I have hunted a lot in my life. In fact, that is what I spent most of my time doing when I was growing up. Looking back on those years I realize I never carried a true survival kit. Although I did carry items on me that could be used as such.
As I became older, and through certain experiences, I realized that proximity to safety was a false sense of security and I really should have been carrying a survival kit. I have heard stories of woodsmen who have died during whiteout conditions when they were only one hundred yards from their cabin. They were so close to safety but they still perished.
But some hunters venture out into truly remote locations where help can be extremely far away. For me, it does not matter if you are hunting on a friend’s farm, public land surrounded by country roads, or in a truly remote wilderness. You should always be carrying the essentials.
Hunting Survival Kit: What To Include
Water Container and Filter
A water container and a filter is a must. Hunting is physically taxing which means hydration is even more important than normal.
You can choose between a water bottle, canteen, metal cup, etc. but make sure you have a way of collecting and cleaning water.
I prefer a metal container because it gives the option of boiling water and the Sawyer Mini water filter has always worked well.
Most people do not drink enough water as it is and I would venture a guess that many people are already dehydrated before evening setting foot on the trail. Get a head start and make sure that you are fully hydrated at the beginning of the hunting trip.
Again, since hunting can be so physically taxing there should be a way of keeping your energy up. Freeze-dried meals are a great option because they are lightweight, easy to cook, and taste great.
But if you do not want to cook then at a minimum a variety of snacks should be packed. Trail mixes, nuts, emergency food bars, or whatever you like that is easy to carry and will help to keep energy levels up.
Fishing supplies in hunter’s survival kit? That right, because in a survival situation food will need to be obtained from every possible source.
A fishing kit, even a robust one does not take up much space so I always recommend having one even if you do not plan on fishing.
At a minimum, pack a spool of fishing line and plenty of hooks. Additionally, fishing supplies can be used for gear repair and in other means of trapping.
Cordage is helpful for all sorts of things. From gear repair, shelter construction, making traps, to fishing, it uses are near endless. A hundred-foot hank of paracord is lightweight and doesn’t take up much space.
Every survival kit needs first aid supplies. But as it pertains to hunters there are three things to think about. Usually, hunters are alone, they are a long way from help, and they travel by foot.
Pain management, controlling blood loss, and dealing with twists, sprains, and broken bones are things that should be known how to handle.
There will be those that disagree with this recommendation and that is okay. There is no magic number I can suggest. Ammunition can be bulky and its weight adds up quickly. I know, been there done that. But it is my opinion that more ammunition should be taken than you think.
I once knew an individual that would only take one round of ammunition when he went hunting. His philosophy was that if he couldn’t get what he was after with one round then his hunt was over. While I agree with this sentiment as it relates to honorable hunting it does nothing to help out in a worst-case scenario.
If no ammunition is available then the firearm becomes dead weight. As I mentioned I can’t say how much should be taken but at least take a handful more than what you think you will need.
Exposure to the elements will take us out quicker than not having water. Proper clothing should be worn that works best in the environment you are hunting in and an extra set of dry clothes including socks should be ideally packed. Do not forget rain gear! Being wet for prolonged periods is not only uncomfortable but can be a dangerous position to be in.
Check out our guide on the best survival boots you can buy.
This one almost goes without saying as I have never met a hunter who does not carry a knife. However, sometimes these knives tend to be on the smaller side or are skinning knives, which makes sense. I would add in a larger fixed blade knife. It does not have to be a huge knife, a four to the six-inch blade is about the perfect size.
Check out this guide if you are looking to buy a top-notch survival knife
Choppers are not highlighted much but they should be because they are an incredibly versatile strong tool.
Just like there are tasks a chopping tool is not good at, there are tasks that a knife is not good at. But when paired together they form a strong partnership.
Other than Swiss Army Knives, I did not use to concern myself with multi-tools. But I have come to love them. I found that a quality plier style multitool, like a Leatherman, is invaluable to have in the absence of other tools. Hunters carry gear and that gear will have to be maintained, adjusted, fixed, or cannibalized for other purposes. A multitool will make all of this possible and easier.
Check out our top picks for the best multitool in the market…
Blanket and Tarp
An additional item for keeping warm should also be packed. Mylar emergency blankets or space blankets work decently, are cheap, compact, and lightweight.
I like wool blankets. Yes, they are heavier but they are durable and still insulate well even when wet. Plus they can be used as a pillow, blanket, coat, sleeping pad, impromptu pack, and a temporary poncho.
A tarp should also be packed to provide some protection as a temporary shelter. Tents are great but they are bulkier and can only be used as a tent whereas a tarp can have many uses.
No survival kit would be complete without a way to make fire.
Fire’s uses are many. It provides warmth, light, can be used for cooking, boiling water, making tools, signaling for help, and keeps insects and other unwanted guests at bay. There are many tools available for starting fires and everyone has their favorite method. Having said that, pack a butane lighter. In fact, pack several.
In a survival situation, you do not want to be messing around with bow drills and other slower methods. Other fire tools should be packed as well but as backups. A lighter should always be your number one fire starting tool. To make things even easier, do not forget to pack some tinder as well.
Check out the following guide on building a Survival Fire Kit…
A physical, hard copy map of the region you will be in should always be packed as well as a compass.
Make sure you know how to use both and familiarize yourself with the map before setting out. GPS devices are more affordable and accurate than ever so if this is within your budget I would recommend one.
The easiest form of communication we all have is our smartphones. But depending on the region you will be in it may not work well or at all. If phone calls do not work try texting, email, and any other available avenues on the phone. These other methods can sometimes get through when calling will not.
An emergency signal whistle is a great short distance communication device when help may be nearby. Some whistles can be heard up to two miles away. The JetStream and the HyperWhistle are two great examples.
I think that it goes without saying that most hunters wear camouflage or neutral-toned clothing to blend in with their environments. This is great for hunting but terrible for a survival situation. Rescue teams have a hard enough time trying to locate lost people, let alone ones that blend in with the surroundings.
For this reason, it is a good idea to pack some items that could be used to signal for help. In the previous section, I mention emergency whistles which are great audio signals. Now, it is time for some visuals. Here are a few items to consider for this purpose.
- Brightly colored marking tape
- Signal mirror
- Brightly colored t-shirt or bandanna
Hunting Survival Kit at a Glance
- Water container and filter
- Fishing Kit
- First-aid supplies
- Extra ammunition
- Chopping Tool
- Blanket and Shelter
Wrapping it Up
The above list of items is my personal choice for a hunting survival kit. The list is by no means perfect nor should be thought of as the only items that should be carried. But I believe the list is a good place to start and covers the basics without being overly difficult to haul.
Lastly, as with all outdoor adventures, make sure that you leave a detailed plan of the trip with someone you know. Should a hunting trip turn into a survival situation, this information could help in expediting a rescue.
Do you carry a survival kit or items that could be used as such while hunting? If so, sound off in the comment section below and lets us know your thoughts. Thanks for reading and stay prepared!