Each year about this time we pack our gear and head off to kill some poor dopey animal, and I get to remind you to check your gear before you throw it in your duffle bag. Failure to do so can result in anything from minor inconvenience to something really bad happening to your sorry ass. On my pre-check for the first hunt of the year I discovered that the batteries in my car flashlight were near death, and that one of the high-priced butane “survival” lighters on which I had spent something like $50 would not stay lit and would not fill. That’s what I’ve found so far.


Ted Trueblood’s guide to packing: It will be too hot. It will be too cold. It will rain/snow.

The SEAL guide to essential gear: One is nothing. Two is one.

When throwing clothes in your duffle, include two pairs of gloves because they take up little space, are easy to lose, and the consequences can be dire.

Try your boots on with the socks you are bringing. Do they fit?

If your rifle is a .270, are the shells you’re packing also .270?

The more electronic gear you pack, the more extra batteries you’ll need, and someone will surely mooch from you.

Include a roll of duct tape even if there are no ducts where you’re going.

Include a roll of orange surveyor’s tape. Invaluable for marking routes and blood trails.

Include 50 feet of 550 cord, preferably in safety orange.

If you’re flying, assume that the ramp apes will leave your duffle out in the rain and pack it accordingly. I put everything in surplus Army laundry bags, which are big, tough, light, and waterproof.

Bring a sewing kit, the kind you buy at camping stores. Invaluable.

Once you’ve checked something, leave it alone. Fiddling results in loss.

Good hunting.