What Should Be in My Essential Hunting Kit?

The type of hunt you plan on should dictate exactly what you bring with you, but there are, generally speaking, some essentials every hunter should have.

  • Licenses (and possibly permits, depending on your state’s laws)
  • Required animal tags
  • First aid kit
  • Maps of the area and/or a GPS
  • Compass
  • Communication device
  • Sharp knife
  • Calls for your target animal
  • Backpack to hold your gear

You’ll need to bring along your preferred method of take (aka gun or bow), as well as any accessories and ammunition. (Remember, it is essential that your ammunition match your firearm, and that you inspect your arrows for any damage.)

Dress for the weather and the terrain. This typically will mean camouflage, sturdy boots, gloves, rugged pants, and under-layers. Waterproof or water-resistant clothing is useful in every environment, and moisture-wicking clothing will also help keep you comfortable. For warmth, seek wool or synthetic fibers; cotton will retain moisture and make you colder.

Be sure to wear the correct amount of blaze orange for your season and your area—it will keep you safe from other hunters, who may mistake you for game. It’s proven to be effective, and most game animals can’t even see it!

All of this equipment can be found online, in sporting goods stores, or perhaps as hand-me-downs from a family member or friend.

Here are some specifics you may need, depending on your hunting needs.

Game Care Kit for Field Dressing

  • Black pepper to repel insects
  • Cheesecloth bags for organs you plan to use as meat
  • Cooler and ice
  • Disposable plastic gloves
  • Fluorescent orange flagging
  • Foil
  • Gambrel and pulley system
  • Hand towels
  • Large bag for caped or trophy head
  • Plastic bags for cleanup
  • Plastic or cotton gloves
  • Salt (noniodized) for hide care

Survival Kit and Equipment

  • Base plate compass with signal mirror
  • Candle
  • Emergency high-energy food
  • Extra boot laces
  • Extra pair of glasses
  • Extra two-day supply of prescription medicine
  • Fire starters—waterproof matches, butane lighter, etc.
  • First-aid kit
  • Fishing line and hooks
  • Flashlight with spare batteries and bulbs
  • Folding saw
  • Iodide tablets for water purification
  • Knives
  • Map
  • Metal, waterproof carrying case that can double as a cooking pot
  • Nylon rope
  • One-sided razor blade
  • Plastic sheet or large garbage bag
  • Poncho
  • Signal flares
  • Small can of lighter fluid
  • Snare wire or twine
  • Thermal foil blanket
  • Tissues
  • Water
  • Whistle (plastic)

Equipment for Firearm Hunters

  • Ear protection
  • Eye protection
  • A cleaning rod
  • Swab
  • Gun case for transport

Equipment for Archery Hunters

  • Three-fingered gloves or finger tabs
  • Mechanical release
  • Armguard
  • Quiver
  • Broadhead wrench, if appropriate

If You Use an Elevated Stand

  • Safety harness
  • Climbing line
  • Haul line
  • Whistle

Hunters Using a Boat

  • A personal flotation device

Having the right gear can be the difference between a difficult situation and a perfect hunt, so always plan accordingly!

Your dog is a fantastic hunting partner, which is why you need to keep him safe while you’re out there. Just as you must meet state requirements for blaze orange, your dog would be safer if he wore the bright color, too.

Here are some suggestions to keep Spot easy to spot while you’re in the field.

Hunters differ on a lot of aspects of hunting – favorite game, trophies vs. meat, stalking or stand hunting – but one thing we can all agree on is: Geez, can hunting be expensive! Camo, guns, ammo, licenses, packs, knives, scopes, binoculars, boots, dogs, gas, duck stamps, guides – it all adds up quickly.

However, we’re all happy to have paid the price when we’re successful in the end. We all want to get value for our hunting expenditures. “Cheap” and “expensive” are relative terms – depending on how useful your purchase was and how much you love it – so as long as you get what you were expecting, you’re happy.

We asked some of our friends and followers to tell us what gear had given them a lot of value. That’s not to say they’re cheap – some are inexpensive – but rather that you’ll get more than your money’s worth from these products.

