Hunting remains one of the best opportunities to get away and connect with nature. It’s a primal pastime that allows for a deep appreciation of how humans have survived for millennia. It’s also still a satisfying and spiritual way to feed yourself and your family, legally and safely.
But hunting isn’t for everyone--many times, it requires a high level of resourcefulness, both out on the trail and in the workshop.
A few DIY gear techniques will help you make more room in your pack for a streamlined hunting trip with all the essentials.
For many trekking into nature, gear focused on survival remains the primary focus. But how much gear is too much gear?
By carrying multi-functioning gear, you can ensure you have everything you need without using a ton of space.
What do you carry for fire? Is it enough?
Many hunters carry a box of matches or a simple Bic lighter in a pocket or bag. Lighters should be used occasionally to make sure it continues to operate correctly. Matches should always have a thick wooden stick and should be replaced every two to three years.
Both lighters and matches struggle to light when wet or cold.
If waterproof matches are unavailable, you can make your own by melting a candle and dipping the flammable end into the wax. When the match is struck on a rough surface, the wax will rub away, and the match will light.
To keep lighters and matches dry, always pack them in a small sandwich bag. When in cold climates, keep them against your body within a jacket or along the inside of a beltline.
Here are a few other DIY items to try out for your next trip.
Clean water is essential in an emergency, but water filters can be bulky and quite pricey.
Clean plastics such as sandwich bags or a gallon-sized Ziploc are a great tool to keep tucked in your bag. When needed, water can be stored or collected in these bags with ease.
Before using naturally collected water, you should attempt to disinfect it. Placing clear bags of water in the direct sun will allow the sun’s UV rays to penetrate and break down possible bacteria, leading to cleaner, safer drinking.
If possible, leave the water in the sunlight for around six hours. This will improve your water conditions, but drinking any natural water sources is accompanied by risk.
These bags can also be used to heat water using a fire. Consider adding a couple of layers of bags to resist fire damage, and place the bag at a safe distance, often rotating or gently shaking the bag to keep stirring the water, helping it heat evenly.
Weather is unpredictable, and having the correct gear to create a safety shelter can keep you out of the blistering sun or sheltered from the chilling rain, snow, and other elements.
Firstly, every shelter needs a way to hold everything together. Without a doubt, the most versatile tool in your bag should be a parachute cord (paracord) or rope.
With rope alone tied between two points such as between trees, sticks and branches can be used to create a hasty lean-to or A-frame style shelter.
Adding a small tarp to the setup will allow for easy setup and create a water-resistant cover. Tarps also double as a basin for rainwater collection, a safety blanket, and as a heat-reflective surface to direct campfire and other heat toward your body.
Shelters are about more than overhead cover. While hunting, staying out of sight is often the difference between filling a bag and going home empty-handed.
The same paracord used for a shelter can be used to create a hunting blind using the nature around you. The best camouflage remains the nature itself, which is why professionals such as military snipers build their ghillie suits and hideaways with the nature around them.
A couple of strands of rope will allow you to lean, weave, and hang nature around you for a nearly invisible design.
Tools and Essentials
While pari-chord and sandwich bags are great tools to have tucked away in your pack, other household and garage items remain essential tools to your hunt.
When you gotta go, you gotta go. That’s why toilet paper is a must for your every hunting trip.
Additionally, toilet paper can act as a great firestarter, especially on a damp day. By twisting or packing toilet paper into a tight bundle, it will easily ignite and burn for a reasonable duration.
Need to mark a temporary trail or patch back out of the woods? Flags and other durable materials could be costly, and if not collected, could create more trash in the wilderness. Instead, using toilet paper to mark trails not only contrasts nature (white on green) while also decomposing in three weeks to a year, an improvement from plastic's 10- to 20-year decomposition timeline.
This decomposition time increases as toilet paper are clumped or folded, so use as little as possible or consider biodegradable toilet paper.
GunSkins or Tape
We’ve all heard the old stories about fixing anything with duct tape and zip ties. The statement stays true with hunting, but we may have something better than tape.
The secret to a great bond remains in the adhesive.
While tapes may stick well, GunSkin’s adhesive sheets are designed to bond well to plastics and metals, while the designs remain extremely durable.
Did your camo boat take a beating? A GunSkins patch can quickly be applied to avoid further damage while adding a matte camouflage pattern to continue blending in with nature.
This idea of quickly sealing and covering damage can protect your guns, blinds, and other gear from further damage and rust. By wrapping your gear in GunSkin vinyl prior to the hunt, you add a protective layer that locks out moisture while adding scratch resistance.
Reduce Human Scent
When hunting game from a blind or stand, many hunters remained concerned about human odors such as deodorants, sweat, or laundry soaps.
Dirt or earth-scented soaps, detergents, and other products can become expensive.
Before your big game hunt, consider washing and drying your clothes without soap or dryer sheets. Using an unscented trash bag or storage bin, pack your clothes with fresh leaves or grass clippings. As the clippings break down, they will release the scent to your clothes.
Now that your clothes have a natural scent, don’t wear them the morning of your hunt. As you pack your gear and drive to the trailhead, you’ll sweat and transfer that smell to your clothes. Instead, change to your hunting clothes when you get to your spot.
Sweating is a big issue; a deer can smell a hunter from more than a quarter of a mile away.
Instead of packing your gear on your back, and tracking into your site, consider easing the load by riding a bicycle or pulling a wagon. Even if you don’t feel fatigued from your hike, reducing your workload can reduce sweating.
Sitting in a blind or stand all day can leave you craving a snack. Human food rarely smells the same as the surrounding nature.
Pack snacks that are local or similar to what your game may smell or eat.
Apples, grains, and nuts are a great choice, as they remain similar to local grains (corn or wheat) being grown. Avoid coffee and consider drinking tea that provides a leafy smell.
Be sure to keep your gun, rifle, or bow close at hand as your snack covers your body scent, and your game may want a bite as well.
The key to knowing what gear will work best for you is understanding your hunting habits.
The gear needed at a moment’s notice in the bottom of a flatbed boat duck hunting is highly different from the gear used backpacking into a deer stand.
Understanding your game and hunting habits allow you to create and purchase the correct gear and avoid carrying unneeded equipment.
DIY gear allows you to create, customize, and replace gear at a fraction of the price. Avoid the hefty bills and shipping time by building your gear at home.
The key to equipment reliability and longevity remains in buying quality. Wrapping your gear with GunSkins not only makes it look great with a range of camo and colors, but the wraps also protect your gear from scratches, moisture, and other possible damage.
Let’s be honest--hunting takes determination and strength to leave the comfort of our homes to pursue game. Build and prepare your gear to withstand your drive and dedication to the hunt.