Josh Montgomery, MMR’s founder, runs Minute Man Review in his spare time and actively documents the Texas secessionists’ movements from his home in Austin, Texas. Since its inception in 2013, Minute Man Review has been covering gear reviews, citizen’s rights, and reporting on what Josh believes to be the crackdown on free speech and activity both in the US and worldwide.
A backpack hunt can be a great way to get in touch with nature and turn a hunting trip into an explorative adventure. However, you need to bring the right gear for a hunt like this to have a comfortable and successful time. Below are 10 pieces of gear that you absolutely need to have on your next backpack hunt.
1. The Right Backpack For The Hunt
This seems like an obvious choice but choosing the right backpack is essential. It’s still important to address, though, because nothing is going to ruin your hunt like a backpack that’s uncomfortable or difficult to wear once it’s full.
Needless to say, not just any backpack will do. There are a few main things you want out of a backpack.
First, it should offer enough support and room that you aren’t struggling too much even after you’ve filled your pack.
Additionally, it needs to be durable. If you’re halfway through a backpack hunt only for one of the straps to break, that’s going to make the rest of the hunt much more difficult.
Many hunters find that frame packs help them carry everything that they need without wearing them down too much.
When you’re choosing the size of your pack, don’t forget to consider that if your hunt is successful, you’ll be carrying your game in addition to what you brought with you.
2. Your Rifle and Scope
If you’re hunting with a rifle, it goes without saying that you need to bring that rifle with you. But, what’s important is that you remember to bring the accessories that go with that rifle as well.
One piece of equipment that you’ll want to invest in regarding your rifle is a scope. The main reason you’ll want to do this is that it helps enhance your vision on the field.
You can get a much clearer picture of what’s happening when you take a shot rather than trying to squint and rely fully on your natural eyesight.
When it comes to scopes, though, you have a lot of options. This can make it a little intimidating to try and find something that works for you and fits your gun. Luckily, there are plenty of resources like OutdoorBest.com that will help you with taking these in and finding the best scope for your rifle. (Just be sure it’s mounted properly and sighted in!)
When you’re going on a backpack hunt, it isn’t all about what you carry. In addition, you also have to think about what you’re going to wear.
First, make sure you have the warm hunting clothes you depend on during the season. This includes gear like insulated pants and a parka if necessary.
However, you’re also going to want to be prepared for inclement weather which means rain gear goes in your bag as well. The last thing you want is to be caught in the rain only for you and your gear to get soaked through.
It’s a good idea to invest in waterproof and water-resistant gear rather than just throwing a flimsy rain poncho into your bag. It’s also a good idea to bring an extra pair of shirts and paints just in case.
You also need to invest in a good pair of boots. These will help keep your feet safe and dry as well as comfortable. While your boots shouldn’t be old, it’s a good idea to wear a pair that’s already “broken in.” There’s a lot of public hunting land out there to be explored, and you don’t want to have to accommodate for blistered feet while you’re hiking your way through it.
This is an important piece of gear to remember. Anytime you’re going on any type of outdoor excursion, no matter how much risk is involved, you’re going to want to keep a well-stocked first-aid kit on hand. This will allow you to take care of anything like a scrape from a fall or take urgent methods to help get a more seriously injured party member to help.
There are two parts to making sure your kit is as useful as possible.
First, you need to have the right supplies. A well-stocked kit has more than just a few spare bandages and antibacterial wipes. It should be much more comprehensive including items like non-latex gloves, antibiotic ointment, gauze, tweezers, and more.
The Red Cross has a handy checklist of what should go in your kit. You should go back through this checklist before every outing.
Secondly, those supplies are only so helpful without the knowledge to use them. It’s a good idea to study up and make sure you have a first aid guide in your kit to help you out.
5. Hiking Poles
Hiking poles – also referred to as trekking poles – are a must for a backpack hunt. This is because there is a lot of hiking involved in backpack hunting and you want to be as smart and safe as possible.
Hiking poles can help take some of the pressure and impact of steep hiking off of your legs and knees. These poles are also praised for keeping your hands raised rather than at your sides which is better for circulation. This improves your stamina.
While there are a number of other benefits to go on about, another one of the biggest things that hikers often call on their hiking poles for is balance and anchoring in tough conditions. This is particularly useful in backpack hunting since you’re carrying a large pack that could throw your center of gravity off, especially when you’re carrying large game back.
6. A Knife
A knife is a must have on a backpack hunting trip. While there is some debate over whether a fixed blade or folding blade is the best choice, there’s no debate that having a knife on hand can be a lifesaver.
