When I was a kid back, my mom owned the local auto parts store with a full stock of hand tools. Every spring the farmers would file in the door to buy their annual restock of tools, which were lost or otherwise misplaced from the season before. This was an annual event in our store. It was proof, of course, of how valuable a good complete set of tools was. It still is today.

Every time I drive into deer camp, I have my tool bag. In the past, practically every deer hunter in camp would laugh at the big satchel full of tools - that is until they needed to borrow one. Sometimes I would delay permission to use them just to make a point. If I had to retrieve the tools back, that dude was off the loan-to list.

Now I see two others with hefty tool bags or boxes when they unload their gear. Tools are important in deer camp, too.

Nobody expects a breakdown in deer camp, but of course it is eventually a natural course of events. It may be some tuning on the lawnmower or bushhog, a stuck lock, tightening bolts on a tree stand, a plumbing repair in the camp house or an installation of a new accessory on the ATV. A gun scope mount or ring might need some attention or any number of other things to repair, replace or install requiring a decent set of tools to accomplish the job.


The minimalist tool kit

"A basic tool kit for the universal outdoorsmen does not have to be a master craftsman's rolling cabinet of tools that would make Mr. Goodwrench blush," says Gary Adams, handyman for Spring Lake Farms Hunting Club in Holmes County. "Start with a good set of screwdrivers both flat blade and Phillips in several sizes. Always seems that screwdrivers are the first to be used and abused, often because they are called upon to perform tasks outside their designed purpose. So be it, just replace the ones you twist, bend, break the tips or twist smooth. Good screwdrivers are as basic as it can get.

"Have at least one pry bar or an inexpensive long-handled big flat blade screwdriver. Buy a good claw hammer with a rubber grip handle. An extra ball peen hammer is good, too. At least two types of pliers are needed, one regular and one needlenose. Have a decent 10-inch adjustable monkey wrench and some open end/box wrenches in a range of standard inch sizes."


The deluxe tool bag

Besides the basics mentioned above, just a few extra items can really complete a dandy outdoorsman's tool kit. Add a box cutter with a retractable blade. Wire-cutter pliers will always fill their value again and again. Get a good steel roll-up tape measure. Put in a small stiff paint brush for brushing dirt off things. A good D-cell flashlight always comes in handy.

A roll of black electrical tape is essential. One roll of masking tape always gets used, as does the proverbial roll of duct tape. Put in a selection of pull ties in different lengths and strengths. A tube of super glue, plastic glue and a bottle of wood glue is an option. A can of PVC pipe glue might be a good idea, too. Add several pairs of heavy duty latex gloves.

"I have in my tool kit one bag each of various nails, about two dozen, and likewise a selection of wood and metal screws in assorted sizes along with a few bolts, nuts and washers to help fix things," adds Adams.

If you really want to go ultra-deluxe, then add a set of sockets and a socket wrench in both inch and metric sizes. If your bag or box is big enough, add a pipe wrench and a large adjustable wrench. A set of hex-Allen wrenches is a strong contender. A Vise-Grip in two sizes is a nice idea, too. They are great for clamping and breaking loose tough bolts.

If room allows, a small can of WD-40 will always have use. Add a can of regular 3-1 type oil, gun oil or like lubricant as well.


Types of tool totes

Just about everybody has their own favorite idea for a tool box. A metal hinged-top type with a take-out top tray is pretty standard. They can carry a lot, but tend to get banged up, dented and scratched, or eventually succumb to rust. Still they are a good choice for a practical sportsman's tool box.

I use a canvas type "wide-mouth" bag with a zipper top. The inside has numerous pockets sewn along the sides and ends of the bag. There are extra pockets on the outside as well. When the top is pulled open, even large, longer tools fit easily into the bottom. The dual-carry handles are easy to grasp and distribute the weight. Each to his own I say.

Of course, all this sounds so common sense and simplistic. Well, it is, but then again, common sense is in short supply these days, especially among the newer generation of hunters. When the emergency arises, it is naturally too late to worry about not having a few tools and items at hand to put together a quick fix until a full repair can be accomplished later. So, spend a little time and a few bucks to assemble a basic tool kit for hunting, fishing, camping and other outdoor adventures. Then don't forget to take it along with you.