Gather up your old cotton and polypropylene underwear and burn it all. Never again do you have to suffer in wet, clammy, smelly long johns after slogging to your tree stand. Today’s performance apparel (opposite page) is designed to wick sweat from your skin and regulate your core body temperature. In other developments, Woolrich has proven wool is still a preeminent material, Whitewater Outdoors has taken the fleece craze to a new level, and Cabela’s has an interesting alternative to carbon-activated clothing. And that’s just the apparel. Here’s the smartest new deer gear of the season.
Headlamp with a Hi-Beam Sure, LED bulbs burn cooler than traditional lights, making batteries last much longer, but I’ve always found they weren’t bright enough to pick up glow-in-the-dark trail markers. I field-tested the Yukon HL Hybrid LED, which is three LED lights in one. It picked up trail markers 80 yards out. ($59.99; 609-298-9331; www.princetontec.com)
Tree Stand/Extension Ladder The API Grandstand Telescoping Packmaster is a ladder and lock-on stand in one. The stand weighs 24 pounds, fits comfortably on your back and is relatively quiet. I found that its ladder extends 17 feet in seconds. The only design flaw is that it’s hard to get the pin that holds it together back in place. ($229.99; 800-227-7776; www.basspro.com)
Fleece Taken to a New Level Whitewater Outdoors has developed a line of clothing called 3D Realfleece. The garments are lined with Thinsulate insulation, come with or without Scentblocker carbon-activated material, and have fleece on the outside. The 3D Realfleece Insulated Parka with Rainblocker (left) has a hood, loads of pockets and a drawstring waist. ($229.99; 800-666-2674; www.whitewateroutdoors.com)
Be a Camo Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing The new CamWoolflage from Woolrich is not a printed material. Instead, the camo pattern on this all-wool clothing is woven in. Hunters have always loved wool for its warmth, ruggedness and breathability. Now they can be a little more invisible in it as well. Several designs are available. The CamWoolflage Parka is shown at right. ($260; 800-966-5372; www.woolrich.com)
Bucks in a Bag Okay, rattling bags are nothing new. The innovation here is that the Heavy Horns Rattling Bag from Hunter’s Specialties really sounds like two bucks going at it. I picked up some actual rattling antlers to see if I could hear a difference and found both sets equally believable. The only advantage to the antlers was that it’s easier to make light sparring sounds with the antler tips than with the bag. ($21.99; 319-395-0321; www.hunterspec.com)
Change Your Tone Sometimes you need to grunt with authority; other times you don’t. As the rut progresses, you have to be able to change along with it, challenging dominant bucks when they’re aggressively chasing does and passively coaxing them earlier in the season. This is where Knight & Hale’s Translator Deer Call ($14.99; 800-500-9357; www.knightandhale.com) and Hunter’s Specialties’ Hands-Free True Talker ($9.99; 319-395-0321; www.hunterspec.com) come in. Both were versatile and sounded realistic.
An Alternative to Carbon The Winke Scent Containment Technology System from Cabela’s doesn’t even try to eat scent the way carbon-activated clothing suits do. Instead, it traps scent in. Form-fitting seals at the neck, wrists and ankles keep your odor from escaping. But it’s not like a plastic windbreaker. This suit is breathable. It works because scent molecules are larger than airborne perspiration. Though I couldn’t test it on deer, I did place the foulest thing I could find, doe-in-estrous scent, inside, knotted it up and tried to smell through the fabric. Thankfully, it held the noxious odor in. ($299.95; 800-237-4444; www.cabelas.com)
Scent Contained The Super-Wick from the Wildlife Research Center makes it easy to bottle odor from deer scent and then let it out when you’re in the field. A replaceable felt strip hangs down from the product to keep fresh scent on the breeze. When you’re ready to leave, just put the cap back on. ($3.69; 800-655-7898; www.wildlife.com)