What's in your bowhunting pack? I'm sure you've got your knives, good gloves, a face mask, and maybe even a good flashlight. Sure, those are the basic necessities for any bowhunt, but I bet there are some useful items you are forgetting to pack, or never even thought to pack in the first place.
If you want to maximize your hunting experience, be more thorough with your pack. It's not about lugging a 30-pound bowling ball of a pack through the woods. In fact, with some small and light extra gear beyond your basic bowhunting gear, you can get much more utility out of your day—and hunt better.
I carry all of the following bowhunting "bonus gear" myself. Each item has been useful at one point or another. Here are 10 bowhunting pack essentials you are probably forgetting.
1. Backup Release
A release is one of the most vital pieces of gear necessary for sending an arrow downrange. And let me tell you, it would be a bad feeling to be sitting in the stand and realize that you don't have yours. It happens.
I've even dropped mine to the ground after spending 20 minutes nestling into my tree for the day. The point is: It doesn't hurt to have a spare in your pack; you never know when you'll need it.
2. Zip Ties
Why wouldn't you keep this handy tool in your pack? Zip ties have so many uses. A common one for me is using them to fix a tag to an antler or leg. They can also be used to hold limbs together in a hunting setup or for small gear repairs. Keeping a handful in a sandwich bag in your pack is a good idea. They also take up very little space and are virtually weightless.
When I started bowhunting as a kid, my dad prepared a small fanny pack that I carried. It had very little in it—but one item was a cheap compass. The compass still works well and hasn't left my pack since. Generally, I know where I am in the woods, and we all have digital mapping solutions now to aid us in direction. But a hunter knows better than to depend on a phone that could die. And especially when you're hunting new lands, it's great to be sure of the way home.
Ozark Trail Lensatic Compass
4. A Book
The best part of the season is about spending most of your day in a tree. Things can get a little tedious up there. And there's something about reading a book rather than your phone. This is a great time to read a couple of chapters. Books are great because they require very little movement, and your ears are still available for the hunt. Don't take an amazing book, though—you might not look up from it.
That Wild Country: An Epic Journey through the Past, Present, and Future of America's Public Lands
5. Portable Power Pack
Speaking of phones dying on a long hunt: I keep a portable power pack in my backpack all year. It has enough power for a full phone charge. This is perfect for the days you don't go back to the camp or hotel for a midday nap. Most power packs are only a few ounces as well, so they don't interfere with carrying weight, and many of them double as a multi-tool. In this day and age, it's nice to know you've always got the do-it-all machine in your pocket ready to go.
6. Rubber Gloves
Lucky enough to arrow an animal? Time to field dress it. While rubber gloves are not an absolute necessity, they are definitely a cheap, lightweight luxury. Field dressing is a messy job, and gloves are a great way to keep the bulk of the mess off you. Plus, a good pair adds one more protective layer between your skin and the blade. It's easy to have an accident during this activity, and gloves could definitely lessen the damage and keep you clean.
7. Spare Eyewear
Contact and glasses wearers are vulnerable in the woods. It's easy to knock a contact out or lose your glasses in the fallen leaves. Without my corrective lenses, I'm definitely not shooting a buck, so I always keep a spare set in my backpack.
EyeBuyDirect Algorithm Glasses
Especially if you hunt in the evenings, some light is imperative. A regular flashlight requires the use of hands, making it difficult to see while setting up climbing gear or carrying your equipment out of the woods. I run with a multi-setting headlamp. It keeps my hands free and provides plenty of light to keep me upright and safe.
Cyclops Trio 300 Lumen Headlamp
9. First Aid Kit / Snakebite Kit
You never want to be underprepared in the woods. Whether it's a nasty cut or a venomous snakebite, the best action is quick action. A small kit ready to go in your pack is vital to your health. Obviously, these kits won't help in a life-or-death situation, but they could get you out of a bad bind. I encourage everybody to carry a safety kit when they are hunting.
Be Red Cross Ready First Aid Kit
10. Limb Saw
A good bowhunting setup is always just one or two limbs away from being absolutely perfect. This is where a good, compact limb saw comes in handy. You can trim up your shooting lanes or move limbs around to create better hiding cover in your setup. You can break only very small limbs with your bare hands, but a limb saw will leave you the option to move a 3-inch-diameter limb if you need to. Out of all of my bowhunting pack essentials, my limb saw probably sees the most use.
HME Hunter's Combo Pack
READ MORE: How to Get Your Bow Ready for Deer Season
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