Hunting deer can really rev an appetite, and there is no worse feeling in the treestand than being hangry. Long sits can become brutal on an empty stomach, so be prepared with plenty of snacks on your next hunting trip.
The criteria for a perfect treestand snack is something that is easily packable, minimally messy, and shelf- (or hunting pack-) stable. Snacks to avoid bringing out to the woods are anything overly smelly, loud, or crunchy. And be sure to remove any packaged snacks from noisy wrappers and stick them in a Ziploc baggie for minimal sound and ease of opening in the field.
The following dozen-plus hunting snacks fill the bill. Bon appetit!
1. Energy Balls
Energy balls, sometimes called protein balls, are delicious little protein powerhouses made with nuts, nut butters, seeds, dates, and other natural ingredients. They're portable, healthy, and can easily be made at home with a few simple ingredients. They are also high in protein and healthy fats. For some extra sweetness, add in some chocolate chips or honey.
2. Jerky & Meat Sticks
Is there anything better to eat when hunting for meat than chowing on more meat? Load up on beef jerky and beef sticks—or better yet, go with meat snacks of the venison variety—for plenty of protein when your body needs it most. Venison jerky will also keep you chewing longer to warm you up and kill some time as you wait on that monster buck to pass by.
3. Summer Sausage
Along the same lines, the protein found in summer sausage will help stave off hunger and keep hunters' minds sharp while waiting for deer. Summer sausage can be prepackaged or homemade. Or you can go for salami, pepperoni, and chorizo—the choice is yours.
A hard cheese that's not smelly and can go a long time without needing any refrigeration is a good choice to bring along on a hunt. It's creamy and fatty so it keeps hunters satiated for hours.
5. Hard-Boiled Eggs
This one requires some pre-planning but hard-boiled eggs are perfect because they pack a high nutritional boost and solid protein. A couple of hard-boiled eggs around lunchtime is enough to keep the hunger at bay for quite a long time.
6. Trail Mix
After processed meat, there's no snack more synonymous with hunting than GORP, a.k.a., Good Ole Raisins and Peanuts). But trail mix isn't just limited to this basic combo: Plenty of artisanal blends feature cashews, white chocolate chips, and a variety of dried fruits to satisfy a sweet tooth and gut-wrenching treestand hunger.
One time on a gear-testing hunt, we dubbed a convenient rectangular pocket on a new jacket the "Pop-Tart pocket" because it was perfectly sized for this early morning, deer-hunter favorite. Jokes aside, these tasty rectangles are a good option for mid-hunt snacking when a sweet craving strikes.
8. Snack Bars
Granola bars, protein bars, energy bars: They're all compact and calorie-dense for any hunting trip and intended to be eaten on the go. If you haven't tried the Chocolate Sea Salt RX Bar, move it to the top of your list and thank me later. Another favorite is any flavor Mtn Ops bars.
Gummy worms, gummy bears, gummy sharks—and don't forget their sour counterparts. I'd like to consider myself a gummy connoisseur and buy just about every variety of gummies in bulk on a regular basis during hunting season.
10. Fruit or Protein Smoothies
Eating healthy foods while hunting will help you stay alert and feel better. Fruit or protein smoothies or shakes are a portable, quiet, and tasty option. Whether you mix up a powder shake or blend up some frozen fruit at home, pack it in a cold thermos and sip all day. Yum.
11. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a classic hunter snack. They are cheap, simple, and healthy. Try either the shelled version to enjoy by the handful or the unshelled version for occupying your time when the hunting is slow.
12. Dried Fruit
Mango, pineapple, cranberries, coconut, or whatever dried fruit you prefer, makes a quick burst of energy and fends off a hungry tummy. Another option is some chewy fruit leather.
As long as its not loud and crunchy, crackers are great because they either be munched alone or can be paired with other snacks, such as summer sausage and cheese. There are so many flavor options available, the possibilities here are nearly endless.
14. Chicken Strips
This is another option that requires a bit of pre-work but pays off in the end. Chicken offers a savory and filling option that won't make you crash after eating. Cook them up the night before (in the air fryer, if you'll looking to make 'em a little healthier), and enjoy whenever during the day for a true treestand fill-up.
15. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
OK, technically peanut butter is not odor-free, but as an American classic, it stays on the list. Good ole PB&J sandwiches are one of those things most of us still love but rarely find occasion to eat unless we're 20 feet up. Want to kick it up a notch? Swap out the peanut butter for other nut butters like almond or cashew and upgrade your grape Welch's to a fresh berry jam.
READ MORE: Our Favorite Wild Turkey Meat Recipes to Try
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