Now is a Great Time to Test your Hunting Gear

by Braxton Taylor

Sure, it’s May, and some states still have open turkey seasons. The thought of deer or elk season is just a faint glimmer on the horizon. While it might seem like you have an endless amount of time until the next big game seasons roll around, you’ll wake up one day in September only to realize that you haven’t tuned your bow, practiced those steep-angled shots, or scouted that new area on your list.

Instead of preparing for success, you’ll find yourself scrambling midway through the season to put a plan together. There’s nothing wrong with this, but if you’ve been struggling to fill your tags because you’ve been underprepared, don’t expect your results to change.

You might get lucky and kill a buck on the first morning of the season, but consistent success requires preparation that starts well before opening day. While scouting, hanging stands, and planning your entry and exit strategies will help you prepare for deer season, testing out your hunting gear is equally important.

Like scouting or upgrading your bow, it’s best to buy and test your hunting gear during the off-season. Experienced runners don’t buy a new pair of shoes the day before a race. It’s a recipe for pain and possible injury. Hunting gear is no different. You don’t want to be fifteen feet in a tree before you realize that your hunting clothes aren’t warm enough or that you didn’t practice shooting with your bino harness to realize that it affects your draw cycle. These might not seem like major issues now, but they can ruin your hunts or even cost you a big buck. Test your gear now so you won’t be blindsided come hunting season.

Test Your Early Season Clothes Now

Depending on where you hunt, this time of year probably looks similar (temp-wise) to early-season conditions, which makes it a great time to test some of those warmer-season clothing options. If you’re scouting, shooting your bow, or even going for a long ruck, do it in your hunting clothes to see how they perform.

Can you get away with a single layer like the First Lite’s Trace System? Or would a Kiln Hoody better suit you for unexpected weather or temp swings? Now is the time to figure out how to layer, not when you’re soaked to the bone on an early-season stalk.

Speaking of a good soaking, rain gear should also headline your necessary gear list. Spring and summer notoriously bring surprise thunderstorms. Use this time to buy and test rain gear like First Lite’s Vapor Stormlight Jacket, so you know exactly what to expect from your clothes.

Beat the Break-in Period

Don’t forget to include your bino harness while you’re sending arrows down range or scouting. It might seem like a plug-and-play piece of gear, but it’s important to fine-tune the adjustments for both comfort and practicality. You might not think about it when you’re shooting in your yard, but when you’re trying to keep quiet in a tree, everything is amplified.

Practicing with a bino harness now will show you exactly how it affects your draw cycle or if it makes a loud noise when you do so. You might think you need that extra rangefinder pouch now, but when you get in the tree, you might actually prefer a simple lanyard. Or vice versa.

And, if you haven’t noticed, new gear like the best hunting backpacks or bino harnesses can be stiff and loud right out of the box. Scouting or shooting your bow consistently while wearing these items will give you plenty of time to break them in and figure out which parts need silencing.

Saddle Up

The saddle-hunting craze is in full swing. If you’re thinking of testing the tree saddle waters, you’ll want to get comfortable with the process well before the season gets here. You can watch all the videos on how to hunt from a tree saddle, but it requires a learning curve that only time in the tree can teach you.

I know too many people who have bought a saddle just before or during hunting season. They either struggle to learn on the fly or denounce it altogether. Even if you’re familiar with lightweight lock-on stands, you need to spend some time in the saddle before giddying up the tree on opening day. This means you need to practice shooting from your saddle (in full gear).

Shooting from a large platform is one thing. Shooting behind you from a souped-up rock climbing harness while balancing on a micro platform is a whole other. It might seem like overkill, but if you really want to maximize your gear and your hunting opportunities, get comfortable shooting now, so it’ll be clockwork when it counts most.

Lucky for you, our Spring Sale is happening right now! Head on over to the MeatEater Store to check out some great discounts to get geared up ahead of the season.

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