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“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.