A Complete Checklist For Your Next Hunt
Over 15 million Americans hunt because it’s a thrilling sport and an effective way to get fresh meat. However, hunting can be tedious, unproductive, and even dangerous if you lack proper equipment and planning.
If you want more successful and enjoyable hunting outings in 2022, you’ve hit the jackpot. We have created a comprehensive hunting checklist that discusses proper deer hunting gear and other things needed for a fruitful hunt. It’s never too early to prepare the hunting essentials needed before a hunt.
Table of Contents
What to Do Before the Hunt
Before you can hunt, you need a license, weapon, and hunting ground. Here’s how to get these things ready before your hunting outing.
Get Your License & Safety Certifications
Most states in the U.S. require that you have a hunting license to hunt on public or private property. Before buying a hunting license, you must take the Hunter Safety Education Course and pass the Hunter Education Test.
Since many states have other requirements that you must fulfill, verify the hunting regulations in the specific area you wish to hunt. Failure to comply with state or local hunting regulations could lead to fines and even jail time.
Practice Shooting Your Gun
Some people prefer hunting with handguns, while others prefer rifles. Find the best hunting weapon for your needs by trying different guns at the gun range. After selecting a weapon, practice with it until you’ve perfected your aim.
Besides perfecting your aim, practicing with the weapon will help you grow accustomed to the noise, recoil, reload, and other aspects of using the weapon. It will also reveal if you need any accessories, such as scopes, tripods, or suppressors, to improve your accuracy and range.
Use a Map or GPS to See Your Surroundings
Once you have your paperwork and weapon ready, you should start searching for a hunting ground. If you own a large enough piece of land, you can hunt within your own property. Alternatively, you could lease private hunting land for you and your hunting party.
If buying or leasing private hunting land isn’t possible, use these tools to find public land to hunt:
- State Wildlife Agencies: The website lists state-owned hunting lands that the public can access. The site also states which listed properties require special permits for hunting.
- Recreation.gov: The website has information on public hunting land administered by the federal government through the National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Reclamation, and other agencies.
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife: Hunters use this website to find national wildlife refuges that host deer and other game. The federal government permits hunting on many of these public properties.
- onXmaps: The online tool offers digital maps that list public hunting grounds in your vicinity.
After finding a suitable hunting location, use a map or GPS to get a lay of the land and identify the type of terrain to expect. Note that hunting may require lots of walking across difficult terrain, so ensure that you are fit enough to traverse the terrain with your weapon and other hunting gear.
How to Pack for Your Hunting Trip
“What do you need for hunting?” is a common question from first-time hunters. Our ultimate deer hunting gear list below provides answers.
Hunting Accessories & Equipment
Every hunting packing list should have these items. Otherwise, you may have an uncomfortable and fruitless hunting trip:
- Cooler: A cooler filled with ice will keep your kill fresh until you get home. However, before putting your kill in a cooler, you must field dress and quarter it. The right cooler size for your hunting expedition will depend on the type of game you intend on catching. For example, for a 50-pound deer, a 48-quart cooler should be big enough to hold the meat and ice needed to store it.
- Water Bottle: Dehydration during a hunt can lead to heatstroke, fatigue, seizures, and other health problems. Avoid such issues by staying hydrated while hunting. Pack a water bottle that can hold enough water to last for a day (three to four liters). If you intend on drinking lake or stream water, be sure to purify it with water treatment tablets before drinking.
- Scent Blocker: Do not wear heavy deodorants or perfumes before hunting. Your scent could alert prey of your presence and scare them off. Wear a scent blocker that will mask your scent and enable you to get close to your prey for the best shot.
- Scent Attractant: If you want prey to come to you, consider packing a scent attractant. The most effective scent attractant for drawing deer, especially bucks, are doe urine-based products. Bucks will follow the scent with the hopes of finding potential mates. You can also lure deer with peanut butter-coated bait.
- Odorless Sunscreen and Insect Repellent: Sunscreen will prevent sunburn while stalking prey in the hot sun. Opt for odorless sunscreens that will not reveal your position to potential prey. You will also need a scentless insect repellant for keeping pesky bugs at bay.
- Compass or GPS: Every packing list for a hunting trip must include a compass or GPS. With a compass or GPS, you can keep track of your location and find your way back to civilization when you are ready to leave.
- Backpack: You can’t carry all your deer hunting gear in your hands or pockets. Get a convenient backpack that’s large enough to hold all your items. The backpack should also be waterproof to prevent wet weather from damaging your gear.
Proper deer hunting gear should camouflage your presence and keep you comfortable, safe, and dry. It should also be durable enough to pass through thick bushes without tearing. Here are all the clothing items that should be part of your hunting essentials:
- Jacket: Morning or evening hunting have a higher success rate. However, during these hours, the weather is usually cold and wet. A jacket will protect you from the elements, keeping you warm and dry so that you can focus on the hunt. Your hunting jacket should have silent fabric and camouflage patterns that match the surrounding terrain to hide your presence.
