First Aid In The Field

Some of you may or may not know how lucky I am when it comes to self injury. Through my Facebook posts, you may know me as the co-founder of Rocky Mountain Athlete, but unfortunately, for now I also have a real job – a fast-paced construction job where I tend to get ahead of myself. Rushing through things to get to the weekend, and constantly having elk and deer on my brain, usually leads to a loss of focus at work. My fingers have seen just about every size and style of nail, and I figure I may as well put a smile on the faces of my social media buddies with the “as it happened” photos. Things happen fast on a job site and they happen just as fast on the mountain. The difference is, a hospital is not just around the ridge of the mountain and is usually many miles/hours away.

I was in the boy scouts program growing up and my scout master was big on this subject – ‘First Aid in the Field’. He stressed the importance of knowing what to do to prevent, along with how to react and treat injuries. I have also taken a course on CPR, so I feel confident that I know what to do in most scenarios and I pray that I never have to deal with life-threatening situations.

I have allergy induced asthma and have learned the VERY hard way the importance of being prepared for something like this. You want to talk about scared? Try taking your 2-year old son on a low-paced scouting trip for mule deer and have an Asthma attack due to the heat and aroma of all the fresh spring plants and sage growing in June. I thought I was going to die, and so would my helpless son before anyone figured out where we were. Keeping a level head and not panicking can save your life. Panic can induce hyperventilating which can increase your symptoms. Staying calm is easier said than done, but when you are a long ways from help, you must keep your wits about you and think your way through things.

I am going to state that I am not an authority on this subject as I list the items I pack for safety. I may not have everything, but I have the essentials, which are basically enough to get by until you can get off the mountain and to a professional. Here is what I carry:

  • 2 Epipens
  • Inhaler
  • Ibuprofen
  • Allergy medicine
  • Small tube of Carmex
  • Lots of Band-Aids (I like the fabric type as they stay on better when wet and flex better than the others)
  • Butterfly Closures
  • Gauze
  • Medical tape
  • Neosporin packets
  • Needle & thread
  • 10′ of paracord
  • Emergency blanket
  • Cleansing/Alcohol wipes
  • Super Glue
  • Immodium AD for those not so pleasant moments from raw food or if you drink the water when you shouldn’t have!
  • Lighter, Matches – On a back country hunt I always take a magnesium rod with scraper and tinsel wood just in case everything is wet. The magnesium burns hot enough to dry out small tinder enough to set the bigger branches a blaze should you be stuck for the night until you can get to help.
  • SPOT locating device. These types of devices are essential on a back country trip, not only because you can press a button and have Authorities alerted and called to action to your exact location, but it can also give you and your loved ones peace of mind while you are away with the handy check-in features. There are even devices out now that you can interact with your loved ones, which is a nice feature to have should something devastating happen at home requiring your immediate return.

Like I said I know I don’t have everything everyone else might carry, but these are my essentials for first aid in the field. I might recommend to a younger or inexperienced hunter to carry a small “What to do” booklet in their pack as well. This one is available at Barnes & Noble or you can get it online at

Lastly, it won’t hurt you to brush up on your first aid “how to’s” prior to leaving for a back country elk hunt, just in case something happens. Like the Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared”, things always go much better when preparation is part of the routine. We owe it to our loved ones to be safe out there.


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