The total hunting experience invades every hunter’s mind from the moment each trip becomes a thought right up to the dawn of the hunt. When a true hunter answers the call of the wild, he is prepared and has a detailed hunting gear checklist ready. He has that perfect pattern of camo, a firearm that feels just right in his hands, and all the right hunting gear.
The Right Checklist
For the experienced hunter, choosing the right clothing, weapons, and hunting gear is like second nature. But for the novice, the task can be overwhelming. For that reason, it never hurts to start with a hunting gear checklist to ensure you are neither the last one in the woods nor the last one to bag your game come the end of the season.
Although some hunters are loners, most sportsmen like to hunt with friends. So, keep in mind that an experienced hunter can also be a great source for information. All sportsmen will tell you that it is important to bring along some essential food items and water. While some items are a matter of preference, what about that perfect pattern of camo? How do you select the weapon that is just right for you? And what exactly is the right hunting gear?
Plan your Wear
No matter the time of year or location of your hunting trip, you’ll need a plan. Your hunting gear checklist might start with standard hunting sweatshirts, caps, and other basics. It’s a good idea to prepare for potential extremes. By adding layers, you can ensure you’re ready for temperature changes that come throughout a normal day. And you will be prepared for any extreme.
Be sure to check the weather forecast in advance and prepare accordingly. Every good outdoorsman knows that weather extremes can feel even more severe when you are out there for hours.
Beyond planning for weather, remember that the appearance of your clothing matters. You will want to check the latest camo patterns to find one that blends with the terrain. But whatever you select, get some hunter’s orange. Other hunters must see you! Rules on wearing hunter’s orange vary by state and by hunting season. So make sure you know the local regulations before you go.
Choose your Weapons
Most experienced hunters know what their weapon of choice is. And many like a variety for their hunts. Of course, there are seasons for all the main types–archery, muzzleloader, and gun–but it takes some thought to pick the weapon that is right for you. Is bowhunting your style? Do you like the experience of a traditional or modern muzzleloader? is the less-complicated centerfire rifle or gun for you? Or do you relish the opportunity to have a go- to weapon of choice for every season?
You can certainly get the ultimate experience by taking the time to find that one weapon that feels right in your hands. But chances are, if you spend the time, you’ll find more than just one.
The most experienced marksmen recall a time when they were just more accurate with one weapon than they were with another. But the only way to find the best choice for you is to explore your options. Research the pros and cons, as well as the differences and similarities, of each. That way, your hunting experience will be all that you want it to be. But don’t forget that your main weapon is not the only one you will need.
Never underestimate the value of a good hunting knife. Hunting knives are extremely adaptable tools and can be used for everything from building shelters in a pinch to field dressing, deboning and skinning your game. Choices include an all around fixed blade, as well as specialized ones.
Many are easy to store and lightweight, making them a solid addition to your hunting kit. This can make your trip smoother and easier, particularly if you keep your hunting knife sharp, clean, and well-maintained.
Scopes and Cleaning
Whether you are hunting in dense, woodsy areas or across open fields, you will also want the right scope. Investing in a quality scope or fiber optic sight can provide optimal precision, improve marksmanship, and enhance your ability to make the shot, even in harsh conditions. But be sure to sight in your scope at a local range before the hunt. Often, quality binoculars, as well as a range finder, can make a huge difference.
No matter what weapons you choose, you need to know how to keep all your weapons clean and in good shape. Weapons that are excessively dirty or in need of repair will most likely lead to a disappointing hunt, put you and anyone around in danger, or even become a possibly tragic lesson learned. So, it’s important to make sure you know exactly how, and what is needed, to properly maintain your weapon.
No matter how much experience you may have, knowledge of routine cleaning, proper storage, and safe handling of all the weapons you choose is essential. Different weapons will call for different materials to maintain them. For example, muzzleloader cleaning will involve using slightly different cleaning supplies than centerfire rifles. Spend some time learning about and getting to know your weapons. It will pay off in the end!
Finalizing Your Hunting Gear Checklist
Finally, be sure to invest in a good pair of extreme weather/waterproof boots, rain gear, gloves, some quality wool or wool-blend socks, a headlamp, and a pocket knife. These essentials will likely come in handy.
Additional hunting gear you may need to consider, depending on the location and duration of your hunt, includes GPS, a bit of sturdy rope or nylon cord, scent killer, fire starter, and, of course, a backpack to carry it all. Last, a small first aid kit is never a bad idea!
As one last thought, hunting is a privilege that has been enhanced and appreciated throughout many generations of avid sportsmen. Although every hunter wants to make the kill, before you go be you understand what the bag limits and restrictions are. Be courteous to other hunters. And be prepared so that your hunting experience is what it should be and can be…an honorable tribute that gives the most rewarding adrenaline rush you’ll never forget.