By Keith Murray, M.D.
This is the last in a four-part series exploring hunting safety.
The saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” has
never been more true than when talking about hunter safety. The more prepared
you are for a hunt, the less likely you are to need first aid skills. That’s
why I suggest hunting with competent individuals, knowing your gear, sending
your itinerary to family and friends, bringing a map/compass, using
pre-determined rendezvous points and packing a proper first aid kit.
When I teach wilderness first aid I recommend that you start
thinking about your first aid kit in layers.
- First layer: Keep essential items such as a map/compass,
bandana, knife, multi-tool, lighter and your cell phone in a plastic bag and on
you at all times in case you somehow become separated from the rest of your
gear. These items will help you survive an acute emergency long enough to
extricate yourself from a bad situation.
- Second layer: In a small bag, carry items including water,
headlamp, garbage bag, storm matches, paracord, space blanket, whistle, duct
tape, safety pins, mole skin, small plastic baggies, a tourniquet, basic wound dressings, energy bars and medications that may be needed in an emergency (epi-pen, benadryl, albuterol MDI).
- Third layer: This can be kept in a vehicle and is designed for
multi-casualty and extended duration survival situations. This layer includes MREs, water, sleeping
bag, signal mirror, snare wire, water purification tabs, butane lighter,
prescription medications, pen/book, full medical kit, saw, warm clothing,
If you are serious about spending time in the woods, consider
taking a wilderness medicine first aid course or a standard basic first aid
course. Also, carry a stocked first aid kit into the field with you. And
there’s no need to buy prepackaged kits, which are often overpriced and lacking
in quality gear. There are many
excellent websites that offer ideas on how to set up a field first aid
kit. It's worth your time and effort to
peruse multiple sites and build a kit that is best for you and your given
What kinds of first aid gear do you carry with you on a hunt? Tell us about it in the comments section below.