I’ve been using Hill People Gear products in my work in various forms for a number of years now. For my part I have yet to find a better source for truly well designed outdoor gear and I’ve slowly replaced all my existing gear with HPG stuff.
Today I’m going to be talking hunting gear, and while we’re a ways away from deer season, it’s best to consider these things early and sort yourself out before you head out for some Bambi or Porky.
So what makes HPG special? After all, there are probably 300+ gear companies out there that are all trying to do the same thing. I find that HPG is one of the very few that are actually doing their homework, and it shows. As a result, they are the only gear brand I use now for serious field work.
No gear I’ve ever tested comes close in terms of materials, craftsmanship, and execution, and believe me, I’ve seen them all or close to it. In my opinion, there is just no equal. I’ve had name-brand gear and packs literally fall apart in one season, but my HPG gear looks new even after years of use in some of the worst possible conditions.
The folks at HPG are actual outdoorsmen, not just people that make a tacticool getup that appeals to wannabe LARPers and gear junkies. This is reflected in the design of everything from the straps and buckles used to the type of zippers HPG chooses.
Their products can be used for tactical use and athletic training if you choose, and I personally wore HPG hear in a Rhodesian setup when I ran the 2020 Wolverine 5K. It was probably the best performing equipment I took to that event. The rest of it, including my guns, were terribly mismatched to the competition, but I made due with my mistakes and it was a fun time.
Where the true functionality of their packs and gear comes in, though, is in the hunting field. I find that many times I am in remote areas and, even while hunting medium game like whitetail, there is no good way to get the animal out of the field.
As such, I came to deeply appreciate the modularity of HPG packs and developed a mobile butcher shop that I can use to remove an entire deer from just about anywhere.
I’ve been using the Decker Pack Frame combined with the Decker Pocket and Pack Bucket to carry my rifle hands-free. You will also notice the stock cuff on my 450 Bushmaster, which is also an HPG product.
This setup allows me to carry in an 18” bonesaw, a large TKC Architect Field Buddy semi custom knife, extra ammo, a camp setup with emergency shelter, game bags, a drop cloth for butchering on the ground, baby wipes (probably the most handy thing imaginable), paper towels, water, a first aid kit, a sleeping bag, poncho, dry socks and under layers, a headlamp, and more small items.
All this is fairly light and I can use this assembly to pack out all the meat from a large deer. This last season I was out solo and this pack was invaluable for moving individual deer over a great amount of land.
I ended up killing a deer at 35-45 yards (hard to say; I didn’t have time to use my rangefinder) using my custom 1911 in .45 ACP with an RMR attached. Two shots and the deer was down directly in front of me as I sat on the edge of a field.
For those of you who think you need a blind to hunt, you’re missing out on the thrill of handgun hunting in the open. You need nerves of steel and the awareness of a wolf to go undetected in a totally open space. They come up fast and leave even faster, so you have to be ready!
This deer was a good example because I was far from my vehicle and the temperature was rapidly dropping. It took me 30 minutes to remove all the major cuts on the bone and get in there for the tenderloins.
The deer was about 200 lbs on the hoof and my pack with all the meat and gear loaded was about 100 lbs. I usually average about 1/3 of the weight into meat, so I could approximate about 60-70 lbs I had to move in addition to my gear and rifle, which had not been used.
It was admittedly heavy, but by that point I was used to it. I ended up contacting HPG with some photos and they informed me that I had actually packed my meat out wrong as far as ideal weight distribution, but it was dark and I was tired after a few days in the field.
The Decker assembly is prime for group hunts as well, not just deep field use. I typically go to private land with some buddies and we sometimes leave the butcher pack at the truck or one of us takes it in a coin toss.
The ability to be fully cleaned up and have clean equipment packed up with the meat is huge and we end up going from deer to deer to simply pack the meat out and scoot. This saves us tons of time and effort as we don’t have to bring a truck down or drag an entire animal out of a brushy area.
I like using the Decker pack assembly more as time goes on. It’s a perfect pack assembly for use in multi-day hunts or for roving hunting trips where camp needs to be taken down and put up at each stop for the night. The ruggedness and utility of this and other Hill People Gear products makes it so that I have complete confidence when I know I will be experiencing a rough stay on hard ground.