A survival kit and a first aid kit are about as far apart as the earth and the sun. And that’s a hard truth I had to establish in my mind, but once I did it made total sense.
My dad was an Eagle Scout. That’s him in 1962. You’ll see my dad often in some of the Mossberg Rugged American Hunter videos. I have learned so much from him over the years, yet one truth I learned from him in the early stages of life was to be prepared for the “what if” moments in life.
A plan doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. Having a plan can be simple. And, having a plan can save your life when the “what if” becomes an “oh no.”
On my first elk hunt, I knew I needed a first aid kit of some sort. Let’s face it, you’re miles into the timber, often well away from base camp. What happens if you get a blister that’s so bad you can’t walk back today? Believe me, blisters happen. And if it gets nasty, you’re not walking another inch in those boots.
Tomorrow you’ll be okay, but tonight … well you’re going to spend the night in the timber! So now what?
See what I mean?
I knew that a first aid kit wasn’t really the best item to haul through the Rockies. I needed a true hunting survival kit … and it had to be small!
Here’s a few insights on how to build a hunting survival kit.
A Survival Kit Allows You To Hunt With Confidence
Knowing that you are prepared just breeds confidence. Plain and simple. Having a survival kit in my pack was a constant reassurance, and on a week-long elk hunt when you’re exhausted by the second day, confidence matters my friend! A lot.
Build A Hunting Survival Kit
That’s right. You cannot buy a survival kit for elk hunting. At least I’ve never seen one that would work for packing into the high country.
If you go to WalMart or any retailer out there, you can buy a first aid kit, but before you do just realize that a “100 Piece First Aid Kit” will be 89 varieties of Band-Aid products!
You need something to get you through the night, not just to patch a cut finger.
Prepare For Two Days
Perhaps the greatest mental work you can do in terms of building a hunting survival kit is to think about answering “could I make it two days on my own if I were hurt?”
Can you spend a night or two in the timber? Are you ready for rain? Could someone find you? How would they see you, or hear you? Those are the questions you need that transcend simple first aid.
Use A MakeUp Kit
I know it’s awful and you’re going to take some hard jabs from your buddies, but I have found that one of my wife’s small, travel makeup kits are perfect. They are light weight, compact, and most of all, they look out of place. I can find them in my pack because they aren’t camo. And if I drop it, I can find it. So thanks Clinique, I put that promo item to use in a way you never dreamed it would be used!
This is the actual kit I take elk hunting.
Here’s What I Include In My Hunting Survival Kit And Why
- Fox 40 Whistle
- Think about it: if you broke your ankle and can no longer walk, you’re going to lose your voice soon from yelling and screaming. A Fox 40 pea-less whistle can be heard for a long, long way and takes next to no air to blow effectively. I’m telling you, this may be my most important tool in the little survival bag other than a painter’s cloth.
- Safety Pins
- Advil and Tylenol
- In small ziploc bag
- Neosporin or Antibiotic Gel
- Water tablets
- I also keep a water purifier in my pack
- Painter’s Cloth
- A plastic painter’s drop cloth is crazy compact and it spreads out to 9×12 easily. That’s a tent my friend!
- Light Sticks
- Pillow case
- Or just long cloth strips to make bandages
- Various sizes of Band Aids
- Athletic Tape
- Perfect for blisters!
- Fire starter
- You’re probably never going to be able to start a fire because of rain and snow in elk country, but there’s a chance so have something if you happen to find tinder dry enough.
- Medical gloves
- In case you dress a buddy’s wound.
- Again, tent! Or for protecting you or gear from water.
- Emergency Blanket
- Lots of debate over whether these work, but they do help no doubt. And they are hugely reflective. Easy to see from air or distance. Again, they reinforce a tent, and friend, that’s a big deal if it starts snowing like it normally does in the high country. You’re going to need all the reinforcement you can get!
- Not a ton of it, but a handful goes a long way for securing a tourniquet, or building your tent and tying limbs together for high wind, etc.
And, yes. I get all of that into this small Clinique makeup kit! Amazing, right?
One last piece of advice: talk with a survivalist or hard-core back country hiker. They have so many insights to help you think it through.