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Getting Ready for the Hunting Season

 Updated on: August 6th, 2022

Getting Ready for the Hunting Season

Much like any event, vacation or retreat, planning for your hunting season shouldn’t be a last-minute, night-before affair. It’s a process that takes preparation, research, and organization well before you venture into the woods. These comprehensive checklists will help you put together everything you need for a safe, successful hunting trip to make this the best hunting season yet.

Here is quick access to the hunting season dates across the United States!

Preparing Paperwork, Plan, and Permissions

Preparation Checklist

  • Driver's License/Personal ID
  • Hunter's Education Card
  • Hunting License
  • Landowner Permission
  • Set up tree stand/ground blind
  • Tags

If you don’t do the upfront legwork before your hunting trip, it could be cut drastically shorter than you had planned. Make sure that you, and everyone in your group, have taken the necessary courses to get a hunter’s education certification card. Required courses and fees vary by state, so double check what the qualifications are for your specific area with a site like Course fees are generally very affordable, and some states also require a state tax on top of the course fee.

Once you’re up to date on your hunter’s education, you must purchase a hunting license that reflects what animal you’ll be hunting as well as the type of firearm you’ll be using. Prices can vary depending on the state, animal, firearm, and whether or not you’re hunting in your home state. If required by the state, you’ll also need to purchase the correct types of carcass tags, and be ready to provide the information to register your kill.

Next comes the planning – look at a map of where you want to hunt, and identify what areas you will need permission from the landowner, as well as any nearby homes, roads or highways where shooting might be restricted or illegal. When you’ve suitably scouted out your hunting location on paper, do it in person so that you can set up your tree stand or ground blind in advance.

Must-Have Hunting Gear

Hunting Gear Checklist

  • Hammer & Stakes
  • Harness
  • Hunting Knife
  • Ratchet Straps
  • Rifle/Bow
  • Scent Attractant
  • Scent-Free Containers
  • Scent-Reduction Spray
  • Binoculars
  • Trail Markers
Great Day Center-Lok Overhead Truck Gun Rack
Great Day Center-Lok Overhead Truck Gun Rack

Besides your bow and arrows, or gun and ammunition, there’s a wide range of equipment you can bring to ensure a successful hunting trip. With a keen sense of smell, deer and other animals will instantly turn the other way if they sense any humans in the area so scent-reduction spray for your clothes, gear, and hunting blind is a must, as well as scent-blocking bags and containers for additional clothing, socks, gloves and more.

On the flip side, having the correct deer scents will help to attract deer to your location. Do research to ensure you’re correctly distributing the scents, and using the correct scent for the time of year that you’re hunting. In addition to scents, there are a variety of calls designed to attract deer to your location. Some popular options are estrus bleat cans, fawn bleat cans, grunt tubes, rattle bags, and snort calls.

Although it’s common to set up tree stands and ground blinds ahead of time, make sure you bring the extras in case of emergency. For tree stands, a harness, rope and extra ratchet straps can go a long way. Similarly, on the ground, additional stakes, a hammer, and a patch kit will be invaluable if conditions turn.

Pack Appropriate Clothing

Clothing Checklist

  • Blaze Orange Cap
  • Blaze Orange Vest
  • Boots
  • Camo Pants
  • Gloves/Fingerless Gloves
  • Insulated Overalls
  • Insulated Parka
  • Jacket
  • Long Underwear
  • Rain Suit
  • Socks

The specific clothing you’ll need for hunting largely depends on the time of year and climate that you will be hunting in. Generally, it’s advisable to dress in multiple layers – a base layer, middle layer, and insulated top layer – to accommodate for shifting temperatures throughout the early morning, afternoon, and evening. Remember you’re likely going to be carrying everything to your designated hunting spot, so don’t over pack. Depending on how long your trip is, you might be able to get away with an extra base layer, a few pairs of extra socks, gloves, and rain gear. Check local rules and regulations to determine how much and what type of blaze orange gear you are required to wear as laws vary by state.

Bring the Necessities

Necessities Checklist

  • 2-Way Radios
  • Batteries
  • Camera
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Flares
  • Flashlight/Headlamp
  • Food/Drinks
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Hand Warmers
  • Hatchet
  • Hearing Protection
  • Hydration Pack
  • Hydration Pack/Canteen
  • Lighter/Matches With Case
  • Mess Kit
  • Rope
  • Safety Glasses
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sunglasses
  • Tent/Tarp Patch Kit
  • Toilet Paper/Paper Towel
  • Toiletries
Orange Hat, Camo Boots, Safety Glasses and Two-Way Radios
A few necessities: Orange Hat, Camo Boots, Safety Glasses and 2-Way Radios

Some of the most important supplies for your hunting trip actually have nothing to do with getting that highly-anticipated kill; focusing on your own safety and overall well-being while hunting can make or break a hunting trip.

Grab a hydration pack or military canteen so you can sip water throughout the day, and make sure you have protein-packed food that will give you the energy you need. Jerky, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, energy bars (remove the wrapper and place in a soft, quiet container before leaving), bananas, and dried fruit are all easy to prepare, pack, and eat while you’re on the hunt. Avoid noisy, smelly, foods that are hard to eat with one hand.

In addition to food and drinks, make sure you’re prepared for any emergency that can arise. Bring a fully-stocked first aid kit, along with a lighter, matches, flares, hatchet, and rope. Make sure you have a fully charged GPS and/or working compass, as well as your basic toiletries.

After the Kill

After the Kill Checklist

  • Folding Saw
  • Freezer Paper/Tape
  • Gambrel
  • Game Bags
  • Game Scale
  • Gutting Gloves
  • Pelvic Saw
  • Permanent Marker
  • Plastic Bags
  • Processing Kit/Knives
  • String/Zip Ties for Tags

Once you’ve killed your deer and found the carcass, having field dressing supplies with you is an absolute must. First and foremost, using a sharp hunting knife will make gutting the deer easier and faster. Keep your hands clean and ward off potential infection by wearing nitrile or latex gloves during the process and bring hand sanitizer to clean your hands afterwards. Two gallon-size bags work well for the heart and liver, and zip ties can be used to tie off the intestinal canal as well as attaching carcass tags. If you prefer to quarter your deer for transport then a saw is a must-have. Bringing a good game cart will make the difference between dragging hundreds of pounds of buck to your campsite or truck and pulling it comfortably along on wheels.

Processing the Meat

After your deer has been skinned and butchered, it’s time to process the meat. Meat processing equipment like a sausage stuffer, meat grinder, tenderizer and dehydrator makes preparing meals with venison simple and fun. For some tasty meal ideas that the whole family will enjoy, check out our roundup of tasty venison recipes!

meat grinder
Standard Meat Grinder for processing

Careful planning can be the difference between a successful, fun hunt and a stressful excursion. When the new hunting season rolls around, you can confidently set off towards your carefully selected and prepared hunting location, knowing that you have everything you need packed and ready to go. Enjoy the thrill of the hunt!