When setting up a long-term hunting camp, it’s all about the tools you bring.
The best hunting camps are off the grid and out of reach. That means they also come with a different set of rules and challenges than everyday life at home. Comfort is important, but tools for utility tasks and maintenance are an absolute necessity.
A well-planned camp is prepared to process firewood, clean and manage game, and perform basic repairs on vehicles and equipment. Tools that perform a range of functions reduce clutter and make it simple to get the job done.
A good multitool is an absolute necessity. Grab one with quality pliers to grab, twist, and bend just about anything. Work with wires, cables, and anything too rough to manipulate with your hands. Throw in a knife, can opener, bottle opener, saw, and just about everything you keep in a normal toolbox to handle everyday tasks while storing easily on your hip. The Leatherman Charge+ TTI is built for heavy-duty use works great in a hunting camp and bonus, it’s now available in Real Tree Camo.
Easy Fire Starters
We should all be adept at fire starting for emergency situations but a campsite calls for nightly fires and a cheater is handy, especially after a long day in wet conditions. An organic, matchless starter like the fire puck works equally well in the wood stove and the outdoor fire pit and it makes life easy when you want to warm up quickly. To keep weight to a minimum, you can just bring the Leatherman Signal, which also has a fire starter built in.
You could load a cord of firewood on a trailer or simply cut your wood at camp. A chainsaw is also a lifesaver when downed trees block roads and your route home. If you’re not ready to handle a chainsaw, take a quality hand saw at the least to cut limbs and firewood. Make sure your multitool has a saw on it as well, which can come in handy for smaller branches that a full-size saw would be a bit too unwieldy for.
Axe and Sledgehammer
I know these are two tools, but they really work together. The axe splits firewood and the sledge can pound it through tough rounds. The sledgehammer is also helpful for pounding stakes into hard ground. When using a wall tent or any long-term tent setup for that matter, staking it out with heavy-duty lines and stakes is an absolute necessity.
You could limit electricity to headlamps, lanterns, and basic electronics without issue. This is a hunting camp after all. Or you can carry along a portable power pack with a solar panel. Out of the box kits like those from Goal Zero make it easy to charge camera batteries and phones in camp while keeping up the batteries on portable solar panels. The larger battery systems can even power a fridge like the Dometic CFX Series for long term food storage without ice runs. You can also jump start your car, making them valuable if your battery takes a dive in a remote area.
Butchering Knife Set and Sharpening Stone
You can easily field dress with a single blade such as the Skeletool, but butchering requires a set of extra sharp blades for detailed work and a sharpening stone to keep them fine-tuned. It’s not uncommon for a few animals to come through the campsite and if you harvest one early in the hunt, why pack up early to get home? Set up a table and get to butchering right at the campsite so your meat is packed and ready for the freezer at home.
Butcher Paper and Plastic
If you’re deboning and butchering in camp, bring along a load of saran wrap style plastic and butcher paper. Fill a cooler with the finished product and take it home ready to freeze. Set aside a few prime cuts for the camp grill while you are packing everything up.
Rope, Pulleys, Carabiners
When the weather is cool, hanging meat is actually a good thing. Get the animal field dressed and transported back to camp then use a pulley and rope to build a hang. You can use the same system to hang a bear bag in areas where above ground food storage is required.
Bring along a small collapsible shovel at the least. Ideally, a full-size spade shovel is handy in your hunting camp. This one is easy to forget but is an absolute game-changer for digging fire pits, latrines, moving coals around a dutch oven, getting a vehicle unstuck, leveling tent sites, etc. A simple shovel goes a long ways towards a more comfortable and effective camp.
Pack along bulk water from home, but also bring a system to purify and stay stocked with a clean supply of drinking water. Water disappears quickly when you are drinking coffee in the morning and cooking nightly dinners. Iodine tablets work well but they do add a little bleach flavor to the water. A pump filter is also effective but is labor intensive for bulk water needs. The set it and forget it hanging bag filters like Katadyn’s Base Camp Pro will drain 10L at a time without any effort. You can refill the bulk tanks while splitting firewood, cooking or cleaning game.