Every hunter has been there, realizing that they are missing some piece of equipment or gear that would make the hunt easier or better.
Sometimes, this is a simple error like forgetting to put their knife back in their pack after washing it. Other times, it is something that they hadn’t even thought would become a problem.
The first time I shot a deer when hunting by myself, I struggled to get that small buck into the bed of my truck.
I always hunted with someone else and could always count on helping hands to load deer into my truck. I’d try to swing his front half up on the tailgate but then his rear end would slide off, then I’d try to swing his rear end in, and his front half would slide off. After fighting with it for a few minutes, I stepped back and thought for a second. I grabbed my drag rope off from the deer, hooked one end to the tie-down loop in the corner of the truck bed and then looped the rear legs of the deer in the other end. This allowed me to swing the front half of the deer up and into the bed without his rear legs falling back off the tailgate.
Regardless of what game you might be hunting, there are some general preparations to have in place. The first is to have a trip plan that you share with someone. At the very minimum, it should be “I’m going to X, I plan on being there until Y.” That way if you take too long to return, they know where to direct people to look for you.
Giving more details can help in case things do go bad. Details like exactly location of your tree stand or your duck blind. I usually text my wife with what stand I am in once I get in because sometimes, I don’t decide until I get there and feel what the wind is doing. If I still have battery, I text her when I climb down out of my stand.
The second preparation to make is to know what you’re going to do with your harvest. A knife and gloves for field dressing deer should be the minimum in my mind. I add a drag rope and a headlamp (for evening hunts especially) to be ready to work in the dark.
For waterfowl hunts, a game strap to carry your birds out on long walk-in hunts makes it so you can just clip it to a bag instead of carrying however many birds by hand. This preparation should also include your plans for butchering your harvest. Know where a deer processor is before you have a dead deer to worry about if you don’t plan on butchering it yourself. If you are butchering your own game animals, stock up on bags/vacuum sealer rolls before the season so you don’t have to try to find some part way through butchering.
The third preparation is to have toilet paper. From personal experience, I have kept toilet paper in my turkey vest since high school (I graduated in 2008) and did not need to use it for the first 10 or 11 years, but it only took one trip for me to be glad I had it. Now I have a partial roll in my blind bag for waterfowl hunting, my turkey vest, and in my deer hunting backpack. I even keep a roll in my ice fishing bucket!
Keep an eye on it and keep it in places where mice can’t destroy it so it will be ready when you need it. When tracking a deer, ripping off a small piece and using it to mark last blood can help you and it will biodegrade with rain so you don’t need to go back like you would using plastic flagger’s tape.
The last preparation I will give is to have a backup plan. The plan can be a second stand to hunt or another property if someone beats you to your first place, or it can be bringing your layout blind in case you decide you can’t hide on the field edge like you hoped.
Bring something to retrieve birds in the water in case your hunting buddy doesn’t bring his retriever. If the weather forecast is rain, bring a backup set of clothes (and probably towels for your vehicle interior) in case you get soaked through. Dry socks and footwear to change into can feel life changing at times.
While this is not an absolute list, I think you should get the drift about the topic. So before things get hot and heavy this hunting season, take a break and plan out some things to make it easier on yourself.