Are You Ready for the Season's First Hunt?
The checklist to make sure your season starts on the right foot!
It’s been many months since we’ve hit the woods chasing whitetail, and often times that first hunt can leave us feeling a bit awkward, or like we’re missing something very important from our pack. I always feel a little rusty, and have this nagging feeling I left something important at home the first time I hit the woods. So to help alleviate that first time funk many of us experience, here are some helpful reminders for hunt #1 of the season, along with my TOP 4 MUSTS for every hunting season.
Everyone’s list may be a bit different, but I split mine into majors (what I feel I must have, many of which are obvious but need stated), minors (what I probably should have), and odds-n-ends (good things to have). Some of the items listed should be with you, and others are what should be taken care of prior to that first hunt.
Blind, or safety checked stand
Climbing harness (tested)
Sticks, steps, or method of climb
Well functioning bow
Quiver full of arrows & sharp broadheads
Release, tab, or fingers
Good knife with blade preferably over 3 inches
Cell phone/communication device
Tick repellant (some can be applied to clothes beforehand - permethrin based - while others sprayed on just before - deet based. I prefer permethrin based as it kills ticks on contact and lasts weeks)
Mosquito spray, headnet, or other repellant
Good camo (not necessary as hunters of old preferred red/black check plaid). Some hunters swear by their camo, and having it match, but science shows whitetail sight is based on movement, and detecting your form. So matching camo or high definition is not needed, just something to break up your shape will do.
Bow hook/hooks to hold gear in tree
Scent sprays/cover scents
Wool socks - I almost put this in the major list. Wool is the best option to keep feet dry, warm, blister free, and happy
Rubber gloves/gutting gloves
String or zip ties - for a variety of uses: attaching a license to game, tying back brush from shooting lanes, etc.
Scent free deodorant
Toilet paper - now we all know this could be a major. For keeping track of that blood trail, or when nature calls at the most inopportune time (we all know that never happens...)
Camo Poncho or compact rain gear
Scent free lip balm
Compact hoist/pulley system (For those who hunt miles away from their truck. If you find your prize late at night, and don’t have time to drag it out, getting it off the ground can keep it away from predators until you can retrieve it in daylight the next day).
Hunting App (these can be good for keeping track of sign and stand locations on all your properties. I use HuntStand, as its free and works fairly well).
First aid kit
MY TOP 4 MUST HAVES:
Red headlamp - I will get into the science of this possibly in a later blog, but red cannot be seen by deer, and is adequate for us humans to make a stealthy entry/exit. White or yellow light is a hunt-killer, and should not be used unless an emergency situation when in your hunting area. Deer see it well, and it immediately tells them they are being hunted, and to stay away from the area. Don’t use white light, always use red!
Rubber hip waders - This has probably made the difference for me on several hunts, as it is extra protection against leaving any scent while coming and going. This is especially important if you are walking through any weeds or brush that touches you above the normal boot area. Grasses and other vegetation touching your clothes removes scent from your body, and deer will smell this causing them to change their behavior more quickly. Also good for keeping dry from that morning dew.
Sound-Proof Equipment - The little or big noises we make can be the biggest hunt-busting moments while hunting. Worse yet, many hunters make these noises when setting stands and ruin the area even before they hunt it. Sound-proofing all gear is a must for me, and I use Buck Bumper to make sure I can’t make a mistake when I’m coming, going, or during the moment of truth. When a clang from brush scraping a treestand, a buckle hitting a climbing stick, a release hitting the treestand, or so many other things can spell the end, being protected is a necessity for success. One noise is all it takes, so take
Body wipes - for me this is a must that I keep in my truck, but having a ziplock with a few wipes can help in the field too. This is a great way to eliminate any sweat or smell that has developed for a scent free afternoon hunt. You can basically take a bath with them, and this scent eliminating trick can save you on many occasions, especially if you don’t have time or means to head back home and shower. You can purchase the special ones promoted for hunting, but buying scent free baby wipes at places like Walmart can save you 5X and they work just as well.
Did I leave anything off the list? Maybe so, but these are are great place to start to make sure you don’t have that “Uh Oh” moment day one! Feel free to add your comments and items that may not be on this list below!
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