Every deer hunter has gear he/she prefers, chosen through individual preference, inclination and experience.
Here is my list.
by Leon Pantenburg
Deer hunters are gear junkies, and I am among the most addicted. I love shopping for stuff I don’t need, in the hopes of upgrading gear that doesn’t need replacing. Better gear doesn’t improve my chances of success (only improving my skills will do that!) but it doesn’t hurt to look.
I have hunted whitetail and mule deer in hugely different environments. These include the Oregon high desert, Idaho mountains, New York and Virginia foothills and Mississippi swamps. Through all these areas, my gear has remained basically the same.
Here is the stuff that works for me.
Best deer caliber: Every hunter has a favorite caliber, and I’m not saying my choices are the best. But I’ve had extensive experience with a 7mm-08, 7mm Remington Magnum and the 30.06. These are all excellent choices.
But my go-to favorite, after some 35+ years of use is the 7mm-08.
Eagle Claw JS1 Utility Jet Sled: A sled to haul your big game animal out is a good idea and just common sense for us older, experienced hunters. I got my Eagle Claw sled four years ago when I moved to Mississippi. Since then, the sled has hauled several whitetail deer out of the woods and to the vehicle.
Best knife: The hunting knife in my fanny pack may vary from year to year, depending on which knife I’m field testing. But my Carp LP, UP Bravo and Ambush Tundra are go-tos. One or the other will always be in my day pack for a backup.
Last year, the Bark River UP Bravo came out, and it was just what I’d been looking for and lobbying knife makers about. The UP features the Canadian-style blade coupled with Bark River’s popular Bravo handle. Mine worked wonderfully last deer season.
Headlamp: My go-to headlamp is my Fenix rechageable. It has served me well over the last couple years, and several whitetails have been field dressed, gutted and skinned by its light. But I’m always on the lookout for lighter, brighter headlamps. This Olight Perun Mini has been working out very well and it only weighs 4.23 ounces, while kicking out 2,000 lumens. Both will be in my fanny pack this season.
Water filter/purification system: It doesn’t matter if you’re hunting he desert or in standing-water swamp – you have to stay hydrated. I’m frequently out from dawn to dusk, and taking along enough water can be really challenging. You need a practical water container(s).
If there are springs or seeps available, the best bet might be to take along a filter or purification system to treat the water you come across. The Epic Water Filter System combines with my favorite wide mouth Nalgene bottle.
Polar Pure or Potable Agua: These are chemical purifiers, and require a certain time period for them to work. I used the Polar Pure system exclusively on a nine-day canoe trip in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters and the system worked really well. Potable Agua comes in capsules and is easy to carry and use. Either Polar Pure of Potable Aqua are go-to’s.
Boots: A southeastern deer hunter needs several different style of boots to get through the season. I start out in hot Mississippi weather with Danner Incursions. When it is wet and hot, I will switch to my rubber bottom/leather uppers Sorels. In hot weather and standing water, the Muck Boot Chore knee highs are my choice. In cold, wet weather, I’ll wear my Danner Pronghorns. Here is how to choose the best hiking/hunting boot for you.
Hat: You lose about 10 percent of your body’s heat through your head, so some sort of protection is necessary. For overall use, I prefer a wool fedora-style hat with a three-to-four inch brim. A quality stocking cap is a a good backup.
Socks: Wool. When you’re considering the best socks for outdoor wear, start with wool. I don’t wear anything but wool socks in my boots year round. My go-to outdoor socks are a blend of buffalo down and wool, and Buffalo Wool Trekking Socks will keep your feet warm.
Wool sweater: Ole Red has my go-to sweater for a couple decades. It is getting ragged, but that is not affecting its warmth. A good wool sweater will stay warm when wet, and provide excellent insulation.
Wall tent: Canvas wall tents are generally associated with mountain hunting and cold weather. But my Elk Mountain tent was used very successfully in a wet Mississippi duck and deer hunt.
So what are the best items/pieces of gear to take deer hunting?
Well, that depends on a lot of factors. My list of necessities may not fit your needs or requirements. But consider my A list, and adapt it where you can.
Stay prepared and stay safe!
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