2011 Hunting Checklist

By “Captain Catchem” Mark Ward.

The opening day for the 2010 Montana deer and elk general rifle season is fast approaching on Saturday, October 23. Antelope season already started on October 9. If you haven’t got your hunting gear in order yet, it’s prime time to do so and to do it now.

A few years ago, I developed a hunter’s checklist that many readers found useful. With input from other hunters, I have added to the checklist every year. As the list gets longer, I keep wondering when it’s going to finally be complete? There are just so many handy little things to take along. (I promise.) When the list gets so long that you need to pack a trailer behind your pickup to carry it all, I’ll say enough is enough!

That hasn’t happened yet, so here goes. And if you have anything that I missed, please e-mail it to me at captain@montanaoutdoor.com or drop it in the mail to: Hunting Tips, 4591 Heavens Gate, Missoula, MT 59803.

2011 Hunter’s Checklist

  • Hunting license (yes, check it again to make sure) so you can hunt when you get there
  • Cell phone in your vehicle. It just might save your life.
  • Toilet paper, small bucket, and shovel in your vehicle for when nature calls
  • 2010 sunrise/sunset tables, so you know when you can start and have to stop
  • Good pair of hunting boots and warm socks plus an extra pair of socks. There’s nothing worse than wet or sore feet.
  • Sharp knives, and a pack saw – one for the hide, one for quartering
  • Sharpening stone or steel
  • Game bags, a quarter-pound can of pepper, and a spray can of Pam to keep flies off your game after you field dress it
  • Rain gear – ’cause dry is better than wet
  • Extra clothing so you could take layers off as the day warms up
  • Plastic tarp to place your animal on when cleaning or to cover up when transporting
  • Binoculars – they give you an edge and are safer than glassing from your rifle scope
  • Electrical or duct tape to tape your license onto the carcass (after you validate it by cutting out the month and date)
  • Hunters orange sweatshirt or vest and cap – 400 square inches above the waist, it’s the law
  • Compass or GPS unit – if you want to get back to camp
  • Map of your hunting area so you don’t trespass or get lost
  • Sighted in rifle and ammo – one-shot is the best hunt
  • Ammo carrier – makes things easier in the heat of the moment and keeps your cartridges clean
  • Orange marker tape – it helps you get back to camp and can help mark the site of your kill
  • Five to 10 feet of rope
  • Small flashlight for before dawn or after sunset
  • Matches in waterproof case and small candle – it will help keep you warm if you need to start a fire
  • Energy bars – they help you keep going and are light to pack
  • A Leatherman tool – a thousand uses
  • A good spare tire, jack and tire wrench. Ever been stranded?
  • Two pairs of gloves, in case one pair gets lost or wet
  • One pair of rubber dishwashing gloves to use when field dressing your animal
  • Two one-gallon jugs of water for many uses, including washing hands and washing out carcasses
  • Sunglasses – if you get in a snow situation, you won’t be squinting all day
  • Warm cap – most body heat is lost through your head (with or without hair)
  • Also put supplies into a fanny pack: A pocket first-aid kit, small package of trail mix, small water bottle, pocket-size emergency blanket, plastic garbage bag (cut armholes and head hole and you have a rain proof vest) small packet of fire starter, short piece of nylon cord to help drag game out, waterproof matches, a throwaway cigarette lighter, and an extra set of vehicle keys.
  • And finally, a camera – a picture is worth a thousand tall tales


Bio:  Mark Ward, aka Captain Catchem, is a Missoula resident and radio broadcaster on KGVO. Listen in on his Montana Outdoor Radio Show on Saturday mornings. You can also read Mark’s columns on  www.montanaoutdoor.com. When he’s not knee-deep in a trout stream or perched in a tree stand, you can catch him blogging regularly for Make it Missoula, too.