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Friday, September 6, 2013
Browse the hunting accessories section at your favorite outdoors retailer, or their website, and you’ll find some interesting products.
For example, one of the major players offers a Big Game Sport Bucket for $45.
A plastic pail covered with camo fabric and with a pad on the lid, the bucket offers a “5-gallon capacity with a bag unit [that] is more than enough to keep your lunch or game fresh.”
Which begs the question, just what kind of big game fits in a 5-gallon bucket?
But the real point is that hunters are gear nuts.
If they think that a product will make them more comfortable in the outdoors, or increase their odds of punching a deer tag or killing a limit of ducks, they will buy it.
“Sorry kids,” Dad will say. “It’s going to be ramen noodles for the rest of the month. Daddy needed a Big Game Sport Bucket.”
It’s not only Daddy’s fault, of course.
The marketing machine behind this gear is astounding, including ads and gear guides in dozens of magazines, as well as several TV channels that air shows that, with a few exceptions, are essentially hunting gear (and hunting outfitter) infomercials.
In the past I’ve written tongue-in-cheek columns about must-have gear such as the Big Game Sport Bucket.
This one will be different.
I’m going to list some of the gear and accessories that I have found to be, if not totally indispensable during fall hunting seasons, at least extremely useful.
Tree stand safety harness
Every commercially available tree stand comes with a safety harness. Those harnesses will do the job. But they can be frustrating to put on because of the jumble of nylon straps.
Hunters have to be patient, but not many are patient enough to spend five minutes trying to get into a harness when the sun is threatening to rise.
A good harness will be comfortable and easy to put on. It will cost about $100. But while our spouses might cringe at some of the stuff we buy, they won’t give us any grief over a good safety harness.
I was a holdout on this one. Who needs a GPS when you’re hunting in the East, where it’s pretty hard for anyone with any sense to get actually lost?
After I finally caved, I have tried my best to wear my Garmin 60CSx out. (It still works perfectly.)
You see, while it might not be easy to get lost, some of us can still get turned around. Especially in the dark.
I also use the GPS to mark stand locations on larger properties or on public land. It has also really come in handy while tracking game.
Quality day pack
Several years ago, after saving up my allowance for a few months, I spent a good chunk of cash on a Badlands 2200 pack, which is larger than a day pack but smaller than a full-sized backpack.
It’s bombproof and comfortable, even when I’ve had it loaded with 50 pounds of gear.
If you cover ground while hunting, you’ll have a pack on your back for hours upon hours. It might as well be a good one.
Here’s another recent discovery, one that came after I spent one too many miserable, long, cold days in the deer stand in November.
Even when it’s cold we need to keep fluids coming in while we’re in the stand. Those fluids might as well be hot and tasty.
Does not the aroma of the hot soup or coffee spook game?
Maybe. But I’ve had to scramble to put my cup down (and in a tree stand, that can be a challenge) on plenty of occasions when a deer showed up when I was enjoying a cup.
Mittens do a much better job than gloves of keeping hands warm, but aren’t ideal for drawing a bow or pulling a gun’s trigger.
Glove mittens, which have flaps that pull back to reveal gloved fingertips, solve the problem. Add chemical heat packs and digits remain toasty in the coldest conditions Virginia has to throw at you.
Carabiners and parachute cord
Spring-loaded climbing carabiners weigh next to nothing, and come in handy for many uses in the woods, including pulling gear up into stands on haul ropes, clipping into safety harnesses and into linesman harnesses while installing stands and steps, and even hanging accessories from trees or stands while hunting.
Lightweight but superstrong parachute cord is the perfect complement. I never head out into the woods without having at least 100 feet of it in my pack.
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