Unfortunately, I’ve found that most hunters go into the field unprepared for a medical emergency — that is, they don’t carry the right supplies in their hunting first aid kits.
When it comes to first aid kits for hunting, less is often more. Because extra gear and heavy equipment weigh down your pack, it’s vital to ensure the items you have on hand are truly essential.
So, what should every prepared hunter carry for outdoor emergencies? Below, you’ll find a comprehensive list of the lifesaving items we believe you should bring out to the field. You can get them all in Montana Knife Company’s portable Med Kit.
The Best Products for a Hunting First Aid Kit
The SOF-Tactical Tourniquet is a lifesaving device that can temporarily stop uncontrollable bleeding. Designed by an American combat medic, it’s made of durable nylon, which can withstand the elements, and is a top-tier addition to all hunting first aid kits.
A SOF Tourniquet applies pressure to a punctured artery against the bone to stop active bleeding. To use a SOF Tourniquet, hold your thumb on the buckle, place it on the affected limb, grasp near the buckle, and pull hard. Once the tourniquet cinches around the skin, grab the lever, twist until the bleeding stops, and then secure it.
We recommend pre-sizing your tourniquet to fit the smallest limb you’d need to use it on one-handed, like an arm. The SOF Tourniquet should not be placed on a joint, on a shoulder, or directly near the wound. Rather, it should be placed two to three fingers above the wound.
MKC’s Med Kit comes with one tourniquet, but most medical professionals recommend carrying at least two on a hunting trip. Instead of purchasing your tourniquet from Amazon, buy it directly from the manufacturer or from a medical supplier.
Hyfin Vent Chest Seal
If a stick, bullet, arrow, or other sharp object creates a puncture wound in your lung cavity, that wound will become a “vacuum.” In other words, air will enter through the hole instead of through your mouth. The lack of air exchange can be fatal, so it’s essential to seal puncture wounds in the chest cavity (anywhere between the neck and belly button) as quickly as possible.
Each MKC Med Kit comes with two Hyfin Vent Chest Seals. Apply a chest seal on a puncture wound by locating the wound, cleaning the puncture wound with the gauze that comes with the chest seal, centering the seal over the injury, and applying the seal.
Robertazzi Nasopharyngeal Airway
The Robertazzi Nasopharyngeal Airway (often called the “nose hose”) is used to secure the airway. It’s inserted into the nostril and pushed through to the back of the nose to create a pathway for air to travel through. Only use it if the casualty isn’t breathing or is unresponsive.
As fast as you can, insert the Robertazzi Nasopharyngeal Airway into the back of the right nostril at a 90-degree angle until it sits behind the tongue. When the tool is completely inserted into the nostril, make sure you can feel the patient’s breath to verify the airway is open.
Quick Clot Dressing
If you cut or puncture your skin in the field, the first thing you need to do is stop the bleeding. Quick Clot Dressing (or gauze) is covered in a claylike substance that reacts with the blood to speed up the clotting process. It’s designed for major bleeds where a tourniquet can’t be applied or for a pressure dressing after removing a tourniquet.
When applying a Quick Clot Dressing, find the source of the bleed (whether it be a punctured vein or artery) and apply the gauze to it directly while maintaining pressure on the wound. Once the injury is packed, you can use the compression bandage in your MKC Med Kit to keep the Quick Clot Dressing in place.
Mini Compression Bandage
If you or someone you’re hunting with gets a cut or gash, you can use the Mini Compression Bandage to cover and secure the wound, just like you would with an ACE elastic bandage. When you’re done wrapping the bandage, feel for the patient’s pulse to ensure the dressing isn’t cutting off their circulation.
You can also use this compression bandage to create a pressure dressing, which you would apply to a wound that isn’t severe enough to require a tourniquet or wound packing, but has enough blood flow to require more pressure than wrapping the injury as explained above.
Eberlestock Inditak Pouch
The Eberlestock Inditak Pouch is a convenient, durable carrying case that all the MKC Med Kit lifesaving medical items come in. It can be carried or mounted on your hunting pack and comes with a Velcro “tear away” panel so you can quickly grab the entire pack in an emergency.
The pouch is organized so you can access the most necessary items first when time is of the essence — like the tourniquet and dressing to stop the deadly blood flow of critical wounds. You can also add other things to your pouch, like Band-Aids and pain medicine.
First Aid Kits for Hunting: Final Thoughts
Most hunting first aid kits don’t include items you would need to save a life in an emergency. The MKC Med Kit is designed to follow the tactical combat casualty care protocols of the acronym MARCH — massive hemorrhage, airway, respiration, circulation, and hypothermia. Those are common injuries that can kill you quickly, in that order.
Whether you use the MKC Med Kit or another option, make sure your hunting first aid kit addresses the MARCH acronym with an effective tourniquet for a massive hemorrhage, a nose hose for the airway, a chest seal for respiration, and other tools for additional life-threatening injuries.
If you want peace of mind that you’ll come back from your next hunting trip in one piece, pick up the MKC Med Kit beforehand and bring it with you into the field.