By Montana Grant

Posted: July 30, 2023


Some outdoorsmen are gear fanatics. They pack along everything but the kitchen sink. When they pack in too much stuff, that means less room to pack stuff out.

Big Game hunters have a list of must have gear. You can’t pack out an elk without a pack and some meat bags. Your weapon needs ammo and a sling. Some of these gear items have more than one use.

I called a Montana bull elk, for a bowhunter nicknamed “Cabela’s”. He earned the name from buying out the outdoor store. He was a gadget and gear fanatic. When he was on a wheeler, or near a hunting camp, Cabela’s was the man to go to if you forgot anything. If critters were small enough to drag or near the truck or camp, life would be easy.

We were at nearly 10,000 feet in altitude, and 3 miles from camp. He insisted on wearing his HUGE backpack to handle his needs. The special pack had a bow carrier, water filtration bladder, tarp, and all kinds of features built in. Once the bull was down, the real bull began. As I filled my game bags, it was time to begin shuttling out the meat.

He had no room in his pack! This meant that he needed to not only shuttle out 100 pounds of meat, 6 times, but also shuttle his pack of gear! That meant an extra shuttle trek. Anyone that has shuttled meat knows of this dilemma.

To resolve this issue, I emptied his gear filled pack into an extra-large trash bag and hung it in a tree. This bag could wait until after the meat was back to camp. In the extra gear bag, he had 2 cans of bear spray, along with his handgun and bow, A Wyoming meat saw kit along with 3 other knives, another short, sheathed saw, 100 yards of rope and a full sized first aid kid. Layers of clothes, socks, extra hats, and doubles of other gear items filled the pack. The pack must have weighed over 75 pounds, without any meat.

Gear is often about space. Cutting tools can be all purpose items. If I had a choice between knives, saws, axes, and a survival weapon, I would choose an axe. It will do everything. Some axes have a hollow handle where a knife, saw, compass, and fire starter can be stored. This saves space.

Duct tape is a great multipurpose gear item, but you may not need the whole role. Wrapping some tape around the eater bottle takes up less room. Tape will make an emergency butterfly stitch or band aid. Equipment repairs, and any type of connection can be done with Duct tape.

Strong parachute cord is lightweight but strong. It can be made into fishing line, thread, or even used for stitches. Look at how you can multipurpose items. Save the rest of your goodies for closer to camp or in a blind/ hunting stand.

Nature is also a gear shopping mall. First aid medicines, poultices, and materials can become tools, food, or survival necessities. Why haul things that are already in the forest and fields. A couple aspirins, band aids, and a few items may be all you need.

You can also cache gear in the area where you fish and hunt. Bury a 5-gallon bucket of emergency gear just in case. Hide it ahead of the season when you are scouting the area. Smaller containers will keep food, matches, and gear handy for years.

It took us the rest of the day and part of the next to shuttle out Cabela’s bull elk. He had no need for any of the items in his pack. The final, extra gear, pack out of 6 miles was all his. I would be waiting back at camp with a cold beer.

Montana Grant

New Podcast!

Riley's Meats - Butte Wild Game Processing