November 28, 2023

Most public land hunters walk in or are limited to what they can carry in their boat. One time of a shoulder strap cutting off your airway for 300 yards, through shin deep muck will help you understand that less is more. This is aimed at the guy or gal who doesn’t have private blinds, a huge boat or an enclosed trailer to get your stuff to the X. It’s not that we don’t want to bring a stove to cook our breakfast on… it’s that we can’t.

Most public land hunters walk in or are limited to what they can carry in their boat. One time of a shoulder strap cutting off your airway for 300 yards, through shin deep muck will help you understand that less is more. This is aimed at the guy or gal who doesn’t have private blinds, a huge boat or an enclosed trailer to get your stuff to the X. It’s not that we don’t want to bring a stove to cook our breakfast on… it’s that we can’t.

By T.J. Rademacher

A well thought out blind bag is an essential tool for waterfowl hunting

Every seasoned public land waterfowler knows that there are all sorts of things that get thrown into blind bags. If you are new to this sport, there is an excellent chance that you will get bogged down on all sorts of details. Your basic list of blind bag contents should not be the thing to overthink. You can bring what you want, but remember to look at each item objectively.

 Most public land hunters walk in or are limited to what they can carry in their boat. One time of a shoulder strap cutting off your airway for 300 yards, through shin deep muck will help you understand that less is more. This is aimed at the guy or gal who doesn’t have private blinds, a huge boat or an enclosed trailer to get your stuff to the X. It’s not that we don’t want to bring a stove to cook our breakfast on… it’s that we can’t. You will get opportunities to be frivolous with items that come with you on a hunt sometime, but for now keep it simple. Do yourself a favor and  take some of what I have to say into consideration. It all comes from a bit of trial and mostly error. 

First let’s talk about the blind bag itself. This bag should be made from a waterproof or highly water resistant material. The things inside should be shielded from the elements by quality zippers and taped seams. Either one works. This costs a little more coin on the front end but will pay you back when you miss judge your tossing distance to a buddy on the other side of the ditch you need to cross… Believe me I’ve been there. Remember your time is limited;  a few hours in the field on most waterfowl hunts. Your bag should be small enough to be super mobile but have enough capacity to hold the essentials. Some folks choose a backpack style while others choose a more traditional duffel bag style.

So let’s talk about the essentials. Shells should be limited to two or three boxes max. Right here is the bulk of your bag’s weight. I was not blessed to grow up in an area where people shoot limits on public water very often. Even on the bucket list hunts I’ve been on to other places throughout North America there was never a need for more than 50 shells.  I can count on one hand the times I’ve shot more than a box of shells. Most of the time it’s less than ten that get used. I carry two boxes because it completely covers my requirements and allows for swatting as many cripples as I can handle, without ever worrying about ever running out. Plus, sometimes you can come in clutch for that buddy who forgets important things like shells… sometimes.

Having everything you need for both you and your friends gives an added level of security to your adventures. Those friends might have two legs or four.

Aside from shells you need something to drink or eat most likely.  Lickies and Chewys are super important to have on hand. The last three hours of a hunt can be super tough to stick out for those late morning opportunities. They are especially tough if all you can think about is where you are going to eat after. Besides food I keep a small med kit with basic comfort items like chapstick and Motrin and trauma items for both me and my dog. Most common things like a headache, a small cut for the dog or myself can be handled with this kit. 

One maybe unusual thing, I keep a tourniquet on hand. A tourniquet may sound very extra at first thought but terrible accidents happen around firearms sometimes.  I’m hunting  areas off the beaten path with no immediate help. Having a quality tourniquet and the knowledge of how to use one could literally save someone’s life. 

Some of the smaller items are important as well. Your calls and game strap are pretty obvious must-haves for the hunt. But what happens when you dump your shotgun in the mud and need to get your trigger group pins out of the gun to clear an obstruction and get it running again? A quality multitool is worth its weight in gold for fixing guns and tons of other problems you might encounter.  After said trip into the mud you might find your barrel plugged. I keep a 12 gauge bore snake and a cloth at all times. It is better to know the bore is clear than to have a barrel detonate because you left something in it. Also bring a small bottle of your favorite gun oil or maybe dry lube in the winter. It’s magic when you have it and can be a show stopper for your favorite fowling piece when you don’t. A choke wrench and an extra choke, when conditions call for a  change, can come in handy. These items are optional, but highly recommended. 

I always have a couple ways to keep warm. Typically, I’ll have a couple sets of hot hands for stiff fingers. In addition I always carry two ways to make fire. I keep A lighter and small magnesium striker with oiled cotton balls to make sure I can get something  lit and keep it burning if conditions are damp. Dryer lint works  very well as a starter too. Keep them in a vacuum sealed bag to have them ready to go. This way they won’t be  water logged when you need them. I’ve had the pleasure of spending more time than I had planned for in the field due to motor issues or getting wet in cold weather. These moments let me know the value of these two items. You are welcome in advance.

You can bring some other small creature comforts like extra gloves or other items you feel you can’t live without but the above mentioned gear is what I’ve found to be just what I need without wanting for  more when I’m focused on killing birds. Focus on what’s essential and adjust what you carry as you gain experience. Your ideas of essential and mine may differ and that’s fine. I’m just trying to help you  prevent the pack mule effect that ends up dragging a lot of new folks down. 

Whether walking in or taking a watercraft a blind bag keeps you organized, equipped, fed, hydrated and can be a real life saver.

Remember to swing through

T

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