As the age-old saying goes, if you fail to prepare, you should prepare to fail. Personally, we feel that this might be a bit extreme, but failing to prepare yourself adequately for a hunting trip can create little inconveniences that can end up ruining your mood or setting you back on your expedition. This is why loads of professional hunters strongly recommend having a bowhunting gear checklist you can consult before you leave and even when you arrive at your hunting destination. A good bowhunting gear checklist won’t only include things you need to hunt, but adequate camouflage and first aid materials in case things take a bad turn. This being said, let’s have a look at some of the things you should include on your bowhunting checklist and why they’re important.
Essentials for Your Bow
You might be asking yourself “what do I need to bow hunt?” One thing you shouldn’t leave without if you’re going bowhunting is your bow. This might seem silly to mention, but it’s easy to get caught up in all of the excitement of leaving for a hunting trip, only to realize you’ve forgotten your bow a couple of miles away from home.
This is why your bowhunting checklist should include your bow and its subsequent attachments first.
If you’re not an experienced hunter and this is your first trip out to hunt live game, it might feel like there’s a mountain of things you need to pack and keep track of. This is completely normal, but once you start hunting regularly, you’ll likely find that all of these little things are easy to remember because most of them are a necessity. This being said, here are some bow essentials you should remember to bring along:
- Allen wrenches
- Broadhead arrow wrenches
- Bow sight
- Bow rest
- Field point arrow tips
- Broadhead arrow tips
- A peep sight
- Release (if you use one)
As you can see, these are a whole lot of little things that can be challenging to keep track of even if this isn’t your first time. A good habit to develop is to ensure that your bow and its additional components are cleaned, calibrated, and stored in one place (like an archery kit bag) once you return from a hunting trip. This also means that all you have to do when preparing for your next trip is double-check everything in the bag and pack the rest of your gear.
This being said, it’s a good idea to invest in a decent archery/bow bag early on which usually has compartments for your bow, shafts, fletchings, arrow tips, extra bowstrings, sights, and even your range finder. The compartmentalization of all of your bow components means that you know exactly where everything is, which can save you valuable time when hunting game.
Additional Hunting Gear
Besides your bow and its subsequent components, you might be wondering what other essentials for bowhunting you might need while you’re out there. Well, it depends on the type of hunting you’ll be engaging in, but there are a few additional things that won’t only make your life a lot easier but might actually improve your hunting ability.
There are hunters that believe the less interference you have from auxiliary aids like stabilizers, sights, and even blinds, the better. However, considering that most hunters either use a compound or recurve bow to hunt these days, there aren’t many archers left that subscribe to this school of thought. This being said, here are a few things you could bring along with you to improve your hunting ability:
- Hunting blind
- Tree blind components
- An easy-to-deploy backpack
- Regulation hunting guidebook
- Bow stabilizer
- Additional arrow tips
- Additional arrow shafts
- Additional arrow fletchings
- EMF dampening hunting suit
- Extra hunting tags
- Additional bowstring
- A rangefinder
- A compass or GPS device
- Handheld anemometer
There are those that would consider at least some of the above-mentioned essentials for bowhunting, or at least things you should have for an exceptionally long hunting trip. The more control you have over your bow, and the more you know about your immediate environment, the better a hunting experience tends to be.
It also pays to be prepared in case things break or get damaged while you’re out there. Keeping additional shafts and arrow tips on your person or in your shelter can save you the frustration of having to borrow an arrow or stick with the few you have while you’re out there. An extra bowstring can’t hurt either in the case of accidental dry fire, or your bowstring unceremoniously breaking.
Personal Protective Gear
When preparing for a trip it’s easy to forget that even though your bow is the hunting tool, without you it’s basically just a string attached to an expensive stick. Therefore, you should prepare yourself just as well as you prepare your hunting implements considering your bow will only function as effectively as you’re able to line up that shot and take it.
Essential items are there to make you as comfortable as possible can be in extreme heat and cold while waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. After all, the last thing you want is for your game to be handed to you on a silver platter and you muck up your shot thanks to soggy boots or a cramp in your leg. This being said, here are a few archery hunting gear essentials you should take with you, as well as a few things that will make your life easier, especially on a long hunting trip:
- A set of boots
- A dryer for your boots
- Thermal socks (more than one pair)
- Insulated second skin or under armor
- Outer layer camouflage
- Body tight camouflage
- Hunting/bow gloves
- A camouflage cap or hood
- Rain gear and/or a poncho
- Hunting license
- Hunting permit
- First aid kit
All of the aforementioned are designed to minimize or completely mitigate any effect the environment could have on you while you lay in wait for the perfect shot. It’s pretty easy to forget that we live in a modern world that insulates us from things so well that most of us barely even think about things running water, let alone the four walls keeping us from freezing to death or suffering heat stroke.
