Dear Badlands Rifleman: How would you apply the “Line gear” concept to deer hunting?

I received the following email the other day and I thought it would make an interesting post. When it comes to equipment, and just about everything else, I like systems more than just a pile of stuff. Call me picky, but I want my equipment to work together as best as possible to help me achieve my desired outcome. Some call this advantage stacking, and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do.

Badlands: After reading your post about how you dress out and think about what you carry on a mission; i.e. Line 1, Line 2 and Line 3, how do you treat or look at deer hunting? Thanks,

So that’s the beauty of having a system based approach, it can be adapted fairly easily. I believe the reader is referring to this post I made for those who would like more detail. So in that post I detailed how I’ve been packing when staying out in the field during The Fieldcraft Course.

But the reader wants to know how would I adapt it for deer hunting? Well let’s use our handy dandy planning tool: METT-TC.

  • Mission – To fill our deer tags.
  • Enemy – In this case I wouldn’t say the deer are the “enemy”, but they are the prey. But just like an enemy, we do want to know their location, strength and disposition.
  • Time available – When are we going hunting and for how long? Are we just going in the morning and expect to be back by nightfall, or are we staying out for the weekend?
  • Troops available – Who is going with us? Is anyone available to come help us if we get into a “situation” (something I have a tendency of doing )
  • Terrain and Weather – Where are we going? What’s the terrain like there? What’s the weather expected to be? How will that effect the terrain and thus our mobility? What’s the worst weather we can expect in relation to heat and cold injuries?
  • Civil concerns – What other people are in the area and how might they be affected by our actions? How might we be effected by theirs?

So with these questions answered we should have a pretty good idea of what we need to do, and what equipment we need to do it.

Starting with Line 1, it doesn’t really change at all. It’s purpose is still to ensure my survival if all my plans go to hell. If hypothermia is a concern I might wear a silk weight wicking base layer. I always carry a beanie, so I may swap that off and on for my ball cap depending on how hot I’m getting. I’d also carry my tags, maps, notes, etc. and any other permits on me as well. And of course our Hunter’s orange goes on if required.

Line 2 will change a great deal, but it’s purpose remains the same: scouting and fighting. I could wear my Hill People Gear chest pack to put most of everything into. I could put my monocular or a small pair of binos in there. If using a GPS it could go in there as well for easy access. Wind indicators, camo face paint and cover scents might be a few items you could put in. If possible I would wear my cobra hood as well, and I would consider that part of line 2.

I’d also have the tools and equipment necessary to maintain my killing tool. If a rifle, then I’d have extra ammo, cleaning gear and the tools needed to keep it operable. For my bow I’d have my bow stringer, spare arrows with broad heads, fletching water proofing, etc.

Line 3, as usual depends on the amount of time we intend to be out. At a minimum I plan for 24 hours, even if it’s only supposed to take 10 hours. This is where line 3A comes in. Now in my 3A I regularly carry my PVS-14, but I’m not sure how that would look to the local game warden. Of course he would have to find me first at night, but that’s another story. Either way I would probably just leave it home since I can just use a head lamp at night. I’d use the extra room in my 3A pack for additional layers or equipment to help me clean or transport the deer. I’d still have my water and cover items as well as the emergency food. I’d also include some “lickies and chewies” distributed in my clothing for snacks on the move.

If I’m planning on staying out for more than a day I would hike all my gear, including my 3B gear from the linked article, into a low profile camp, and then using the list above hunt from there.

As you can see, not much changes really. Fieldcraft is the same really, no matter what you’re doing and I think deer hunting is a good way to practice it. It’s also not really about gear, but the skills. We just happen to live in a golden age of field equipment, with the sort of tools that Lewis and Clark or the Natives would have killed for (literally). Take any one of them and transport them to today and there’s no doubt they would teach us many things.

I hope this was a helpful demonstration and if there are other questions or comments please feel free to leave them or shoot me an email.

4 comments

  1. If you spend a lot of time on stand, it pays to carry an appropriate pair of binoculars on you. If there is long range scenery to search, high power optics no greater than 10x if handheld (too much image shake !) helps spot small movements. When a support is attached to binoculars, that help stabilize the view quite a bit. I grip the barrels of binoculars with the middle, ring and pinky fingers, extending the thumb and fore finger to rest on my cheeks and temples to stabilize.

    When the cover is thick, less power is preferred, 6x or even less if can be found. A larger field of view helps you in thick cover. Leupold Yosemite 6x work well for me.

    Optics save a lot of walking, helpful with a lot of uphill / downhill maneuvers. Us olde pharts need all the help we can get :^)

    Liked by 1 person

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