Tim Wagner: Federal Fusion Ammo477666

I began using Federal Fusion ammunition soon after it came out in 2005. I had always used Remington Core-Lokt ammo, but I had a couple of instances when I didn’t like its performance on deer. The marketing caught my attention – the lead core is bonded to the copper jacket and it is affordable. And, the performance proved it wasn’t just marketing. Most of my shots on deer passed completely through, and at the time I was using just a .243. When I did manage to dig one out of a deer, it was perfectly mushroomed and intact.

The performance was so good that rather than spend a lot of money on more expensive ammo for a safari to South Africa, I took Federal Fusion for my .30-06. I could afford to practice with it at the range beforehand, too. It performed flawlessly. The skinners brought me bullets from a close-in gemsbok shot and a 220-yard blesbok shot – both, again, had mushroomed perfectly and retained almost all their original weight. My professional hunter, like most PHs, was an advocate for the Swift A-frame bullet. However, that was the first time he had seen the Fusions, and he said he was impressed.

I’m still impressed, and that’s why I use the 120-grain Federal Fusions in my .25-06 for whitetails. Most of the common cartridges sell at retailers for between $20-$35 for a 20-round box.

 

Twitter user @sarahaustin110: Ozonics Scent Eliminator

 Capture

 

From the Ozonics website: “Ozonics transforms oxygen molecules into ozone molecules and, with a silent fan, projects them downwind out over your scent zone where these unstable molecules bond with your scent molecules, rendering them unrecognizable to deer and other scent-savvy game.”

 

Mia Anstine: Leatherman Wave

With advances in technology and production, prices have dropped for many hunting items. With reduced prices, some products have also diminished the quality of their items. One item I’ve always found to be of excellent quality and come in handy is my multi-tool. I carry the Leatherman® Wave®. It has a screwdriver, pliers, wire cutters, saw and knives. It’s my all-around “MacGyver” tool. I’ve used it to wire broken fences closed so horses can’t escape. It’s come in handy for replacing light bulbs in a pinch. I even use it to skin, cape and field dress elk. It’s a tool that is definitely worth the price.

 

Will from Will to Hunt: Garmin 64ST

For a long time I’ve depended on just using my cell phone and simple maps for scouting and recording my hunt locations, but making the switch to a high-quality GPS has immensely improved my hunting. I can quickly mark and pinpoint areas while scouting, and on backpacking hunts I can easily see where I’ve been and make sure I’m not slipping onto private property.

The Garmin 64ST comes preloaded with all U.S. topographic maps and it’s easy to add in additional information like property lines and waypoints. Plus, it’s rugged enough to take a beating and powers up and finds my location in no time.

 

Mitch Strobl: RedHead Hunting Apparel

The RedHead® brand, from Bass Pro Shops, is high-quality gear for a very reasonable price. I can often find the camo, jackets, gloves, hats, etc., for well less than brand name prices, and the performance is as good or better, in my mind.

Overall, the reason I vote for RedHead gear is simple: my main goal is maximizing my dollar without sacrificing performance. I work hard for my money, and I want to make sure the gear that I buy works just as hard for me in the field. With RedHead, I can be confident that I’m getting quality, dependable gear that won’t let me down. It might not be the flashiest gear you can find out there, but it gets the job done, is dependable, and is priced fairly. For example, when I’m waterfowl hunting, I’m able to outfit myself with RedHead apparel and the difference in cost vs. other brands lets me buy the things I need most – more shells! (Yes, I miss a lot … but don’t we all?)

A few examples for waterfowl hunting:canvas

1.     Hunting Waders– RedHead’s classic neoprene waders provide everything that I need to shoot some ducks, and they are literally half the price of other comparable waders. They are waterproof, insulated, and have all the features that I need without extra bells and whistles. For example: They have a front equipment pocket, built-in shell holder, and loops for my clip-on accessories. I like to be lightweight when I’m in the field, so I don’t need much more than that. I just want to stay dry, warm, and ready for action.

