Once upon a time, I was walking back to the truck after a hunt. Suddenly I noticed a buck facing me at 50 yards. I snapped off a shot, and he was gone. Almost as quickly, so was the light. I stumbled around in the dark for a while but, in the end, had to come back the next day to find him dead 20 yards from where I stopped looking.

On another hunt, we didn’t have enough horses so a friend and I walked up the trail while the others finished packing the horses and caught up to us. First the snow really started coming down, and then it got dark. We were getting worried because the pack train should have caught up long ago. We stopped under a tree to wait, and I was able to surprise my friend by building a fire in the blizzard like conditions.

Years ago I took the time to develop a survival pack so that when adventures like these happen I would be prepared. I’m not going to bore you with a list of everything I carry. You can find lists in every outdoor publication and media site you visit. I recommend you look over several and then develop a kit that is personalized to you.

For example, most suggest carrying some kind of fishing gear. I usually hunt high with limited fishing opportunities so I don’t. Keep in mind that, whatever kit you come up with, it isn’t going to do you any good if you don’t carry it with you.

I had my pack when the first story happened but left it in the truck because I reasoned I was only going on a short hunt. Because I didn’t have the flashlight from my pack, I lost half of the meat on that deer where the blood pooled.

There are three things that I believe you should always carry when you head outdoors. The first and most important is a knife. In fact, you should consider your knife as an article of clothing as important as your pants. You shouldn’t even leave your bedroom without it.

The second is a source of fire, matches or lighter. I prefer a lighter and always drop it in my pants pocket so, if I get separated from or have a stupid moment and leave my pack, I still have it. Those windproof/waterproof matches are pretty cool too. They are like mini sparklers, but don’t carry as well in a pocket.

And finally a light source. Cellphone lights work great but don’t have the battery life of flashlights. They make small flashlights that fit well in a pants pocket if you don’t want to carry a pack, but a headlamp is the way to go if you have the room. Hands free is really handy (Ha!) when you are working in the dark.

There are lots of other things you could add to your kit to make bad situations better, but a knife, fire and light will make bad situations survivable.

Drop us a line at shootingthebreezebme@gmail.com.

Rod Carpenter is a husband, father and hunting fool.

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