Deer season is just around the corner, so don't get caught up a tree without the right hunting gear!
Deer hunting in the southeastern U.S. can be glorious and miserable at the same time.
We might have a pleasantly cool sunrise, which is perfect for hunting. It can quickly turn into a hot, muggy, mosquito-filled morning, making us want to drop all our hunting gear and head back inside.
We're deer hunters, and that's what we're going to do, despite the temperature or constant buzz of mosquitoes. We need to make sure we're 100 percent prepared for anything in those woods.
Obviously, the most essential component of your hunting gear is your weapon. I am partial to my grandfather's Winchester Model 70 .308, but I would love to get into bowhunting.
So whether you're a rifle person or forever an archer, get a weapon you know how to shoot and trust to shoot accurately.
Now, on to the rest of your gear.
1. Bug Suit
Remember the mosquitoes I mentioned? If you're a deer hunter in the southeast, you know exactly what I am talking about. They might as well become our state bird. Don't think a long-sleeved shirt and pants will thwart their attempts to bite you.
A bug suit is an essential well into the season with our tepid climate. As an added bonus, you're automatically camouflaged.
You'll need a way to get your gear into the stand with you, and a camo backpack is perfect for hauling it around.
When you have to field dress your kill and pack it out of the woods, you'll be thankful to have something to strap it to other than your body.
3. Bungee Cord
Once you're up in the stand with your gun and backpack, you might be short on room. Hunting a climber? There's definitely no room for your gear. Use a bungee cord, or something similar, to strap your bag to the stand or tree and get it safely out of your way.
The last thing you want to do is get ready to take a shot, then accidentally knock over your bag and spill its contents for all the woods to hear.
Back to those mosquitoes. I almost always take a Thermacell with me when I am hunting, even in the duck blind.
Whether it's hot or cold outside, creating a barrier around you to keep mosquitoes away can impact your hunt. It can mean the difference between a pleasant, still hunt and constantly trying to get the bugs from buzzing in front of your face without moving your hands.
In the southeast, our leafy, green forests remain exactly that way well into the season. If you think you can get away without camouflaging your face, you're wrong.
Hunt uncovered against the wooded backdrop, and you might as well hold a sign saying, "Over Here!"
On a similar note, you could have your entire body perfectly camouflaged and forget your hands.
When you raise your gun or bow with uncovered hands, you are instantly spotted by the whitetail in front of you. Make sure your hands blend into the leafy camouflage you're wearing and the scenery around you.
Was that a deer I just saw sneaking through the brush at the top of that ridge? Is that an 8 or 10-point buck 250 yards away? My eyes can't see that far, and I'm betting most people are in the same boat.
Binoculars can make your hunt way better by bringing the woods and fields around you into a much better view.
Speaking of a big buck 250 yards away - or is it closer to 300? Heck, yardage matters at much closer distances, especially if you're bowhunting. The length of those soybean fields can be tricky.
Don't miss your shot, or take an unethical one, because you weren't able to correctly calculate the distance. Get a rangefinder and let it do the work for you.
9. Scent Control
It's always a good idea to minimize your scent when hunting. We southeastern hunters can have a somewhat tougher time doing so, particularly this time of year.
Yes, I'm talking about how our bodies react to being covered head to toe in camouflage, in 95 degree heat, on a September afternoon. You don't have to be working out to sweat like you are.
Scent control can go a long way in preventing your scent from wafting too far.
Early morning hunts and dark evenings deep in the woods mean you have a pretty good chance of walking right into a pine tree or tripping over an oak's protruding root. Well, that's what I've heard.
Don't make the mistake of trying to shimmy 20 feet down a tree in a climber without a source of light, because you were too stubborn to come down earlier and now it's dark thirty.
Well, there you have it. Double check your list, and get prepared.
With your essential hunting gear ready to go, we're hopefully in for a banner season!