Deer Hunting Pack Checklist: Must-Have Gear for Hunters
A detailed, comprehensive look at what gear and equipment every whitetail fanatic should throw in their packs before hitting the deer hunting woods
If your deer hunting pack has the space available, why not take advantage by tossing in a few additional essential items and backup gear? Hunt long enough and one day you'll be glad you were prepared. (Jeff Phillips photo)
Before your next hunt for whitetails, take a few minutes to make sure you have the following items tucked away in your deer pack. Yes, there are a lot of items listed, but it’s always better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it; time in the deer woods is precious – don’t waste it.
- Quality safety vest or harness: This is just common sense. If you forget to pack one, don’t even climb up to your stand; hunt from the ground or leave to go get one.
- Wind checker: Though the weatherman told you the wind was going to be out of a certain direction, don’t fully trust his forecast. Occasionally checking wind direction is critical when hunting an educated buck.
- Face mask and gloves: Use camo for elevated hunting and black for ground-blinds, unless you’re required to wear blaze orange. Also a good idea to pack different weights for those days with big temperature swings.
- Extra bow release (bowhunters): Spring falls out, strap/buckle breaks, lose or forget your main release; this is one item that can absolutely ruin a bowhunter’s day. Just like the second-string quarterback, make sure the backup gets some practice time.
- Small set of tools: Allen-wrench set, screwdriver set, small crescent wrench and electrical tape for those you-never-know times. Hunt enough and you’ll be glad those items are in your pack at some point.
- Rangefinder with extra battery: Remember, a rangefinder is just for ranging deer. Once settled into your stand, start ranging trees, rocks or whatever is around to get a feel for the different distances. If you get surprised with a monster buck standing by a rock you know is at 28 yards, grab your bow, not the rangefinder.
- Binoculars: Many hunters pack overkill binos. There’s nothing wrong with a set of quality, compact 8x42 binos. Pack binos you can easily handle and gets the job done.
- Treestand utility rope: You probably already have one hanging from the treestand but take a backup just in case.
- Foldable handsaw and small pruners: There’s always that one limb you missed when setting up the stand location for hunting.
- Toilet Paper and plastic urine bottle: Pack the toilet paper in a plastic sealable bag, also make sure your chosen urine bottle has a good, leak-proof cap.
- Scent-elimination spray and field wipes: If sitting all day, it’s a good idea to spray and wipe down once in a while, especially on warm days and after a snack.
- Flashlight with extra batteries: LED lights with multiple modes are good options. Both handheld and headlamp styles are helpful in different ways.
- Reflective trail-markers and roll of orange marking/flagging tape: Good for adding a few additional markers as needed on entry/exit routes, also good for tracking deer.
- Rattling and grunt calls: Pack the ones you have practiced with, nothing new just pulled from the package.
- Bow and gear hangers: These are cheap but invaluable tools. Good have several in different sizes.
- Water and a snack: Water in plastic bottles is fine but they are noisy. Protein bars, candy bars and packages of nuts make great snacks.
- Sharp knife: Two knives are better than one and having a sharpening device sometimes comes in handy.
- Field-dressing gloves: Let other hunters in deer camp say what they want; at least your hands will be clean.
- Large thick-wall garbage bag: Will help keep your deer pack bone dry during a pop-up shower or rain storm.
- Lightweight packable rain suit or poncho: These are small and do not take up much room in a pack; they are good to have, even if you are wear waterproof hunting clothes.
- Soft lens cloth and glass cleaner: Keep together in a small sealable plastic bag for cleaning lenses on binoculars, scopes, glasses and sunglasses.
- Small medicine and first-aid assortment pack: In a small sealable plastic bag, keep some meds for headache, nausea and allergies, some bug-bite or -sting ointment, and a bandage or two.
- Mobile phone power: Smartphone apps have become important tools for hunters. Maps, peak hunting time calendars, camera for photos and videos, games to pass the time, taking selfies while on stand, checking game-camera photos, listening to football games and text messages to hunting buddies are all part of the hunt for many. An external battery pack and/or a solar power source are good items to have. Don’t forget to pack a charging cord.