Sponsored by: Dead Down Wind
Fall is finally here, bringing with it endless opportunities to venture beyond the confines of our homes in search of great outdoor adventures. For many of us, that outdoor adventure leads us straight into the woods!
This deer season is in full swing but depending on your environment it’s never too late to inventory your gear and make changes, especially when you live in a region experiencing drastic temperature swings. You may find yourself hunting our great state of Texas in bibs and a park one morning and in a t-shirt the next; the challenge is creating a base inventory prepared for anything, then simply change out additions; in my home I actually separate my hot, cold and mild temperature clothing and equipment. Being a bowhunter also presents some unique requirements; bulk is always bad in bowhunting.
Here is a short list of MUST-HAVES. Regardless of seasons or temperatures, these items are ALWAYS a part of my basic gear list:
- Hunting License: It’s simple, without it you’re either hiking or poaching. Make sure you have it at all times!
- First Aid Kit: Accidents are never planned but you can be ready when one occurs. Investing in a basic first aid kit with dressings, antibiotic ointments, tourniquet material, rubber gloves, etc. should never be an afterthought; it should be a first thought! This is also where I keep my matches or a lighter and a couple fire starters on extended hunts. Use the rubber gloves or carry extra to ensure you are protected during first aid and also during field dressing. Don’t forget to replace them!
- Compass or GPS: Many companies offer great GPS units; the Bushnell BackTrack is my personal favorite and in my humble opinion, hands down offers the easiest interface. Smartphones also offer GPS capabilities nowadays; Trimble Navigation, Ltd. offers great GPS apps such as Trimble Outdoors and Cabela’s Recon Hunt; however, what do you do when your GPS or phone battery dies? Always keep a compass in your gear. Even when using a GPS, remain acutely aware of your direction of travel with a compass. On extended hunts I actually safety pin a small compass to my outer layer of clothing.
- A Good Knife: Every seasoned hunter agrees a good quality, sharp knife is essential to your core inventory of year round hunting equipment. A knife can be useful for an array of survival tasks, as a weapon, and is almost always necessary when the blood tracking ends and the real work begins. Knives can be changed out depending on seasons; you may not carry the same knife on a turkey hunt as you would for a big game hunt but you still carry a knife suitable for your hunt. I’m a huge fan of Real Avid Knives – the Turkey Tool for turkey hunting and Revelation for virtually everything else. I am never without a knife!
- Quality Optics: High quality optics are critical when watching trails, glassing at long distances, ranging yardage or putting a pin/crosshairs on that sweet spot. Enough can never be said for quality optics. My personal choices are Alpen Optics Rainier 10×42 binoculars for virtually all on the go observing and glassing and Alpen’s 788 spotting scope for the vast expanses where my spot and stalk hunting typically begins on four wheels. I also use Alpen rifle scopes. For the money and the warranty they are at the top of the premium heap for a fraction of the cost. Their multicoated lenses and durability have offer a view and confidence in any condition that is seldom matched. For my bow and shotgun I use TruGlo sights and I also include a rangefinder in my optics list. My current favorite is the Bushnell Bowhunter – Chuck Adams Edition rangefinder. In case you didn’t catch it, my “focus” is on premium optics at blue-collared bowhunter prices!
- ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellant: ThermaCELL’s mosquito repellant unit is so diverse it deserves its own category! I’m not alone when I testify that I’ve never received even a single mosquito bite while using ThermaCELL. Beyond the obvious and uncanny, mind-blowing, success of the bowhunter’s best defense from those pesky mosquitoes, a ThermaCELL unit is great when used as a cover scent. Whether you use the new Earth Scent or original chrysanthemum scent, ThermaCELL does a great job covering scent; even better, when used with the ThermaSCENT applicator on a ThermaCELL unit allows third party cover scents, attractants and scents to be dispersed incredibly effectively. Beyond the basic gear every hunter agrees on, ThermaCELL is first on my list of gear that stays with me year round.
- Scent Control Spray: As much as bowhunting depends on your scent and the wind, you should always carry some semblance of a scent control substance. A good product to carry is Dead Down Wind’s (DDW) Scent Prevent Pac-It; small packets of DDW’s highly effect concentrate; the packets allow you to carry a spray bottle of virtually any size. Mixing the packets with water allows you to refill your spray bottle on the go. Dead Down Wind is different from other scent control products in that their unique formula uses proprietary enzymes that break down scent molecules to eliminate scent.
- Your Bow or Rifle and Arrows or Ammunition: We all have an objective when we hunt – to bring home meat. Without these necessities you’re just window shopping! My personal favorites are my Bowtech Invasion CPX, a CZ-USA Model 3 chambered in .300 WSM and a Browning Maxus 12-gauge semiautomatic shotgun; in Mossy Oak Duck Blind, of course!
As a general rule, I consider the seasons, prey and weather forecasts to dictate equipment I add to the mix. In Texas, I dress in layers and may carry a lighter backpack, or even a fanny pack while, if hunting the great and cold expanse of western Montana, I might use a completely different pack system and outerwear before challenging high altitudes and temperatures as low as 40 below zero. Use your inventory as the foundation of planning your hunt then add necessities required to hunt according to that plan.
Hunt hard and hunt often.