Deer season is well underway, and seasoned hunters [should] have all of their gear ready and waiting for their next hunt. What if you’re new to the hunt? Perhaps a friend has invited you to hunt with her this weekend, or you’re going camping with some friends and might have the opportunity to sit in a stand on the property. Whatever the case may be, if you need to get your gear together and aren’t exactly sure where to start, we’ve got you covered!
Here is your list of essential hunting gear that will get you well on your way to bagging a wall-hanger.
First things first – your weapon of choice, plus ammunition. Whether you’re bow hunting or rocking a rifle and scope, make sure you know the ins & outs of your weapon. I say that for two reasons. One: safety first – always. Two: The few moments before you take a shot at a deer is not the time to forget where the safety is located or if you’ve lined up your crosshairs correctly for the distance. For instance, I know for a fact that my rifle is dead accurate up to about 175 yards. Wherever I place the crosshairs is exactly where that bullet will hit. Shooting at anything farther away means I need to aim a little higher, since the bullet will start to drop past a certain distance. When it comes to ammo, it’s a good rule of thumb to take a little more than you think you need. You might miss a deer early on in your hunt (more on that shortly), but have another opportunity a few hours later. If you’ve already spent your bullets (or arrows), you’re out of luck!
The second item on our list – camouflage. Deer might not have the best eyes in the world, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they can’t see you at all. Their sight is based on movement, and boy can they catch the slightest turn of the head, particularly if you’re not well-camouflaged. It’s a lot easier to appear to be a tree’s leaves bustling in the wind when you’re camo’ed appropriately. Otherwise, you’ll put that deer on high alert and likely send it bolting back into the woods and out of range.
Now, there are plenty of outfitters that sell women’s hunting clothing, so you’ll just need to find what fits you best/works for your budget. I’m incredibly partial to Prois Hunting’s entire line of outdoor performance wear. Outdoorswomen are their sole focus, and you’ll find durable, good quality clothing & accessories that [at last!] doesn’t have pink on anything. Under Armour has a great line of hunting wear, as well.
If you’re in a warmer climate, particularly the muggy South East, a bug suit or ghilly suit can be the ideal choice for covering up – the leafy exterior mimics your wooded surroundings, and those pesky mosquitoes won’t leave you covered in bites.
Along with your camouflage clothing, a hat, facemask, and gloves are equally as important. Even if your hands are concealed behind the stand’s covering, when you go to raise your gun/bow, in the right situation they can stand out like lights against the rest of your camouflaged self.
It’s always a good idea to minimize your scent when hunting, and scent control spray will do just that. Whether you need to combat your body’s reaction to being covered head to toe in camouflage in 95 degree heat on a September afternoon, or that “fresh linen” laundry detergent you used to wash your shirt, just assume deer can smell it. If a deer can’t identify the scent, odds are that they won’t like it and will steer clear of your area. Scent control can also go a long way in preventing your odors [whatever they may be from] from wafting too far.
So you’re camo’d out and ready to hunt. What other gear should you take?
I [almost] always take a backpack or waist-pack with me, whether I’m in a fixed stand or a climber. Yes, waist-pack = fanny pack, but it’s a lot less 1980s when its camouflaged and only holds your essential hunting gear. I keep a bungee cord in my pack for the times I hunt a climber or any stand that doesn’t have a lot of space. It’s an easy way to strap my pack to the outside of the stand or to the tree and keep it safely out of my way. It is not a good feeling when you scare a doe away because your backpack fell 15 feet onto a bunch of crunchy leaves below.
To go in your pack: Binoculars & a rangefinder. Binocs allow more light through their optics than our eyes, so they can help you see better during the pre-sunrise and post-sunset hours. Similarly, a rangefinder could make or break your hunt. You don’t want to miss a trophy 10 point buck because you misjudged the distance! I actually missed a doe recently (twice, but who’s counting?) because I thought my 310 yard shot was closer to 200 yards in the early morning light. Wrong! If I’d used my rangefinder, I might have a deer at the processor right now.
Lastly, a flashlight is something you don’t want to forget. Far too many scenarios are made much less painful simply by having a flashlight. Early morning hunts and dark evenings deep in the woods mean you have a pretty good chance of walking right into a pine tree or tripping over an oak’s protruding root. Don’t make the mistake of trying to shimmy 20 feet down a tree in a climber without a source of light, because you were too stubborn to come down earlier. Not that I’ve done anything like that (recently) of course. Additionally, if you wound a deer and have to trail it, a flashlight will make it much easier to identify those hard-to-find blood trails.
Now that you have everything you need, all you have to do is get out there and hunt! Spending time in the stand, and the woods in general, is the best way to learn more about the age-old art of deer hunting. Once you start, I bet you’ll be hooked!
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