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How to Efficiently Pack for a Hunting Trip
Hunting requires a significant amount of gear, and there’s always the chance you will bag a kill that will take up space in or on your vehicle. Packing for a hunting trip, therefore, quickly becomes both an art and science for many seasoned sportsmen.
Ultimately, practice is the best way to determine what you absolutely need on a hunting trip. The more hunting experience you person have, the better you will become at packing efficiently. Still, reviewing the guidelines below can help you refine your own approach to packing for a hunting expedition.
How to Pack for Your Next Hunting Trip
First, a general packing tip: We recommend creating a packing checklist. This preliminary step guarantees that you will have everything you need once you reach the wild. As you pack, go through your list and check off each item.
Next, group items according to where they will be packed. Experienced hunters recommend a day pack for on-the-hunt items; a duffle bag for clothes and small consumables; coolers for food and game; and lockable boxes for ammo, guns and archery gear. Finally, depending on the size of your vehicle, you may benefit from having a roof-mounted or hitch-mounted cargo carrier to contain all of your camping gear.
In the day pack, include:
· Lighter and waterproof fire starting kit, including matches
· Flashlight with extra batteries
· Knife for cleaning game
· Compass, maps and/or
· Water bottle
· Meat bags, dressing gloves
· Hunting license
This pack should also include outdoor survival necessities such as a small first aid kit, toilet paper in a baggie, a space blanket, lip balm, sunscreen, insect repellant and energy bars or trail mix.
In the duffle or rolling bag, place your clothes for the trip. Some avid hunters recommend scent-eliminating systems such as Scentnote, which make it much more difficult for animals to smell you coming. Don’t forget to pack your hunter orange gear in this bag to ensure you remain visible to other hunters. As you select what clothing to bring, favor fabrics such as wool and fleece, which will keep you warm even when wet.
In the coolers, pack food for your journey. Don’t forget to bring an extra cooler or two for game. You could also consider a hitch-mounted cargo carrier than can double as a cooler for your game (note: you’ll want to shop for these, not all can act as coolers). Double-check that you have everything you’ll need for cleaning your kills, including hunting knives, zip-close plastic bags and a sharpening stone. Hunting aficionados recommend bringing a portable generator and a vacuum-packing system, but this is excessive for beginning hunters who may not bag a kill on their first few trips.
In the lockable boxes, pack your ammunition, weapons and other hunting accessories such as a bipod or shooting stick. Think through what could go wrong in the wild, and pack accordingly. For instance, what will you do if your bow string snaps? Better pack an extra one just in case, as well as pliers and a bow stringer.
For a multi-day excursion, your list will also include camping gear. It’s not easy to find enough space for everything a memorable hunting trip requires. Rooftop cargo carriers are a popular solution for this common dilemma, or you can opt for a hitch-mounted cargo carrier.
Rooftop Cargo Carriers vs. Hitch-Mounted Cargo Carriers
Using a rooftop or hitch-mounted cargo carrier is akin to adding an extra trunk to your vehicle. Both will provide plenty of extra room. However, each storage solution poses its own advantages and drawbacks.
Rooftop cargo carriers are helpful, but they decrease gas mileage through drag, and gear isn’t easy to access when it’s on top of your car or SUV. (Most truck beds do not provide a large enough mounting surface for rooftop carriers.)
A hitch-mounted cargo carrier’s rear placement does not decrease gas mileage, and its rectangular shape makes it easier to pack bulky items. There are also models that feature swingaway frames to still provide access to the rear of your vehicle. And, some can even double as coolers for your fresh game.
Regardless of whether you choose a rooftop or hitch-mounted cargo carrier, take a few moments after your trip to reflect on what worked and what failed as far as hunting storage was concerned. With a little awareness, you can continually improve your own approach to packing for a hunting trip. Just think: The better you get at packing, the more quickly you can get out in the backcountry!