Sometimes the simplest items can make the greatest impact on your hunt. Take the humble, plastic garbage bag. What? You don’t pack along garbage bags during your hunts? This lightweight, yet waterproof, invention from our Canadian neighbors serves a long list of roles in the field. Use a garbage bag for any of the following, and you’ll wonder why you haven’t tucked more of these polyethylene products in your pack in the past.
Sit on It: A garbage bag provides a waterproof barrier between you and Mother Earth when she’s moist. If you don’t want to pack a weighty chair or cushion, you can pull one of these insubstantial items from your pack and sit down as you wait for a buck to approach. Take two and spread them out for a prone placemat, and you can get up after a coyote stand without being soaked from snow or dew. Although they may be a bit too noisy to cover the wet cushion of your treestand on a still morning, they’ll do the trick when the wind rustles the leaves.
Line With It: Garbage bags were created in 1950 to contain the nastiness of our everyday lives. Using them to keep outdoor goop away from you and your gear is where they over-perform. I first started using the nearly weightless wonders to store coyote hides while hiking back to my truck. They kept blood from soaking into my pack and prevented rogue fleas from hitchhiking on me.
Soon garbage bags accompanied me on all my hunts to wrap capes, cover skulls and line my pack for hauling bloody meat. On muddy ATV rides into the backcountry, use a garbage bag to cover your backpack to keep it clean; cover your gun or bow case with several for the same purpose. After the ride, let the bags dry, shake off the mud, and they’re ready for another day.
Wear It: How many times have you opted to not carry heavy raingear only to find yourself getting soaked in the middle of a surprise downpour? Duck under a tree and pull a garbage bag out of your pack. You can hunker with the bag draped over your back, or cut holes for your arms and head to wear the bag. Rain or snow sheets off the bag, and the barrier traps body heat to keep you warm. You can also use bags for emergencies where you need to bivvy overnight and stay warm. Sit on one, put your legs in another, and wear a third as a jacket to help get you through the night.
Move Game With It: I’ve incorporated garbage bags into my hunting strategies to prod game my way. On an archery pronghorn hunt I had two waterholes to watch. To aid in moving pronghorn to the one I was watching, I parked my ATV next to the other pond and left a garbage bag dangling on the handlebars. The afternoon breeze ensured it would rustle, creating enough persuasion to make my waterhole the first stop. During a whitetail hunt the deer were using two trails near my stand. On the farther trail I constructed an impromptu scarecrow from limbs and dressed it with a garbage bag. It worked … maybe a bit too well as the deer bounded past me too fast for a bow shot!
These are just a few examples of the many ways garbage bags can be helpful. They take up almost no room in your pack, and they can save the day—or at least make things cleaner and more comfortable. And of course, don’t forget a garbage bag makes a great receptacle for any refuse you may create in the course of your hunt.