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How to Prepare for a Hunting Trip

Article and photo by Bill Adelman
02/14/15 -- Without a doubt, the number one reason an outdoorsman might slip up is this…"you know, I did know that and just forgot it." What is the number one reason for pre-planning for any outdoors trip? As the scouts say…be prepared! You can’t believe how many fishermen launch their boat for the first time in any fishing season without ever checking out the basics, such as, will it start? I can't count the times a single-lane ramp was blocked while the struggling angler was trying to crank-er-up.

Is it possible we hunting types do the same thing? YUP, and generally not because we didn’t know, we just forgot, or even worse, assumed. Historically, archery season opens in the A zone in mid-July. What should be the first thought in the minds of the stick-n-stringers in preparing for this hunt? My guess, or assumption, is heat! And what should the second thought be? Hydration! Yet, many archers will be caught short, or thirsty, as the case may be.

Hunters might consider a back pack, day pack or even a fanny pack. That choice is determined by laying out everything you’ll need on a table, then choosing the method that best suits your personal needs. Should you carry bottled water, consider leaving them in an ice chest overnight, or in the freezer should you have a more comfortable camp. Do you use one of those fancy aluminum water containers? The lid opening is usually large enough to fill with ice cubes. Hmmmmm. Just a thought!

Bill Adelman with Jack Collier holding their rifles while hunting in the woods. Photo by Bill Adelman
The author (r) of San Pablo with Jack Collier of Richmond. It’s a good policy to hunt with one or more companions. Illness, accidents or injuries happen all the time so it’s best to keep one another in sight or within gun range. A predetermined signal such as three shots fired in very rapid order will inform others you need help.

I am well aware that 99.3% of hunters are younger than I, but I’ve never understood the strapping of a bowie knife with a 9” blade on my hip. Don’t forget, during archery season, no sidearms. During the general season however, why carry a pistol on the other hip, especially when it’s the size of a small rifle?

Flashback ... We were hunting the A zone when another hunter popped a buck, just wounding it. One of our guys was close enough to approach the deer, raising his rifle to finish the job. The first hunter hollered and told him to not shoot the buck in the neck as it will ruin too much meat. He, after all, had a huge revolver which he carried for just this purpose. Our guy backed off, the buck rolled up and took off into a canyon. We joined the other hunter, who was not in our group, for 5 hours, never locating his animal. I am well aware that some “rules” may prohibit this practice, or at least the second hunter must tag the deer, but is our end result better?

Let’s check that table. A small two bladed knife, perhaps a pocket watch, a tag and some string, lip ice, toilet tissue, (think about it), a sealable baggie for the liver and/or heart, a whistle, walkie-talkie, flashlight, compass, extra ammo, rubber gloves for field dressing, bright colored plastic tape for marking a trail, small knife sharpener, field saw, travel size first aid kit, a pen, powder container for checking wind direction, mosquito repellant, suntan lotion and anything else that suits your personal needs. Why a pocket watch? Many times a wrist watch will cause so much sweat on the arm as to be extremely uncomfortable.

Clothing is high on the list as well. A suggestion is to consider a very light weight long sleeved shirt, for all day wear, so as to protect your arms not only from stickers and scratches, but bugs and ticks as well. Don’t be bashful. Have one of your other hunters do an almost full body check for ticks every day. Gaiters are another item that receive strange looks from other hunters. They too will help protect from bugs and ticks. While others are removing 226 stickers from their boot laces, socks and pant cuffs, we just shake out our gaiters & hang them up for the night.

One of those small, manual pump spray plastic bottles, filled with water and left in the vehicle in an ice chest is a blessing. Spray down completely. Boy does that feel good as well as cool you off pretty quickly. Climbing out of a canyon in 90 degree temps is telling on most of us. Stop and rest in the shade prior to almost collapsing. Keep in mind, when it’s that hot, every step downhill is 2½ steps back up the hill.

What’s another important issue when it comes to big game hunting, other than your choice of weapon? It’s “de-feet.” Locate the very best boot you can afford, then add on 50 bucks. You’re very fortunate if you can buy boots from one of the mail order houses & the fit is perfect. If not, be sure to take whatever combination of socks you anticipate you’ll need and try on the boots while wearing your socks. If you use plastic or foam inserts, take them with you as well. Tie the laces up tight, just as you will in the field, and spend a little extra time walking around the showroom. Then wear them at home for an hour or two each day. When de-feet hurt, everything hurts. About 2-3 days before heading for the hills, trim your toenails as close as you can without drawing blood. Have you ever trekked downhill with your toenails pushing against the inside of a boot? A well planned outing makes for a comfortable outing.

Bill Adelman is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of California. His work has appeared in the Fish Sniffer newspaper and MarketPlace magazine. He was a full time freshwater fishing guide for 20 years. Now retired he still likes to serve as a flyfishing instructor, rod builder, outdoor photographer and hunting mentor.


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