- Vest: Some states require that hunters wear bright orange vests. The bright color will ensure that other people can see you, minimizing the risk of another hunter accidentally shooting you. Even if your state does not require brightly colored clothing during hunts, you should still wear an orange vest for your safety.
- Pants: Wear loose-fitting and comfortable pants that ensure maximum range of movement. Like your jacket, your pants should have camouflage patterns that match the surrounding foliage and silent, durable fabric. The pants should also have enough pockets to hold items you may need to access quickly.
- Boots: High-quality hunting boots will muffle your footsteps and keep your feet dry. They also have tough and scent-free materials that will enable you to traverse difficult terrain undetected. Whether you choose full-grain leather, mesh, nylon, or rubber boots, ensure that it’s a comfortable fit to prevent injuries.
- Two Pairs of Socks: Wearing two pairs of socks will make the inside of your hunting boots more comfortable and prevent blisters. It will also help control moisture as your feet sweat within the confines of your footwear. For the best results, opt for moisture-wicking merino wool socks.
- Face Covering: If you are light-skinned, a balaclava or face cover will provide an extra layer of camouflage while you hunt. Even better, a balaclava can keep your head and face warm while hunting during cold seasons.
- Moisture-Wicking Base Layers: The key to staying warm during a hunt is wearing base layers. However, you will start to warm up and sweat as you trek. Moisture-wicking base layers will prevent discomfort by sopping your sweat and keeping your skin dry.
- Hat: Wear a bright orange hat that other hunters can easily see before mistaking you for prey. A hat can also keep your head warm and keep the sun or rain out of your eye.
Equipment for After the Kill
After taking down your prey, the deer hunting gear listed below will come in handy:
- Gutting Knife: After hunting your game, you need to field dress it by removing the internal organs. Doing this soon after killing the animal prevents spoilage. The best knife for the job is a hunting or gutting knife with a keen blade and a grip that won’t get slippery once covered with blood.
- Gutting Gloves: The gloves keep your hands clean and prevent injuries while field dressing your kill.
- Pelvic Saw: During field dressing, you can use a pelvic saw to break down the animal into smaller pieces that will fit into your cooler. The saw can cut through thick bones, including the ribs and pelvis of deer.
- Drag Rope: You can use a drag rope to pull your big game from where you shot it to where you can field dress it. Alternatively, use a game carrier if you don’t want to damage your game by dragging it across rough terrain for several miles.
What to Bring for an Overnight Hunting Trip
If you intend on hunting overnight, you should add these items to your hunting checklist:
Overnight Hunting Gear
- Tent: An overnight hunting trip is great for bonding with nature, but you don’t have to sleep exposed to the elements. Travel with a tent that’s easy to set up and pack. Besides sheltering you from predators, bugs, and the elements, the tent should have enough interior space and ventilation for comfort.
- Sleeping Bag: Instead of sleeping on the cold hard ground within your tent, use a sleeping bag. A good sleeping bag can double as a mattress and blanket, keeping you comfy throughout the night.
- Flashlight: Pack a flashlight and lamps that will provide sufficient illumination when the sun goes down.
Meals and Snacks: No need to starve until you can catch prey. Pack enough food and snacks for the duration of your trip. Store the food properly to avoid attracting predators and take your garbage with you when leaving.
- Camping Stove: Unless you packed already prepared meals, you need a camping stove to cook your food. Camping stoves are better than building campfires because they are easier to start and less likely to cause a forest fire. Just don’t forget to bring matches or a lighter.
- Bear Mace Spray: You are not the only hunter in the woods. Wolves, bears, mountain lions, and other predators may be on the prowl. If you cannot reach your gun, use bear mace spray to fend them off.
Best Meal Planning for Hunting Trips
Emergency Equipment for Overnight Hunts
- First Aid Kit: If an injury occurs during your overnight hunt, having a first aid kit can be a lifesaver. The kit will contain everything needed to dress your wounds and prevent infection until you get professional help.
- Emergency Blanket: If the weather gets colder than expected during your overnight hunt, an extra blanket will come in handy.
- Extra Flashlight: Should you lose or damage your flashlight, a backup flashlight can help you find your way in the dark.
- Phone and Walkie-Talkie: Having a cellphone means you can call for help if something goes wrong during your trip. If you can’t get reception in the woods, try getting help with your walkie-talkie.
Start Planning Your Next Hunting Trip!
Now that you have your deer hunting gear checklist, you can begin planning your hunting expeditions for 2022. Don’t forget to crosscheck your inventory with your hunting checklist before leaving home.
Also, before heading out, be sure to tell people when and where you are going hunting and when you intend on returning. That way, people will know where to find you if you run into trouble and can’t call for help.Never Miss a Hunting Blog