Bow Hunting Must Haves For Any Situation—Complete List

In Bowhunting by Devin N.

 

Whether you’re hunting from the ground or hunting from above, there are just some things you need to make your trip go more smoothly.  It’s true that bowhunting doesn’t require a lot of gear in order to really get out there and make the most out of your trip, but if you want things to go a little easier, having that extra gear definitely wouldn’t hurt.

Bowhunting from the ground and bowhunting from the tree stand are two different things and require different equipment for each, but there are some essentials that you should bring that will apply to any hunting situation.

Before going on your bowhunting trip, determine what gear you will need to pack up and what gear you will want to leave at home so that you are not stuck lugging around extra, unneeded weight and equipment.

Keep in mind that these are the items I bring for each of my hunts, depending on if I’m hunting from the ground or from a tree stand, and will be pretty much provide everything you need to not only hunt but to hunt with confidence.  Some hunters like to go “bare bones” when they hunt, but to me, this just makes thing a lot more difficult, especially to bowhunting newcomers.

To make this list a little more digestible, I broke it up into three sections to help you get a better understanding of what exactly you’ll need for each hunting strategy.

Bow Hunting In General

Backpack

Backpacks Are Great For Carrying Gear

You need a backpack simply because this is where you will be putting all of your hunting gear and essentials in.  Investing in a sizeable backpack with departments and lots of room will help staying organized a breeze and will allow you to easily access any gear you may need at any given time.

Backpacks are also helpful for carrying around extra equipment or backup items that may become of use to you as you hunt.  Losing an arrow, getting clothes dirty, or even running out of battery power on your flashlight are not uncommon occurrences, so bring a pack that will allow you to store these things in as well.

Bow

If you’re a bowhunter then obviously, you will need a bow.  Having a bow will allow you to take down game ranging anywhere from a squirrel to an elephant and needs to come with you before leaving the house.  I can’t imagine anyone looking into becoming a bowhunter and forgetting the bow, but just in case that ever was to happen, just know that this is the most important piece of gear you will need when it comes to this sport.

To be honest, It doesn’t matter what kind of bow you decide to choose before getting into this, so don’t stress yourself out too much when it comes to picking one out.  If I were to recommend one, though, it’d definitely be a compound bow.  The reason being is simply because this is what I use the most when hunting and is also what I see the most from fellow hunters as well.

Since deer is a commonly sought after deer, a good draw weight to have when choosing your bow to easily take one down should be at about 40 pounds or greater.  If you want to take it up a notch and hunt bigger game animals such as elk or moose, you should choose a draw weight of 50 pounds greater.

Arrows

There is some equipment that might be optionable when looking for bow equipment, but arrows aren’t one of them.  The arrows you pick will be completely dependent on your bow and what type of game you will be going after.

Certain arrows will damage your bow and can make hunting useless.  If you’re looking to shoot a compound bow then grab arrows made for compound bows.  Arrows that have a wooden spine probably will not hold up too well against a bow with a draw weight of 50 lbs, for example, so consult with a salesman at your local archery shop when choosing them.

To get an idea of what type of arrow shafts are out there, here is a short list:

  • Wooden Arrows
  • Fiberglass Arrows
  • Carbon Arrows
  • Aluminum Arrows  
Optics

Optics are great for aiming down your sights, giving more accurate shots, and for spotting and spying on wild game that is far away from you.  If you’re a late night hunter, I suggest picking up a sight with pins that illuminate so that you don’t risk losing accuracy.

If you’re not a night hunter, then you don’t have to worry about that, but it is always a good idea to have a pair anyways.

Also, binoculars will allow you to visually hunt down game while you are tucked away in your ground blind or in a tree stand.  Wild game, such as deer, can cover ground way faster then we can, so being able to pick up where they are without being anywhere near them can help out a ton.

Release

Having a good release will allow you to shoot more accurately and spare your fingers of pain from pulling back your bowstring over and over again.  Shooting with a release aid will also prevent more twang in your shot and can assist you in keeping your shots more consistent.

Accuracy is very critical when it comes to tagging down your next wild animal and can be difficult to maintain if you are shooting from many yards away, so having a release will definitely help you with hitting the target on the mark more times than not.

