Guides Hunting

Deer Hunting Load Out

Looking for an example of a deer hunting load out? Here is what I take and how I organize it.

Readers love posts about gear. I can’t blame them, I love gear too. Frankly, I’ve had to establish some rigorous discipline around purchasing gear because otherwise it’s easy to find myself with a lot of cool gear but not enough money to get out there and use it. However, that’s beside the point because this post is about gear.

Not long ago, I published a post sharing my load out for firearms training courses. Some readers who came across that post, asked me to share what my load out for deer hunting looks like. I pointed them to previous posts where I talked at length about what I consider to be must have, should have and could have gear for deer hunting. However, that didn’t quite fulfill the request. They wanted to know what I personally take when I go deer hunting.

Turns out, as I’m writing this, I’m also preparing to head out on an Axis hunt. Having moments earlier compiled my gear checklist, I figured this would be a good time to share it. Note that I typically use a checklist from a previous hunt and modify it depending on the game I will be pursuing and the expected environmental conditions and terrain.

Keep in mind that I use a layering approach to how I plan my gear. Each layer contains some variation of items typically found in survival kits tailored to the hunting activity. The types of items generally fall in the following categories (referred to in some circles as the 10 C’s plus 1): cutting (tools), combustion, cordage, container, cover, compass (maps), candle (lighting), casualty care, combat, communication, and calories. Some other items are also included. I’ll break down the list into the layering system I will be using.

Belt and Pockets

This is the very first layer that I put on. Literally it is what goes on before I leave the house, tent, sleeping accommodations, etc. and the last items to come off. Gear on my belt and in my pockets go with me wherever I go. I’m never without them. As such, I figured this would be a good place to start. Here is what I will be carrying:

Notice I haven’t covered all of the item categories in this layer. This is intentional as several other items will be included in the next layers.

Shoulders and Pack

The gear that is slung on my shoulders is gear that is likely to be next to me, but I will put down. Generally speaking it will be available, but may take a moment to get. Some of the items in this layer will provide redundancy to what is on my person, but I’ve still paired it down to keep the pack light. Here is what I will include in this layer:

The first two layers provide everything I need to remain comfortable and ready to spot, identify, take, field dress, and pack out a deer. Even though the upcoming hunt will take place on a private ranch and the host will provide several game harvesting and lodging services, I’m still ready to take care of whatever I need to take care of on a successful hunt. The load out at this point also has plenty of items and tools to help me get through any potential threats (unexpected injury or threatening wildlife).


My vehicle won’t be far away and provides yet another layer of gear. Most of the gear in the truck deals with harvesting and transporting game. It also provides replacement of consumable items and other items to assist other members of the hunting party should it be required. Here is what goes in the truck:

This layer resupplies the other two layers and adds everything else that may be needed to break down harvested game for transport.

It’s important to note that not all this equipment is required in order to hunt deer. It’s just what I plan on taking on my next hunt. A lot of the gear on here is used for other activities. For example, some of the items are part of what I carry every day. Many of the items include things that also end up in the range bag for other firearm related activities. Some components are general use camping gear and others are tidbits from survival kits.

I hope that by sharing this folks get some ideas of what gear they want to add or remove from their deer hunting load outs. I’ll reiterate what I wrote at the beginning of this post, avoid putting too much emphasis on acquiring gear and put more emphasis on getting out and using what you have. I recommend starting with the essentials with a dab of other useful and likely to be used items. Then after using them make adjustments to the load out by removing what didn’t work and adding what was missing. The load out will get fine tuned over time and will build up to include additional items that will enhance the experience. All it takes is a bit of trial and a few moments of retrospection to prioritize changes.

Looking back at this load out, I’ve realized there is a sizable list of gear that I have yet to review. After some discussions with readers on social media, I’ve decided I will dedicate some time and several posts in the immediate future to review these items. I will likely just start at the top of the list and proceed through it, unless of course a reader requests the review of a specific item in this load out. As such, if you happen to see an item on this list you would like to see me review sooner then please let me know by either commenting below, sending me a note via this blog, or a note after connecting with me via Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.


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