It was a chilly November night in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. I was back at the house cleaning my gear and washing up after successfully recovering my first kill with a bow. My emotions were still settling from roller coaster ride of adrenaline, concern, anxiety, relief and reverence that accompanies every kill. I was washing my knife in the sink while reflecting on the events that had unfolded during the past few hours when I slipped and ran the blade down my right index finger just above the last knuckle. I wasn’t spraying arterial blood or anything but I was bleeding enough that it was both annoying and a little concerning given that we were a ways away from the nearest hospital. And I use the term hospital loosely.
After 15 minutes of tinkering with different combinations of contents from our run of the mill first aid kit us the bleeding still would not slow. I eventually found success by packing the wound with coffee grinds and wrapping it in paper towels and duct tape. I’m not sure if it was the coffee being absorbed directly into my blood stream or the fact that I had just successfully harvested my first buck with a bow, but I did not sleep at all that night. While I lay awake I decided that it was probably a good idea to keep a more robust first aid kit on hand.
The more I researched this idea the more it seemed to make sense. What shocked me when I asked around was how few hunters seemed to take this particular piece of equipment into consideration before they go into the woods. I don’t want to criticize anyone but whether you are a hunter or any other type of serious outdoor enthusiast you are likely spending a fair amount of time in the wilderness, some distance from any first responders, using or at least carrying some assembly of sharp instruments, surrounded by wild animals, and partaking in activities that exhibit a higher probability of injury than the typical desk job. With all of the gear you are likely carrying (and posting on Instagram, let’s be real) why wouldn’t you include a few extra ounces of first aid equipment that could potentially save your life or that of a loved one?
Now I am in no way an expert on first aid and trauma care but having spent a lot of time hiking, biking, and hunting my way through the woods I have incurred and observed my fair share of injuries. So I thought it worthwhile to share the contents and rationale behind my personal kit. If any of this registers with you on any level we provided links at the bottom of this article which will direct you to websites of actual qualified professionals.
I hunt primarily in the heavily wooded areas of the north east. The components I selected are all based on things I either wish I had in the past when myself or someone I was with got injured or what I foresee as my most likely future needs and applications. I also make it a habit of only packing equipment that I am actually proficient with. I don’t really see myself needing to perform an emergency tracheotomy anytime soon (and I don’t even know where I would begin) so I don’t pack the equipment to perform that procedure. Because I lack expertise in this area I chose to keep my kit minimal with the broadest degree of application should I have to help a hunting buddy with anything from blisters and bruises to more serious lacerations. So let’s dive in…
(Not Imaged) H Bandage– Bigger than a Band-Aid and easier to apply. Trusted by militaries around the world.
Trauma Sheers – To be honest, they were on sale when I purchased the first aid pouch but the more I’ve considered their use the more I am happy to have them. If you’re hurt badly enough to need to remove clothes you’re probably going to be a little shaken up. You don’t need to add a knife wound to your list of injuries.
Celox Hemostatic Gauze – For when Band-Aids won’t do... Pack the wound, let the doctors remove it later. It’s one of the most effective hemostatic dressings on the market and comes in a small, light package.
RE Factor Tactical R.A.T.S. Tourniquet – This is a controversial one. More and more military, police, and other first responders are carrying them so they must be good for something. The old school of thought is that if you apply a tourniquet you’re going to end up doing more damage than good and need the limb amputated. Well the average human being can bleed out in under 5 minutes so you make the call what is more important to you? How bad do you need that limb when you are dead? I’ll take the prosthetic. Sidney Smith, A.K.A. @Try_nofeet seems to be doing just fine. Plus that is only in the worst case scenario when the doctors aren’t able to revive and repair the limb. Now another nock against tourniquets that I’ve heard from a few hardcore backwoods hunters is the claim that they can just fashion a tourniquet out of a shoe lace, or something along those lines. I don’t know about you but if I am bleeding out I don’t feel like racing to untie my shoes. Maybe I am just not as tough as those guys but I like to keep things stupid simple especially if I have to conduct a task under stress.
Latex Gloves, Neosporin, Mylar blanket, Duct Tape, Para Cord – All of these items can be utilized in a multitude of first aid and survival applications. Google any one of these and you’ll no doubt find page after page of usages. Given that these items can all be carried in compact variants that fit nicely in our kit why not just include them?
Angel Medical Pouch – For those of you unfamiliar with Dark Angel Medical they are a veteran-owned and operated business who provide trauma/first aid information, training, and equipment to everyone from military to civilians so they can be “by-doers” rather than bystanders if bad things happen. This particular medical pouch which they produce can be attached to vest, backpack, belt or other piece of molle compatible equipment. The pouch itself is roughly the size of a large sunglass case and is designed so that the contents can be easily extracted with a single had. The main compartment accomplished this via a large cordura tab used which when pulled opens the main compartment revealing a long strap designed to sit below the kits contents so when it is pulled they are all pulled out similar to the fabric tab which sits under the batters in your remote. The kit also has an external pouch with Velcro cover and 3 rows of molle webbing on the sides for including additional components or accessories.
We love this kit. Thanks to its small size we’re able to easily take this with us pretty much anywhere. Throw it in a work bag, backpack, center console, or whatever. It’s been around the world with us and thankfully we’ve never needed its’ contents aside from a few Band-Aids, Neosporin, and duct tape which were lifesavers (no pun intended) on several occasions where blisters would have made our treks reallllly annoying.
We hope this has helped you because we think this is a crucial subject. Even if you don’t see an application for a med kit in your expeditions we encourage everyone to seek at least a basic knowledge of first aid training. We all have people who rely on us and we can’t control when things go bad. If you drive a car, walk down the street, cook, clean, or exist on this planet for long enough you’re unfortunately probably going to need emergency medical attention at some point or another. We don’t hope for it but it does occasionally happen. Why not prepare yourself in the case that it does.
If you are interested in any of the above products of would like more information on training we encourage you to visit the companies below.
We’d also like to point out the Red Cross holds nationwide training events at an affordable rate which can be attended by pretty much anyone. I’ve even heard of employers sponsoring these trainings for their staff so it might be worth reaching out to your bosses.
Hope this helps. Stay safe everyone.