I previously shared my list of must have gear for deer season and my list of should have gear. In those lists, I’ve covered what I consider the absolute minimum and essential gear for an ethical and safe hunting experience.
This list is my could have list. These are the things I believe can increase the enjoyment of a hunt and make it a more memorable. I don’t always have the things on this list with me, but I make every effort to have them.
As I stated in the previous posts, from my point of view, gear falls into a few distinct categories: hunting gear, safety/sustenance gear, and comfort gear. Additionally, each piece of gear can also be sorted by location or vicinity to the hunter: on person, at vehicle, or at camp. I should also clarify that I am specifically talking about hunting deer from a blind or compartment located not too far from a hunting camp or a vehicle that can be used to get to camp in a reasonably short time.
Could Have On Person Gear
Most of items here will probably seem like a no brainer, others are things that maybe less obvious. Let’s get into it.
Hunting tools needed on your person include everything you need to identify the game animal, make an ethical kill, and prepare it for harvesting.
A bone saw is not required for harvesting game, but it can speed up the process of working a knife around certain joints and bones like the hip, pelvis, and knees. A bone saw won’t add a lot of weight and can definitely be omitted if weight is a concern.
Bahco makes a good folding saw called the Laplander. It’s inexpensive (around $20), works well as a bone saw, and can be used around camp for general sawing purposes.
Another good option is the Gerber Vital Pack Saw. It’s another under $20 tool (I’ve seen it as low as $10 on Amazon) specifically designed as a bone saw with a blunt end to help avoid puncturing delicate areas. It’s smaller and lighter than a folding saw at the expense of general camp saw capabilities.
No Cut Gloves
Done correctly, one won’t get very bloody when field dressing and quartering a deer. However, there is always the possibility of accidentally puncturing an organ or dealing with an unintended gut shot and then things get messy. Not to mention the elements may not be in your favor. Handling sharp tools in wet conditions or when dealing with bodily fluids requires a lot of care as the tools can get slippery.
This is where no cut gloves (or cut proof/resistant gloves) come into play.
One can pick up a pair of these gloves for under $15 (sometimes several pairs).
I’ve previously covered must have and should have on person safety tools. Here I’ll list some additions to improve and enhance on person safety capabilities.
Personal Survival Kit
Okay. Okay. This is probably overkill. I’ve already suggested communication devices, extra food, and first aid kit. What else could one possibly need?
The boy scout (or prepper if you prefer) in me comes out here and wonders what if I couldn’t get back to the car for some reason and had to deal with being exposed to the elements for an extended period of time? Maybe because of a flash flood in the area. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little shelter, collect water, prepare food, build a fire, and just be safe with a splash of comfort?
There are some small prepackaged personal survival kits out there. However, if one is already carrying a lot of the tools needed here then only a few additions are needed.
I won’t get into the details of building a survival kit either in this post. Perhaps, I’ll explore that topic in another. But most survivalists seems to talk about the “five C’s of survival” (here is a google search if you want to learn more), they are cutting device (already in the list of gear), combustion device, cordage, container (already covered by water container), and cover.
So what I would add to my pack would be a Bic lighter (combustion), a 100′ hank of paracord (cordage), and an emergency blanket or a poncho (cover). I would also add a mini sawyer water filter and some water purification tablets to help clean water collected. Roughly speaking, this is a $60 survival kit.
Not something that one is likely to need and will add weight. However, it can come in handy to remove brush in or around the hunting blind or compartment. It can also supplement the personal survival kit. Depending on other cutting tool choices this may not be needed at all on your person, but if chopping is required at some point a chopping tool is the best option.
Personally, I currently have my eye on the ESEE Gibson Axe ($160) mainly because I’ve recently become an ESEE fan boy (I do that a lot when I fall in love with some products, maybe that’s another blog post or twenty). I also have my eye on Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet ($150) as their axes have been strongly recommended to me by several friends who know more about camping and hunting than I do. However, there are plenty of camping hatchet options available around the $35 range from Fiskars, Estwing, Gerber, and other reputable brands.
The only on person comfort tool introduced so far was a day pack. I’ll introduce some additional things one could lug along to increase overall comfort. Balance the inclusion of these items with overall weight, your preferences, and knowledge of the hunting environment and conditions.
An entrenching tool (also known as an e-tool) is basically a collapsable shovel with some serrated edges that can be used for general sawing. They come in handy to prepare fire pits, quickly move bits around where one will set up a tent or a shelter, and perhaps most importantly to quickly dig a place to poop and cover it back up.
One can optionally leave one of these in the vehicle or back at camp.
A military issue E-tool will cost about $30.
In my limited experience, most hunting blinds or compartments have terrible seating options. Given that one will be sitting still for hours at a time, a comfortable portable hunting stool or chair will make for a much better overall hunting experience.
I like a portable three legged stool with back support. I’ve found these to be comfortable enough to sit on for hours at a time without restricting movement to shoulder a rifle and take a shot.
A decent portable stool or chair will run somewhere between $30-$50.
