Whether it’s just a knife & knowledge, or 30 kg of the latest hi-tech wizardry, all hunters have firm ideas about the bare minimum in gear needed to survive in the bush.
There are a few things that are essential when considering an extended hike in the wilderness. The list starts with good hiking boots. They will give you every chance of getting in and out under your own steam – which is the ultimate goal of the exercise. Be prepared to pay for good quality boots. You may be lucky and find a budget pair that is perfect for you.
Another item of footwear we all carry which is really useful in the tropics, is a pair of thongs each. At the end of the day when camped up it is great to relax in those and let the hiking boots air.
Water is Essential
The other essential is water. You need to be confident of finding water and carrying enough to get you between watering points. This is particularly so in the tropical north where the exertion of outdoor activity in the warmer months (not necessarily the hottest, which are best avoided) may require as much as 10 litres per person per day. In cooler climates a litre or two may be enough to get you through a day. This is an important point to note for folks not used to the tropics. What works perfectly well down south could end up killing you in the far north.
There are a number of distressing examples of just that happening to cold climate European tourists who arrived in the NT for a dream holiday and did not survive their first day due to dehydration and heat stroke.
Good night’s sleep
Close to essential is a good night’s sleep. When on an extended foot safari it is important to select a good spot to sleep each night. Look for a soft, sandy patch near a tree. In selecting the tree, its shade value is not relevant. Concern is having somewhere safe to scurry behind, or up, should a wild animal come calling. Other things to consider are making sure there are no resident ant or wasp colonies making use of the immediate vicinity. Also check for any dead branches that might fall on to you.
Sleeping on the ground need not be an uncomfortable experience. There are a few things to consider. The key is to scratch out a bit of a hollow to accommodate your hip when you roll onto your side. A light blanket is needed, even in the top end. On sandy ground a mattress is not essential. On harder ground a thin, expanding sleeping mat is most useful in getting a comfortable night. For a pillow sleep on rolled-up clothes. Alternately, if the mosquitoes are not a problem use bundled up mossie net as a pillow and let my clothes air over night.
Survival kits are a very personal item, ranging from nothing right through to some pretty extensive collections of gear. Survival kits should not be confused with your camping equipment. A survival kit is a small, compact kit that you carry with you when you leave camp to go hunting, or exploring. It is there in case you can’t make it back to camp and have to spend a night, or longer, in the bush alone. That could happen through unexpectedly bad weather, getting lost or through injury or sudden ill health. In such cases the ability to light a fire, shelter from the weather and take a dose of Panadol are invaluable, perhaps even life saving.