There are non-negotiable items that every whitetail hunter should have in their pack—ranging from a backup headlamp and extra rangefinder batteries to a gutting knife and a small limb saw. And then you have a portable bow hanger, rubber gear ties, spare gloves, and a backup release. Don’t forget the trail camera. The list goes on and on. The trick is knowing what’s essential and what’s not. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up hauling a 60-pound thrift store into your deer stand before you know it.
These days, a hunter can spend a small fortune on quality hunting gear. Candidly, sometimes the gear is absolutely worth it. Atop that short list would be a set of purpose-built, highly insulated clothing to keep you on stand longer. Nothing convinces you to get down from your stand early quite like being chilled to the bone. A whitetail investment that comes in a close second is a convenient, portable treestand and climbing sticks. If you have the right stand with you on a hunt, switching locations becomes less of a burden. With a bulky or complicated stand, the thought of taking down your gear, only to climb a few hills and hang it back up, is usually enough to prevent us from relocating.
However, as nice as it is to feel prepared for anything the woods might throw at you, it’s equally easy to be so bogged down with gear that you can’t find the lunch you packed in the dump compartment of your backpack. Gadgets all have their time and place, but sometimes all they do is weigh you down and drain your bank account. If interested in slimming down your kit to include only the essentials, here’s what you could absolutely live without this upcoming whitetail season.
First, be wary of “cutting-edge” tech. Sometimes shaving a few ounces from a product’s overall weight has merit but, in the whitetail world, most of the time it’s not worth the extra money you’ll pay for ultra-lightweight gear. Think of it in terms of how many dollars it’ll cost you to shave a couple ounces—$200 to save 10 ounces probably isn’t in your best interest.
On the other hand, you might notice the bleat call, rattle bag, and estrus scent that’s been living in your backpack for three seasons straight without ever being used. Those kinds of things are equally as likely to fall 20 feet, and hit every tree peg on the way down, as they are to bring a buck into my lap.
Financially speaking, every dollar counts and scrutinizing your gear budget is a necessity. You probably don’t need top-notch European glass if you hunt deep in the woods. Moreover, a flashy bino harness is only going to slow you down when you simply need to quickly glass a buck for confirmation before he enters your 20-yard shooting lane. Another budget-friendly item is a pair of wool gloves, which provide every bit of warmth that over-engineered technical outerwear will provide.
Here’s one that I continually fall victim to—sparing no expense when it comes to accuracy. I probably will never notice the difference between .001” arrow straightness and should probably save money in exchange for .003” arrow straightness. After all, every whitetail I’ve ever shot has been within 35 yards, most being under 20 yards. At that distance, I think it would take a tournament archer to see a point-of-impact difference between match-grade arrows and an arrow with average specs. The same goes for nice rifles. A rifle that feeds reliably and has a buttery-smooth bolt action is probably going to net more mature whitetails than the most accurate sub-MOA rifle money can buy.
At the end of the day, bring what you’re familiar with and what you have confidence in. Having confidence in your system will exude confidence in your decision making and confidence will keep your butt in the tree just a little longer. Confidence and time is a beautiful combination.
Feature image via Captured Creative.
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