This column was supposed to be in last week's edition of The Inter-Mountain, but we had to have time out because my wife was in the hospital.
I have been deer hunting for more than 40 years, and it never ceases to amaze me the lack of preparation some hunters take prior to the firearms season. Many of my friends just toss some gear into a vehicle and head for the woods opening morning. This may be satisfactory for the hunter who plans to come home on the same day.
However, if the hunter is planning an outing that is going to last three or more days, some homework is necessary to get ready for what I consider the best three weeks of the entire year. The time at home getting prepared is just as important as the time in the fields or woods. I have found out by trial and error that certain preparation is quite simple, but often done incorrectly. In addition to checking your guns and ammo, also check all the gear you may use on the trip. There is nothing more aggravating than to find a piece of worn out or nonfunctional equipment. New gear should also be checked out to make sure it is working properly.
Foods can be a problem depending on how a person travels to their hunting site. If a person travels by vehicle, then transportation of heavy food should not be much of a problem if they bring along an ice chest. However, if the hunter is going backpacking, the amount of weight should always be given serious consideration. I do not recommend canned foods because they are just too hard and heavy. Rigid containers should also be avoided because they have a tendency to dig into the carrier's back if the walk is a long distance.
For the backpacker, I would recommend military Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), which are available at just about any military surplus store. They are also available online. The food the hunter chooses to take is his preference; just remember the weight factor when backpacking.
If the nimrod is under a doctor's care and taking prescription medications, they need to bring all of them along. It is important that they stay on prescription medications even when on a several-day hunting trip. They should also consult with their health care professional to make sure they are in sound condition for a hunting trip.
Another item to bring along is a first aid or survival kit. These are available at just about any sporting goods store. Here is something all outdoorsmen and women are better off to have and not need than to need and not have.
If the hunter is in an area for the first time, topographical maps are very useful. This is an item given little consideration or forgotten. Skilled outdoorsmen have often found prime hunting locations by studying these large-scale detail maps. Such maps are inexpensive and are available from the National Geological Survey Service.
These are just a few things a hunter who is going on a several-day hunting trip can do to make his trip a successful one. Rarely does a hunter go into a new area, climb just any tree and bag a trophy buck on the first day. Most skilled deer hunters start their preparation weeks before the season opens and stay busy up until it is time to go after that big buck.
On the second day of the buck season, I was able to bag a small three-point buck in the woods near Stalnaker Run Road. When I got to the fallen deer, I said to myself, "well now, the playing is over, and it is now time for the work to begin." By the time I got the deer field-dressed and to my garage with the help of my neighbor's ATV, I was nearly exhausted and sweating from head to foot.