Here is the winning entry from the MuleySlayer/Badlands Summit Pack Essay Contest. Everyone was asked the simple question – “What does backpack style hunting mean to you?” The responses were tremendous but one stood out above the rest. Congrats to Jacob Hacker for winning the contest with his essay that best embodied why a pack is among the most important hunting items you can carry with you.
“All hunting seasons are over now here in Ohio. As I write this I look at my pack and I’m reminded of the importance and symbolism of this piece of equipment. The hunting pack is symbolic of an escape. Just looking at the pack hanging in the hunting room reminds me of times I’ve spent in mountains, canyons, and valleys all over the world with nothing more than my rifle and pack. A pack can fulfill all the requirements of my 1000 square foot home. Food, water, shelter…I can carry it all on my back and enjoy God’s creation. The hunting pack symbolizes the latest and greatest technology and at the same time connects us with our ancestors who packed their entire lives on their backs chasing the mighty American Bison. The pack symbolizes a universal language spoken by hunters all over the world. The pack symbolizes survival. When filled and carried, the pack is the comfort and safety of home. When it is hanging in the trophy room, the pack is a photo album filled with memories or success, failure, and hope for next year.
To a new hunter, a hunting pack symbolizes the pinnacle of hunting achievement. The youth see a pack as a plethora of gadgets, gear, and time tested survival necessities. The pack is cool! To an experienced hunter, seeing a good, well-worn pack in a fellow hunter’s truck or home is a secret handshake- “Hey this guy is for real”.
My packs say a lot about me. One has been mended and I can tell a story for every stitch. I have a memory for every zipper that doesn’t match and every clip that has been replaced or held together with duct tape. There’s a small hole in the side of one where I let a friend use it as a shooting rest on a group hunt. Needless to say he didn’t quiet have the barrel all the way across the pack. Sure I could patch it, but that was his first deer and boy was he proud. That hole symbolizes a new hunter, forever enrolled in the brotherhood of pack hunters.
My pack is a symbol of friends, mentors, and heroes that have gone on. Many of the men I looked up to in my youth are gone. Age has taken its toll on others. I can look at the gear I’ve chosen and see their teachings and guidance in it. On my wall is a pack from one of my heroes, my great grandfather. His rucksack from WW2 is a symbol of his life and the ultimate sacrifice many have made. He hunted with that pack often and I learned that a pack doesn’t have to be flashy if it does the job. While I’ll never be a war hero, I hope to make an impact on young and old hunters alike, and when I’m gone, hopefully someone will look a pack and remember hunting with me!”