Karen’s Little Helpers

Hunting season essentials for when you’re not hunting

Every spring I refine my packing list as turkey season progresses. I leave behind the items I don’t use, like that second slate call that sounds similar to the first one. And add those things I really missed on the previous hunt, as in a could’ve-really-used-that-in-a-torrential-downpour rain suit.

I get by with a little help from my ear buds...and these other handy items.

This year, however, I built a list of things that are my must-haves during hunting season for when I’m NOT hunting. Stuff that comes in handy on the road, in the air and back at camp.

Enough yakety-yakking about ‘em, here’s my list of Karen’s Little Helpers…

I’m not lying, every flight I was on this spring had an irate baby on it. EVERY FLIGHT. I don’t shoot icy stares at the parents. Heaven knows that could be me one day. But there’s something about a kid crying “Mommy” that wrecks my nerves. I can’t tune it out … unless I crank up the tunes. A special thanks to Ozzy’s “Momma, I’m Comin’ Home” and the Judd’s “Mama He’s Crazy” for helping drown out the yelling. I simply pretended the screaming little banshees are backup singers.

Looking down at my feet right now, I’m in desperate need of a pedicure. Why? They spent six weeks in a pair of hunting boots. My tootsies require fresh air, so I pack a pair of platform flip-flops in my bag and wear them whenever I’m not hunting or on the gun range. They also come in handy when staying at more “rustic” camps. I’ll wear them in the shower or even just to keep my feet out of the dirt I just tracked in. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with making a fashion statement.

You travel with me? You’re gonna rock out. I spent hours DJing my way up and down interstates this spring, having a one-woman karaoke party. I simply pump my music through vehicle speakers with that swanky little cable and sing my heart out. Two of my favorite memories from this spring were a direct result of having my tunes ready to roll at the right time. 1) Watching my guide, Jimmy Wright, shake his grove thang to “Baby Got Back” after he sent out a locator call to stubborn Merriam’s in New Mexico. 2) Seeing Under Armour’s Mark Estrada show off his mad air guitar skills to .38 Special while driving to the Oklahoma City airport. Priceless.

This is one I learned the hard way. Cruising up I-77 in West Virginia, there were not one, not two, but THREE toll booths between me and my destination. I’m all about handing over the $2 a pop it takes to help them pave roads, provide scholarships or whatever the money is used for. But I only had $5 cash on me, and it put me in a pickle. Here’s an insider tip, they’ll let you through for $1.95 when you start scrounging for pennies in the cup holder.

Yes, I’m one of THOSE people who messes with her phone while waiting for a gobbler to show up. My iPhone is how I stay in touch with all of you. Facebook, Twitter, checking blog comments, that sort of thing. It is also my lifeline to my family. Having zero bars forces nature time (which really is great), but running out of battery is self-inflicted torture. Since hunters spend a good amount of time in trucks, I always bring along my charger to keep the juice flowing. And, yes, I still make a point to take in the view, stop to smell the roses, stuff like that. I also snap a picture of them and share them with you. That’s why you’re here, right?