The key to a successful hunting trip is making sure you are prepared. Whether you are a seasoned hunter or about to go on your first trek, there are basic essentials you should consider taking with you when heading out into the woods.
Before you begin packing your gear, you need to make sure you meet the demands of the state where you plan on hunting. Each state has its’ own education requirements which may include proof of completion of a hunter safety/education course before purchasing a hunting license.
You may also want to visit your state’s department of game and inland fisheries website to determine what the qualifications are for residency, as well as other licenses, permits or stamps needed depending on what and when you are actually going to hunt. There may also be specific licenses required depending on the type of weapon you use.
Once you have all your permits, tags, and licenses, be sure to carry them with you while you hunt. You will need to be able to present your documents to any officer who is enforcing the game and fishing laws. Don’t forget to have a pen handy so you can mark your tags as necessary.
What is Essential Gear for Hunting?
Each hunter has their own preferences as to what they consider “essential” for their trips. Some are extreme minimalists, preferring only to carry their weapons and the basic tools to retrieve their game. Others visit a hunting camp where everything they need is in the shelter, and the hunting blinds or stands are not too far away. The adventurists may be preparing for weeklong excursions and want to have basic survival kits, shelter and cooking utensils to keep them going.
We’ve compiled a list of suggested items to bring with you that will prove useful no matter what group you fall into.
The first thing you’ll want to determine is what you are wearing. Most hunters prefer wearing camouflage jackets, vests and pants, while also wearing a bit of orange to keep you visible to other hunters. If the weather is cold, you’ll want to wear dry-wicking base layers to stay warm and consider rain gear if you’re planning to hunt, rain or shine.
Finding a good pair of boots should be a top priority. You’ll want to choose a pair that is waterproof, and that fits comfortably with thick wool socks to ensure that your feet stay warm and blister free. Try the Danner Pronghorn Waterproof Hunting Boot from Chief Supply. They are lightweight, durable, and have a breathable lining for your comfort.
Other accessories can include facemasks or face paint, gloves with and without fingertips, and scent remover spray to keep your scent neutral. Regardless of the type of hunt you are doing, always bring an extra pair of wool socks and gloves in case yours get wet. You’ll never regret having a dry pair ready.
First Aid Kits / Survival Kits
You can never go wrong packing first aid items. While you may think you won’t need them, you cannot predict an accidental cut, tripping into a hole, or even falling out of a tree. Even the most careful hunters can hurt themselves. Suggested items to include are alcohol swabs for cleaning cuts, antibiotic cream and different size bandages, moleskin to help prevent blisters, aspirin or ibuprofen, SPF lip balm, and wet wipes to clean off blood. If you have extra room, packing an ACE bandage might be a good idea if you’re doing a lot of walking in an unknown area.
Another recommended item? Toilet paper. You can’t help when nature calls so it’s better to be prepared than to find some soft looking leaves.
If you’re going on a longer trip or into unchartered territory, adding a survival kit to your gear is a must. While you think you won’t get lost, or that you’ll leave before the sun goes down, you may find yourself in a situation that requires you to hunker down for the night.
Smart items to include are a survival blanket, a tarp, waterproof matches and a lighter, a fire starter such as cotton balls soaked in Vaseline (and stored in a plastic bag), hand/feet warmers, rope or a parachute cord, extra batteries, and emergency food supplies.
At Chief Supply, our Life Gear Lifepack is perfect for hunters, combining a three-day supply of food and water with a first aid kit and many other items that you’ll find useful when you’re out in the woods.
Many hunters have favorite spots where they prefer to hunt. Perhaps it’s a blind or property they know well. Others may choose to take a trip to a state they’ve never been to hunt game that’s not readily available in their neck of the woods.
Whatever the situation, having something to guide your way is a necessity. Maps, compasses and GPS units are all handy tools to keep on you. A situation can change at a moment’s notice, and darkness can often disorient a hunter. Having these tools can help guide you back to shelter or a main road quickly.
Check out Chief Supply for all of your compass needs.
Ultimately, the purpose of a rangefinder is to determine the distance between you and your target. By figuring out the correct distance, you’ll be more likely to get a clean shot, keeping you from just wounding the animal. Rangefinders also allow you to be farther from your target. If you’re too close, all it takes is one snap of a branch and your target is on the move. By setting up farther away, the rangefinder still allows you to dial in close for that perfect shot.
When shopping for the perfect hunting rangefinder, keep in mind size, weight, and affordability. At Chief Supply we have options that include binoculars, compasses, and rangefinders, making it easy for you to get the most bang for your buck.
Getting started before dawn is common practice among hunters, and many stay out until dusk or later. Common sense says that a high-powered flashlight will help you get to where you want to go.
If you’ve field dressed a deer in the middle of the night then you know that a simple Maglite isn’t going to be enough. Trying to keep a flashlight steady in your mouth just isn’t practical, and that’s where a headlight comes in handy.
When choosing your flashlight or headlamp you’ll want to keep in mind things like weight, power, and durability. The lighter the better considering all the other gear you’re carrying. The more lumens you have the more light you’ll receive, and making sure your light is water repellent is necessary for any hunting done in rain or snow.
Rope or Parachute Cords
Google paracords and you’ll find a multitude of things you can do with it for general purposes as well as hunting. It can be used as a towrope, a fire starter, an emergency arm sling, a duck call lanyard, a sling for your weapon, a belt, and so much more. You can use paracord as your bootlaces so that you’ll have extra in case you need it, or even wearing a bracelet made of paracord can provide 10 feet of cord without taking up a ton of space.
Paracord is much stronger than typical nylon cord which makes it desirable to have on hand. Made with an outer casing and multiple internal layers, it still holds up if damaged slightly. While you may not want to jump out of a plane with the paracords you find in an outdoor store, you can count on it to help you in a pinch, whether that is dragging away your prize or helping construct a hammock if you need a place to sleep overnight.
Last, but certainly not least, make sure you keep your body fueled. Hiking to your perfect spot over hilly terrain can give you a good workout, while sitting in a tree waiting for the perfect target to come along can be exhausting. And we haven’t even considered the calories you’ll burn having to drag an eight-point buck back to your vehicle. Keep your energy level up so you’re alert and ready to go, fueled for the long day ahead.
Most important is making sure you stay hydrated. Bring a container for at least 25oz of water, more if you can carry it. Snacks should be things that provide long-lasting energy like power bars, trail mix, jerky, and bananas (quieter to eat than apples and they don’t have a lingering scent). A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is also a good choice because the peanut butter will give you the extra protein boost you need, while the jelly satisfies the sweet tooth.
Avoid anything that contains empty calories and gives you a sugar rush. Before you know it your energy levels will be back to zero and you’ll be taking a nap as your target prances by.
This list is by no means intended to be comprehensive, but should give you a good idea of some basic items to carry with you while you hunt. Find yourself a sturdy backpack that is easy to carry, choose the items that best fit your needs, and get out into those woods!