bold print, WHEN IN DOUBT LEAVE IT OUT

Does this discipline always work? Of course not. The wildcard is my carry on bag. Kindest Regards

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Happy Myles wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Over the decades have worn out a couple of these duffle bags, the first made by Gokeys, the latest by Hulme. must confess the new models have wheels, as does my firearm case. Looking at seventy four years of age, the airports are as tough to navigate as hunting terrain.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from crm3006 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I have checklists, which are updated and amended before and after every hunt. Mostly, I take my own vehicle, therefore, an inventory of necessary and unnecessary items in the truck will take place about a weekend in advance. I mostly subscribe to the theory that it is better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. For example, my cold weather gear and rain gear have traveled to an annual Texas deer hunt nine times, and only been needed twice. Those two times made up for all that hauling when the small bag was not actually needed.

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from Tom-Tom wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

The Boy Scout motto is "Be Prepared" and Dave, to me that means the first aid kit. As for gear wasn't it Grits Gresham that said, "If I have it, I take it"? Did you ever go on a hunt with Grits, and if so, how did he pack?

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from RockySquirrel wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Like CRM3006; After spending a life time traveling, I have learned "it is better to have and not need then need and not have”.

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from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I have only been in the woods one day so far and had every imaginable tool it would ever take to load, assemble, disassemble, and clean a muzzle loader. My hunting partner had trouble seating his primer cap and accidentally shot his gun a half hour before sunrise with no deer in the area. They stayed that way.......

Apparently what I forgot was a ball peen hammer to smash his head in silently a few minutes before his error. I will have one next time I hunt with this man. I am being very generous when I call him a man.

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim in Mo wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I try to do as said here but I damn make sure in my personal pack, screw anyone else, I have an extra flashlight with batteries,knife, energy bars, dry socks and a half roll of toilet paper.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Can I get an amen for the half a roll of toilet paper? Amen!

+7 Good Comment? | | Report
from Longbeard wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Amen to that half roll!!

I have one master list with everything on it. If it isn't needed for the hunt in question (eg., game calls for an upland trip) I don't pack it. I tried the specialized lists for different hunts, but a problem arose when I went on mixed bag hunts (eg., ducks as an adjunct to a primarily upland hunt). The exception is deer camp which requires its own special list for food, drink, RV supplies, etc.

My problem is always taking too much, things that don't get used trip after trip (nothing as important as rain gear and first aid kit).

Happy, I am having a hard time imagining how one can pack for a month in a single duffle. Could you give us some idea of how you do it?

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from O Garcia wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

DP
I have to agree with you about making a will, or even worrying about who's your beneficiary for that life insurance policy, or what wealth you'll leave your children. Don't get me wrong, those things matter, but at the end of the day, like you said, you're dead.

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from Carney wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

For a number of years a list worked well. The last 4 years, my work schedule has so pushed hunting to the deep corners of the calendar that I throw my stuff together whenever the opportunity avails and head out. I have yet to forget anything important but I'm seldom out more than 2 days at a time. And for 2 days, well the list is long on what one can manage without for 2 days.

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from dale freeman wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

may God have mercy ##

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from Greg Hart wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I typically have two bags, one carries all my gear and another that I carry with me in the field. I've found that I'm much less likely to forget something when I pack the weekend before, as I'm typically relaxed and not in a hurry to get out the door.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadly wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

This is all a moot point since the election results were posted.
All guns will be banned and confiscated, so my new hunting list is:
loincloth
flint knife
spear

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from z41 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I liked the part about making sure everything still fits. On a recent bird hunt I wasn't hitting birds solid. My Browning normally did an outstanding job at that. Problem was my 12 year old hunting coat had shrunk. A new coat & hunting vest solved the problem, except things still tend to shrink a lot.

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from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I have a huge check list that I made for trips. Not everything on the list goes with me, but it's at least there for me to check off if I do want to bring it.

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from tom warner wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I have lived my life by lists for almost 80 years. Couldn't survive with out 'em. Two lists are taped to my gun cabinet; one for hunting and one for fishing. All my gear is kept in one place. In addition I keep a list of short term things in my pocket at all times. Anyway, while all around me my friends are moaning about some crucial item they left behind, I have almost never forgotten anything. Lists are THE ANSWER!!

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from JB101 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Great points Dave, I generally use this system as well. Without sounding like the stereotypical young, gadget laden whippersnapper, for those of us with an Android device there is an app called "Hunting Trip Planner" from Jimbl.