2.     Waterfowl Jacket – Like the waders listed above, I like this jacket is because it’s built for the simple hunter. While it has many other practical uses, it’s great for the traveling waterfowl hunter. One week I might be in the cold, icy north, and the next week 1,000 miles south in 70-degree Texas. The versatility found in this jacket makes it worth the money because you essentially get two jackets in one. The removable insulated layer comes out with a few zippers and snaps, and that’s my favorite feature. The hooded outer shell is breathable, yet windproof and waterproof, which is perfect for any waterfowl setup. Plus you have all the other niceties like cargo pockets, hand warmer pockets, magnetic pocket snaps, and elastic wristbands to keep the water out.

3.  Decoy gloves – These decoy gloves just work for my two main goals: Keep my hands warm and keep my hands dry. When I’m setting up decoys, I don’t want to worry about my hands getting chilled to the bone before my hunt. I want gloves that accomplish those two goals at a fair price.

Remember: Do your research! When using any product mentioned here (or elsewhere), always review and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and safety recommendations.


 

Here’s the scenario: You just passed your hunter education course and posted your success to Twitter, Facebook and — let’s not forget — Instagram. You’re finally done, but what’s next? You’re not about to just stroll out to your lease or public land with a rifle or shotgun, are you? No way, man! Now you need to do the second-best thing about hunting, which is the first-best thing besides actually hunting — collecting the right gear! After all, Wal-Mart and Bass Pro Shops will be a long way away if you find yourself out in the field unprepared.

There are some basic items you should just have, like a first aid kit, a GPS device or cellphone, and plenty of blaze orange for public land hunts. However, walking into an outdoor retail store can be a bit overwhelming because you’re going to see more choices of camo, boots, knives, tree stands, and every other piece of hunting equipment than you ever imagined. So, we asked a few friends — highly-qualified and experienced friends — to recommend gear that they thought new hunters should pick up.

1. KUIU GearKUIU

Recommended by Will at “The Will to Hunt”

What he says: “Buy the best clothing and boots you can afford. I use KUIU, but there are several great companies out there. You can kill an animal with a budget weapon, bow or gun, but you can’t kill them if you’re not out there. Being comfortable is the best thing you can do to help your odds of being successful. The more comfortable you are the longer you can stay out, and thus you’re more likely to be there when the opportunity arises!”

Check out other gear recommended by Will.

2. LaCrosse Boots

Recommended by Mitch Strobl of Kalkomey

What he says: “GOOD BOOTS! Don’t skimp on boots. If your feet aren’t comfy, then your hunt simply won’t be as enjoyable as it should be. There’s nothing worse than cold and/or wet feet! Consider your environment and get good boots that fit not only your feet, but the conditions in which you are hunting. I’ve worn the LaCrosse Hunt Pac Extreme boots for some time now and have been very happy with them.

“I’d also recommend a great backpack.

It’s amazing how much gear you will accrue over the years. Get a good backpack that’s waterproof, quiet, and comfortable. There are many brands to choose from, but Tenzing is the first one that comes to mind. As with any hunting gear, it’s worth spending your hard-earned cash on something that is durable and comfortable. The type of pack you buy will depend greatly on the type of game you pursue.”

3. Zeiss Sports Optics

Recommended by Mia Anstine

What she says: “Gear is an important part of the hunt. A reliable firearm is important, but the quality of the optics on top is more important. Don’t skimp on your scope. Remember to take care of your scope. Practice acquiring your target at the range, and remember to look at the target in and out of the ocular. This will help you to see what is around and beyond your target when you are on the hunt. Good luck and happy hunting!” Mia’s favorite gun accessory is the Zeiss Conquest variable scope.

 

And something a bit extra…

4. SlideBelts Survival Belts

Recommended by Gear Junkie

“Why poke holes in a perfectly good piece of leather?”

We didn’t have a great answer for that question, but we stumbled upon this gear item on Kickstarter. If you’re not familiar with the site, it’s a platform where businesses and individuals can raise funds and build awareness for their products or ideas. SlideBelts has been around since 2007, but this year they’ve unveiled plans to add a new line of survival belts.

There are three types of belts: original, wild side, and survival – each equipped with a different level of features. We won’t lie – we have our eyes on the hunter and explorer belts.  Just think how convenient it would be to have a GPS within your belt buckle. Watch the video for more ways the belt can be used.