When talking about the gear I take out on my hunts, I generally focus on the guns, pellets, or maybe my shooting sticks, but I have a regular kit that I have become accustomed to carrying when heading out for a day in the field. Rather, I have a collection of packs and a variety of equipment I like to pack depending on what I’m hunting, what I’m hunting with, conditions I expect to encounter, and how far away from my vehicle/civilization I’ll find myself. I’ll bet most of you also have gear that has become indispensable, sure you can head out without it, but you know it will be needed at some point.
First is my pack selection; there is a full size pack when I’m going far afield, next is a messenger style pack that is my most frequently carried pack, and a multi-pocket fanny pack for the quick runs into the woods. The pack selected is determined on what I need to carry along for the hunt, but also what weather conditions I might run into. The things I always carry are a good set of binoculars (using some really nice Hawke Frontier ED 10×43), my range finder (especially when hunting the desert or open grasslands), a knife because it always comes in useful and I believe that a man doesn’t’ go into the field without a blade, and pellets. A small thing that I’ve found often comes in handy, is a comfort kit with water, a couple energy bars, toilet paper, some wipes, and hand sanitizer. If I’m carrying a gun with a low shot count or plan to do a lot of shooting I’ll pack a small air tank, there’s normally a camera, and a shooting stick. Depending on the quarry I might pack an electronic caller and there is always a mouth call, which doesn’t take up any room and often comes in handy. Another useful item to pack is a few plastic shopping bags, for small game hunting you can slip a squirrel or rabbit into a bag then the bag into the pack, which lets you carry your game without fouling the interior.
The reason my preference is for the messenger bag is that it’s easy to carry, can be pushed to my back to get it out of the way when I’m clawing through brush, and immediately swung in front of me when access is required. It almost always lets me carry everything I’ll need, and only on long trips in rougher territory is my larger shoulder pack required (with survival kit, extra water, a radio, etc). It also gives me a free shoulder for slinging my rifle, for which I prefer an African carry by the way.
There are other systems that are useful; a turkey vest is a good solution, especially for short hunts where minimal gear is being carried. I sometimes opt for a multi-tool in place of a knife, and has many uses. And when its wet or there is snow on the ground a cushion or seat to hoist ones hindquarters out off the ground is a good idea. I don’t like to have a lot of extraneous gear, but I also like to have the gear needed when it’s needed so the trick is coming up with the best way to carry it… and this is what works for me. I’d be interested in hearing what your solutions you’ve come up with for your field gear.
On another front the Extreme Benchrest in Tucson was a great success, and a lot of fun. Airguns of Arizona and the Quail Creek Airgun Club did a great job of running the event. The benchrest was a challenge, but the timed silhouette was the most fun shooting that I’ve had in a long time. I’m writing it up for Airgun Hobbyist, and Terry Doe will be writing it up in the British Magazines Air Gunner and Airgun World, so there’ll be some news coming.