By Martin Truex Jr., NASCAR Driver, #56 NAPA Auto Parts Car
I love my job as the driver of the number 56 NAPA Toyota race car. The adrenaline rush of speeding around the track at 200 mph feels almost like drawing my bow on a big buck.
Unfortunately, the peak of the NASCAR season occurs during the heart of hunting season, and it's difficult to fit hunting into my work and travel schedule.
One thing I've learned over the years is to be ready to take advantage of any small window of hunting opportunity. There are times when we finish up an hour or two early, or maybe I get an invite from a friend close to whichever track we're racing during a given week.
For times like that, a small, bare-essentials hunting pack is ideal.
This kit should not contain your main hunting gear. If you have enough time to plan a hunt, you have time to pack your regular stuff. Instead, think of this almost as an emergency kit - something to use in a real pinch.
A typical bare-essentials pack should include a pair of old but serviceable boots, a camo top and bottom (a set of camo coveralls is even better), a camo cap and a bottle of scent-eliminating spray. In a small plastic bag, pack a spare knife, a zip tie, a pen and field-dressing gloves. During bow season, I also include an extra old release aid, even though I keep my main release with my bow. You just never know.
Place these items in a dry bag or small Rubbermaid-type bin and keep it in your vehicle. Whatever you use, it should be airtight and waterproof to keep your gear from picking up any scent.
You'll have to change up your kit as the season changes, possibly adding a jacket or swapping out light clothing for stuff with a little more insulation.
How much clothing and gear you include in your pack should depend on how much space you have in your vehicle and how much extra gear you have. If it's so big it gets in the way, chances are you'll take it out and forget to put it back. As long as it's in a scent-proof container, it doesn't matter if you keep it in the cab, a trunk or a truck toolbox.
Of course, your emergency hunt kit is useless without a weapon.
I've sometimes borrowed a gun for last-second hunts like this, but you won't be borrowing a bow and heading to the woods. It's best not to expose a bow or gun to the extreme temperatures that can build up in a parked vehicle, so keep yours in the trunk or a lockable toolbox in the bed of your pickup. Those can get got, but not nearly as hot as the interior.
My crazy NASCAR schedule is probably not that different from your life. We all seem to be busier than ever these days, and finding time to hunt gets harder all the time. Between jobs and chasing after the kids, time in the woods goes on the back burner.
Every once in a while, though, things fall into place and you find an unexpected window of opportunity. Be ready to take advantage of a spur-of-the-moment hunt with a bare-essentials hunting kit.
Safe Driving and Good Hunting,