Shooting without a release is not impossible, but it will take a lot of time to master and isn’t recommended since shooting with one can make things a whole lot easier.

Stabilizer

Stabilizers are one of those essentials that you will not see many hunters without, and for many reasons.  One reason is that they absorb vibrations that occur when shot, reducing the jolt that you feel in your hand.

They’re also good for making your bow quieter, therefore reducing your chances of scaring away game, and giving your bow more weight for a more balanced shot. With all the benefits stabilizers provide, it’d be too hard to resist shooting without one.

You can shoot without one, but it may hurt your ability to shoot more effectively by doing so.  The vibration your bow sends through your body after a shot can be jarring without one and the noise it makes as well can increase your chances of spooking wild game away.

Range Finder

Taking a shot from a long distance can be very challenging unless you are well experienced and even then can take many months if not years to fully perfect.  If you want to make things a little easier on yourself while you learn, then a rangefinder can help you with that.

Rangefinders help by measuring the distance between you and your target and will let you know where you need to position your bow for your shot.  Some rangefinders today can even be used to take the angle you’re shooting your target from into consideration.

If you’re looking to bowhunt and you want to ensure that most all of your shots will be accurate, then picking up a rangefinder will probably be in your best interest.   

Practice Target

No matter how good you get at shooting your bow, you will always need a practice target.  Practice targets allow you to sharpen your shot and can be used to brush up your shooting skills before a hunt.

Rustiness does occur if you do not shoot your bow for a long time, so having a target to help make sure you don’t go out to the field in bad shape is mandatory in my book.  There are many targets to choose from including foam and paper targets, but if you’re looking to get a real-life experience and want to practice on something that will get you more prepared than any other target, then grab yourself a 3d target, preferably one of the animal you mostly hunt.

This will help prepare you for the real deal and will keep your skills nice and tight for your next hunt. 

Entertainment

This item is more optional than not, but bringing along some form of entertainment along with you on your trip can help a lot with keeping yourself occupied while you hunt.  Unfortunately, hunting isn’t always a super exciting experience and can require a lot of sitting and waiting for a long amount of time, so having something to take your mind off of a slow hunt will help stop you from packing up and leaving to another location or back to the house.

A few things that keep me entertained while I hunt includes drawing, reading, playing apps on my phone, and texting my buddies.  Just remember to turn your volume down on all devices and turning off notifications so that you don’t scare off any animals.  

Snacks

Bring Snacks To Stay Replenished

When running or even walking for hours on end, you can work up an appetite.  Having snacks can help satisfy your hunger and replenish your lost energy so that you can hunt even longer.  Hunting on an empty stomach is not recommended and could cause you to become nauseous or less focused when tracking down animals.

Keep in mind that certain animals have a keen sense of smell and hearing and will be able to spot your location if the snack you have carries too much of an odor or creates too much noise.  Potato chips are a good example of this.

If your snacks comes in bag, you should store it in a ziplock bag instead.  Ziplock bags will help reduce noise when opened and will be good at containing any scents that the snack is giving off after zipping back up.        

Quiver

Besides the bow and arrows, quivers are just one of those items that are not optional.  Your quiver will hold your arrows and will even protect you from cutting or injuring yourself by covering the tips of your arrowheads.

Quivers will usually be carried on either the bow itself or somewhere on you, it doesn’t really matter.  There are many types of quivers out there, but it is recommended to get one that allows full protection and security.

Replacing an actual quiver for something such as a bag or backpack will be unsafe for your health and could even cause holes in your bag.  Holes in your bag could cost you money by causing you to lose your arrows and will prevent you from being able to carry any other important items until it is replaced.

Bow Case

Your bow should be protected at all times, so having a bow case to store it in when you are not hunting is important.  Bow cases can also be used for travel and can help carrying your bow around a little easier.

If your bow is left exposed without a case, it can be tampered with by children and even animals.  Bows are not inexpensive pieces of equipment and we cannot bowhunt without one, so protecting your bow at all costs is a must.

Also, It is likely that you will be carrying your bag or backpack with you while you hunt, so having your case with you to carry your bow around with while you scout an area out or move to a different location can make holding it a lot less awkward.

