Survival kit a must for sportsmen

12 years ago

Survival kit a must for sportsmen


by Bill Graves

    Over my last half-century of outdoor adventures, more than I care to remember have been shortened or cancelled due to misfortune. Thankfully I did learn something from each and every accident or equipment failure, and now I seldom venture afield or afloat without a safety kit. There are dozens of commercially prepared kits on the market but most are overpriced and minimally stocked and often don’t meet an individual’s personal needs for specific outings.

Photo courtesy Bill Graves

    SURVIVAL KIT sp outdoors dcx2 all 13 — Matches, magnesium flint and a waterproof lighter assure a fire will start. The space blanket reflects and holds the heat around an enclosed area.

    My “Aroostook Kit” is a compilation of items that might prove essential on regional cast and blast forays throughout The County. From burying a fish hook in your hand, becoming lost, falling from a tree stand to a vehicle breakdown, a few basic items can help a sportsman endure and survive.

    To keep materials dry, together and easy to carry I use an L.L. Bean waist pack. Available in camo or blaze orange the pack offers a main compartment, a front zipper pocket, and two end pouches for only $30.

    First and foremost are first aid supplies, purchase a compact ready-made kit or pick and choose selected items. Gauze pads, several sizes of band aids and butterfly strips, adhesive tape, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic cream, headache or pain pills, and at least two days’ supply of personal prescription meds are a must.

    Another essential item is a sturdy folding knife with locking blade, such as a Buck 110 with a 4-inch blade. Wrap a couple of layers of 550 paracord around the knife. Whole or broken down into its many inner filaments, paracord can help build a shelter, form a splint for injured limbs, or be used as a tourniquet, a game snare or as fishing line.

    Wrap several yards of duct tape around a dozen or so zip ties of various lengths, I favor sturdy ties in lengths from 6- to 18-inches. It’s amazing what you can build, stabilize or repair with cord, duct tape and plastic locking ties. Since fire is crucial to a wet, lost, or injured sportsman as a source of warmth, and also crucial as a highly visible locator signal, at least two incendiary options must be part of every survival kit. A butane wind-proof lighter, a magnesium flint or a small tin with waterproof matches and Vaseline soaked cotton balls will all start a fire regardless of conditions.

    A signal mirror, an alert whistle and a baseplate compass are all necessities if you’re turned around in the woods. Given the choice, a handheld GPS is difficult to beat, as long as the batteries work and no technical problems occur, but hand-held compasses never let a sport down. A compact, high intensity flashlight also should be included in the pack. A few water purification tablets or a new instant purification product called a Lifestraw are crucial since fresh, bacteria-free water is essential. A candy bar or protein bar also helps pass a night more comfortably in the woods.

    An emergency blanket offers warmth if it’s cold, cover if it’s wet and the silver lining also serves as a signaling device if an air search is in progress. It’s hard to believe such a compact packet, that’s so reasonably priced, can do so much for an injured or misplaced outdoorsman.

    That about covers the essential supplies for a survival kit to be used for close-to-home excursions. Occasionally I throw in a couple of additional items, such as a multitool, a small bottle of hand cleaner and sanitizer for use when dressing fish or game, and a pump bottle of insect repellent/sunscreen combo.

    Perhaps you will never need to utilize a survival kit, but if and when something untoward occurs a good distance from home, these few items can save a trip or save a life. Just a few years ago I buried all three hooks on a lure into my hand past the barbs. Without my Handyman tool pliers and the first aid supplies it would have meant a trip to the hospital and a ruined outing for my fishing partners. Now is the perfect time to compile a kit for the upcoming fishing and hunting seasons, it’s a simple chore with long-term benefits.