I’m always interested in what different hunters conclude is essential hunting gear. Essential being defined as essential enough to carry on your person all day long.
I drove to New Hampshire last Friday to visit my brother Kirk and to hunt the last weekend of rifle season. If there is anyone who enjoys new hunting toys as much as I do, it is Kirk. We were joined at Kirk’s by his friend Gary. One of the first orders of business was to see who had what. Gary, who hadn’t hunted since he was about 13, won the category of newest stuff. He arrived with bag upon bag of clothing and gear from Cabela’s (located not too far from his home in Connecticut). Gary had a couple new hats, new gloves, new coat, new pants, new boots, new remote-controlled electronic foot warmers, new thermos…. You get the idea. Two things Gary lacked where a rifle (he was borrowing one of Kirk’s) and a hunting knife (he also borrowed one from Kirk). I know that by next year he’ll have his own gun and a hunting knife or two.
Gary’s remote-controlled foot warmers were the most exotic gear anyone had. Total gear, including rifles, carried into the field weighed between 23 and 29 pounds. At 29 pounds of gear, Kirk won. But to be fair, Kirk was traveling light. He has shaved pounds off the amount he carried several years ago when he got back into hunting. It is funny how after carrying a lot of gear around for a day or so causes you to reassess what is really necessary.
Leon Leonwood Karma Restored – I like to carry a GPS into the woods. However, I only find a GPS worth carrying when it actually works. When a GPS works, it is useful in marking way points and buck scrapes, and it leads me directly back to where I parked. That said, I rely primarily on my compass when I’m in the woods. My GPS rests in my pocket waiting to show me the most direct route back to my car at the end of a hunt.
My DeLorme Earthmate PN-20 GPS died my last weekend of hunting. In the immortal words of Dr. Bell, “that was unfortunate.” I had purchased the DeLorme GPS at L.L.Bean in Freeport, Maine, the summer of 2009 when my wife and I were on vacation celebrating our 25th anniversary. So clearly, this GPS had emotional value.
The good news was that I was passing the L.L.Bean store in West Lebanon, NH on my way back from Kirk’s. It seemed like a good opportunity to test Bean’s return policy (a policy I questioned since my less-than-satisfactory experience returning some leaky waders earlier this year).
I stopped in the store and the sales associate looked at my DeLorme GPS, took the batteries out and gave them back to me, then gave me a credit of $299. The credit was given because the unit was discontinued and the newer unit was out of stock. I thought why replace the GPS that died with another GPS of the same manufacturer? So I decided to get a Garmin etrex 20 which retailed for about $199. Since L.L.Bean only had the display unit, they took 10 percent off. I also got a $10 gift certificate for my purchase. I felt pretty good about how I had been treated. Good Karma restored.
Above is a picture of my new Garmin etrex 20. I took this picture to show that the etrex actually is able to pick up 7 satellites from inside the house. This was something that my DeLorme GPS could not do. To be honest, I’m not old enough yet to need a GPS inside my house, but it was an interesting experiment. So far I’ve been very pleased with the etrex. The menu is very straight forward and all features seem easy to access. If it only showed where the deer were.