It comes with a stock list of items and categories, but they can all be edited. I keep it as a record of all the hunting related gear I own, narrowed down to categories such as: Planning, Documents, Guns & Ammo, Equipment, Clothing, Footwear, Boat Gear, Bedding, Food, F/A Kit, Etc... Then I've got a category for my main pack as well as my secondary pack to make sure I'm good for the day.

At the end of the trip, you can unc-heck all the items and start over next time.

I used to keep lists, this saves me time and trees thank me.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nathan Ryver wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I have a tendency to overpack...but like others have said, its better to have it and not need it, than to need it, and not have it.

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from fox4 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

All you need is:
survival knife
550 cord
cammo poncho with liner
broke in boots
and
Motel 6 reservations

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from huntslow wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Lots of people say they use lists. Is there a way to share those? Or perhaps Dave can use his infinite wisdom to collate them into a single list with sub-headings for type of hunt. I'll bet that after hunting season, Dave is rarely busy between 2 and 4 in the morning!

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from steve182 wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

I worry the entire drive to camp "What have i forgotten?"...doesn't matter because i ain't turning back! I usually manage to bring enough of the essentials to be able to hunt.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from nelsol wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

To go along with the half roll of toilet paper. Substitute a package of diaper wipes. Packs easier and soothes the backside. Irritation in that area is unacceptable during any portion of the hunt.
Yeah, it may not be manly, but at least your butt won't itch and you won't be doing the "herky-jerky" on your deer stand, fall out and have your hunt ended prematurely.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Happy Myles wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

Longbeard,
I will give it a whirl, because it is not always easy to stick with one bag. I try to do this whether it is a month for mixed bag in Africa or a month Long Fall sheep hunt in Canada. One caveat, if the trip requires a sleeping bag and a frame pack, they do not go in the duffle bag. Most of the crazy places I have been going to in recent years these things are taken care of on site. My day pack does go in the bottom of the duffle. I do not haul food around. Occasionally,in Central Asia where the food can be pretty strange, I may take a few health food bars to supplement a sparse diet.

Bear in mind,I do not travel on a "hair shirt" regimen. What goes in that bag has been fine tuned and tempered by decades hunting in pretty ungiving environments. If you forget or leave out something important, you do not make that mistake a second time. Cannot over emphasize keeping permanent lists and update during the trip. I am always running into someone with a new idea which I jot down for possible future use. So often I see someone pawing through a mound of gear looking for something they cannot find or forgot. Many folks substitute quantity for quality. Some examples. Almost everyone takes far too many clothes a half dozen shirts, too many jackets , underwear, and socks. Then , not bring a light weight raincoat because it was not supposed to rain. What you are wearing, plus an extra set while the other is drying, being washed or mended will suffice. Inexperience prompts folks to prepare for too wide a variety of conditions. A pair of Filson's hard finish wool whip cord trousers will work with a pair of long johns on a Canadian sheep hunt, or without the long johns stalking Kudu on the African Veld. A couple of extreme examples, but gives a picture.

The one duffle is a discipline, not something cast in stone. In summary, I guess I do pack a lot of experience acquired around the world which allows me the luxury of packing a little less.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from MRKRUGMAN wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

No matter how I pack I always take my ditty bag or stand bag. A small bag easy to carry that has a spare knife,ammo, flashlight's,rain gear,fire starting gear,first aid kit. I run a small ranch that has day hunters.That is how we tell the real hunters from the green horns. The real hunter always have a small day pack or ditty bag. The green horns are the ones that call you from the deer stand on their cell phone to tell you they forgot their ammo.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from davidpetzal wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

To All: And never forget Ted Trueblood's three rules of packing for a trip:

1. It will be too hot.
2. It will be too cold.
3. It will rain.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Proverbs wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

I've always used written lists, but about 10 years ago I refined them using Microsoft Word and Tables, which has been the single best improvement. I have several "checklists," which are separated by state and/or species (deer, elk, predators, etc.) For example, I have checklists labeled "Wisconsin Deer 2012," "Colorado Elk 2011," "Texas Deer 2010," "Arizona Javelina 2012," etc.

The idea is to have a familiar format with species- and geographic-specific items that are needed on each trip. This helps speed the packing process and helps ensure nothing is forgotten.

Subheadings on each checklist are in the same place. Subheadings include clothing, backpack (if any) and what goes in it, rifles/ammo or bow, camp materials (if any), medical supplies. If it is a driving trip, then there is a heading labeled VEHICLE under which appropriate items are listed. On every list is included STATE TAG/License, HUNTER ID CARD, and any other document that may be required by that state.

