Being in the backcountry, whether you are hunting, hiking or camping, one must be prepared for a run in with any type of predator. One must also be prepared for any type of weather conditions and to have the essential tools for injuries, and basic survival. Below are 5 tips from Jessie, as she realized the importance of the gear she needed for a ten day backcountry hunt in the Yukon.
We were headed to the Backcountry of Alaska
The words, “it was the hunt of a lifetime” were something I thought would ever come out of my mouth. I’ve gone on some amazing hunts that I wouldn’t give up for anything, but none of them will ever compare to my ten days hunting in the Yukon.
My husband and I were headed to Alaska to hunt whatever we could get tags for (minus Grizzlies!). I was so excited about learning shot placement and field judging, that I didn’t even think of what gear we needed to take. We were going to be taken far above the Arctic Circle by a bush plane. These small planes can only fly with so much weight, and after calculating our body weight, we ended up with a limited amount of gear we could take.
5 Safety Items to take to the Backcountry
I wouldn’t leave home without these things, and they are in no particular order:
- water purifier and water purifying tablets. I would never mess around with drinking “wild” water, especially when living in the bush for 10 days! We used the larger pump type filter rather than the straw type, because we were using the water for cooking. The tablets are great, if the filter failed or broke. If I’m ever in the position where I will be hunting alone, in the middle of nowhere, I’ll be toting one of the straws, just in case!
- First Aid Kit. You never know what type of injury can happen when you’re, well…. anywhere! Make sure to go through the kit to see what is in it and where it is located. If you get into a highly traumatic incident, you can’t waste time digging through adhesive bandages when you need a tourniquet! It also came in handy after the hunt, when my husband kissed his lower leg with a chainsaw. Also note, to replace anything that you use within a week or so! That way, you don’t forget and are always stocked!
- A satellite phone. When you are in the middle of nowhere (hunting, camping or driving cross country) you won’t always have cellphone service. We purchased our satellite phone, even though certain outfitters will let you rent them. We used it to send updates and locations to our pilot and family. Not only did it comfort me having it, but the people at home could sleep a little better as we were in active bear country.
- A firearm or bear spray. In bear country it’s best to always have a firearm on or near you. Knowing we were going to be in a high population of bears, we purchased adjustable chest holsters, for quick and accessible use. Our guns were on us unless we were sleeping (but they were still close!). Having your gun close and accessible can mean the difference between life or death in a Grizzly attack.
- Waterproof bags for clothing and gear. We were hunting in September, which is the rainy season in the Yukon. The highs were in the mid 50’s and lows in the mid 20’s. There were a few days where we had to hang our coveralls and coats over a fire to dry. Had it not been for our waterproof duffle bags, we wouldn’t have had dry clothing and it would have been quite easy for hypothermia to set in.
Take the right gear to the Backcountry
Our excursion turned out to be just an expensive camping trip (no tags punched). I was disappointed, but the lessons that I learned will be with me everywhere I go and it truly was the experience of a lifetime! Remember when going into the backcountry sometimes it’s the gear you bring with you that can make or break the hunt all while keeping you safe!