Depending on what kind of bow you have or get, they can be fairly big and can get in the way if you are holding more than one thing at a time.

Knife

Your knife may serve multiple purposes for you while you’re out in the field but the main purpose it will serve will be to field dress and cut up wild game.  Having a good, sharp knife will make field tasks easier and will allow you to get your game meat hung up that much faster.

Before you leave the house, make sure your knife(or knives) are well sharpened so that you are not having a hard time cutting through game meat.  Dull knives can result in a lot of tugging and may stop you from making clean cuts.

Boots

Wearing boots can and will have many benefits when out in the field.  They can help with keeping feet warm and insulated on those colder days and will also help with getting through rainy and muddy land.

Aside from keeping your feet protected from harsh and nasty weather conditions, they can also be used to easily navigate your way through slick hunting grounds by providing grip and comfort that allow you to do so.  Of course, this will depend on the type of boot you have, though.  But, if I were to give any recommendations for boots, it’d definitely be a pair of non-slip ones.

Non-slip boots are not only important for walking through the hunting grounds without slipping everywhere but are also good at ensuring your safety.  Injuries can happen if you are wearing a pair of boots that are not designed or built for harsh weather conditions, so it is best to pick up a pair so that you will have one less thing to worry about while you hunt.

Hunting Clothes

Of course, when hunting, you will need hunting clothes.  The type of hunting clothes you get or wear will be completely dependent on the weather and should be taken into consideration before buying.

Unlike your ordinary, everyday clothes, hunting clothes will help with keeping you blended in with the environment and will even provide warmth and good coverage for any stains that you may get on you, such as animal blood.

Animal blood can carry parasites and can be pretty nasty to deal with if you are wearing clothes that allow for fluids to soak through easily.  Also,  when walking through the field, you are likely to get dirty.  Having clothes dedicated to hunting will knock out the stress of being worried about ruining your clothes and will prevent you from constantly having to buy new ones.

Bowhunting can be a messy sport, so having the right clothes for it is absolutely important for dealing with that.  

Thermacell

Staying Protected From Mosquitoes

If you were to ask hunters what the main item was that they couldn’t head to the field without, this would probably be that item.  For many, hunting while aggressively getting attacked by mosquitos is worse than dealing with cold, freezing temperatures.

Mosquitos can be a huge nuisance and can even mess a good shot up by giving us that itchy, pinching feeling that we’re all too familiar with.  Having a Thermacell on you will create a 15-foot barrier around you and will give you lots of protection between you and the mosquitos.

Hunting without a Thermacell device can make focusing very difficult and will leave you with a million bites by the time your trip is over. 

Game Bags

If you’re looking to tag and bag any kind of game while you are out hunting, then it is a good idea to bring along some good game bags.  Many have tried to get away with using bags that are not particularly meant for bagging game meat, but it is not recommended and for good reason.

Using bags that are not meant for hunting, such as grocery bags or trash bags, can result in your game meat harvesting a ton of bacteria due to heat entrapment and will ruin your meat by giving it too much of a gamey taste or by even making you sick.

Having a couple of breathable bags will prevent this from happening and will allow you to properly care for your meat.  Meat has to cool down after bagging up, so any kind of bag will, unfortunately, probably not work.

If you don’t want your venison to taste like hell, then getting your hands on a few netted bags will be great for bagging your meat in. 

Scent Blocker

Since we know that deer and other wild game animals have a very strong sense of smell, it is important for us to find ways to work around this.  Scent blockers will help you stay unnoticed longer and will allow more game to head into your direction without having a clue that you are in the area.

There are store-bought scent blockers that you can pick up at any given time, but if you are on a budget and don’t want to constantly have to buy bottles just to get rid of scent, then there are ways you can cover the scent by just using what you have around you.

In my opinion, there is no better way to cover scent than by using what the deer are already used to.  So if you’re in the field, pick up some pine and rub it on your body.  If you want to take it a step further, then you could even do a quick roll in a dry pile of leaves.

Make sure to wash your clothes using scent-free items and dry clothes outside if possible to pick up the natural smell of the outdoors on your clothes.

