Not every hunt ends with a harvest. But we should always be prepared to take great care of the meat when it happens. That begins with building a complete kill kit. Your kill kit should be with you at all times. If the weather is warm, you’ll need to begin processing immediately. And you can’t always count on making an extra trip back to the vehicle to grab your processing equipment.
Since you’ll be carrying it around throughout the hunt, your kill kit should remain as lightweight as possible. But don’t skimp on quality items – particularly critical pieces like knives and game bags. As you prepare for your next hunt, assemble a kill kit that allows you to take meat from the field to the freezer with maximum efficiency.
Here’s a quick look at what we carry in our hunting kill kit...
It’s probably no surprise that we begin our kill kit with game bags. Meat preservation is the cornerstone of Caribou Gear. Ours are the only patented game bags on the market. Synthetic fabric, maximum breathability, lock loops and light reflection make them invaluable for all hunters. What’s more, they are lightweight, durable and washable. With good care, a set of Caribou Gear game bags can last for years.
We have game bag sets designed for species from antelope to moose. Whether you take quarters bone-in or bone-out, and whether you hunt from a backcountry camp, base camp or ATV, we have an ideal game bag set designed for your style of hunting.
A quality set of game bags is a critical piece of your kill kit for several reasons. Most importantly, it allows you to remove the hide immediately so that the meat can begin to cool quickly, while still keeping protecting the meat from dirt, flies and other contaminants.
Another obviously critical piece of the kill kit is your knife or knives. Everyone has a slightly different approach. But carrying the sharpest, highest quality blades is mandatory on a hunt. We personally choose to carry Havalon knives with plenty of spare blades. They are extremely lightweight and ensure you are always cutting with a surgical edge. Havalon knives are affordable and have quickly become the preferred choice for many hunters.
Fixed-blade skinning knives still remain popular and sharpening frequently while field dressing an animal makes everything easier. Take your favorite blade into the field and keep it razor sharp while processing meat.
If you’re using Havalon or any other replaceable blade knife, consider carrying a very small, lightweight set of forceps. This makes it easy to swap out blades without ever putting your fingers on the blade itself. These surgical blades are extremely sharp and it’s important to use them with extreme caution.
Here at Caribou Gear, we designed our game bags out of a need for a better product. The same is true of our Hunter’s Tarp. We wanted a tarp that was durable enough to withstand years of hunting abuse, yet still ultra lightweight to carry every day in the field.
The Hunter’s Tarp has become an essential part of our kit and it serves more than one purpose. Lay it on the ground to create a clean surface where you can lay quarters or debone meat. Next, use it as a backpack liner to keep from getting blood on your pack. And finally, it’s an ideal field shelter for long days of glassing or to wait out a storm. This do-it-all tarp weighs a mere 4.6 ounces even with the four included stakes.
It’s easy to underestimate the length and quality of paracord needed in the field. Hanging quarters, tying off bags and lashing meat or antlers to packs requires the good stuff. We are talking about thin yet strong cordage that doesn’t weigh down your pack. We carry a high quality, 7-strand 550 paracord that can be used for everything from hanging meat to creating guy lines for tarps or tents. We also carry pre-made lashings that can be used to hang game bags or quarters in camp. Having these lashings ready to go saves a great deal of time in the field.
Hunting License and Pen
There’s no better place to keep your hunting license than right there in your kill kit. That way, you always know where it is and you’ll be immediately reminded to notch and sign your tag when you get out the rest of your processing equipment. Along with the license, throw in a pen so that you can sign your carcass tag in states where it’s required. Be sure to follow the state-specific tagging requirements wherever you’ll be hunting
Finally, don’t forget to round out your kill kit with a few important accessories. We always carry a few zip ties. These can be useful for attaching the carcass tag to the animal or for attaching ID tags to your bagged meat. You may also want to include some latex gloves for field dressing and a couple of small wet wipes to clean up when you’re finished.
Storing Your Kill Kit
What should you use to carry all of these items? It’s largely personal preference. But we’d recommend an ultralight, water-resistant nylon bag. Alternatively, a gallon-sized ziplock bag can do the trick. On backcountry trips where weight and space is at a premium, you could even vacuum seal your kill kit. Whatever you use, make sure it’s something that goes in your pack every time you take to the field.
By Zach Lazzari & Ryan McSparran