The best endorsement for any type of outdoor gear is continued hard use. Here are ten items that I used a lot last deer season, and that I would not hesitate to use again.
by Leon Pantenburg
Disclaimer: I don’t work for any of the companies mentioned in this post. Nobody had any input in this – it is strictly my opinion.
Most deer hunters are gear heads. We love new equipment, and look for chances to wring it out. Here are some items that I used last season, and that I intend to keep using.
Sled: I bought a dedicated game hauling sled a couple of years ago, and I use it every time I drag out a deer. Where I hunt in Mississippi, I sometimes may have to haul the carcass one-half to three-quarters of a mile to the nearest road. I’ve used the sleds to haul out elk in the Oregon high desert. I’m sold on the efficiency. (Here’s a sled review.)
I got this feedback from Bill:
I’m a 64 year old big game hunter (elk, mule deer, whitetail). I purposely hunt late season hunts (Nov. & Dec.) for the colder temperatures for the sake of meat preservation. I do DIY solo hunts. Sometimes I hunt in deep snow and sometimes on dry ground or a combination of both. Backpacking out meat making several trips really gets harder the older you get. I researched all the possibilities; wheeled game carts, game tarp drags etc., and nothing seemed to be the answer I needed.
I finally decided on a game sled. I debone my meat so I can haul everything out in one trip. Once I tag and bag my game meat, I walk back to the truck and trade my backpack for my sled. I load up my sled and easily pull it back to the truck. Don’t misunderstand me, using the sled is still work, but its a heck of a lot less work than backpacking out the meat. With this method, I can enjoy hunting for many seasons to come!
Knives: This topic annually gets its own post. Last season, my primary, go-to knives were the Bark River UP (stands for Upper Peninsula) Bravo, and the UP Gunny. I’m having a hard time deciding which one I like best!
Footwear: I wear several different types of boots, depending on the circumstances. Last year, I tried out a pair of Danner Pronghorns on the advice of several experienced hunters. These were the boots I wore to hunt in Mississippi, and they worked really well in the wet, cold hunting conditions.
For a desert hunting/hiking boot, I went with Danner Incursions. These are the best hot weather boots I’ve ever worn, and they were wrung out hard on several desert hikes in Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Oregon. When combined with quality wool socks, the Incursions were incredibly comfortable.
Headlamp: I’ve used the same Fenix Rechargeable Headlamp for going on five years, and it is the best light I’ve used so far. It has five variable settings, which are incredibly useful to the hunter. The most-used, for me, is the lowest setting. I can read in the tent, and it is light enough for most of the walking around you will do in camp. The high “turbo” setting puts out 960 lumens, which will illuminate a boat dock, help with tracking a wounded animal or provide spotlight intensity for just about everything.
I really like the rechargeable aspect. The light can be plugged into a car charger or a vehicle dashboard, and you’ll never run out of power.
Cut resistant gloves: Turn a successful harvest into a survival situation by cutting yourself while field dressing the animal. I wear cut resistant gloves over latex exam gloves, and never get cut any more. The latex gloves seal out any nasties from the intestines, and help keep you hands warm. They’re cheap insurance.
GPS: I have used Garmin GPSs with complete satisfaction and carry one in the side pocket of my fanny pack. And, yeah, I know – there’s a GPS app on your smart phone. But I’m a believer in the “Don’t put all your eggs in the same basket” philosophy. Any electronic device is as reliable as its batteries and it will last as long as its most recent charge. I always carry a compass and generally a map.
Fanny pack: I have used the Kelty Elk Horn for some 20+ years and it has worked for me in the Oregon deserts, Idaho Backcountry and Mississippi swamps. It is perfect for a day hunt and it holds everything I need. The suspenders distribute the weight between your shoulders and hips.
Best deer rifle: This is another topic that gets its own post. It is certainly debated around campfires at hunting camps! My choice, based on decades of use, is a Remington 700 in 7mm-08. It has never failed to work for me. But is the 7mm-08 the best overall rifle?
Best blackpowder rifle: I frequently use my Lyman Great Plains blackpowder rifle during the regular rifle season. It has served me well since I assembled and finished it from a kit in the early 1980s.
Socks: Quality boots combined with cheap cotton athletic socks is false economy. Cotton absorbs moisture, which means your feet will eventually be in soggy socks that softens the skin on your feet and makes them cold.
I tried out Buffalo Wool™ socks about three years ago, and I love them. They are warm, comfortable, stay up easily and breathe well. They are my go-to socks in hunting books, and work very well in my Muck Boots. My Buffalo Wool fedora is my go-to outdoors hat.
Rainsuit Beretta™ and TruSpec™ I’ve used both of these rainsuit systems, and I’d have a hard time picking one over the other. Both perform to specs, both are roomy and comfortable and both will keep you dry under the most extreme conditions. I would give the nod to the TruSpec rain coat, though, because it has pit zips. I have found these zippers to be excellent for ventilation, and for dissipating moisture generated from doing some hard physical activity.
The Beretta system, on the other hand, is less bulky. The jacket gets rolled up and carried in my daypack when I’m going to be doing a lot of hunting on a potentially rainy day.
This gear works for me. But I’m not done hunting yet, since I have new knives, boots and socks and other gear to wring out this season. Happy hunting and stay safe!
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