Given Australia’s increased popularity for hunting, it is no surprise that more than 350,000 people enjoy recreational hunting each year. Hunting season is fast approaching, which means you should do a bit of preparation if you plan to participate this season.
Regardless of your experience, there are some basic items you need for a safe and successful trip into the wild.
Weather Appropriate Clothing
Clothing for outdoor activities should be chosen for both comfort and safety. What you wear has a direct effect on how comfortable you are when moving about and can make a difference in your overall enjoyment of the outdoors. One key aspect that often is overlooked is the temperature range in which you will be hunting. Depending on where you hunt, temperatures can vary widely. In some locations, it is not unusual to have a warm morning and an afternoon with sub-freezing temperatures or vice versa. As a result, it is best to dress in layers. Layers will help regulate body temperature by trapping warm air close to your body, keeping cool air from getting inside your clothing as well as wicking moisture away from your skin.
Good layering starts with outer garments you can get in a specialized hunting store that can protect you from wind, rain and cold. One of the most important pieces of clothing is your outer layer. This garment needs to provide protection from rain and snow and also repel water so it does not soak into your clothing layers underneath. Many modern outer garments made for the outdoors carry “waterproof” or “rainproof” ratings, although these should not be extrapolated to mean that they are completely waterproof or able to withstand heavy rain or snowfall without allowing some water penetration.
If you are planning on a warm-weather hunt, then make sure you bring extra layers of clothing with you in case it gets colder than expected. It is always better to be over-prepared rather than underprepared when it comes to the weather. This way if something changes and the temperature drops off while you are out hunting, then at least you will have additional layers of clothes with which to keep warm.
The Right Boots Can Make All the Difference
There are two choices: regular boots and rubber boots. The advantage of rubber boots is that they keep your feet dry, the disadvantage is that they are heavy, clunky and slow you down. It all depends on where you hunt and what type of game you’re going after.
The most important thing about hunting boots is that they fit you comfortably, allowing you to walk long distances with ease. You will be making numerous trips to and from your hunting spot with heavy loads of meat, so good boots are essential. They should not be too loose or too tight around the ankle but should feel right when you put them on in the morning. If you’re going after small game, such as rabbits or squirrels and will be walking through fields or woods, regular hunting boots are fine. If you’re going after big game, such as elk, deer or moose and will be walking in mountainous terrain, rubber boots will be more appropriate. Either way, make sure your feet stay warm even in cold weather by wearing thick socks under your boots.
Lighten Your Load by Bringing a Multi-day Backpack
The biggest mistake I see people make is that they don’t bring along a multi-day backpack. If you intend on staying out overnight, whether it be for an extended stalk or just because of inclement weather, then you need to have a good backpack. It should comfortably hold everything that you need for the day and night, plus have enough room for extra clothing and food if needed. You can get an outdoor appropriate backpack at a hunting store where they’re specifically made for activities such as hunting, hiking or camping. This will also allow you to use it for other activities such as backpacking trips and hiking trails which will reduce the amount of equipment needed to be carried in support vehicles. It is much more efficient to take one backpack with you rather than two or three separate smaller packs.
Essential Hunting Tools
The most important thing to remember is that you need to bring at least three knives. One is essential, two are crucial, three are the bare minimum.
The first knife is for field dressing your kill. You don’t want to mess around trying to gut an animal with a pocket knife or a steak knife. Get a fixed blade hunting knife with a gut hook; this will allow you to make a single cut from the throat to the end, and you should be able to extract all of the guts in one piece.
The second knife is for skinning. Most people know the basics of skinning an animal—cut down one side of the belly and remove the hide as you go—but it’s not something you want to screw up, so it’s better if you have someone experienced show you how.
The third knife is for butchering and/or cleaning your kill. If you plan on eating any of your kills, it’s really handy to have your own boning knife; this will allow you to debone while keeping the meat intact and untainted by outside bacteria.
Another important tool you can use is a multitool. It’s not just for fixing things. A multitool is also incredibly handy for doing all sorts of jobs that need only a small amount of space or that don’t require specialized equipment. You can use it to cut down branches for a makeshift shelter, to open cans and bottles, to crimp wires together, to tighten screws and bolts, and much more. And it’s always with you!
Always Pack a First Aid Kit and Extra Water
Many hunters forget to bring these two important items, which can be a mistake. A first aid kit should be packed in every hunter’s backpack because accidents occur when you least expect them. The kit should contain bandages, tweezers and cotton swabs as well as antiseptic solution and small scissors. If you are going on a more than one-day hunt, make sure your kit also contains a blister care ointment and extra prescription medication. The kit should also include an antibiotic cream to prevent infection if you get a cut or scrape. Pack a water purification tablet too, just in case your water supply isn’t clean. It is best to buy the tablets from a reputable outdoor supply store that sells hunting gear.
Don’t Forget Navigation and Visual Aids
All the essentials to hunting are self-explanatory except for one, navigation. If you are just a beginner in hunting then this should be your top priority. When you go on hunting trips make sure to take a compass and a map with you. You will need it if for any reason your plan does not work out and you get lost. If you don’t have them with you, then you will be in big trouble.
If the weather is fine, the map is not needed, but if the weather is bad or there are high levels of fog or mist, it will help you to figure out where exactly you are at that time. The GPS feature on your phone can also be of use if your phone has one.
The other essential part of hunting gear is visual aids. Hunting is not just about tracking down animals and shooting them down from long range. Hunting is also about observing animals closely so that you can find out what they like to eat and what their behaviour is (such as mating). So make sure that when you go out hunting, take binoculars as well to help you view the animal up close. If several people are going out on a trip with each other, then it is good to have more than one pair on hand.
To Sum Up
Though there are certainly more gadgets and tools that you can use to make your hunt even more successful, this list should cover the basics. It’s best to stick to what you think you’ll need versus bringing along so much that it becomes inconvenient and possibly unnecessarily heavy to carry. Be sure to consider everything from clothing to your weapon of choice, and don’t forget any important personal items or first aid supplies in case of emergencies or unexpected injuries. By thinking ahead, choosing what is essential for your trip, and being conscious about its weight and bulk, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable hunting trip.