Check this list before you leave home for a day of bowhunting whitetails. It’s composed largely of small and inexpensive stuff that is easy to overlook or forget. But you need it all to be safe and effective. Start with a quiet fleece day pack or fanny pack. I still use a 10-year-old sack because I love its familiar pockets. If you need or want a new pack, one lined with Scent-Lok or Scent Blocker Plus would be a good choice.
1. Buy four or five rubber-coated hooks from a hardware store. Screw them into a tree around your stand and hang your pack, binocular and the like on them.
2. I can’t imagine any archer not using a laser range finder these days. Yardages can be very hard to estimate from a tree stand.
3. Pack a separate pouch containing estrous and tarsal scents when you hunt during the rut.
4. Carry a bottle of odor neutralizer. Once or twice during a long sit, look around to make sure no deer are coming and mist your clothes again.
5. Always wear a full-body harness like the Seat-o-the-Pants safety harness. To lighten your pack and quicken your set-up time at a tree, wear your harness on the hike in.
6. Don’t let a headache or other ailment ruin a fun bowhunt. Stock a first-aid kit with aspirin or Tylenol, Tums, Claritin, Band-Aids, bandages and antiseptic.
7. If you use a release aid, be sure to carry a spare. If you drop your main release, dig out your spare.
8. You need two 20-foot ropes: one for pulling up your bow and the other for lugging up your pack. Never climb while wearing a heavy pack.
9. From November on, carry a lot of hand warmers.
10. Always pack water and a high-energy snack.
11. After each hunt, record the temperature, wind direction, moon phase, deer you’ve seen and areas of major buck activity in a journal. The more notes you take, the better you’ll understand deer patterns in your area.
12. Carry surgical field-dressing gloves to keep clean and sanitary.
13. Pack a grunt call every day. A few urps or ecks can turn a buck toward your stand any time of the season. When the rut gets kicking, carry rattling antlers too.
14. Regardless of how familiar you are with your hunting territory, carry a compass. You never know when it will come in handy.
15. Use a wind checker as you hike to a stand. After each wind check, take a compass reading to make sure the air currents stay in your favor.
16. I wear a headlamp when I’m climbing up tree steps in the pre-dawn. Once set up, I switch to a Mini Mag or thumb-size micro-light. A headlamp comes in handy after dark when you’re trailing a buck you shot.
Not shown here is your tool kit, which should have an Allen wrench for your bow, a multi-tool, a sharp knife with gut hook and a handsaw for trimming and cutting shooting lanes. You probably also want to carry some flagging tape or reflective tacks to help you find your stand, and the way out, more easily in the darkness.