As items get packed, they get a hand-written checkmark next to the typed list item. The checklist accompanies me on the trips for two reasons: 1)In case I can't find something on a trip, the list reassures me to keep looking; and 2)I hand-write notes during the trip on the back of the list.

Each year, in preparation for the next trip, I simply open the "Header/Footer" on the Microsoft Word document and "Save AS" with the current year. Then I edit my list as necessary, using the notes I've written from the past year. There is nothing to forget or mix-up with another trip, because on the top of the page is the trip and year to make things easy.

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from Happy Myles wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

David Petzal, a few years ago, hunted the Danikil Desert in Ethiopia while it poured rain. A real mess, dodging between shallow but huge bodies of water. Glad I had my rain gear. Mr Truebloods rule applied.

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from RandyMI wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

I'm glad to see that someone besides myself remembers fondly both Gene Hill and Ed Zern... I have Ed's book "Are Fishermen People" on the shelf of my bookcase next to my recliner and several of Gene's books in the bookcase..... Still love that stuff! :-)

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from tlhunter.1 wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

I pack two packs one big and a small day pack, the day pack all the same gear as the big one but a little less. I want to make easy on myself when I am hunting, Can want to have the right stuff.my small pack Compass, matches, lighters, rope, twine, hand warmers, two knives, knife sharpener, cough drops first aid kit, fire tinder, small hatchet rain gear, duct tape, whistle and a extra box of rifle ammo and 24 rds of pistol ammo on belt,

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from tlhunter.1 wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

I pack two packs one big and a small day pack, the day pack all the same gear as the big one but a little less. I want to make easy on myself when I am hunting, Can want to have the right stuff.my small pack Compass, matches, lighters, rope, twine, hand warmers, two knives, knife sharpener, cough drops first aid kit, fire tinder, small hatchet rain gear, duct tape, whistle and a extra box of rifle ammo and 24 rds of pistol ammo on belt,

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

Back in the days when I had a horse outfit I had a list of the important stuff scratched into the handle of my camp flashlight. No kidding. It was one of those plastic armored looking things and the list was scratched into the panels between the ribbing. I hope I still have that flashlight somewhere. Want my grandkids to have it.

These days I make out a fresh list every year. I use a legal pad and take a day or two making it out whenever I happen to think of something. When I am satisfied that it's near complete, I tear off the sheet(s) and start over organizing things in sublists by category: ditty bag (toiletries), hunting attire, other attire, personal stuff (cell phone, computer, passport, travel insurance docs, etc.), gun stuff, camping stuff, etc. I don't think I have forgotten anything for a couple of years. Everything fits in the Tule cartop carrier (including the cooler) except one bag of overnight stuff I threw in the front seat. Dogs had the entire cargo area to themselves on this trip. When I got too tired to travel and motels were too expensive (i.e. the oil patch in N. Dakota/Eastern Montana) I simply pulled into Walmart lot, ran the passenger seat forward all the way, pushed down the headrest for the back seat behind it, retrieved sleeping bag and pillow from the carrier, and stretched out with the dogs. Slept very comfortably on their dog beds. Three pooches snuggled on every side kept me pretty toasty. It'll be a sad day when I wear out that little Jimmy. It fits my needs perfectly!

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from shane wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

I have a short list of things that go everywhere, and I have this mostly together always, kind of like a "bug-out bag," minus the paranoia. It's stuff that gets used a lot or will be needed for any length of travel, even now travel at all (like I said, it's together and ready anyways, at all times). I never forget the obvious stuff that's specific to a trip. I kind of have a mental file of what clothing I own goes with certain climates and seasons, so that's nearly automatic, short of debating how many redundant garments I'll want. Finally, I simply visualize myself doing everything I might be doing on a trip, whether it's something I want/planned to do or not. As any needs come along in my head that I didn't list right off the bat, I write them down.

I can pack very lightly and usually have far less stuff with me than your average person, but am not afraid to overdo it a little if it won't burden me too much or become impractical at any point. There's a big difference between what's going with me on the whole and what will be on me while I'm actually hunting.

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

Some great advice. I always toss in extra trash can liners. I hand one to everyone in camp and explain they should put their dirty socks and under wear in it each night and roll it up good.
I also spring for a can of air freshener for the john.
I don't mind it if the gang lives like animals, I just don't want to smell it.
As for dog odor and problem spots. Bring your Dead Down Wind spray and give it a spritz. I works.