Of course, a knife comes in handy for standard tasks like field dressing your game, but knives are one of the most versatile tools to keep in your pack and can help with anything from first aid to preparing your nightly meal.
Because your knife is so important, it’s a good idea to keep a sharpener handy too. This way you don’t end up having to struggle with a dull knife. There are plenty of handheld models, so you don’t have to worry about losing a lot of storage space by taking it along.
7. Gear for Sleeping
Without a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and tent, your hunting trip will probably be pretty short-lived. If you’re going backpack hunting and plan on staying a while away from hotels and homes, you’re going to need to be just as ready to camp as you are to hunt.
While you’re choosing your camping gear, remember that the general rule of thumb that you’ll want to follow is to travel light. After all, whatever you want to bring will be on your back most of the time. That’s why it’s a good reason to lean towards lighter, simpler tents rather than an excessively expansive or luxurious tent.
8. Food and Water
Once you have your shelter accounted for, you’re going to need to consider your other basic needs: food and water.
First, let’s look at water. This is one of the most important things you put in your bag because your body can’t operate in top condition without it.
It’s crucial to keep plenty of water on hand because you aren’t guaranteed to find a fresh, clean water supply while on your trip. It’s also a good idea to keep a way to purify water on hand. Iodine tablets or small, handheld water purifiers are popular among campers and hikers.
As for food, you have a lot of different options as to what you can bring to eat. You can rely on all of your campfire favorites including everything from made-for-camping freeze dried meals to your favorite coffee, as well as non-perishable snacks like trail mix and granola bars. As you learn your way around backpack hunting, you can get creative and find out what unique campsite meals you love.
9. A Source of Heat
Whether you’re cooking or just staying warm at the end of the night, you’re going to need a way to get a fire started on your campsite. Matches and a lighter are good to keep handy but it’s also a good idea to have a fire starter kit on hand. This way, you won’t have to struggle trying to get started from scratch without help.
Don’t forget that you have to make sure any campfire you set has to be put out safely before you pack up for the night. It can go a long way to study up on or even keep a copy of the USDA Forest Service steps to extinguishing a campfire.
10. Game Bags
When you’re going to be carrying game long distances, you need a reliable way to do so. Your best bet here is to invest in game bags to carry your game in after you field dress it. This will help you make sure that it makes its way from the spot you took it down to your dinner table back at home.
Backpack hunting can be a unique and rewarding experience but you need to be well-prepared. So whether you’re after elk, mule deer or other big game, having basic essentials like these, you can be more prepared for what is hopefully a successful backpack hunt!
People hunt for many reasons, including sport, culture, and food. No matter what reason you’ve taken up hunting, you’re likely hoping to become the most proficient hunter you can be. We’re going to help you out by discussing the rookie mistakes that many new hunters make so that you can be ahead of the curve on your next hunt.
Spend ample time at a shooting range to perfect your shot with different targets. You’ll also want to vary your weapon choice with each hunt so that you gain experience in the woods with all of your firearms.
If you’re looking for a weapon that’s smaller than a rifle, consider using a pistol as your primary hunting firearm. An AR-15 pistol can be the perfect addition to your gear pack in this case. An AR-15 pistol is much smaller and lighter weight than a rifle, freeing up space in your pack for additional gear.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! You should be proficient using any weapon that you plan to hunt with.
Because many of us don’t have endless options at our disposal, we end up with one or two areas that we go back to season after season. The problem with this is that going back to the same location every year can result in a reduced chance of making a kill.
It may seem like going to the same area year after year would give you a chance to get to know the area more intimately, increasing your chances of finding game each time. The truth is that the deer in that area get better at avoiding you with every season you hunt there.
This is true during a single season as well. If you set up your tree stand in one area and never move, you might possibly bag a buck or two. But, once you move into an area, deer will view that area as a dangerous space. So, the longer you stay and hunt in that area, the more potential you have for driving away the very deer you are trying to harvest.
Hunting gear and accessories are getting better every year, to the delight of hunters everywhere. Marketing makes it seem like all of this gear is necessary for a successful hunt. The truth is, all of the gear in the world can’t replace skill and experience. While laser scopes and other accessories will give you an edge, they can’t replace the skills required for hunting, tracking and harvesting deer.
Remember, people have been hunting for thousands of years without any of the technological advancements we have today. Skill and experience are more important than any piece of gear you can purchase for a hunt.
