Congratulations! You made the call or sent the email and have booked your dream adventure.
Turkey hunting in the south, pheasant hunting in South Dakota, dove hunting in Argentina, sheep hunting in Alaska, fishing in Panama, elk hunting in the western states or deer hunting in Mexico. Whatever and wherever! I’m happy for you and want to share some of my tips from many trips chasing my dreams.
Make a List
This will begin with your outfitter's “gear list” but will likely progress to your personal gear list. It is important. Your outfitter has the experience and knows what you need to have at the bare minimum. If you show up with exactly what is on the outfitter's list, your adventure will likely be a good one. It’s always a good idea to start with the outfitter's list and add in the personal items you feel are important. Include everything, and I mean everything from boots to a toothbrush. For instance, I use smokeless tobacco. My list includes enough to get me through a month - multiple cans in every suitcase. My point is, things you must have MUST be on the list.
Bear in mind, your outfitter doesn’t want you showing up with enough suitcases to outfit an episode of “Desperate Housewives.” You may also be limited to airline or equine weight restrictions depending on your adventure. The worst trips are by vehicle because you can throw everything in the back! Don’t worry about any of that to start. Just make a list.
I also recommend watching Youtube videos of similar adventures in similar terrain. Take note of the gear used by those in the field and add those items to your list as appropriate. It’s a great starting point. I have just enough German in me to be a bit over the top about lists. However, a list is the best place to start getting you excited about your adventure.
Find a Space
What? Find a space to place all your “stuff” in rows. An extra bedroom, the living room or a garage stall. I would not recommend the master bedroom. Remember, your significant other agreed to this adventure and will gladly let you take over some living space for your planning, but using up master space might land you in the doghouse. You need to place everything you might need in this space for organization. This is where the list magically becomes the “kit.” Go through each item and arrange it carefully. Do you have all of the items on the outfitter's list? I hope not because then you can buy something new! Is your clothing up to the challenge of the adventure you have chosen? I hope not because then you can buy some Kryptek gear!
I encourage you to layout all your gear, work through the list and prepare your kit at least a month out from your departure. Remember, you didn’t sign up to golfing with guys tomorrow. You are going on the trip of a lifetime. Don’t wait until the last minute and enjoy the time spent preparing. Once everything is on the floor, start a pile of “take” items and check them off the list.
Time to See if it Fits
Now, it’s time to see if everything fits in the suitcase. In many cases, your suitcase is also your hunting pack. I promise you, the initial kit you select to take won’t all fit, or if it does, it will be too damn heavy to lug around.
This is the time to start refining your kit and removing unnecessary items. Are you really going to change your underwear every day? Do you really need five pairs of socks? Do you really need three sets of base-layers? NO. Make room in the bag for things which might save your life! Nobody has ever died because they didn’t change their shorts for five days.
I also highly recommend talking to other hunters who have completed your adventure recently. The outfitter will have contact information for you. Don’t be afraid to ask them, “Do I need this? Is this important?” Fellow hunters are a great resource in determining what gear stays and what gear goes. Lastly, weigh your bag. Write it down. The airline will want to know exactly how much weight you have in your suitcase and excess baggage charges can really add up.
“Grandad’s knife has always been sharp! That jacket always keeps me dry. My headlamp always works. My rangefinder is only five years old. My hunting boots never leak. I know how to use a camp stove. My pants don’t have a hole in the crotch.”
You get the point. This is an adventure! Make sure everything including all electronics in the “take” pile are working and have fresh batteries.
Make a Personal Medical Kit
Talk to your doctor. Tell your doctor where you are going and what you plan to do. I make sure to include the following: pills to make me go, pills to make me stop going, sleeping aids, stomach aids, eye drops, bandages, tweezers, floss, pills for pain and medication for tooth problems. Don’t forget the Diamox for altitude and those fancy patches for sea sickness. Those are the basics. You don’t want your trip to be ruined because of a medical condition.
You can also purchase a preassembled med kit such as those produced by Mountain Medic, but don’t forget to add your personal medical needs to it before you leave.
Be a Boy Scout
Always be prepared. If you are travelling to a foreign country and might have a problem with the food, take some food! If you are headed into the high country and like snacks, take some snacks! If you are staying on American soil, take Tums for trucker food.
Next up: How to prepare your rifle and your mind for a guided adventure.
Rob Braig is a 3rd generation Montanan and a lifelong adventurer. He has pursued fish and game across much of the US and Canada as well as some exciting foreign destinations. Along the way, Rob has gained a wealth of knowledge in the realm of guided adventures. His experiences and lessons learned, both good and bad, are a treasure trove of valuable information and The Kryptek Agora is excited to share his guidance and advice. This post "An Idiots guide to preparing gear for a guided adventure" is the second in a series of publications from Rob that are geared toward helping anyone excited about booking a guided adventure.