Pop quiz, hotshot. You’re hunting Canada geese in a cut corn field in November. Your spread is looking perfect from the beam of your headlamp and you settle in to your Hard Core Man Cave blind. As the sun starts coming up, you notice a layer of frost has covered your Hard Core decoys. What do you do?
If you know the weather calls for frost, you can carry rags with you to place over the decoy’s backs. That way, you can uncover them right at flying time and have frost-free decoys. Another tactic is using windshield washer fluid to clear off the frost.
Being Hard Core means being able to adapt to changes without missing a beat. That also means when things don’t go as planned, you need to be able to fix things, be it a breakdown, or an adjustment. Hard Core hunters adapt and keep hunting. It’s Not Easy!
There are lots of simple thing you can do to fight off the gremlins that can ruin a day.
On the boat
If you’re hunting from a boat, always carry extra shear pins for your motor. A spare spark plug and wrench are good ideas too. I have the plug for my boat on a chain, and I have a spare one fastened to the bench seat too. Don’t forget a spare tire for the trailer, or a good patch kit if you know how to fix a flat.
Bring enough life jackets and flotation cushions for everyone. I also have a gallon-size Ziplock bag with zip-ties, duct tape, and a cheap multi-tool for occasional repairs. These come in handy for issues with the boat blind, too. If you’re in a pinch, the spray sealer sold in home-improvement stores can fix small leaks in your boat, but the boat has to be dry, so do these after you pull the boat and dry things out.
In the truck
Having a breakdown or getting stuck out in the Hard Core places we hunt can ruin a hunting trip fast. Things to never leave the garage without when going hunting are easy to prepare and have on-hand. A cell-phone charger is a great idea. It’s also a good idea to have a back up. I suggest the Bushnell Solarwrap 400. It can charge up a battery and can be recharged via a cool roll out solar panel. It’s a good idea, because what would happen if you had a dead battery on both your cell phone and your truck? Technology can bite you if you’re not careful.
I always make sure I have a spare tire and that it holds air. A small, portable air compressor is a must have tool. If I’m really getting back into the Hard Core sticks, I take a portable battery-charging unit with me too. I also have a short shovel for digging out a tire as well as a tow strap. I also have a four-pack of good, high-quality ratcheting tie downs. You never know when you’ll need them and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used them for something other than tying down a load.
If the temperature is dropping, I make sure I have an extra layer of warm clothes, as well as an extra pair of boots and a fleece Hard Core hat in case mine get wet. The Hard Core Work to Field Bag makes for a great way to carry additional cloths. I carry two on trips and have a luggage tag on the spare, so I don’t grab it by mistake and that way there is something additional with my name and contact info on it in case of an emergency.
Additionally, I have a spare flashlight, multi-tool, GPS, and spare key carrier in or on the truck for every trip. A spare key is such a good idea too, this coming from a guy who once had to break a window because the keys got locked in somehow.
For the blind
A few years ago, while using “another brand” of layout blind, I ran into a weird problem. A stick had managed to poke its way through the side of the blind during transport. It didn’t really stick out much, but when I went to get in it, I guess I kicked the stick and it tore a hole the size of a watermelon in the bottom of the blind. Ever since then, I’ve carried a few safety pins and a stout needle and thread in my blind bag.
Waders can be both a blessing and a curse. It doesn’t matter how much you pay for waders or how awesome they look in the store, they’re going to leak at some point. It’s a fact of wader life. My best fix is to have some Goop-brand shoe repair glue and some duct tape. I’ve patched up many a wader hole with these two items stemming from crawling through swamps and frozen ponds and creeks chasing ducks and geese.
If I’m hunting on a river, I also carry a knife in a handy spot. Call me paranoid, but I’ve seen people get pulled under by waders that fill up with water after falling in a fast moving river. If I have to, I’m cutting my way out of them. Hard Core hunters know no duck is worth dying for.
Be the Boy Scout
The message I’d like you to take form this article is simple: be prepared! Things happen and you have to deal with them. We’ve barely brushed the surface of the things that can happen while in the field. Like Clint Eastwood said in the movie Heartbreak Ridge, “you improvise, you adapt, you overcome.”
The bare basics you should have with you every time you go afield are:
- A cell phone
- A knife and/or multi-tool
- Matches or all-weather lighter
- Small basic first aid kit
- A flashlight
Everyone at Hard Core would like to wish you all a safe and successful season. Now, get outside; it’s a great place to be!
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Images courtesy Derrek Sigler/Hard Core Decoys