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from AlaskanExile wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

A few things I have discovered:
My Dad was right. He always said “Bring twice as much money, and half as many clothes”. Happy was making this point before, you don’t need 5 sets of pants and shirts. You really only need something dry to put on while your other stuff is drying.
Whenever I hunt from a vehicle (Antelope and Deer in the West), I have an oversized shaving kit bag that is my “truck-bag”. It accomplishes 2 things; 1, it keeps my stuff together, giving me a place to put it away, grab it and go in this rig or that. 2, it limits me from bringing too much stuff. It has room for a few things you need but don’t need all the time or don’t need to carry on your person, like an extra box of ammo, my field-dressing stuff, baby wipes, parachute cord, black electricians tape etc. You can keep it on the seat, throw it on the floor or on the dash.

When you are packing stuff for your trip in your den, weigh the individual bags on your bathroom scale if you are traveling by plane. It’s good to know how much everything weighs. The airline is going to smack you with a Draconian fee if any of your bags is over their “per-bag” limit, usually 50 pounds. An air charter operation is going to limit you to a set total amount or will charge you for an extra trip to bring your gear in. In both cases you will do a much better job of making good choices about what to throw “overboard” in the comfort of your own home.
The last thing you want is to be making these far-reaching and impactful judgments (half roll of toilet paper) on a Friday night at the head of a line of vacationers at a busy airport, or in the dark at the float-plane dock with the meter running.

Just my two-cents.
AKX

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from AlaskanExile wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

Stuff you can't replace on a hunt (in order of importance).
1. Hunting licenses and/or tags. (Always check those early and often, check everybody in the group before you leave the house to leave town, and in the dark before you head out to go hunting each day.) I have seen it all, from forgot it, to grabbed last years’s tags, to I bought tags, but not for this hunting area etc.
2. Boots! You can’t hunt far without these and a replacement pair, if you can get them, won’t fit right and will likely blister or freeze your feet.
3. Ammo. If you shoot something weird (you guys know who you are, you 8mm x 284Win A.I. guys) or your pet-loads dialed in for your rifle/scope.
4. Your rifle/handgun/bow. You can maybe borrow one from someone or go to Wal-Mart or another retailer and get another one, but it will take time, money, ammo and won’t shoot in a way that inspires your confidence like your own “Ol’ Betsy”.

Almost everything else you can think of is replaceable at the next truck-stop, thrift store or the back porch of the farm-house. You will get by, you may curse yourself, or someone else, but you will get by.
Backcountry hunts and traveling to far-flung places are going to be different of course.
Planning is important and it keeps you from doing other stuff around the house!
AKX

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from Longbeard wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Thanks, Happy! As a few others have noted, you are dead on regarding packing too many civies. That's been my most common mistake...don't think I've ever worn everything I've taken even on those fancy, out-to-dinner-every-night bird hunts, much less a week-plus elk mountain hunt. Heck, I confess I have even brought back unworn spare brush pants. I have since cut down quite a bit, though. I checked out those Filson whip cord pants and may get a pair before the next trip - already have a pair of wools I got for sitting in deer stands but they're not that tough. I can see how they would work on a cold weather hunt but not so sure about warm weather. You are probably a lot tougher than I am. But I appreciate the benefit of your experience. And of some of the others who posted after Happy. Good stuff!

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from Huntingpadrea wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

Hi guys kinda new here I have a great idea for back packs if anyone can lead me in the right direction i would appreciate it ty

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from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Can I get an amen for the half a roll of toilet paper? Amen!

+7 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I have only been in the woods one day so far and had every imaginable tool it would ever take to load, assemble, disassemble, and clean a muzzle loader. My hunting partner had trouble seating his primer cap and accidentally shot his gun a half hour before sunrise with no deer in the area. They stayed that way.......

Apparently what I forgot was a ball peen hammer to smash his head in silently a few minutes before his error. I will have one next time I hunt with this man. I am being very generous when I call him a man.

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from Happy Myles wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

Longbeard,
I will give it a whirl, because it is not always easy to stick with one bag. I try to do this whether it is a month for mixed bag in Africa or a month Long Fall sheep hunt in Canada. One caveat, if the trip requires a sleeping bag and a frame pack, they do not go in the duffle bag. Most of the crazy places I have been going to in recent years these things are taken care of on site. My day pack does go in the bottom of the duffle. I do not haul food around. Occasionally,in Central Asia where the food can be pretty strange, I may take a few health food bars to supplement a sparse diet.