GPS

Nowadays, there are usually signs and mile markers that will help you be able to comfortably and safely navigate your way through the forest, but just in case you steer too far away or if the field you’re hunting in doesn’t provide this, it is good to have a GPS on hand everywhere you go.

Having a GPS can also be great for new hunters who haven’t yet gotten familiar with the land and can help remembering routes much easier.

Sometimes, relying on your own memory and instincts doesn’t always serve you well, so having a good GPS on hand will cut the anxiousness out of having to always worry about where you are headed and what direction you may have come from. 

First Aid Kit

Firstly, you should always make sure you are staying safe and taking the right precautions before, during, and after your hunt.  But if you find yourself in a situation in which you scrape a knee or break a bone from falling out of a tree stand or tripping over an object in the field, then it is good to have a first aid kit on hand.

First aid kits can help buy time by providing immediate attention to wounds and will allow you to quickly clean and cover any scrapes or scratches for protection against dirt and blood that you will be exposed to while you hunt.

Bow Hunting From The Ground Blind

Urination Bottle

Bowhunting from a ground blind can be a long and tedious process, so it probably a good idea to bring everything you need along with you so that you are not stuck in one with your tail in between your legs trying to figure out what to do to.

Unfortunately, we cannot control when we have to use the restroom.  So, if you are in a ground blind and feel like you have to go, then you should probably go.  Having a bottle to pee in can give automatic relief and will allow you to stay in your blind without having to go outside of it just to handle your business.

Holding in your pee can cause potential bladder issues and can call for a very uncomfortable hunting experience if you do not handle it immediately.

Also, make sure to put the cap back on after urinating so that you do not create an odor that animals will be able to pick up on. 

Comfortable Chair

Stay Comfortable In Your Blind

Depending on where you set your ground blind up at, the ground you put it on top of may be very hard and uncomfortable to sit on for a long period of time, so to avoid having to deal with the pain of bruised knees or a sore butt, you should bring along a comfortable chair.

Chairs with good cushion can make your hunting trip a relaxing one and will allow you to avoid being in pain afterwards.

Pruning Kit

Blinds are usually covered and set up around shrubs for the ultimate amount of coverage, so if you plan on hunting from one and want to trim up a bit where you will be viewing your targets from, then having a pruning kit on hand will be very important.

This kit will allow you to quickly snip away any excess shrubbery and can allow you to make quick and last-minute changes to your ground blind before a hunt. 

Bow Hunting From The Tree Stand

Safety Harness

Due to unsafe practices, there are tons of injuries that occur while hunting from the ground and from the tree stand.  But if you are hunting from a stand, the chances of you injuring yourself are even greater.

Tree stands require lots of climbing to get in and out of and can even cause injury if not set up correctly.  If you want to stay safe in the tree stand, you will want to make sure everything is tight and that everything is set up how it’s supposed to be.  Double or triple check before climbing into one for reassurance.

After you set your stand up, it is now time to attach the safety harness.  This will prevent you from sustaining serious injuries or even death from falling out of your stand and will give you that extra peace of mind while you are up there. 

Pull Up Rope

If you have items that you want to pull up from the ground to your stand, then a pull-up rope will be great for this.  Pull up ropes can be used to quickly grab equipment ranging anywhere from a bottle of water to backup arrows that you may need for your hunt.

It will also help to prevent you from having to constantly climb up and down from your stand to get the items that you need.  Pulling items up from your stand can be hard on your back if the items you are pulling are too heavy, so keep the items that you absolutely need to a minimum so that you can spare your back from any strain that may occur from doing so. 

Conclusion

In my honest opinion, bowhunting is about using all the resources you can to have a successful hunt.  I don’t recommend buying every single thing that others suggest or everything you may think will help you in the archery shop, but I do recommend bringing the gear you need to make your trip easier.

The hunters that have the most rewarding hunts are the ones who are utilizing their equipment to the best of their ability and not cutting themselves short from doing anything that will give them anything less than an amazing hunt.

Having these basic items will not only keep you safe but will give you exactly what you need to have a successful hunt.  The items you need for hunting from a blind, stand, or just from the ground will differ slightly, but for the most part, will be the same and can be applied to any hunting strategy that you decide to go with.