It's time to make those gift lists. And while you never want to seem too pushy with your suggestions, consider this: A whole lot of deer hunters will receive such "must have" items as orange toilet paper, knit socks and the infamous Butt Out tool this holiday season. Do you want that to be you? No, I didn't think so. So make a list. And make it right. Here are a few items I'd suggest you add.
1. Flextone Buck Collector Plus Deer Call
I have but two requirements in a grunt call. The first: It needs to sound like a buck. The second: It has to be loud.
There's no shortage of calls that sound authentic. But few of them carry the volume I prefer. The key, in my experience, to successfully duping bucks with grunt calls lies in volume. They have to hear it and most calls simply can't produce enough volume to draw a buck's attention from a distance.
The original Buck Collector call has been my go-to for several seasons and the new Plus version carries the same volume and call quality. And at just $17.99, it's a darned good deal. –Tony Hansen
2. ScentCrusher Go
Your truck stinks. Look, there's no nice way to say it. It's a simple fact. Vehicles are carriers of odors, many of which are not pleasant. You can take all the scent-control measures you want. The moment you slide behind the wheel of your truck, you're entering an atmosphere of the unsavory.
The ScentCrusher Go solves this. It's a portable ozone generator that plugs into the 12V accessory port in your vehicle. I've got one and it works wonders. At about $50, it's a great gift that won't blow your budget. –T.H.
3. Muddy Safeguard Harness
Safety should be a priority in the woods. There is no better gift that can be given than the gift of safety. I am not a fan of bulky, cumbersome harnesses. That's why I'm a fan of this one. It's light, nimble and easy to use. I wear mine under my outer layers and hardly know it's there.
It sells for about $80 and comes in multiple sizes. It's the best investment any hunter can make. –T.H.
4. Sig Sauer Zulu 5 Binocular
Every deer hunter needs a binocular. Most deer hunters deserve a really good binocular...
I've used the Sig Zulu 7 for two seasons and absolutely love it. So why am I recommending the Zulu 5? Because it's nearly as good as the 7 and is an absolute bargain, leaving gift-buyers with a little extra cash to buy additional gifts...
I prefer a 10-power optic but the 8x version is very good in many situations as well. These binos are clear, ruggedly built and well designed. You won't be sorry. The Zulu 5 sells for about $350. –T.H.
5. Havalon EXP Double-Bladed Folding Knife
Ask a deer hunter his opinion on the perfect hunting knife and you're likely to get as many answers as questions asked. But here's my opinion: The EXP is the perfect hunting knife. Here's why.
One of the drawbacks of replaceable blade knives that use scalpel-style blades is a lack of durability. Those little blades are crazy sharp but they're also fairly delicate. You can break them pretty quickly. Run out of spare blades in the field and you're screwed. The EXP, however, has a standard steel blade in addition to a replaceable blade. The best of both worlds in one package.
The EXP sells for about $50. –T.H.
6. Yeti Rambler Thermos
All-day sits are one of those things that's easy to talk about, simple to recommend. Much harder to pull off. But the fact is this: It's basic math. The more hours you spend in the woods, the better your odds of tagging the buck of your life. A thermos of hot coffee can help.
But here's the thing about hot coffee. It just doesn't stay hot very long in an inferior insulating container. The Yeti Rambler isn't cheap (about $40 for the 36-ounce version). But it sure does work. –T.H.
7. Danner Pronghorn Boots
Boots need not be fancy. They simply need to be warm, waterproof, and comfortable. The Pronghorn meets all requirements. You can buy less pricey boots but you'll likely regret it later.
The Pronghorn is offered in a variety of insulation levels. For most rut-time hunts, I like the 800-gram models. –T.H.
8. Bushnell Wireless Trophy Cam
I love running trail cameras. But they do have one significant drawback: They require visits to their location to see what kind of goodies the SD cards have stored inside. That means intruding into prime hunting areas at home, and it also means long drives to check cameras located far from home.
This season I ran a pair of Wireless TrophyCams in Iowa and Ohio. The information they provided was critical to success there and, yes, helped me to further my experience all fall. The setup is quick and simple and, so long as you locate the cameras in an area with suitable cell service (the units use the ATT network), they're reliable.
At just under $300 they aren't the cheapest cameras you'll find, but they are some of the most useful. –T.H.
9. Summit the Vine
Summit designed this climbing stick to look like a vine that naturally blends in with the tree and doesn’t spook deer. I don’t know if the climbing stick actually looks like a vine to a deer, but I do know that this is one of the easiest and quickest to set up climbing systems that I’ve ever used. Essentially, it’s a perfect hybrid between a ladder and individual climbing sticks. You can assemble it quickly and get it on the tree in a breeze like you would with a ladder. But, each of the four posts in The Vine pivots individually, so you can use it on angled and bendy trees (which is the biggest benefit of climbing sticks). Once you get it fastened to the tree, it’s super sturdy to climb. Height: 23 feet. Weight: 29 lbs. Price: $104 –T.H.
10. Vasque Coldspark Ultradry Boots
Yes, these look like the statement-making footwear of an urban hipster, but before you check them off as too stylish for the deer stand, check out what they bring to cold, snowy field conditions. They’re lined with 200 grams of Thinsulate insulation and are totally waterproof. They have a fleece collar to fit snugly around your ankle, and they have a gaiter attachment point, should you want to add waterproofness well up your calf. What they don’t have is bulk. For someone who turns to heavy Muck-style boots when deer season gets cold, these light, nimble, and warm boots are as good for hiking as sitting. It doesn’t hurt that they look pretty good, too. –Andrew McKean
11. Dickies Flex Work Pants
Unless the conditions demand it, I tend to eschew camouflage in favor of neutral-colored work clothes that I can take from the hunt to work and back again. I guess you can also tell that I eschew most scent-controlling products, too. I’m always on the lookout for hard-wearing pants that can pull double duty, and these are about as close as I can find, at a pretty sweet price to boot. The poly/cotton twill isn’t scratchy or loud, but it has a bit of flexibility to allow for a range of movement. And the colors—either stone or woodlands brown—fit almost any of my fall hunts. –A.M.