Bear in mind,I do not travel on a "hair shirt" regimen. What goes in that bag has been fine tuned and tempered by decades hunting in pretty ungiving environments. If you forget or leave out something important, you do not make that mistake a second time. Cannot over emphasize keeping permanent lists and update during the trip. I am always running into someone with a new idea which I jot down for possible future use. So often I see someone pawing through a mound of gear looking for something they cannot find or forgot. Many folks substitute quantity for quality. Some examples. Almost everyone takes far too many clothes a half dozen shirts, too many jackets , underwear, and socks. Then , not bring a light weight raincoat because it was not supposed to rain. What you are wearing, plus an extra set while the other is drying, being washed or mended will suffice. Inexperience prompts folks to prepare for too wide a variety of conditions. A pair of Filson's hard finish wool whip cord trousers will work with a pair of long johns on a Canadian sheep hunt, or without the long johns stalking Kudu on the African Veld. A couple of extreme examples, but gives a picture.

The one duffle is a discipline, not something cast in stone. In summary, I guess I do pack a lot of experience acquired around the world which allows me the luxury of packing a little less.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim in Mo wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I try to do as said here but I damn make sure in my personal pack, screw anyone else, I have an extra flashlight with batteries,knife, energy bars, dry socks and a half roll of toilet paper.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I packed half as much stuff for this year's elk hunt as last year and still had twice as much stuff as I needed ....

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Happy Myles wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

After more than sixty five years packing for hunting trips I have it down to a discipline, if not a science. Whether planning for a weekend or a month, everything must go into one large duffle bag. Always the same one, green canvas with leather trim. It may be half full or stuffed to maximum. The contents may vary depending on the type of hunt. Each type of hunt has a typed manifest, listed in order of packing, bottom to top. These items may be packed in zip lock bags

Have had some outfitters ask for two medium bags more readily packed on horses, which in my experience always turn into two large bags. Each typed list has at the top in bold print, WHEN IN DOUBT LEAVE IT OUT

Does this discipline always work? Of course not. The wildcard is my carry on bag. Kindest Regards

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Greg Hart wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I typically have two bags, one carries all my gear and another that I carry with me in the field. I've found that I'm much less likely to forget something when I pack the weekend before, as I'm typically relaxed and not in a hurry to get out the door.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from davidpetzal wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

To All: And never forget Ted Trueblood's three rules of packing for a trip:

1. It will be too hot.
2. It will be too cold.
3. It will rain.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Happy Myles wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Over the decades have worn out a couple of these duffle bags, the first made by Gokeys, the latest by Hulme. must confess the new models have wheels, as does my firearm case. Looking at seventy four years of age, the airports are as tough to navigate as hunting terrain.

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from JB101 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Great points Dave, I generally use this system as well. Without sounding like the stereotypical young, gadget laden whippersnapper, for those of us with an Android device there is an app called "Hunting Trip Planner" from Jimbl.

It comes with a stock list of items and categories, but they can all be edited. I keep it as a record of all the hunting related gear I own, narrowed down to categories such as: Planning, Documents, Guns & Ammo, Equipment, Clothing, Footwear, Boat Gear, Bedding, Food, F/A Kit, Etc... Then I've got a category for my main pack as well as my secondary pack to make sure I'm good for the day.

At the end of the trip, you can unc-heck all the items and start over next time.

I used to keep lists, this saves me time and trees thank me.

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from Happy Myles wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

David Petzal, a few years ago, hunted the Danikil Desert in Ethiopia while it poured rain. A real mess, dodging between shallow but huge bodies of water. Glad I had my rain gear. Mr Truebloods rule applied.

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from RandyMI wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

I'm glad to see that someone besides myself remembers fondly both Gene Hill and Ed Zern... I have Ed's book "Are Fishermen People" on the shelf of my bookcase next to my recliner and several of Gene's books in the bookcase..... Still love that stuff! :-)

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from tootall75 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Great post, we are in the third week of our four week deer season and the last two weekends I have been to our camp I have forgotten something (can't blame age, I'm only 37). I even have most of my stuff in the same place and rarely move it... It's never anything major but it still drives me crazy that I forget things...my wife suggested making a list, very logical...except I would probably lose or forget that too. I will try your advice and lay on the couch to remember and if my wife says, what are you doing laying down...I will tell her Uncle Dave told me too!!

