It is jokingly said that the predator hunter is from a different species of hunters. A true die hard predator hunter usually has multiple weapons that are tricked out just as a car enthusiast has tricked out vehicles. These unique firearms will consist of some of the finest optics made available and items such as silencers, suppressors, bipods, and even thermal imaging devices just to name a few. These types of accessories are what hunters use as must have tools for success. A serious predator hunter has to eat, sleep, and breathe the sport of predator hunting to be able to make countless stands all throughout the year only stopping to turkey or deer hunt for a few weeks,then it is right back to the grind. To be able to do this, the hunter not only has to have the best gear that can withstand the abuse, they also have to carry a few must have items with them at all times to be able to rebound quickly from those unexpected fails that unfortunately happen when hunting.

A few years ago, I was the host of a cameraman seeking footage for a predator hunting show. Our plan was to spend 2 days hunting from daylight to dark to try to capture as much on film as possible. On the first day we were headed to a spot where I have had success in the past, while walking across an open field, I caught my foot in a briar that was hidden in the tall grass. I tried catching myself, protecting my gun, and tried not to drop my electronic caller all while going head first into the grass. Even though my first thought was how embarrassing, my cameraman asked if I was ok, and if my gun was ok. After a quick glance over, I told him everything was fine and I suggested that we keep hunting. It wasn’t until a few moments later that I realized a chunk of metal had been taken out of my scope.  Since we were in the middle of a hunt, there was no way to check to see if the gun was still in line, except to sit it on a large rock on the side of a hill,step back to 50 yards and shoot off of my shooting sticks. This was not the most accurate way, but at the time and under the circumstances, that is all I could do.

Accidents to equipment are one of the most common things that can keep a hunter from being successful. When firearms are loaded and unloaded out of vehicles, they unfortunately get banged around causing them to shoot off of the mark. Another common mishap takes place when traveling, bumps and vibrations occur when a vehicle is going down the roadways and can also happen at airports as luggage gets thrown around. It is widely known amongst traveling hunters, that weapons need attention when unpacking out of traveling cases. Learning from my own personal mishaps, I have now started to carry a few items that could possibly save the hunt if my weapon was to get damaged. I like to think of it as a larger sized first aid kit for the hunter. The first item is the MTM High-Low Shooting Table. Having a solid shooting surface is always key in accurately sighting in a firearm even in a spur of the moment situation. This table is lightweight, and packs away easily enough to carry in behind the seat of a truck. The High-Low Table adjusts so that one can shoot while sitting down or while standing, making it perfect to sit up virtually anywhere. The second item is some type of sand bag or vise that can hold the firearm solid when sitting on a table.The only way to truly take human error out of the equation is with a solid surface and a solid rest. The next thing to have on hand is a small bag of tools. This bag consists of a variety of sizes of allen wrenches, a screwdriver with multiple styles of bits, and a multi tool or pliers. This allows to repair a scope or gun parts if they are unexpectedly moved. Also remember to pack a variety of different paper targets to zero in for exact tuning. The last item to have is a rangefinder to be able to zero in at exact yardage. Lately, I have been using Nikon’s NEW LaserForce Binocular/Rangefinder combo, this model of optics has the rangefinder built into the binoculars which allows for one less thing to have to carry.

Nothing is more aggravating than being on a hunt and a simple mistake or accident cutting that hunt short, causing the hunter to have to return to camp or even as far as having to end the hunt completely. If a hunter stays prepared for most situations, they can quickly set up a portable shooting range, fix the problem then return to hunting like nothing ever happened.

Another method of being prepared is preventing a problem before it happens. For example, after an eight hour drive from southern Missouri, I arrived at  Rut N Strut Guide Service in western Oklahoma for a 3 day predator hunt. The night that I arrived, it was already several hours after sunset and was the night before our hunt was scheduled to begin. The next morning I was intrigued as our guide demanded that we all shoot our firearms before we hunted. It would have been easy to just get up and go hunting. Instead, we set up our shooting table and we each took multiple shots to confirm everything had survived the trip.  Two out of the four hunters in attendance had to make adjustments before hunting.This was a perfect example as to why the guide suggested checking our gear after traveling. The next 3 days were spent walking several miles through the flat red dirt land that is found in western Oklahoma. My firearm stayed in line throughout the entire hunt resulting in several coyotes being harvested.

If doing as we did on our Oklahoma hunt, such as checking our equipment before hunting, or when the least expected mishap happens in the middle of the hunt, having the tools to keep the hunter spot on with his or her equipment is a must to be labeled as a die hard predator hunter. Being ready in any situation is what puts more fur in the shed by the end of the hunting season.

Heath Wood has been published in many major hunting magazines, websites, and blogs for over the last 15 years. His favorite topics include deer, turkey, and predator hunting. Wood has also appeared on Bass Pro Shop's Outdoor World TV, Hunters Specialties' The Stuff of Legends and the popular DVD series Cuttin' and Struttin', as well as the NWTF's Turkey Call TV. Heath enjoys helping introduce newcomers to hunting.

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