One thing that made the Lewis and Clark expedition successful was knowing what to carry and when to carry it. Expected to take roughly 2 years, the explorers had to bring every tool they expected to use on their trip. The genius behind their adventure was that they stockpiled gear along the way to avoid carrying everything to the Pacific Ocean and back. The “Corps of Discovery” buried at least three separate caches —buried hordes of equipment —with the intention of digging them up on the return trip.
Modern hunters are faced with the same problem. There are dozens of hunting tools that could be useful in the field, but carrying everything in and out on each hunt can make you feel like you’re heading out into the wilderness for years. Packing it all into a backpack seems like a good idea, but it can be a major burden. Creating your own secret and secure caches can save you energy on your next hunt.
Building a cache is simple. Pick a spot along the trail leading to your deer stand —close, but not too close. Bury a 5-gallon bucket so the top is flush with the ground. Painting the lid a dark or camo color helps it disappear when leaves are scattered over its top.
Selecting what needs to be left in the woods should be based on several criteria: Will the things I’m leaving be harmed by cold weather? Will the gear left be perishable? Will the tools left need any kind of maintenance, or could they theoretically be left out year after year between hunting seasons?
Packaged food like beef jerky can be left for future hunts as long as the dates are checked semi-regularly. Items like paracord, a flint for starting fires, a simple skinning knife and sharpener and extra blaze-orange hats are good items for a cache. They’re incredibly useful, but not absolutely needed on each and every hunt.
Equipment like a backup flashlight or headlamp might be useful if you have to track a wounded deer’s blood trail, but batteries are susceptible to cold and might be drained when you need them the most.
Hunting can be a gear-intensive sport, but carrying too many tools with you into the woods makes you less effective as a hunter. Storing some of the “necessary”gear for later will ease the burden on your back the next time you go hunting.