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from Amflyer wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

On the flip side, I was recently invited to a private South Dakota pheasant hunt, and instructed to bring "Dog, shotgun, and Scotch...the rest is optional."

I suspect that the dog's owner was optional too, except that my Shorthair is not allowed out of the house without me. But keep in mind that I am married and therefore have a self-esteem problem.)

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from Michigan Gunner wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Make a list. As you pack, check items off the list. Then, when you load your vehicle, check off each major item. Like......Duffel Bag #1, Duffel Bag #2, Rifle/shotgun, etc. Then you will not forget anything!

PS. Line your duffel with a garbage bag. So, when it falls in the mud or water, with will stay dry inside.

MG

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from crm3006 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I have checklists, which are updated and amended before and after every hunt. Mostly, I take my own vehicle, therefore, an inventory of necessary and unnecessary items in the truck will take place about a weekend in advance. I mostly subscribe to the theory that it is better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. For example, my cold weather gear and rain gear have traveled to an annual Texas deer hunt nine times, and only been needed twice. Those two times made up for all that hauling when the small bag was not actually needed.

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from tom warner wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I have lived my life by lists for almost 80 years. Couldn't survive with out 'em. Two lists are taped to my gun cabinet; one for hunting and one for fishing. All my gear is kept in one place. In addition I keep a list of short term things in my pocket at all times. Anyway, while all around me my friends are moaning about some crucial item they left behind, I have almost never forgotten anything. Lists are THE ANSWER!!

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from steve182 wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

I worry the entire drive to camp "What have i forgotten?"...doesn't matter because i ain't turning back! I usually manage to bring enough of the essentials to be able to hunt.

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from nelsol wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

To go along with the half roll of toilet paper. Substitute a package of diaper wipes. Packs easier and soothes the backside. Irritation in that area is unacceptable during any portion of the hunt.
Yeah, it may not be manly, but at least your butt won't itch and you won't be doing the "herky-jerky" on your deer stand, fall out and have your hunt ended prematurely.

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from MRKRUGMAN wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

No matter how I pack I always take my ditty bag or stand bag. A small bag easy to carry that has a spare knife,ammo, flashlight's,rain gear,fire starting gear,first aid kit. I run a small ranch that has day hunters.That is how we tell the real hunters from the green horns. The real hunter always have a small day pack or ditty bag. The green horns are the ones that call you from the deer stand on their cell phone to tell you they forgot their ammo.

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from Proverbs wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

I've always used written lists, but about 10 years ago I refined them using Microsoft Word and Tables, which has been the single best improvement. I have several "checklists," which are separated by state and/or species (deer, elk, predators, etc.) For example, I have checklists labeled "Wisconsin Deer 2012," "Colorado Elk 2011," "Texas Deer 2010," "Arizona Javelina 2012," etc.

The idea is to have a familiar format with species- and geographic-specific items that are needed on each trip. This helps speed the packing process and helps ensure nothing is forgotten.

Subheadings on each checklist are in the same place. Subheadings include clothing, backpack (if any) and what goes in it, rifles/ammo or bow, camp materials (if any), medical supplies. If it is a driving trip, then there is a heading labeled VEHICLE under which appropriate items are listed. On every list is included STATE TAG/License, HUNTER ID CARD, and any other document that may be required by that state.

As items get packed, they get a hand-written checkmark next to the typed list item. The checklist accompanies me on the trips for two reasons: 1)In case I can't find something on a trip, the list reassures me to keep looking; and 2)I hand-write notes during the trip on the back of the list.

Each year, in preparation for the next trip, I simply open the "Header/Footer" on the Microsoft Word document and "Save AS" with the current year. Then I edit my list as necessary, using the notes I've written from the past year. There is nothing to forget or mix-up with another trip, because on the top of the page is the trip and year to make things easy.

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from AlaskanExile wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

Stuff you can't replace on a hunt (in order of importance).
1. Hunting licenses and/or tags. (Always check those early and often, check everybody in the group before you leave the house to leave town, and in the dark before you head out to go hunting each day.) I have seen it all, from forgot it, to grabbed last years’s tags, to I bought tags, but not for this hunting area etc.
2. Boots! You can’t hunt far without these and a replacement pair, if you can get them, won’t fit right and will likely blister or freeze your feet.
3. Ammo. If you shoot something weird (you guys know who you are, you 8mm x 284Win A.I. guys) or your pet-loads dialed in for your rifle/scope.
4. Your rifle/handgun/bow. You can maybe borrow one from someone or go to Wal-Mart or another retailer and get another one, but it will take time, money, ammo and won’t shoot in a way that inspires your confidence like your own “Ol’ Betsy”.

