Bad things can happen to hunters: Skinning knives are sharp. A fall from a treestand can end with a hard impact. And that buck you thought was dead could find his feet and impale his rack right where you don’t want it. You should not be out in the wild without a well-stocked first-aid kit. Here’s a look at 11 things every hunter should have in theirs.
1. Tourniquet, Chest Seals, and Compression Gauze
Tourniquets, chest seals, and gauze all prevent excessive bleeding from deep wounds. Richard Mann
Up to 20 percent of deaths per year from traumatic injuries could have been prevented if proper care had been given, and the following three things can help save lives. A tourniquet is a constricting or compressing device used to control venous and arterial circulation to an extremity; a chest seal is used to treat chest wounds; and compressed gauze is an ultra-compact roll of sterile, 100-percent cotton gauze for treating hemorrhaging. All of these items—separately or together—can keep you or a hunting partner from bleeding to death.
2. CPR Mask
Small, portable face shields prevent the transmission of disease when giving CPR. LSIKA-Z
Just because you have seen someone perform CPR on television does not make you qualified. Every outdoorsman should take a CPR class. Using a CPR mask should also be self-explanatory, since there is no way to confirm if the victim of a cardiac arrest is carrying an infectious disease or not. It is highly recommended to use a CPR mask in order to keep the victim’s fluids out of the rescuer’s mouth in case rescue breaths are needed. You’ll also never have to admit to lip-to-lip contact with your best buddy after saving his life.
3. Trauma Shears
Trauma shears have a blunt end that prevents accidental cuts. Madison Supply
Real EMT trauma shears are very strong and have many uses. They can easily cut through clothes, seat belts, and even leather. And, when you are trying to clear fabric away from a wound, they are much safer than a hunting knife, which might create an injury worse than the one you are treating in the first place. Trauma sheers have protected points that allow you to slide them between even tight-fitting clothing and skin without cutting someone. As a side note, they work pretty good for parting up small game like squirrels and quail too.
4. Sterile Eyewash
Keep debris and dirt out of your eyes with emergency eyewash solution. Bausch & Lomb
In the outdoors, anything from dirt to gunpowder residue can get into your eyes. Mama told you when you were young not to rub your eyes when you got something in them, and she was right. It’s not a good idea to use creek water to flush them out either; you never know what critter might be lying dead and decaying upstream. Instead, pack along some sterile emergency eyewash. To use, hold your eyelid open and gently squirt into your eye. Sometimes it helps to roll your eye around as you are doing this. When done, blink, rinse, and repeat as needed.
5. Mylar Emergency Blanket
Mylar Blankets are extremely versatile and are a perfect addition to a first-aid or survival kit. Prima Care
An emergency blanket has many uses, the most important of which is keeping you warm. Injured or not, you may be lost and have to survive the elements until rescued. A bright and shiny trauma blanket can be used as a signaling device, makeshift shelter, or to help gather water. You can even cut it up with your trauma sheers and place pieces between your clothes and skin for added insulation.
Even little cuts can become infected. Use Band-Aids to keep them clean and sterile. Band-Aid
Band-Aids and similar bandages may not seem all that important, but out in the wilderness, an open wound can easily become infected. If you are hunting in places like Africa, the infection might be something your body has never seen before. An infected wound can turn septic, which could ultimately result in a high fever, amputation, or something substantially worse: a condition commonly known as death. You should have several sizes of Band-Aids and if they have Sponge Bob on them, that’s OK. You should also have butterfly bandages. They are best for serious cuts, as they pull the edges of a wound together to help stop bleeding and keep it clean.
Use moleskin to protect your skin and prevent blisters that could otherwise ruin a trip. First Aid Only
You have to take care of your feet. Blisters not only have the potential to turn septic, they can turn an enjoyable spot and stalk hunt into a painful, sit and watch adventure. Moleskin will help you take care of your feet so you can keep them on your legs and move around in the wilderness without whimpering like a baby. Moleskin is a thin but very soft cotton fabric that is much more durable than a Band-Aid. It also has adhesive on one side and can be applied to the inside of a boot to prevent blisters or help them heal.
Stock basic medications for you and anyone else in your group.
Any serious first aid kit should include basic over the counter medications such as ibuprofen and what most professional hunters call “stop and go,” which is one pill that prevents diarrhea and another that will send you to the outhouse. You should also include some sinus medication, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and antacids. Most importantly, make sure your first aid kit is stocked with a few days’ extra supply of any prescription medications you’re supposed to be taking.
Tweezers are the best tool to use for removing ticks. Tweezer Guru
About half the time hunters head into the outdoors they will either get a thorn or a tick embedded in their body. Neither is fun to deal with and both are a pain to remove—especially when they are stuck on the front side of your backside. Tweezers are a must for a first aid kit because they make the removal of thorns, insects, and stingers, much easier. If you try to remove a tick with your fingers, you may fail to pull the head out. Also, if you try to remove stingers, splinters, or ticks with a knife, you may end up with a cut that’s worse than the problem you were trying to fix.
10. Cell Phone
A cell-phone lanyard can save your phone from dropping or falling out of your pocket. Bone
Most of us living in the modern world probably don’t need to be reminded to take our cell phones with us no matter where we go or what we are doing. And while you might hunt to escape the world that your cell phone connects you to, you best take it with you because it can save your life during a health emergency or if you become lost. Also, keep it secured somewhere on your body. If you’re hanging upside down from your tree stand and your cell phone is on the ground, you might be hanging there for a damn long time. Don’t put your phone in your pack; keep it on your person. Make sure it is stored in a zippered pocket, or better yet, attached to a lanyard. Some modern cell phones are waterproof, but a protective bag is never a bad idea either.
If you don’t want to build your own kit, this one from DTL gear comes with everything you need. DTL Gear
To make sure you have all this important life-saving gear with you, find a durable bag to carry it in. Dumping it in the bottom of your hunting pack will not protect it or make it easy to access. The simplest way to solve this problem is to purchase a quality pre-assembled first aid kit like the Outdoorsman Kit from DTL Gear. It comes with all these goodies pre-packaged and weighs a bit more than a pound. If you want to assemble your own kit, pouches from Maxpedition and 511 tactical are ideal. Throw in a cell-phone charger, stuff it in your pack, and hit the timber.