Article Contributed by T. Wansleben
When you’re a waterfowl hunter, having a little bit of gear isn’t an option. Most of us would rather have an outbuilding that is bigger than our house to store all of our gear from boats, blinds to decoys. That being said, sometimes the smallest things are the most important; so here are my top five items which are always in my blind bag.
- Zip ties
Zip ties can be an absolute savior for rigging a makeshift blind or a temporary fix for a torn off exhaust system. A 200 pack of zip ties at Home Depot will set you back $10 or less. I carry a variety of sizes in my blind bag because when you need them your glad you have them. I once caught my neoprene waders on a barbed wire fence that ripped a 3” gash through the knee. With my decoys still out in the water I had the option of either leaving them until I could come back with another set of waders or just go into the freezing water and hope to get my decoys before I succumbed to shock. Instead I reached into my blind bag pulled out a zip tie, grabbed the torn neoprene and twisted it and quickly cinched the zip tie at its base like a tourniquet. This prevented the water from entering and I was able to get my decoys without the hypothermia.
- Multi Tool
This one is pretty much a no brainer, the multi tool has been around long enough that most of us have used one for at least a 1/3 of the time we’ve been alive. I’ve used the saw to cut limbs, the knife to clean birds, and the pliers to fix everything else under the sun. If you buy a cheap one I guarantee a time will come when you will wish you didn’t.
- Extra Headlamp or Flashlight
Why bother, you just bought the top of the line 900 lumen spotlight, this will blaze up the night sky. A quick way to make things go from bad to worse is when your headlamp fails, which Murphy ’s Law dictates will be at the worst possible time. Since most of our setup takes place in the dark hours of the early morning the one thing we need and rely on is light. We lose it we are gone. My blind bag always carries an extra headlamp and one of good quality, so don’t use the cheapo you bought at the dollar store as your backup or you will pay trust me. An extra light is also useful when your buddy forgets his and we all have friend who always forgets something. But the extra light comes in handy to help set up a decoy spread in relation to your blind in the dark. I will turn the extra light on at my blind location and use it to judge distance as I’m setting up the decoys. Or if you have to go back to the car to get gear it allows you to find your spot in a 500 acre cornfield in the dark. Just make sure you continually change out the batteries from your headlamps especially when the weather turns cold
- Extra batteries
This seems like a no brainer to me. I always carry enough spare batteries for my headlamp and my GPS. In the northeast it gets really cold and these temperatures will drain a battery pretty fast, so if you keep the same batteries in your blind bag all season you will wind up with some dead batteries, this is why constantly keeping fresh ones is key.
- Granola or Snack Bar
I’m not a hefty guy, but I like to eat and when I’m hungry I can’t relax. I don’t have enough time in the morning to cook steak and eggs and I could be out in the field for 6-7 hours between meals. Having that granola bar or candy bar is a lifesaver that can keep you in the blind those extra few hours, which could mean the difference between going home empty handed or with a limit of geese. I always make sure to replenish my blind bag with one or two granola bars, I happen to like Cliff Bars because they are chewy and tasty and it’s not like I’m eating sawdust and a box of six runs $5. Better yet make some homemade ones of different flavors, cut them, wrap them and put them in the freezer and you’ll have snacks all season long.
About the author
Tom Wansleben grew up hunting and fishing in the upper valley of New Hampshire where his passion for wildlife conservation led him to earn a B.S. in Natural Sciences and a M.S. in Conservation Biology.Â Tom has over 15 years of experience in wildlife habitat management where he has worked throughout the western and northeastern United States for the National Park Service, US Forest Service, and Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust.Â Tom currently works as the Stewardship Biologist for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife in their Connecticut River Valley district.Â Â When he is not taking care of public lands Tom is feeding healthy addictions like fly fishing, bowhunting for whitetails, chasing waterfowl and turkeys, cooking wild foods and celebrating it all with craft beers. Connect with Tom at http://newenglandoutdoors.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram: @h2ofowlernh