Almost everything else you can think of is replaceable at the next truck-stop, thrift store or the back porch of the farm-house. You will get by, you may curse yourself, or someone else, but you will get by.
Backcountry hunts and traveling to far-flung places are going to be different of course.
Planning is important and it keeps you from doing other stuff around the house!
AKX

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from tootall75 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

*To remember what I may have forgotten I meant to say.

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from Tom-Tom wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

The Boy Scout motto is "Be Prepared" and Dave, to me that means the first aid kit. As for gear wasn't it Grits Gresham that said, "If I have it, I take it"? Did you ever go on a hunt with Grits, and if so, how did he pack?

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from RockySquirrel wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Like CRM3006; After spending a life time traveling, I have learned "it is better to have and not need then need and not have”.

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from Longbeard wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Amen to that half roll!!

I have one master list with everything on it. If it isn't needed for the hunt in question (eg., game calls for an upland trip) I don't pack it. I tried the specialized lists for different hunts, but a problem arose when I went on mixed bag hunts (eg., ducks as an adjunct to a primarily upland hunt). The exception is deer camp which requires its own special list for food, drink, RV supplies, etc.

My problem is always taking too much, things that don't get used trip after trip (nothing as important as rain gear and first aid kit).

Happy, I am having a hard time imagining how one can pack for a month in a single duffle. Could you give us some idea of how you do it?

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from O Garcia wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

DP
I have to agree with you about making a will, or even worrying about who's your beneficiary for that life insurance policy, or what wealth you'll leave your children. Don't get me wrong, those things matter, but at the end of the day, like you said, you're dead.

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from Carney wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

For a number of years a list worked well. The last 4 years, my work schedule has so pushed hunting to the deep corners of the calendar that I throw my stuff together whenever the opportunity avails and head out. I have yet to forget anything important but I'm seldom out more than 2 days at a time. And for 2 days, well the list is long on what one can manage without for 2 days.

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from dale freeman wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

may God have mercy ##

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from deadly wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

This is all a moot point since the election results were posted.
All guns will be banned and confiscated, so my new hunting list is:
loincloth
flint knife
spear

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from z41 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I liked the part about making sure everything still fits. On a recent bird hunt I wasn't hitting birds solid. My Browning normally did an outstanding job at that. Problem was my 12 year old hunting coat had shrunk. A new coat & hunting vest solved the problem, except things still tend to shrink a lot.

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from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I have a huge check list that I made for trips. Not everything on the list goes with me, but it's at least there for me to check off if I do want to bring it.

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from Nathan Ryver wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

I have a tendency to overpack...but like others have said, its better to have it and not need it, than to need it, and not have it.

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from fox4 wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

All you need is:
survival knife
550 cord
cammo poncho with liner
broke in boots
and
Motel 6 reservations

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from huntslow wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Lots of people say they use lists. Is there a way to share those? Or perhaps Dave can use his infinite wisdom to collate them into a single list with sub-headings for type of hunt. I'll bet that after hunting season, Dave is rarely busy between 2 and 4 in the morning!

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from tlhunter.1 wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

I pack two packs one big and a small day pack, the day pack all the same gear as the big one but a little less. I want to make easy on myself when I am hunting, Can want to have the right stuff.my small pack Compass, matches, lighters, rope, twine, hand warmers, two knives, knife sharpener, cough drops first aid kit, fire tinder, small hatchet rain gear, duct tape, whistle and a extra box of rifle ammo and 24 rds of pistol ammo on belt,

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from tlhunter.1 wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

I pack two packs one big and a small day pack, the day pack all the same gear as the big one but a little less. I want to make easy on myself when I am hunting, Can want to have the right stuff.my small pack Compass, matches, lighters, rope, twine, hand warmers, two knives, knife sharpener, cough drops first aid kit, fire tinder, small hatchet rain gear, duct tape, whistle and a extra box of rifle ammo and 24 rds of pistol ammo on belt,

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

Back in the days when I had a horse outfit I had a list of the important stuff scratched into the handle of my camp flashlight. No kidding. It was one of those plastic armored looking things and the list was scratched into the panels between the ribbing. I hope I still have that flashlight somewhere. Want my grandkids to have it.

