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Packed Full of Memories
I talked to good friend and hunting buddy Doug Tuttle today. I had heard that Canada was taking its first step into opening its borders by allowing Canadian citizens who had been out of their country to come back in provided they met certain criteria. The border has been closed since March of 2020 and I’m sure the guides and outfitters are chomping at the bit for it to re-open for everyone. Our president and their prime minister were supposed to discuss it while at their G7 summit in Switzerland. So, as we have for the last 15 months, we’ll stay tuned for any changes which might occur. When I talked to Doug, I told him that I have been thinking about our hunting trips to Africa and to Saskatchewan lately. Now don’t get me wrong it’s impossible to come in my home without thinking about them as there are many reminders around. But the other evening I was downstairs watching a St. Louis Cardinal game when I saw my old day pack lying on a shelf. This day pack and I have been on several adventures together.
It’s funny how things change over time and hunting gear may be one of the things that has changed the most. I must be honest with you and say that in the past I was one of those who made fun of those who may have packed to much gear. I’m not talking about some huge back pack that carries enough gear to survive almost anything in the outdoors including staying in the mountains for days at a time. For this article, I’m referring to day packs, which are a whole other creature. A good day pack is one of the handiest items that I have. I also have a pack as most waterfowl hunters do that’s called a blind bag as it’s used for waterfowl hunting and is normally waterproof but serves the same purpose as a day pack. A day pack carries those items that may make your hunt more comfortable, more enjoyable, or for that matter perhaps even safer.
Perhaps six or seven years ago, I was sent a Browning 1700 Hunter Day Pack and now I wonder how I ever got along without it. It has become my serious day pack and it has a place of reverence in my gun room because of all the memories I have when using it. When deer hunting on the farm, for the most part all I need is a rifle or bow and ammo or arrows as I’m very close to the cabin and most times I’m hunting off the deck when rifle hunting as the first purpose of the cabin was that of a hunting stand. I need to clarify that the cabin or what we call the “Crow’s Nest” is only 12X12 feet with a 12X15 feet deck on the front. But when deer hunting anywhere besides the cabin than the Browning day pack is with me. In it, I have calls, scents, binoculars, dry gloves, flashlight, knife, snack items or soft drinks. I will also have a small first aid kit and maybe even a rain suit.
When I speak of memories with that day pack, I’m not referring just to deer hunts. When black bear hunting in Saskatchewan their ladder stands have hooks welded on the stand to hang your packs from. You are on that stand from usually 1:00 in the afternoon until 9:30 that evening, so you live out of that day pack. So, besides your normal gear you may also have a good book with you or to pass the time or a compact Bible that I enjoy. In addition, there will be a bottle hanging off the side when nature calls. I also will have a camera in the pack as well, although I will use my cell phone for pictures also. There will also be some food items and a sheath knife or folding knife in case you need one for whatever purpose. I also had a short piece of rope to raise or lower my rifle in its case as well as spare ammo. That day pack has been on three black bear hunts and has never let me down.
When I went to Africa a couple years ago, my Browning day pack went with me as well. In fact, it rode with me and served as my carryon luggage for personal items I didn’t want to lose such as medications, camera and binoculars, and my important papers that I had to have with me. Camouflage clothing has become even more acceptable in Africa instead of the traditional khaki so you no longer get strange looks when traveling with a camouflage carry on bag as if you are some hunting geek from the states. I also had a spare change of clothing in it in case my luggage failed to make the trip as fast as I did and we arrived at separate times. To make the trip pass faster (if that’s possible when traveling that far) I also had a book and a magazine as well as iPod that besides music had a movie and about 20 “Gunsmoke” classic radio broadcast downloaded in it. And best of all it was the perfect size to slide under my seat when not in use or when it had to be stowed for take offs and landings. On safari the day pack had spare ammo, important papers, my camera, and a light weight coat as it could be cold first thing in the morning riding in the back of a truck searching for game to stalk. Once we arrived at our concession and began hunting later that same day, all that travel stuff was unpacked and the day pack began a new life as my hunting bag. Each morning I would carry the day pack out to the truck and have it setting among the other gear the professional hunter Hans had laid out, and before we headed out, I would make sure that the pack was riding in the bed of the truck with us as we left camp. In it I had a lightweight coat and a skull cap and pair of gloves as well as a camera, binoculars, and spare ammo. I didn’t think about Africa being cold, but in the morning riding in the back of a truck it can be downright chilly. When you go back out after lunch it can be very warm but when the sun begins to go down so do the temperatures.
Ten years ago, or less I only dreamed of having a need for a day pack but I knew that if the day came when I needed one, what adventures I would be going on. I was right. My day pack is an old friend and I look forward to sharing more adventures with it on my back or alongside. It has three large compartments and three smaller pockets and has all the room I’ll ever need for a day hunt. I’m sure that for my hunting friends out there, you too have a favorite pack that gets tossed in the truck along with whatever you’re hunting with. I’m just as sure that you too have learned to depend on it as well.