This is not about getting lost (I never get lost because I never go more than 15 feet from the road). Rather, it’s about losing equipment, and while it may not be the most scintillating blog post I write all year, it will probably be the most useful.
Looking back on the stuff I’ve tried out so far this year, it occurs to me that much of it was designed by people who have never lost anything because they’ve never been in the woods. Or anyplace else except an office. Take knives. There is a great rage now to equip fixed-blade knives with ballistic nylon sheaths lined with hard plastic. This is because it looks tactical, is much cheaper and easier to work with than leather, and is harder to punch through than leather, thus eliminating a source of lawsuits. All this is fine, except the knives fit in the hard plastic so loosely that they rattle like castanets.
The only thing holding the knives in these sheaths is a snap which, with a favoring wind, might restrain an enraged butterfly. Snaps pop open when they brush against something, or you bend over, or they feel like it. And then there’s nothing to keep the knife in the sheath.
Scandinavians, who have been making sheath knives for over 1,000 years, do not put up with this crap. They make pouch sheaths that swallow knives almost completely, and even cheap pouch sheaths work very well.
Look at binocular straps. Some of them are very simple and very strong. Others have more parts than a 30mm chain gun, including lots of those cute little prongs that connect the different parts of a strap. Eventually you’re not going to connect the prongs correctly, although you will think you have, and you’ll watch your binocular fall down the face of a cliff.
Moral: When you buy a piece of equipment, your first thought after figuring out how you will hide the purchase from your wife, should be: How can this get lost? Because if it can, it will.
Part Deux: A couple of days ago I bought a heavy-duty folder whose handle was equipped with one of those spring clips that catches your pants pocket and keeps said knife from falling out. Aside from the fact that clips shred your pockets, I don’t like the things, so I removed it. The clip attached with two tiny Torx 6T screws and I, who have every screwdriver in the world, had nothing smaller than 8T. And it took most of a morning to find a 6T.
I’ve learned from bitter experience that it’s wise to save this stuff since I may decide some day that pocket clips are the greatest invention since the 30mm chain gun, or I may want to sell the knife, and that if I’ve thrown away the clip and the two screws it will difficult or impossible to replace them.
I save them by taping the two tiny screws to the clip, because it’s much harder for them to be lost that way. I then put the clip in the box the knife came in, because it’s much harder to lose the box than the clip. Then I write on the box: “The screws are 6T Torx.” This is so when I next need this information I will not have to go on the Internet to find it. The box goes on one of three shelves devoted to odd pieces of gear.
You’ll find that if you take up shooting, you’ll eventually acquire an astounding number of small parts and tools. Many will disappear into an alternate universe reserved for small objects that you will never see again. Some you will hang onto, but you’ll forget what they’re for. Scope bases, rings, screws, hex wrenches, will all become anonymous, along with all sorts of other stuff. Then one day you will need them and end up buying others, only to discover that you already have seven of whatever it is.
Jim Carmichel had the solution. He has every scope ring and base since the invention of scope rings and bases, and they are all in their original packages in file cabinet drawers, by alphabet.
Keep everything assembled. Tape base screws to the bases. Label everything. Re-package everything. And when, in hunting camp, you need to change scopes, do it over your bunk or your sleeping bag so when you drop the little ring screws, you’ll be able to find them again.
All of this is not nearly as interesting as watching Naked and Afraid, but in the other direction lies madness.