So where did winter go? It’s already time to fill the freezer with BBQ steaks and meat patties or find a stag before they drop their antlers – although most would have done so by the time you read this.

Coming into spring is one of my favourite times to hunt. Deer come out into the open on river flats and bush edges to graze on the spring growth and it puts them in prime eating condition. Accordingly, it’s a fitting time to discuss what gear you need to enjoy spring hunting and provide a reminder about pest
control.

Necessities Before Accessories

Make sure you have the basics in your pack before you fill it with junk. Apart from a rifle or bow and accompanying ammo, my list of important things is:
• PLB
If your PLB is past it’s expiry date, take it to your nearest sporting store. They should be able to send it away to get a fresh set of batteries installed and get it
checked over. Do NOT activate it to see if it works – I know this may sound silly but it does happen! Most have a test button for this purpose.
• GPS
GPS familiarity is key. If you are technology impaired like me go for a simpler unit that will do what you need it to – tell you where you are and where to go. Be sure to practice with it at home before going into the bush otherwise you’re asking for trouble.
• Map and compass
• Quality electrical tape
Electrical tape has so many potential uses, including fixing a pair of shoes onsite, tying deer’s legs together, making a splint if you break or fracture anything, or taping cloth over a wound.
• Survival blanket
• Two knives – one hunting knife and one small pocket knife
If you have hunted for years, you’ll have a favourite that has the perfect blade shape for you and performs a variety of tasks. I like the range of Svord Knives because of their good blade shapes and quality carbon steel, although being carbon you do have to look after them. Other good options are the well-priced Gerber and the Mercator – not a big knife but it holds a good edge and is low-profile.
Leatherman’s are also a handy pack knife incorporating other functions like pliers.
• Knife sharpener
• Torch or headlamp
I prefer a headlamp because it gives me at least one hand free to get home as normally the other has a rifle or bow in it. For me this is an area I don’t like to skimp on because you need to see at night to make your way back to camp! This is where a cheap headlamp may fail especially if it’s raining. I like the LED Lenser range as they offer a lot of torch for the money. My favourite is the SEO 7 that has functions including dimmer, red light and offlock – handy to keep the headlamp off when it gets bumped in your pack.
• Spare new batteries for GPS and headlamp
• Lighter and rubber in waterproof bag
I like to keep much of my gear in waterproof snaplock bags just in case of a dunking. It also helps with the clean-up at the end of a hunt if everything is still clean and dry.
• A few extra rounds of ammo
• Rope or baling twine
• Muesli bars

Of course, be sure everything is working and not going to let you down when you’re offsite in the wilderness. Also remember this list may vary according to the area that you want to hunt. For example, when hunting for tahr you might want extra rope some fold away crampons.
Now you have the necessities sorted go hard on the accessories and buy whatever you feel you need – just remember you’re the one carrying it!

Pest Control

Finally, I want to touch on pest control. A lot of us enjoy the native flora and fauna in the bush or like duck or pheasant hunting – things which predators including feral cats, rats, mustelids and possums have a great bearing on. If all hunters put as much effort into pest control as they put into hunting game, our pest
numbers would be a lot lower and we would see positive changes.
Learn from Google or talk to Fish & Game or DOC about different styles of pest traps and how to use them.
Go out possum shooting around landowners’ properties whom you have permission from as often as possible. Remember kids love shooting possums even if it might not excite adults much. Create memories for them, ignite their passion for the outdoors, and help them make a bit of pocket money by plucking the fur warm. It’s all very well jumping on the keyboard and being anti 1080 but if you’re not doing your bit to control predators they’re not going to control themselves.
Happy and safe hunting all!

Article by: Barry Sharplin