There’s no question: prepping for a hunt is an exciting prospect. For many of us, the window of time where the local game warden allows hunting is fairly small, so those few weeks and months are met with great anticipation throughout the year. Through all of this excitement, it is extremely easy to forget your hunting essentials. Sure, you probably remembered your gun or crossbow.
The beer probably made it into the truck, too. But what about everything else you need for a successful day in the field? You want to make your time as enjoyable as possible, so don’t risk overlooking any hunting necessities. To avoid missing any hunting essentials, you need a hunting pack list. We’ve assembled just such a list. Here’s what to take hunting.
Before the Hunt
While you’re most likely thinking about the second you can point your sight at the nearest 10-point buck, your planning should actually begin long before that point. You want to stay on the right side of the law, so there are a few pieces of equipment that should always be on your hunting list.
Although it depends on your region, the vast majority of hunters will need some form of hunting license before they can lawfully capture their first animal. The details depend on your state and what you intend to hunt. It’s important to remember that you may need a different license for certain seasons, animals, and weapons. When in doubt, do your research. Nothing ruins a day faster than an unplanned fine.
Make sure your driver’s license is available and up to date as well. Many game wardens require you to ID yourself, and an expired ID or license can be a penalty as well.
In addition to your hunting license, many regions require tags to hunt specific animals. The most common are “deer tags” which allow you to bag a certain number of deer within a certain time period. The cost is often minimal, but the fines are not.
Land Owner Permission
Finally, you need to scope out where you want to hunt. Whether you intend to hunt on private or public land, you will most likely need some form of permission. If you’re scoping out a plot of private land, make sure you have the landowner’s permission to be there and hunt on the grounds. Similarly, if you’re looking at public land, make sure you have the necessary permits or passes. Keep all of this documentation with you, as you never know when someone might start asking questions.
During the Hunt
It’s the big moment and you’re finally ready to start tracking some game. Sadly, enthusiasm isn’t the only item you need. Your hunting day pack list doesn’t need to be long, but there are a few key items that can make your day a lot more pleasant.
Make Sure You Can See!
Most people would agree that it is hard to hunt if you can’t see. Make sure you bring the necessary gear to keep yourself in the clear. If you wear glasses or contacts, bring a backup set in case of damage. Bring a good set up sunglasses as well. Hunting requires a lot of focus over time with extremely varied lighting conditions, so being able to shield your eyes is key.
Whether you’re hunting early in the morning or late at night, you’ll most likely need a way of illuminating your surroundings as well. While a simple flashlight will do, many hunters prefer the hands-free convenience of a headlamp. Personally, I bring both.
Lastly, magnification is a big part of modern hunting. To this end, a good set of binoculars is an invaluable addition to any hunting essentials list. Further, while we’re at it, make sure your scope is clean, calibrated, and present. If you can see the animal you’re well on your way to tagging it.
Keep Yourself Comfortable
We all enjoy the rugged outdoors, but there is no reason to sacrifice comfort. Ultimately, a comfortable hunter will be more focused, calm, and patient. These are all key aspects of hunting.
Pack for the environment. If it’s going to be cold, hand warmers can be an invaluable mood booster. Dressing in layers is always a good idea, with as much versatility as possible. Any experienced hunter will tell you that your clothing has almost as much nuance as your weapon. Depending on your region, you may be required to wear orange apparel for safety. Further, depending on the game you’re hunting and the region, you may need to invest in scent repellent clothing. This is an area where local knowledge goes a long way. The main rule of clothing is you can rarely have enough, so ere on the side of caution. Especially when it comes to dry socks!
Don’t be afraid to take a few “luxuries.” A padded seat for your deer blind can be the difference between feeling great the next day and feeling like your back owed a Mack truck some money. Some Bluetooth earphones can pass the time on a boring stalk. And when nature calls in nature, you’ll be glad you brought some toilet paper.
Finally, don’t forget to stay hydrated and nourished. Robert Earl Keen may have been able to make it through his day on some coffee and a honey bun, but you’re going to want to be more prepared. Make sure you pack enough water and food to keep yourself well-fed throughout the day. Hunting is a lot of work, and you need the calories and water to keep up.
After the Hunt
The work isn’t over once the deer goes down. In fact, the process has just begun. Make sure your deer hunting day pack list includes everything needed to dress, transport, and clean a deer. At the very least you should bring a set of gutter gloves, a sharp knife or two, and a butt-out tool. However, a few more items can make your day go a lot more smoothly. Anyone who has ever traveled any distance post-shot without a deer drag will know the pain of that mistake, so don’t forget it. A pelvic saw can be a huge benefit as well.
Finally, you’ll need a cooler. Nothing is worse than taking down a beautiful chunk of venison only to have it spoil before you get home. Make sure you have a big enough cooler and enough ice to preserve whatever you intend to take home. Whether you keep the beer in a separate cooler is up to you – I won’t judge.
This hunting equipment list may seem somewhat meandering, and that is precisely the point. Everyone will have different essential hunting gear, and my things to take deer hunting won’t be the same as yours. The point here is to jog your memory, promote some ideas, and give you a quick overview of the type of things you are likely to forget.
Taking the time to remember the detailed items can make or break a day, so creating a hunting gear checklist is worth the effort. You’ve waited for this day, so make it the best it can be.