Relying heavily on technology can also go wrong if that technology malfunctions. For instance, marking a certain spot on your GPS can be incredibly helpful unless that GPS stops working. This is why you should be able to back up any high-tech solutions with manual work. If you mark a spot on a GPS, take the time to mark it on a physical map as well.
Don’t rely too heavily on specialized gear and gadgets when hunting. Your mind is one of your greatest assets.
Lack of Patience
The anticipation of making a kill can make you forget that sitting in a stand can be incredibly boring. It’s often hours before any game come along, and you’re left just sitting there waiting until something happens to come your way.
It can be tempting to get distracted by your phone or a book and lose track of what’s happening in the woods around you. While having means of entertainment makes the time go by faster, it can also prevent you from noticing when a game animal walks into range. You don’t want to hear a deer noise, look up and realize that the deer has already seen you!
If you choose to bring any sort of entertainment to pass the time, make sure that you don’t get too absorbed in it. Look up from your phone or book frequently so that you don’t miss anything that walks into your field of vision.
Waiting Too Long To Take a Shot
You may be waiting in the stand for hours for a target deer to pass you by. When it finally happens, you may be waiting too long for the perfect shot before doing anything.
The problem with waiting for the “perfect shot” is you may end up letting a perfectly ethical shot slip away because you were indecisive. Now, the last thing you want to do is take a reckless shot that leads to wounding an animal and causing it to suffer unnecessarily. However, some hunters wait a little too long and get busted before having a chance to harvest the deer.
Keep an eye on the target as soon as it walks into your field of vision. Carefully track it with your rangefinder, if you use one, or your sight. As soon as the target is within range and you have a clear shot, take it.
Be sure to take an ethical shot, but don’t let your chance slip away due to indecision.
Not Reading the Wind
Many hunting rookies fail to read the wind when hunting. Wind can factor into shot angles, scent trails, and the direction that game travels. Reading the wind is as important as assessing any other environmental factors, such as game signs or elevation. If you don’t have experience reading the wind, or any other natural signs for that matter, take the time to gain this skill. You can research how to read the wind or ask a more experienced hunter for advice.
Gaining this skill will make you a much stronger hunter in the future. It will take some time to perfect it, but be worth it when you’re able to use this skill on a hunt.
Leaving Scent Behind
This is one of the most common rookie mistakes in the hunting world. Leaving human scent behind is a surefire way to ensure that game avoids the area where you’ve been.
Game animals learn to avoid human scent, as they regard humans as predators and smell is one of deer’s strongest senses. Anywhere that human scent is, game will try to avoid in the future.
Leaving human scent can be catastrophic in an area that you hunt frequently. It may result in not seeing any more game during the rest of the season, which can be devastating if that is your only hunting location. So, if you continually leave lots of scent in your hunting area, deer will simply avoid that area as they move to and from food, water and nutrient locations.
There are a slew of products on the market that are made to reduce the human scent present in your skin and on your clothes. There are also some free steps you can take to minimize your scent.
First, don’t wear any artificial scents such as cologne and don’t shower with scented soap right before you go out.
Another handy tip is to gather debris such as fallen leaves and dirt in a bag and put your field clothes in that bag. This will help your clothes take on a natural scent and lessen its obvious human scent. It’s also good to avoid flowery detergents when washing your hunting clothes.
Not Recognizing Good Days and Patterns
Experienced hunters can recognize when a favorable day for hunting rolls around. This could be types of weather such as cold fronts and rain.
Pay attention to the rut. This is a key facet of the hunting season and it will tell you a lot about a buck’s behavior. Before the rut, bucks often stay in bachelor groups, but by the time the rut hits, there’s going to be a lot of competition between bucks. Their behavior will tell you a lot about where and how to hunt.
Using Scents Incorrectly
We already touched on the fact that deer have a strong sense of smell. Because of this, many hunters use scents like doe estrous. A common mistake is that this scent is dumped in one spot and the hunter waits. However, this isn’t always convincing enough to entice the buck of a lifetime to approach.
Scents also need to be used at the right time. While you can get away with using doe or buck urine during the whole season, doe estrous is most effective during the beginning or end of the rut. All in all, you’re going to want to do plenty of research when you’re considering using scents. Be sure you’re using scents at the appropriate time to avoid spooking the very deer you are trying to harvest.
So, even if you’re a rookie hunter, you don’t have to hunt like one. While hunting is a sport and pastime that takes a lot of skill and experience, you can jump past many of these beginner hurdles and start your first season off right. Good luck and shoot straight!