Practical Go-To Gear


A headlamp serves many purposes when both hands are
needed for any task. Mark carries this Bushnell Power
500-lumen headlamp in his pack wherever he travels.

Most of us handgun hunters are always searching for a better “mouse trap.” We want the sharpest knives, the most accurate handload, the most comfortable backpack, the highest quality optics we can afford, top-shelf boots, and other necessities that may enhance our hunting experience. It seems like I’m never satisfied or at least always considering a better or improved system.

Sitting in a deer blind for hours provides plenty of time to ponder on a lot of things in life. One afternoon while hoping and waiting for a big buck to appear, my thoughts drifted to gear. I was mulling over what equipment needed replacing, what I really needed, and what I could do without. The sun was setting, and legal shooting light was fading. Only a handful of does and fawns stepped out into the food plot. About the time I was calling it quits for the day, gathering my stuff to head back to camp, my buddy texted me. Steve, a lifelong friend, was hunting nearby and shot a nice buck right at last shooting light. He asked me to come over and help recover the deer. Then I realized the importance of one piece of gear — lights!

A battery-powered lantern provides necessary light in a hunting camp or tent where electricity is not available. This Bushnell Rubicon features different settings depending on your needs at the time.

When You Really Need A Light

By the time I made it over to Steve, it was dark. Steve had forgotten his flashlight, so I had the only means of illumination — Bushnell’s Tactical 1,500-lumen rechargeable flashlight. It’s fairly light, and the 1″-body diameter doesn’t take up much room in my pack. This flashlight features two settings, high and low, and uses one Bushnell 3350 Lithium battery or two CR123 batteries. The 1,500 lumens are bright, and fortunately, we found blood in the leaves not far from where Steve stated he shot the buck. His Encore pistol in 6.5×284 did a number on the buck, and we found him within 60 yards — thanks to a good light.

You might suggest we leave the deer overnight and make the recovery in the morning when we have good daylight. In my part of the country, if you leave a deer overnight, the coyotes will take advantage of the fresh meat, and the next morning, you will recover a clean rib cage, some bones, and hide. Your tasty venison will be demolished! You may not need a good light all the time, but when you need one — you really need one!

We loaded the buck and drove back to camp. After hanging the dandy 10-pointer on the skinning pole, we dived in and started skinning the deer. It was uncharacteristically warm, and we wanted to get this meat in a cooler in order to ice it down overnight. After working my way through college in a meat processing plant, guess who gets to do all the skinning? Now I needed a headlamp, another necessity. Earlier I had procured Bushnell’s Power 500-Lumen headlamp. The flexible headband can be easily adjusted. This light uses a power-lithium polymer battery or three AAA batteries. Loaded with practical features such as high, spot medium and spot low, you can adjust settings for whatever chore is at hand. It also comes with additional settings of flood high, flood low and red modes.

Bushnell’s Tactical 1,500-lumen flashlight is a handy tool when recovering game or other nighttime chores.

Master The Dark

Often, I hunt alone, and in many cases, mature bucks don’t step in the food plot until the last few moments of legal shooting light. After the shot, it is dark by the time recovery is made. Here’s another circumstance where the headlamp comes in handy — field dressing. You’ve got a sharp knife in your hands and can’t see well; Band-Aids will be necessary if you’re not careful.

Have you ever found yourself in a tent or hunting shack without electricity? In the past, I’ve been in all sorts of environments while hunting, including caves. It’s frustrating stumbling around in the dark. When I stub my toe on a table leg or some other structure and yell curse words in five different languages, it’s time to find a light! Yes, a headlamp will suffice. However, recently, I’ve been using a 300-lumen lantern from Bushnell. The Rubicon runs on four AA batteries. It features a high mode transmitting 300 lumens, low with 13 lumens, flood with 24 lumens, and one lumen on red. This neat little lantern is fairly compact and light. When the generator goes out for the night, the lantern comes on and keeps me from fumbling around in darkness.

Practical gear may fluctuate on different hunting trips, but good lights will almost always be needed at some juncture. Regardless of what you carry in your pack, always make room for a good light or two.

Subscribe To American Handgunner

Purchase A PDF Download Of The American Handgunner May/June 2024 Issue Now!