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!

Being approached by a conservation officer while you’re on the hunt can be nerve-wracking. Do you know what to do?

 
What To Do When Approached by a Conservation Officer

Conservation officers work hard to ensure you have game to hunt and to stop illegal poaching. When you meet an officer in the field, be friendly and acknowledge the officer. Always point your muzzle in a safe direction, and make your firearm safe by unloading and checking the safety. Then, follow the officer’s instructions. Make sure you carry your hunting licenses and proof of hunter education, if that is required in your state, every time you hunt. It’s that easy!

Tree stands are a great way to take your hunt to the next level, but they also come with new dangers. Watch the video below for a refresher on how to stay safe in your tree stand.


Tree Stand Hunting Safety

Here’s a recap:

  • Unload your rifle and use a haul line to get your equipment safely into the stand. Always keep the firearm pointed away from you.

  • Wear your fall-arrest system from the time you leave the ground until you are back on the ground. This can include:

    • A full-body harness

    • A lineman’s-style belt or climbing belt

    • A lifeline system

    • A tree strap

    • A tether

    • A suspension relief strap

  • Practice three-point climbing: Always keep three points of contact with the tree or your ladder.

  • If you do fall, use your suspension relief strap and keep your legs moving.

  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions every time you use your tree stand.

Before you have a successful hunt, you have to get to your hunting spot safely. Do you know what to do when you’re loading your firearm into your truck?


How To Safely Transport Firearms

Always remember the primary rules of firearm safety: Keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction, and treat every firearm as if it were loaded. Make sure the safety is on and unload your firearm, remembering to check the action. Then put your firearm in its case. Remember to store your rifle or shotgun in the back seat or trunk of the vehicle. It’s a bad idea to display your firearm in a window gun rack—you’re just telling thieves what great gear you have! Be sure to know your state’s regulations for transporting firearms.

On the topic of gear, put some thought into the kind of case you will use. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type: Gun socks are lightweight but offer minimal protection; padded, soft-sided cases are light, but only offer a moderate amount of protection; and hard cases are sturdy but heavy. Buy the right gear to match your needs and your firearm.