These days I make out a fresh list every year. I use a legal pad and take a day or two making it out whenever I happen to think of something. When I am satisfied that it's near complete, I tear off the sheet(s) and start over organizing things in sublists by category: ditty bag (toiletries), hunting attire, other attire, personal stuff (cell phone, computer, passport, travel insurance docs, etc.), gun stuff, camping stuff, etc. I don't think I have forgotten anything for a couple of years. Everything fits in the Tule cartop carrier (including the cooler) except one bag of overnight stuff I threw in the front seat. Dogs had the entire cargo area to themselves on this trip. When I got too tired to travel and motels were too expensive (i.e. the oil patch in N. Dakota/Eastern Montana) I simply pulled into Walmart lot, ran the passenger seat forward all the way, pushed down the headrest for the back seat behind it, retrieved sleeping bag and pillow from the carrier, and stretched out with the dogs. Slept very comfortably on their dog beds. Three pooches snuggled on every side kept me pretty toasty. It'll be a sad day when I wear out that little Jimmy. It fits my needs perfectly!

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from shane wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

I have a short list of things that go everywhere, and I have this mostly together always, kind of like a "bug-out bag," minus the paranoia. It's stuff that gets used a lot or will be needed for any length of travel, even now travel at all (like I said, it's together and ready anyways, at all times). I never forget the obvious stuff that's specific to a trip. I kind of have a mental file of what clothing I own goes with certain climates and seasons, so that's nearly automatic, short of debating how many redundant garments I'll want. Finally, I simply visualize myself doing everything I might be doing on a trip, whether it's something I want/planned to do or not. As any needs come along in my head that I didn't list right off the bat, I write them down.

I can pack very lightly and usually have far less stuff with me than your average person, but am not afraid to overdo it a little if it won't burden me too much or become impractical at any point. There's a big difference between what's going with me on the whole and what will be on me while I'm actually hunting.

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

Some great advice. I always toss in extra trash can liners. I hand one to everyone in camp and explain they should put their dirty socks and under wear in it each night and roll it up good.
I also spring for a can of air freshener for the john.
I don't mind it if the gang lives like animals, I just don't want to smell it.
As for dog odor and problem spots. Bring your Dead Down Wind spray and give it a spritz. I works.

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from AlaskanExile wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

A few things I have discovered:
My Dad was right. He always said “Bring twice as much money, and half as many clothes”. Happy was making this point before, you don’t need 5 sets of pants and shirts. You really only need something dry to put on while your other stuff is drying.
Whenever I hunt from a vehicle (Antelope and Deer in the West), I have an oversized shaving kit bag that is my “truck-bag”. It accomplishes 2 things; 1, it keeps my stuff together, giving me a place to put it away, grab it and go in this rig or that. 2, it limits me from bringing too much stuff. It has room for a few things you need but don’t need all the time or don’t need to carry on your person, like an extra box of ammo, my field-dressing stuff, baby wipes, parachute cord, black electricians tape etc. You can keep it on the seat, throw it on the floor or on the dash.

When you are packing stuff for your trip in your den, weigh the individual bags on your bathroom scale if you are traveling by plane. It’s good to know how much everything weighs. The airline is going to smack you with a Draconian fee if any of your bags is over their “per-bag” limit, usually 50 pounds. An air charter operation is going to limit you to a set total amount or will charge you for an extra trip to bring your gear in. In both cases you will do a much better job of making good choices about what to throw “overboard” in the comfort of your own home.
The last thing you want is to be making these far-reaching and impactful judgments (half roll of toilet paper) on a Friday night at the head of a line of vacationers at a busy airport, or in the dark at the float-plane dock with the meter running.

Just my two-cents.
AKX

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from Longbeard wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Thanks, Happy! As a few others have noted, you are dead on regarding packing too many civies. That's been my most common mistake...don't think I've ever worn everything I've taken even on those fancy, out-to-dinner-every-night bird hunts, much less a week-plus elk mountain hunt. Heck, I confess I have even brought back unworn spare brush pants. I have since cut down quite a bit, though. I checked out those Filson whip cord pants and may get a pair before the next trip - already have a pair of wools I got for sitting in deer stands but they're not that tough. I can see how they would work on a cold weather hunt but not so sure about warm weather. You are probably a lot tougher than I am. But I appreciate the benefit of your experience. And of some of the others who posted after Happy. Good stuff!

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from Huntingpadrea wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

Hi guys kinda new here I have a great idea for back packs if anyone can lead me in the right direction i would appreciate it ty

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