Considering that you’ll be inside a ground blind or hanging from a tree most of the time, it’s best to ensure that your extremities are protected from the elements as much as possible. Will you feel nothing through your clothing? Probably not, but that’s the reality of spending extended periods of time in the wilderness, so aside from having decent shelter, having clothing graded for hunting is the next best thing.
Personal Care Items
Just because you’re going hunting doesn’t mean that you have to go full caveman (or cavewoman) while you’re out there. At the end of the day, your body isn’t going to put all of its daily functions on pause because you’re tracking some elk. This being said, there are a few personal care items you should take with you to ensure that your personal hygiene and overall health are up to scratch while you’re out there.
We’re not saying that you should pack in your scented moisturizer and hair straightener, even though we’re sure you look breathtaking the woodland critters won’t appreciate it. However, there are some essentials besides your archery hunting gear you can take along to ensure that you have a dignified experience for the duration of your stay. Here are a few things you should consider taking with you (including some safety gear):
- A sleeping bag
- A small pop-up tent with hooks
- A roll of toilet paper
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- A towel
- Your wallet
- A cell phone and power bank
- A pillow
- Pain/allergy medication (and any prescription medication needed)
- Scent-free deodorant, shampoo, and soap
You probably have all of these things laying around, so you probably won’t have to head out and get them. They’re also easy things to forget if you’re on a schedule though so it’s best to ensure they’re packed well in advance if you haven’t been invited out on a trip at the last minute. These things can make your life a lot easier when you’re out there.
Just keep in mind that even though your level of comfort will be improved, you aren’t at home. Remember to pack these things up tight and to ensure any waste produced is stored or disposed of correctly. Failing to do so can result in you being fined, and besides, the last thing you want is the local ecosystem to be affected by anything you leave behind (or that they can steal out of your tent!)
Additional Items to Consider
Most of us spend our days either in the office or out and about, returning to the safety and comfort of our homes during the night. We’re also surrounded by things like streetlights and security measures so that our immediate environment is easy to survey and manage in the absence of sunlight, but this isn’t the case out in the wild.
Big game is called big game for a reason, and it’s easy to forget that wildlife can become curious and have habits that aren’t familiar to us. For this reason, you should consider packing these things to make your experience a bit less stress-inducing during those night-time hours, especially if you’ll only be hunting in the daylight. Here are a few things you could bring along:
- Trail cameras
- A headlamp
- Additional batteries
- A lantern for the inside of your tent
- A handheld flashlight
- Some mittens for your hands
- A sharp knife and sharpening stone
- Firelighters and a lighter
- A pack of zip ties
- A padlock for your tent
- Extra car keys
- An emergency hand radio
- Bug spray
- A mosquito net
- A few bottles of water
- Small cooking pot, pan, and utensils
All of the aforementioned are optional and largely depend on the duration of your hunting trip. If you’re going to be out there for a while, then we highly recommend taking at least some of the items mentioned above to make things a bit easier and to make yourself feel a bit safer too. Just remember that anything you’re going to pack, you’re likely going to have to carry.
When selecting items that aren’t essential there are a few things you should consider. Check the time of year and conditions in the area beforehand, you can do so by contacting your local hunting authorities, checking the weather online, or simply hopping on a forum and asking other hunters who have been to the area previously. After all, there is no substitute for experience.
Now that you know what essentials you need for your bow, what additional things you should consider taking for it, and what personal protective and personal care items you might need while you’re out in the wild, it’s time for you to get out there and put your newfound knowledge to the test. Remember to double or triple check everything before you leave your home, and to make sure you know where all your essentials and first aid items are located at all times.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Do I Need to Bow Hunt?
If you’re developing your archery skills, you might be asking yourself what you need to bow hunt. The list of things needed for bowhunting trips is extensive, but essentially you will need your bow and its components, personal protective gear, personal gear items, and shelter to start off with.
What Basic Equipment Do You Need to Start Archery?
Archery might seem like a really specialized sport with loads of things to get before you begin, but in reality, you only need a few things to start out. For starters, you need a bow, some arrows, a release of your choice, some targets, and a quiver to keep your arrows in.
How Difficult Is Bowhunting?
Even if you have been hunting before with a firearm, bow hunting can be exceptionally challenging. Why? Bowhunting requires you to be closer to the game in question, all while remaining quiet enough to draw your bow and take an ethically sound shot that is powerful to penetrate vital organs. This must all be done while trying to outwit an animal that is likely to sprint in the opposite direction at the sound of a leaf crunching.