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Hunting Gear

Here is a list of the hunting equipment that you should have access to while deer hunting.  You don't have to carry it all with you as long as you have access to it from a vehicle or camp.

  • Compass
  • Flashlight and/or a lantern
  • Knife with a 3 1/2" or larger blade
  • Rope, 12' or more of 3/8 or heavier for hauling deer
  • A field dressing kit
  • A plastic bag for heart and liver

Never enter the woods without a compass.  You would be amazed at how easily one can become disoriented in the woods, particularly after dark while searching for a dead deer.  The compass should be the liquid filled type.  If it is not liquid filled the magnet can pick up a static electric charge and stick to the bottom of the compass case, rendering it useless.

You should have a flashlight on your person when hunting, but that will not be sufficient for tracking a blood trail or finding a deer in the dark.  You should have a large lantern type flashlight available in your vehicle or camp for tracking.  In the fall when there are red colored leaves on the ground, it is often difficult to distinguish between blood and leaves.  A special flashlight has been advertised to clearly distinguish blood, but this author has found it almost useless as the red leaves show up essentially the same as blood.

Be sure your knife is sharp.  In field dressing your deer you will cut through the sternum which is difficult to cut even with a sharp knife.

A field dressing kit will have long sleeve plastic gloves that will protect your hands and arms from contact with the animal's blood.  It may also have a bag for heart and liver, but a plastic grocery type bag with handles is more practical.

Deer hunting is usually done from an elevated platform.  There are three basic types of elevated platforms, the tree stand, the ladder stand, and the climber.  The tree stand is a platform with a connected seat.  Often the attachment to the tree is via a chain and a tee handled screw.  A couple of 1" ratchet straps in addition to the chain greatly stabilizes the stand. 

A stick ladder is usually used to climb up to the tree stand.  It is nothing more than a single 1" square steel tube with 5" rungs protruding from alternating sides of the tube, and metal standoffs that keep it about 4" away from the tree.  It comes in 5' lengths that fit together, each length being tied around the tree.  The ties are hard to tighten sufficiently to stabilize the ladder.  A few ratchet straps around the tree and ladder will make the ladder much safer.  This system is the most unobtrusive of the elevated platforms, but the down side is that getting up on your stand from the stick ladder can be downright dangerous.  It is great if your tree has a limb to hang on to while getting into your stand.  When using any kind of elevated platform  you need a harness to protect you from falling.  A person can fall asleep while sitting in a tree stand for long periods of time.

A ladder stand is a ladder with a top platform that rests against the tree and straps in place.  It has the advantage of being the easiest to enter.  It is no harder than climbing any ladder.  The danger is in the installation.  You put the ladder together, lean the top against the tree, then climb to the top to strap the stand to the tree.  It is best to have someone stabilize the ladder, although it can be safely alone.  Tie two ropes, one to each sides of the platform.  Take the left rope around the tree and tie it to another tree to the right of the stand.  Do the same with the right rope, tying it to a tree on the left side.  The ladder stand is much more noticeable than a tree stand.  It should be set up long before hunting season.  Deer are quite aware of things that don't belong in the woods.

A climbing stand has the advantage of being easily moved from one location to another.  Deer are good at patterning humans.  In Michigan where baiting is legal, once one deer is spooked from a bait pile deer will only visit it at night.  Whether they can communicate or not I don't know, but as a practical matter the stand seems to become useless after spooking one deer.  You may as well set up in a different spot.  The ease of being moved makes the climbing stand very useful in this situation.  However, the climbing stand has to be left at the base of the tree where it is readily visible by the deer and potential thieves, or removed and hidden.  The latter is a pain.

A number of ground blinds have been marketed that claim to be appropriate for hunting with a bow.  Some of these contain your scent and allow you to shoot through a screened window.  This author has used a tent-like blind in an abandoned orchard where there were no suitable trees for an elevated platform.  I found that there wasn't quite room to conveniently draw my bow, and I had to continually beware of touching the blind with my broad heads because they cut the plastic.  I didn't even see a deer in three weeks, so finally I got disgusted and set up a tree stand in another location. Within four days I shot a large doe.  Although I am sure there are others who have had success with ground blinds, I will not recommend one.

If you are going to hunt from a ground blind or even a ladder stand it should be set up two weeks to a month before season starts.  Deer are pretty good at distinguishing things that are out of place.  They will avoid them during daylight hours until they get used to them.  The advantage of a tree stand and stick ladder is that it is far less obtrusive.

2007 Bow Hunter's Advantage

906-482-6557 P.O. Box 467, Dollar Bay, MI 49922