Could Have In Vehicle Gear
There are a few more bits of gear one could keep in a near by vehicle to use as needed.
In Vehicle Hunting Gear
I’ve got one piece of hunting gear that I like to have in a near by vehicle and that’s a portable hunting blind.
Portable Hunting Blind
If you have a hunting lease and have set up your blinds, then you probably don’t need this. But if you are like me and don’t have one, then you rely on public hunts, invitations to friends properties (or leases), or day leases. When hunting in environments where you can’t set up and maintain a permanent blind, a portable blind will come in handy to quickly set up a comfortable blind to hunt from.
Portable hunting blinds are camouflaged tents one can hunt from. They provide shade and protect you from the elements while keeping you out of sight.
Like tents they vary in size and price. A low cost one person blind will start around the $60 mark. With increased sizes and better materials they can get to the $400 price range or maybe more.
In Vehicle Safety Gear
The safety gear one could have in a near by vehicle include a more advanced first aid kit and survival kit.
Team Basic Aid Kit (TBAK) or Squad/Group Trauma Aid Kit (STAK)
I mentioned that a person should have an individual first aid kit (IFAK) on their person out in the field. The goal of that kit is to provide sufficient first aid after an injury to either get back to the vehicle or provide time for medical aid to arrive to the individual. In some situations, additional first aid maybe required when one reaches the vehicle before they can go seek additional aid or perhaps to await aid to arrive to the vehicle.
Depending on first aid skills and training and group size, the vehicle should have a larger first aid kit with additional tools to provide additional aid to one or more people. Items in this kit should provide cleansing, suturing, initial antibiotic treatment to an injured person.
Not going to lie, these kits can get expensive. A basic car/vehicle kit will easily start just north of the $100 to purchase or assemble. More complete kits can easily get into the $1000 range and will likely contain items that would require the person rendering aid to have professional training and certifications in order to legally render aid.
Vehicle Survival Kit
I suggest a personal survival kit earlier in this post. Here is will suggest a more thorough kit that could provide additional survival capabilities to an even longer extended stay. How much goes into this kit will vary on the space available in the vehicle and the list of the kit would be better served by another blog post.
Again, I’ll mention the five C’s of survival. Think about them as you select items to include in it. At the very least it could provide redundancy to the personal kit. Additional cutting devices, combustion devices, cordage, containers (ways to collect and purify water), and cover.
Cost is going to vary wildly depending on kit contents.
Could Have At Camp Gear
I’ve yet to introduce any gear to have at camp in any of the prior lists. That’s essentially everything one must and should have for hunting should be on their person or in the vehicle. But expanding this list to gear one could have, there are a few items I suggest.
At Camp Hunting Gear
There are a few things that can aid in harvesting a deer one could have at camp. Let’s cover those.
Using a hoist to field dress and quarter a deer makes the job a lot easier and more comfortable than doing it on the ground. There are a few hoists that can be attached to the back of a truck using a tow hitch receiver which can be a viable option depending on the vehicle. A tripod hoist at camp will also work and will accommodate larger hunting parties with multiple vehicles.
Whether one choses a tripod or a truck hitch based hoist, they can be had somewhere in the $120-$200 range.
Boning (or Fillet) Knife
Another knife? Yes another knife.
A good boning knife can make quartering and processing meat at camp a lot easier. I’ve met several butchers and lifelong hunters who swear by these. The knives discussed so far are arguably better for field dressing and skinning duties as the knives tend to have large cutting edge angles which makes them a less sharp but more resilient to dulling than a boning knife. Quartering and processing is easier by a sharper more flexible blade.
Complete Could Have Checklist
So there you have it, these are some of the items I like to lug around with me to improve my overall hunting experience. I’ve summarized the gear in a check list along with the entry level budget required for those items to get started. Like the must have and should have lists, a lot of the items on this only need to be purchased once. As such, I’ve also added a what I consider the “buy once, cry once” budget (labeled as BOCO Budget) for those items in case anyone is wondering what I would budget for purchasing gear that one would enjoy for a lifetime (or at least several seasons).
|Bone Saw||Hunting||On Person||$20||$20|
|No Cut Gloves||Hunting||On Person||$15||N/A|
|Survival Kit||Safety||On Person||$60||?|
|Chopping Tool||Safety||On Person||$40||$150|
|Entrenching tool||Comfort||On Person||$30||$100|
|Portable Chair||Comfort||On Person||$35||$50|
|Pop-up Portable Blind||Hunting||In Vehicle||$100||$400|
|TBAK / STAK||Safety||In Vehicle||$100||$1000|
|Vehicle Survival Kit||Safety||In Vehicle||$60||?|
|Game Hoist||Hunting||At Camp||$120||$200|
Again, buying higher end gear isn’t required. I would only recommend looking at that option once a hunter is certain they will be hunting for the rest of their natural life and maybe looking to pass gear down to future generations. Even then, some items will definitely not last a life time, but should last either several seasons or can be repurposed for other activities.