11 Essential Items for Deer Hunters
Russ Chastain 06.28.17
After decades of deer hunting, I’ve learned not to head afield without certain stuff. I don’t always use it all, but I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it!
Some hunters eschew any sort of pack, and I grudgingly admire those guys–a little. The rest of the time, I happily shoulder my pack whenever I head for a deer stand. I just don’t have enough pockets to tote all my gear!
Can’t live without H2O, and it also comes in handy for cleanup after field dressing a critter. And if you get cut, you’ll at least be able to wash it out.
You need a knife–always. My father’s belief was that every man should have a knife with him at all times, and I follow that credo myself. Heck, I usually have two blades in my pockets and keep a larger one in my hunting pack just in case.
It’s hard to beat a good butane lighter for making a flame in a pinch. I used to keep one or two in my pocket all the time when I was a smoker, and these days I make sure there’s one in my pack. Even when you don’t need to build a fire, a lighter is handy for checking wind direction as well as burning off loose threads before they get pulled and unravel your favorite hunting shirt.
A few feet of stout but light cordage can come in handy for many things, from dragging a deer to lashing stuff to your pack, or even rigging a makeshift rifle sling.
I generally keep two or three paper towels folded up in a back pocket of my hunting pants. I can use it to wipe off camo face paint, clean up after dressing a deer, tear off bits of it to mark a blood trail, or clean up after answering the call of nature. It also makes great tinder for fire-starting, and travels a lot better than toilet paper.
When your phone or GPS can’t get signal or have dead batteries, a good ol’ compass is a great thing to have. All you need to know is which direction will take you back out of the boonies, and a compass will get you home.
I like to make sure I have plenty of things to hurl at deer when I head to the woods. That means toting more than enough rifle cartridges, shotgun shells, or arrows with broadheads. Most of the time, a deer kill only takes one shot. But things can go wrong, and you also want to make sure you have enough groceries to erase a predator if it comes along and still be able to keep on hunting.
Glomitts or Gloves
I’ve learned that camouflaging my hands can really help me remain undetected while hunting. We move our hands a lot, and that can attract unwanted attention. In warm weather I like lightweight mesh gloves, and for cooler hunts I prefer glomitts, a.k.a. “pop-top” gloves.
Many hunters simply relieve themselves wherever they are while hunting, but unfamiliar-smelling urine can alarm deer, especially mature bucks. And if you hunt one stand often, peeing there morning and evening can really stink it up. Best bet is to tinkle in a bottle and carry it out with ya. Better safe than sorry!
Flashlight or Headlight
Whether morning or evening, it’s great to have a good light along. I have become lazy about that in this era of smart phones, because my phone’s light does most of what I need, but there’s no substitute for a good bright light when you need to see far in the dark or search for hair and blood while tracking a wounded animal.
I wish these were the only things in my pack, it would mean a much lighter pack! But these are what I’d call the essentials. Good luck, and happy hunting!