Hunting Pack Essentials

Ralph T. from Massachusetts writes: “Dave, I find that my fanny pack is getting too small to hold all the items I feel I need when bowhunting deer. Exactly what do you carry in your pack? What is essential, and what isn’t?”

Ralph, I’ve got the same problem. In fact, as I have gotten older, I find that I need more items than I once did. Or at least I think I do. At the same time, I hate carrying a lot of weight in the woods, so I’m constantly reconsidering what I “must” have in my fanny pack.

Dr. Dave SamuelDr. Dave Samuel

This is what I take with me. I always carry a deer call or two, a rattle bag (sometimes antlers, but they won’t fit in my fanny pack), a wind-powder bottle, an extra release aid, a small flashlight, a pull-up string for my bow, a knife, rubber gloves (I’m allergic to deer blood), extra broadhead blades, a blade sharpener (small), a face mask, a rangefinder, and three screw-in bow holders (1 for bow, 1 for fanny pack, 1 extra).

If I carry a daypack, then I may put in a very lightweight rain jacket, extra gloves, small binoculars, and a small camera. I wear my body harness so I don’t need to carry that. I may also carry a candy bar and a bottle of water.

One consideration on how much I carry is how long I’m staying in the stand. For all day sits (and during the rut I sometimes sit all day), I always take a daypack rather than a fanny pack. Extra clothes, a thermos of something warm, and hand warmers, booties, etc., also go in the pack. For short sits, I just take a fanny pack.

For a fine selection of backpacks be sure to check out Sportsman’s Guide.

Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 31 years.

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