The Rabid Survival Kit

photograph and text by Steve Vose

From time to time, I will be asked by family, friends and sportsman specifically what is in my hunting season survival kit. Usually this initial question will be followed by additional questions asking specifically why I carry each item and what items I consider most critical.

The first thing I stress to people is that for a survival kit to be completely effective it needs to be a direct match to your personal needs and the challenges you are most likely to face. While some items will remain unchanged (matches, compass, whistle) other items may need to be removed or added based on the specific climate, expected conditions, environment and circumstances. For example, my truck kit contains a snow shovel and tire chains, my mountaineering kit contains a SAM splint and avalanche probe, my ATV kit contains a tire inflater and tow cable, and lastly my guiding kit contains flagging tape, extra clothes and extensive list of first aid items.

It takes close to thirty days to starve to death and three days to die from dehydration. Considering these timetables, it is highly unlikely you going to starve to death or expire from dehydration in the Maine Wilderness. In Maine, if you are lost, your biggest concerns should be centered on dying from injury, extended contact with the elements or a combination of both. To protect yourself, you need to have the tools to defend against wounds and/or exposure.

The last point is to understand survival is hugely mental. If you believe you will live there is an excellent chance you will. With this in mind, it is essential your survival kit contain a few items designed to support your mental condition.

Water Resistant Florescent Orange Pouch – Some of you might recognize the old pouch in the above photo as the original L.L. Bean “Survival” pouch. Years ago, these handy zippered pouches with a convenient belt loop were provided to any person who successfully completed Maine’s hunter safety course. Over the years, L.L. Bean eventually discontinued the program but a few of these original workhorses are still kicking around. Drop me a comment if you are still carry one of these!

Essentials – Items that you should never enter the woods without.
1. Spare Compass – Most important is not to get lost in the first place and if you do get lost find your way out. If your primary breaks, have a back up.
2. Whistle – If you are injured and can’t get out, make sure others can find you.
3. Lighter – A fire is needed to stay warm and dry. Fire also will provide mental solace through a cold, dark night.
4. Waterproof Matches – If the lighter fails, a back up is critical.
5. Space Blanket – Insulating blanket that reflects 90% of your body heat back to your core.

First Aid Kit – Items to stop bleeding in a small cut or severed limb.
6. “First Aid Manual” – Should you be on the ground unconscious and bleeding to death, hopefully someone reads and understands how to save you.
7. Small Knife – Cutting clothing to fashion slings, bandages, etc. (Quite honestly, I have never found much use for small knives in survival situations. However, the large hunting knife I carry on my belt all season is an extremely functional survival tool.)
8. Ace Bandage (Self Adhesive) – Quickly secures bandages over gaping wounds.
9. Duct Tape (Wrapped around Film Canister) – Provide additional support for Ace Bandage. Small pieces can function as band-aids.
10. Super Glue – Small cuts on hands unable to hold duct tape (may remove).
11. Ten Feet Paracord (Attached to Whistle and Compass) – Functions as a tourniquet. Can also be used to tie knots for mental stimulation, fix a busted bootlace or secure poles for shelter.

Things to Save Your Hunting Day – It is important to remember its a survival kit but also doubles as your “support” through the hunting season.
12. Four Safety Pins – Bust the zipper on your hunting jacket. Splinters.
13. One Cough Drop – Coughing uncontrollably and scaring all game for miles.
14. Two Hot Hands Packs – Frozen hands and/or feet tempting you to go home early.
15. Toilet Paper – Fire starter, mental stimulator?
16. Three 12 Gauge or Springfield .30-06 Shells – Fire starter, signaling device, food collector.
17. Hooded Emergency Poncho – Stay dry and comfortable even when caught unprepared.
18. Water Purifying Drops – Got dry throat and not want to contract beaver fever?

Mental – Designed to occupy your mind and provide comfort.
19. “You Alone in the Maine Woods” – Full of practical advice to help you survive, doubles as a fire starter, splint for a busted finger.
20. Three Beef Bouillon Cubes – Three days worth of salty goodness.
21. Glow Stick – In a downpour with no hope of starting a fire? The glow will spark your internal fire and lighten your spirits.

Marked for Future Removal – These items have been in my survival kit for a long time and since they take up little space I have allowed them to stay.
22. Tin Foil – Drinking cup
23. Film Canister filled with Fishing Line and Small Lures – Fishing
24. Razor Blade – Back up for knife
25. Wire Saw – Cut poles for shelters

Be sure to drop comments on other materials you carry in your personal survival kits and if you have other thoughts, opinions and ideas on cool or interesting ways that the items in my kits could be used in a survival situation. Thanks!