Friday, October 14, 2011

Lessons Learned from Hunting

If you think that you might ever have to "bug out" on foot, there is nothing like a hunting or hiking trip to give you a quick fix of reality. General deer hunting season opened recently, and, although I hadn't been hunting for several years, I decided this year to try my skill (or luck, as the case may be). I learned some important lessons.

First, I work at a sedentary job. And it showed. While I have been exercising regularly, hiking up the side of a mountain with all my gear was tough and slow. I had to stop a couple times just to catch my breath and let my heart rate slow down to something reasonable. It made me realize that I'm not in as good of shape as I need to be. My guess is that most of us are probably not as fit as we should be. While we do not necessarily need to be as fit as our combat troops, any serious prepper should be able to move through demanding terrain carrying a load, and be in good enough condition to haul ourselves over an obstacle.While I don't like to rely on television shows or movies as examples of "real life," I was watching an episode of "The Walking Dead" the other day where the characters had to pull themselves up and over a 10 foot chain-link fence to escape from zombies chasing them. I'm not sure that I could do that, yet in a bug-out situation, it is entirely possible that I would have to quickly clamber over a fence or gate to escape dogs or pursuers. Could you?

I also learned something important about stock length. It was cold and, for about half of the time I was out, raining or drizzling. I had on a base layer of clothing, an insulating jacket (although not an extremely heavy one), and, part of the time, an outer waterproof shell. I was also using a military style Camelbak. Between the shoulder straps on the Camelbak, the jackets and base layer, it was hard to pull the rifle close enough to easily use the scope. At one point, where I was sitting on the hill-side, scoping an area looking for deer sign, I was unable to bring the rifle to bear on my right partly because I just couldn't hold it close enough to my shoulder but still twist my body. A shorter stock (like the standard WARSAW length stock) or an adjustable stock would have been extremely helpful.

While thinking about the Camelbak, I would also recommend getting a model that has a cutoff valve and a cover for the nozzle for hiking. Mine did and I was grateful for it. (I was using what appears to be an older version of this model).  (Conversely, when bicycling, I use a hydration pack--a Novara--that doesn't have a cap). At one time, after stopping and sitting down, I noticed that the nozzle was sticking down into some dirt, but since I had a cap to go over it, no problem. By flipping the cutoff valve between "on" and "off" as needed, I could keep air from getting into the hydration bag, which eliminated any sloshing sound from the bag.

Finally, while I did not have wool upper clothing, my pants were wool. Even though my legs got wet, I never had cold legs. And the pants were quiet. Just something to think about.

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