It is that time of year again. The rut is starting to kick off, the deer are moving, and it's time to get ready to get out in the woods... But you might be asking yourself: What should I pack this year?
Don't worry, I've asked myself the same question. Whether you're the type to sit for an all-day hunt, or you separate your day into a morning and afternoon hunt, I've got some ideas for you. Here's a look inside my hunting pack this year.
HEADLAMP There's nothing worse than having to walk through the woods in the dark to get to your stand/blind while holding your phone to use the built-in flashlight to find your way... Trust me, I've been there many times... Now I make sure not to leave camp without having my Energizer headlamp in my pack. Plus, this headlamp is a very budget-friendly option at only $14.99 at FleetFarm.
COVER SCENT Sure, you can wash your clothes in scent-free detergent and shower with scent covering products, but in my experience, it's always a good idea to bring some extra cover scent with you to the stand. I use both the Dead Down Wind Evolve 3D spray (Natural Earth scent $9.99 at FleetFarm) and Hunter's Specialties scent wafers (Fresh Earth scent $8.99 at FleetFarm or the White Acorn scent $9.99 at FleetFarm). While smelling like dirt and acorns may not be ideal for some people, it's worth it to stay undetected in the woods. Don't forget to spray your boots!
CALLS Many hunters underestimate the use of calls. I know I did when I was younger... These days I bring three different calls with me to my stand to make sure I cover all my bases. I always have a rattle pouch with me (Bone Collector $17.99 at FleetFarm), my bleeter (Primos $11.99 at FleetFarm), and my buck grunt (Buck Commander $14.99 at FleetFarm). If it weren't for my calls last year, I can say without a doubt I would not have had the success I did when harvesting my first buck.
HAND/FOOT/BODY WARMERS Any midwest hunter knows the importance of keeping your hands and feet warm, so I'm sure this is a no-brainer. However, I like to keep extras in my bag just in case the ones I already have ready turn out to be duds. Heat Factory has always been my favorite brand and can be found in combo packs for $1.25/pack at FleetFarm.
BINOCULARS/RANGEFINDER Whether you're hunting in a large open field or on a wooded ridge in the forest, having a set of binoculars is a complete game-changer for seeing what's out in the distance. I use the brand Simmons, which is not sold at FleetFarm, but can be found for $39.99 on Amazon. I also like to have my range finder with me to know how far my shot actually will be without having to guess. I love my Halo XL500 which can be found for $109.99 at FleetFarm.
PORTABLE CHARGER On cold days especially, my phone battery can go from 100% to 0% in under an hour. It's always a great idea to bring a portable charger so that you can keep a good charge on your phone. Whether you are using apps like OnX Hunt or need to call someone in your party for help dragging, it's always good to have the battery power you need. I use the Anker brand that can be found for $19.99 on Amazon.
GUTTING GLOVES Ever had the bad luck of walking up to the deer you just harvested with your buck knife ready just to realize you didn't restock on your gutting gloves from the year before? That's why I'm always sure to bring an extra set... Or two. You never know when someone else in your party ALSO forgot to restock... It's happened to us more times than I'd like to admit. The good news is, they are cheap and only cost $3.99 for a set of 4 HME brand game cleaning gloves at FleetFarm.
SEAT CUSHION I don't know about you, but sitting in the stand or blind for hours on end can be hard on the low back. I always bring my ThermaSeat out with me for extra cushion and a warm behind. It makes a long sit much more bearable. The ThermaSeat Heat-A-Seat can be found for $14.99 at FleetFarm.
TRAIL CAM SD CARD VIEWER If you're like me, you're probably impatient when it comes to viewing your trail cam picks. A couple of years ago I received the Wildgame Innovations SD card viewer as a gift. I always bring it with me so that when I am waiting in the dark for first light, and shooting hours to begin, I can view my trail cam pics right there in the stand on opening morning. For $64.99 at FleetFarm, it's more than worth it.
PROPANE/LITTLE BUDDY HEATER Last, but definitely not least, I always bring extra propane canisters for my Little Buddy Heater. I'm a big baby when it comes to being cold... I can't tell you how happy I am to have a heater that fits in my ladder stand with me. The Little Buddy is small, portable, silent, and lightweight. While it doesn't exactly fit in my pack, the extra propane tank does. The Mr. Heater Little Buddy itself can be found for $59.99 at FleetFarm as well as a 4 pack of extra Coleman propane tanks for $14.99 at FleetFarm. Once again, completely worth it.
It's time for the honorable mentions... Also, what I'd like to call the items I probably forget the most often. These should speak for themselves, but I'll elaborate a little on each of them anyway.
TOILET PAPER When you've gotta go, you've gotta go. Don't be stuck out in the woods having to use your socks to clean up... Your feet will get cold, and you've just wasted a good pair of hunting socks. Plus, leaves don't do the job.
COFFEE/WATER This is probably the reason you needed to pack TP in the first place. But fill up your Stanley thermos ($17.99 Amazon) and your water jug. Stay awake, but also stay hydrated.
SNACKS This is a must. Don't get hungry in the stand, pack some jerky and leftover Halloween candy to keep that energy up and your stomach from gurgling. Pro-tip... Unwrap the candy before you hit the woods and put it in a ziplock bag. It's like a candy trail mix that way, and you also don't have to worry about those noisy wrappers.
I hope this list provided some insight or reminded you of something you might have overlooked. Thanks for reading, now be safe, be prepared, and most importantly get out there and get it done.
Good luck to all you hunters!