Published November 16, 2012, 07:35 AM

Importance of proper packing

“Packing successfully for a hunting trip is far more important than making out a will which will hold up. If you die and your will is successfully contested, what do you care? You’re dead. If, however, you bring only longjohn bottoms on a hunt and leave the tops at home, you’ll regret it bitterly for a week or more.” — Dave Petzal

By: Bernie Kuntz, The Jamestown Sun

“Packing successfully for a hunting trip is far more important than making out a will which will hold up. If you die and your will is successfully contested, what do you care? You’re dead. If, however, you bring only longjohn bottoms on a hunt and leave the tops at home, you’ll regret it bitterly for a week or more.” — Dave Petzal

My late father, Jake, never used a packing list in his life. However, on the hundreds of hunting and fishing trips he took over the decades, I never once saw that he ever forgot anything of importance. I don’t know how he did it.

I need a list or I am sure to forget something. In a manila envelope I have lists for everything from a backpack Dall sheep hunt, caribou, moose and elk hunts to Canadian fishing trips, pheasant and goose hunts…without them I’d be lost. I photo copy the list, check items off as I pack them, and that simple action saves me from disastrous omissions. Periodically, I update the list, crossing out items I no longer need, adding things that I find indispensable. Nowadays I transfer the lists I use on a regular basis to a computer file where it is less cumbersome to update them.

Laurie and I usually make a pile of gear in the garage, and we check off items as we load them into the pickup. I learned the hard way not to rely on the initial checkoff, as one time many years ago I arrived in Saskatchewan, 1,000 miles from home, to learn that my spinning rods weren’t packed! (The tube containing all the rods had rolled off the pile and into a corner of the garage. Jake loaned me a spinning rod, but teased me mercilessly about “forgetting” my spinning rods.)

Crazy things can happen without a packing list. I remember one incident that happened when brother Jim and I were still teenagers. Our family was on an antelope trip to southwestern North Dakota, and when we arrived my brother realized that he had left his rifle at home in Jamestown! He used Jake’s rifle to shoot his antelope, and it was a lesson neither of us forgot.

It is a good idea to assemble your pile of gear well in advance of the trip, then ponder what you may have overlooked. Did you remember the gun-cleaning kit? Is there solvent in the bottle or did you use it up last trip? Did you remember your knife? Sharpening stone? How about the ammo pouch to be carried on your belt? I left that behind one time and had to carry extra cartridges in my pocket, wrapped in a handkerchief so they wouldn’t rattle. Not good!

Don’t overdo things. One of the rituals I have witnessed on outfitted hunts is the gathering of hunters and the outfitter at base camp prior to the hunt. The outfitter examines the hunters’ gear and sorts through each hunter’s belongings. “You don’t need that. Leave that behind. Two coats are enough — you don’t need six…”

I have seen hunters show up in camp with five bags of gear and expect to have it all flown in to the back country in a Piper Super Cub airplane. That won’t work. Pare down your gear to a minimum.

Of course, remember the wise words of the late Ted Trueblood, who was an Idaho outdoorsman and writer of the highest order:

1. It will be too hot.

2. It will be too cold

3. It will rain.

Good packing and good hunting!

Bernie Kuntz, a Jamestown native, has been an Outdoors columnist for the Sun since 1974

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