The Perfect Pocket Sized Survival Kit for Hunters

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Every hunter should carry a portable survival kit small enough to fit in a jacket pocket, or in a zippered cargo pants pocket. The idea is to have enough basic survival gear to keep you out of trouble if you unexpectedly get separated from the rest of your equipment. This kit needs to be small enough so you won't leave it behind, yet big enough to hold what you need. Don't bother buying a ready-made survival kit - instead, make up your own.

Some books recommend using a tobacco tin (or even an old, flip-top metal Bandaid container) to house your survival kit. A better option is a tough, clear, waterproof bag: a few layers of Ziploc bags will do, but one of those 5" x 7" Coghlan's vinyl bags works even better. Clear Aloksak dry bags are excellent too.

Here's what your hunting survival kit should contain:

1. Fire making gear -

Pack a plastic lighter, some waterproof matches, a flint with striker and some tinder (prepared at home by smearing cotton balls with petroleum jelly). A tiny magnifying glass is optional.

2. Cutting tools -

Include a slim, lightweight folding knife (Spyderco and Gerber make suitable models), and either a folding surgical prep razor or some scalpel blades.

3. Signalling/rescue gear -

You'll want a small flashlight (like a photon light or a mini Maglite), a quality signal mirror and a loud rescue whistle (the pealess ones won't seize up in freezing temperatures). A piece of heavy duty aluminium foil (18" x 18") makes a great signalling reflector and can double as a bowl, makeshift cooking pot or water boiler. Pack a short pencil and a sheet of paper as well, in case you have to leave a note for searchers.

4. Basic medical kit -

These items aren't meant to replace your first aid kit (which you may or may not have with you in an emergency). Carry some Bandaids, blister pads, alcohol wipes (great for fire-starting too), water purification tablets and any medications you can't do without. An antihistamine may be useful to counteract adverse reactions to bee stings and ant bites.

5. Food gathering equipment -

Don't bother with wire to make snares, unless you're a snare expert. Include 40 feet of braided fishing line (Spider Wire is great) and a small selection of hooks, swivels and sinkers. Don't skimp on the hooks - they're easy to lose. If you have a good, lightweight fishing lure, throw that in as well. For a fishing float, pack a small piece of cork or styrofoam.

6. Odds and ends -

Your survival kit should also include some parachute cord, a small quantity of toilet paper, a sewing needle and some tough thread. Add a miniature button compass, a length of duct tape and a few safety pins. Some people get a bit carried away with their cordage choices and pack parachute cord, three types of fishing line, waxed dental floss and army-issue sewing thread, but you only need to include two or three different types of line.

All this sounds like a lot of gear, but it does all fit into a 5" x 7" dry bag (provided you don't get too excessive with your fishing kit). More importantly, it can save your life. If you're well prepared you should already have spare waterproof matches in your shirt pocket, your main compass hanging around your neck and a topographical map of the area stashed in another pocket, protected in a waterproof bag of its own.

When you're in the middle of nowhere, a Spot Messenger, satellite phone or other form of communication with the outside world is a handy thing to have with you. Don't rely on your cell phone for help, unless your hunting area is relatively close to civilization.