Deer Hunting Essentials: Don’t go into the woods without them

It is getting close to that time of the year again—hunting season! But before we head out let’s make sure the rifle is zeroed and clean, double-check the season dates, buy my license and make sure that the state hasn’t changed any regulations, lastly we have to check on the other gear. 

While there are a lot of gadgets that are targeted towards hunters to help bring in that trophy buck, this article will not focus on those, but rather what you really need.

Before we get into the details I want to stress one point: check the local laws.  Read what the state’s wildlife management says and abide by it. The game and fish department’s regulations are there for a reason—to ensure game for generations to come and for your safety.  Hunting is not a right, it is a privilege that can and will be taken away if you break the laws. Ok, I am getting off my soapbox.

Also, I’d like to preface this list by reminding you to check the weather before you go out. If it’s wet, bring a parka or waterproof or water resistant jacket. If it’s cold bring an extra layer because it may get colder than expected. Point being, dress for the weather.

What you should always have on you

The following items are not dictated by weather, they are, rather, essential for the hunt and they should fit well in your pockets, backpack or a fanny pack.

License with tag and a pen – This is pretty self-explanatory but also don’t forget to have a photo ID with you as well. 

Large caliber handgun when hunting in bear country —This is a must if you hunt in bear country.  I prefer a single action revolver in 44 Magnum (Note: check your state laws about carrying a pistol while hunting.  There can be some grey area concerning concealed carry and open carry if you are hunting on public land).

Extra Ammo — Enough for a full reload, or if you’re using a magazine-fed rifle, an extra magazine.

Four-inch, fixed blade knife — If you bag a deer you have to field dress it quick.  Be sure the knife is sharp before you leave the house, but in case you forget, a small sharpening stone is also handy to have (I like EZE-LAP’s stones).
Gerber fixed blade knife.
A Good Pocketknife — If your big knife gets dull you have a backup. Plus it’s a versatile tool.

Small Compass — Just in case. Be Prepared, Boy Scout’s motto.

Emergency Poncho — For those unexpected showers. A small, light one.

25-Foot Nylon Cord — There are a ton of uses for nylon cord.  If you need to string up a kill, fix a bootlace or have to build a shelter, this can save your ass.

Matches (or Lighter) in a Small Ziplock Bag — Another just in case.  Weather turns wet and cold and you are wet and cold, build a fire! Or light up a cigar to celebrate a successful hunt (don’t forget the cigar). Maglight LED XL50

Insect Repellant Lotion — Use unscented because an unnatural scent may spook a deer (Note: the liquid kind is more prone to leaking). However, this can be left out when it is too cold for the bugs.

Flashlight — A Mini-Mag light with an extra battery does the trick. 

Water —Stay hydrated, not thirsty, my friends. Camelbaks work great. 

Cell Phone — Be sure that it’s off or on silent though! Some have GPS, or if you run into some kind of trouble, God forbid, you could call for help.

Extra Key to the Truck — All I am going to say is that I learned this lesson the hard way. Best to store it in different spot than on the keychain with the other key.

For new places…

In addition to the items listed above, if I am going someplace I have not hunted before I carry a few extra items.  This will require me to carry a small backpack or a larger fanny pack.

Map — One for the area you will be hunting.  The local U.S. Forest Service office will usually have them or can tell you where to get one. Your local sporting goods store should have them too. Water purification tablets.

GPS — A lot better than a compass. Not a requirement, but if you already have one bring it. 

Water purification — I find that the little tablets work best, sure a pump will give better tasting water, but they are bulky for this application.

Survival/Space Blanket — This is another just in case.  These blankets are small and light. 

Food — The high-energy bars or some trail mix.

Toilet Paper — Yes, you can use leaves, but if you have room bring the real thing.  Keep it in a Ziploc, if you have to start a fire in the rain it could come in handy too. 

Final thoughts

These are the things I like to carry with me.  I will admit that I don’t always carry everything.  If I am hunting from a cabin and only going a few hundred yards I might take some water, ammo and a knife. But when I am hunting from my truck and going to be out from sunrise to sunset I always try and go prepared.  The little bit of extra weight can save your ass if and when the unexpected happens. Stay safe and happy hunting.

Photo credit: Hunting BC Forums

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