Go inside my blind bag
By M.D. Johnson
Believe it or not, there was a time when waterfowlers didn’t head afield armed with every piece of gear under the sun, housed in a cutting edge camouflaged catch-all known in this modern age as a blind bag. No, sir. Back in the day, we wore our calls around our necks, carried our ammunition in an old canvas shell vest, and packed everything we needed for the day’s hunt in—ready for this?—our pockets. No blind bags for us.
But things are different now. Blind bags have become almost a necessity, thanks in large part to the plethora of gear we ‘fowlers carry into the field in the 21st century. And over the past 20 years or so, I’ve found it extremely interesting, to dig deep into the blind bags of ‘fowlers around the nation and see exactly what they pack afield. Good luck charms. Pictures. Full seven-course meals … well, I might be exaggerating just a bit there. But for some folks, it’s not too far off the mark.
And, of course, there are the usual suspects—the shotshells and calls, the apparel and camouflage accessories—because, well, what would a waterfowler be without these traditional must-have items? He’d be just another strangely dressed man who’s gotten up way too early and apparently doesn’t mind sharing both his front seat and his breakfast burrito with a wet, smelly black dog.
So this week, I’ve decided to throw back the cloak of secrecy and let you kind people have a look at what I, M.D. Johnson, pack in my blind bag each and every hunt. Mind you, the items contained within vary slightly, depending on whether the target be ducks, geese, or a combination of the twain.
The bag itself
For the past two seasons, I’ve been using Rig’Em Right’s Lowdown Backpack bag. It’s bigger than what I’ve used in the past, which means I now bring more stuff into the field. However, the Lowdown is well-made, roomy, comfortable to carry and, like the entire Rig’Em Right line, designed by waterfowlers for waterfowlers.
For ducks, it’s 2¾ inch HEVI-Bismuth #5s. For geese, it’s HEVI-XII #4s over decoys if the birds play nice, or #2s if they don’t and run the edges.
I carry a selection on my lanyard, including Slayer’s Ranger Double Reed duck call, the new DUBAR Double Reed and, hanging below, the Whistler’s Mother duck whistle. On the left side, I carry Slayer’s short-reed Dagger Goose Call. I also pack a pair of flute calls for the grandkids (ages 12 and 16) to blow while we’re hunting.
A brown cotton beanie, aka the ultimate duck beanie, that I’ve been wearing and carrying afield since roughly 1993. Before each hunt, I shake the beanie in each of the four directions of the compass, thus guaranteeing a good, safe outing for everyone involved. Nah, I’m not superstitious. Maybe a little strange, but …
I’ll also have the following apparel in the bag: a fleece neck gaiter; fingerless, 99-cent brown jersey gloves; an archer’s short-bill fleece beanie; a camouflage head cover/face mask; a backup cotton handkerchief; and a second pair of wool socks.
Calories and hydration
I’m huge on eating while hunting. Huge. So I’m packing plenty of quick snacks, i.e. dried mango slices, trail mix, and 58-cent fruit pies, along with my dream lunch—a slice of Meal, Ready-To-Eat pepperoni pizza. A thermos of coffee and a full 1-liter bottle of water round out this category.
I have a lot of accessories in the blind bag: a small but quite complete field first-aid kit; a Gerber folding saw (for cutting stubble or brush); 50 feet of 550 paracord; toilet paper and Nobleman wipes; ChapStick; HotHands chemical hand warmers; a compact portable charger for my iPhone; any regulatory paperwork; a Leatherman multi-tool; a basic eye-glass cleaning kit; a second lock-blade knife; a Torch headlamp; a Hunter’s Specialties Camo-Compac (with mirror); a tiny Ziploc bag with Q-tips and tweezers; and sometimes, but not always, Maven’s compact binoculars.