Looking to buck season: A hunter’s checklist
With the opening day of West Virginia’s buck firearm season a little more than two weeks away, it’s a good time for us hunters to see how just how prepared we are.
Fortunately, the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife has developed a checklist. The Gazette-Mail outdoor staff adapted it to more fit the needs of hunters east of the Mississippi, and specifically the hills and hollows of the Mountain State:
• Check the batteries in your flashlights, headlamps, two-way radios and GPS units. If one of those gadgets uses an unusual type of battery, you’ve still got eight days to find a replacement. Make sure to pack spares.
• Sharpen your knives. Dull knives not only frustrate you, they mangle the carcass of the deer you’re trying to field-dress.
• It wouldn’t be a bad idea to make one last pass through the local sporting-goods store. Chances are you’ll come across something you need but didn’t have.
• Decide where you’ll hunt and which route you’ll take to get there. Let someone know where you plan to be. This is especially important if you plan to hunt where there is no cellphone service.
As the week progresses, check and re-check the contents of your day pack. It should contain:
• A copy of the West Virginia hunting-regulations booklet;
• Your hunting license, with all the required tags;
• Your game calls, scents, and scent-masking preparations;
• At least two quarts of water;
• Water filter or purification tablets;
• Food for at least a day;
• Navigation equipment — a map, compass, GPS unit, a signal whistle and/or a smart phone;
• Pen and paper for writing down the tag number you obtain from the state’s Electronic Game-Checking System;
• Your knives, a sharpening stone, and a small hand saw;
• A small first-aid kit, toilet paper, and at least $20 in emergency cash;
• Nitrile or latex gloves, for field-dressing or as an emergency dry bag for your cell phone;
• Fifty feet of paracord or similar rope;
• A multi-tool;
• A few feet of duct tape, and maybe a few zip ties; and
• A couple of large garbage bags.
On opening morning, eat a good breakfast. Later in the day, you’ll be glad you did. In your haste to get out the door, for heaven’s sake remember to bring your rifle and ammo; they’re kind of important. And make sure you’re wearing at least 400 square inches of fluorescent orange clothing (a hat and vest will do).
Make sure to tell someone you’re leaving, when you expect to be back, and how to get hold of you in an emergency.
And finally, charge your cellphone while you’re driving to your hunting spot. You don’t want a dead battery when you’re trying to text pictures of that opening-day buck to your family and friends.