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The Essential Deer Hunting Gear List | Bare Bones, Gotta Have It

The Essential Deer Hunting Gear List | Bare Bones, Gotta Have It
February 15, 2022

By: Tyler Mieden from Okayest Hunter

If you are new to deer hunting, it can feel overwhelming trying to figure out what you need to take out into the woods for your first hunt. Do a search on deer hunting gear, and you’ll get bombarded with lists that include flashlights, deer attractants, folding saws, various packs, calls, optics, etc.

When you start adding up all of the cost of those items, you might feel your wallet starting to strain. I’ve been deer hunting for 20 years and own a few of those items now. However, I can attest that many are nice-to-haves, but not necessities.

The list below is the deer hunting gear you’ll need before setting out this coming season. It is what I consider to be essential to a more comfortable and successful hunt. As a note, this list is meant to be agnostic, whether you are planning to use a bow or a gun.

Deear Hunting Weapon

Whether you are using a bow or gun, having a proper fitting and accurate weapon is a necessity. Having the appropriate setup will allow you to make a more efficient and lethal shot leading to a quicker kill and easier recovery of your deer.

Rangefinder for Whitetail Hunting

Speaking of making accurate and lethal shots, nothing can make your bullet or arrow stray from your intended target more than misjudging the distance. Insert a trusty rangefinder to alleviate that issue. A rangefinder is particularly important if you are bow hunting.

Proper Hunting Clothing

No matter if you are hunting in the midwest, northeast, or down south, having the right clothing is going to make your life as a hunter so much more enjoyable. Do you need the most expensive camo or orange on the market? Absolutely not. Do you need a proper layering system to keep you at the appropriate temperature for the climate you are hunting? Yes you do. Layering will allow you to cool down if you get warm or warm up if you get cold simply by adding or removing layers.

Quality Hunting Boots

If you want to splurge on an item on this list, boots would be the item I’d choose. Having quality hunting socks are the perfect compliment to quality hunting boots and in my opinion, they go hand-in-hand. Perhaps its because I’ve had numb toes or blistered feet more than I’d care to admit, I’ve found that taking care of your feet is vital to your hunt. Plus, I don’t wish numb toes and blisters on any fellow hunter. My personal recommendation is the best pair of boots you can afford (with lots of thinsulate if you hunt colder weather), and quality wool socks.

Hunting Knife

This one is pretty self explanatory. When you harvest a deer, you need to be able to dress it in the field. I prefer to use a set of gutting gloves when I’m field dressing a deer, but I know plenty of hunters who still use their bare hands. I’ll leave that decision up to you.

Treestand or blind

Can you hunt from the ground? Absolutely. Will it improve your odds to conceal yourself in a blind or up in a tree as you learn how to hunt? More than likely. That’s why utilizing either a ground blind or a treestand makes the list. Once you know the terrain you’ll be hunting, you can decide what is the best fit for your future hunts.

Hunting License

This one is a no brainer, but please remember to take your license into the field with you. Not only is it the law, but you’ll want it on hand when you are stopped by a game warden.

Food & Water

My first deer hunt I had a fried spam sandwich on buttered wonder bread as a snack. There are days I want to recreate that, but then I throw food I enjoy into my pack - apples, sugar laden granola bars, cookies, etc. If I only have time for a short hunt because I’m sneaking out of work early, I’ll forgo snacks, but if I’m sitting for more than 3 hours without anything to drink or eat, I’m miserable.

Phone and/or Compass

Why is your phone an essential piece of deer hunting gear? It makes the list because it provides the time of day so you know when legal shooting hours are, provides a light when you are hiking in or out of the woods in the dark, and likely has your license information and gps pin of your stand and/or truck. Those are all important things when deer hunting. If you are in an area with little to no cell service, a compass is a must have.

As you hunt, you’ll find what works best for you from a deer hunting gear standpoint. There will be non-essential items that become essential because it makes your life as a hunter that much easier. My advice: go out and hunt as much as possible. That’s the best way to learn.

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