Claycomb: Packing for an upcoming hunt

TOM CLAYCOMB Outdoors contributor

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Here in Idaho, we have the best hunting and fishing in the world. There is pretty much a non-stop list of outdoor activities going on year-round. In the spring especially. We have awesome bear hunting, turkey hunting, ground squirrel hunting, mushroom hunting and unbelievable crappie fishing.

To pack for any of the above activities, you just look out the window and pack accordingly. But what if you ever get bored and want to go visit another state? This is all fresh on my mind because I just got invited by DiamondBlade Knives to go on a writers’ hunt. The format will be that five manufacturers are putting on this hunt: Diamond Blade, Savage Arms, Zero Tech Optics, Federal and Warthog Sharpeners. They each invited a writer.

So, what if this winter you decide to go down South and go duck hunting? Or go to Alabama deer hunting? Or go hit Louisiana for some awesome fishing? Or are planning a trip next summer to Alaska for a once-in-a-lifetime fishing trip? If so, then you need to do a little research so you’re adequately prepared, which is what we’re going to talk about today.

I used to get invited to the Minnesota Governor’s Deer hunt. I remember the first year I wore some lighter-weight canvas-sided hiking boots. Not a good option. It got cold and snowed. My little tootsies got cold and wet. Didn’t make for an enjoyable hunt.

I’ve fished and hunted numerous times in Alaska, but the weather there can be on another level. If you test gear in Alaska and it holds up, then it passes the “Alaska tough” test and will work anywhere. I’ve had summer fishing trips where it can be raining so hard that it feels like you’re getting hit with a fire hose. And the wind is blowing so hard it is raining straight sideways.

One year Charles Allan with DiamondBlade knives had asked me and Ron Spomer up for a 17-day brown bear/moose/duck hunting and silver salmon fishing trip at his lodge. I’d been to Alaska a lot of times for summer fishing. But this trip was scheduled for near the end of September; in fact, Charles was shutting down his lodge for the year after our trip.

While planning and lining up the trip, I was in conversations with Charles. In talking one day he said, “Tom, when you wake up in the morning you’ll put on your waders and be wearing them until we go back to the lodge to eat dinner. The only rain gear/waders that will keep you dry are Simms.”

Boy, was I glad that I listened to him. On that 17-day trip, we had some great days. Some driving rain days, some freezing cold days and one night, whew! We had 80-90 mph winds. I walked out from behind a cabin and the wind blew me off the wood plank walkway. Due to Charles’s advice, I did not get one drop of water inside my rain gear that whole trip.

So, here’s my advice. When you’re going somewhere new, talk to your guide or some of the locals. See what gear they advise using. They live there. They know what holds up, what works and what doesn’t.

But regardless of all of the predictions and forecasts, throw in a little rain gear and warm clothing. You never know when there can be a fluke in the weather. God doesn’t check the weather report to see what weather He is supposed to whip out for the day. He throws out whatever He dang well pleases.

I figured on this trip that it’d be cold enough that the rattlesnakes would be hibernating by now, but Kara Hensley who is helping to coordinate the event sent out a note advising to throw in some snake boots. I’m not paranoid of rattlers but… This spring while on an exotic hunt in Texas I killed a huge rattler that had 10 rattles and a button. In the front yard of the lodge.

Then I think it was last spring while on a hog hunt, the guide and I were walking along slowly. I glanced over to the right as he stepped over a coiled-up rattler. I pinned him down with the butt of my rifle and stepped on his head and cut it off with my pocket knife. (To clarify: I cut off the rattler’s head, not the guide’s head).

Then this summer I was over in Oregon crappie fishing. I ran across an aggressive rattler. Well, he got aggressive after I tried to pin him down with my paddle. He struck the paddle two or three times. I got him pinned and stepped on his neck behind his head. Unfortunately, I was a few inches behind his head and he wasn’t too agreeable with letting me cut his head off. Another little unfortunate factor, I only had on a pair of Chaco sandals.

So, maybe I need to throw in my Irish Setter snake boots. But dang, they’ll take up half of my suitcase. Or, I guess that I could wear them on the plane and it’d look like that I was wearing a pair of cheap, never-in-style go-go boots?