Basic Gear for the New Deer Hunter

Being properly dressed is a very important part of any hunt, but especially so with deer hunting. On any given day, you may go from a leisurely walk to your stand to sitting still for hours and then, with some luck and skill, you’ll be exerting much energy field dressing and dragging out your deer back to the truck. During the hunt you may be in an enclosed blind, which cuts down on wind exposure, or perched high in a tree stand exposed to all the elements. For each of these scenarios and everything in between, you’ll need to dress according and also for the weather. An example:

I spend the majority of my time hunting deer in New York’s Catskills and Adirondacks, so the weather is both cold and ever-changing during our deer season there. I’ve come to appreciate wool clothing from companies like Jagdhund and Filson for their ability to breathe and yet keep me warm when it gets wet. I also appreciate modern fabrics for base layers—Under Armour garments wick moisture away from your skin wonderfully. 

Note I mentioned base layers. In colder climes, layering your clothing is vital. That long walk into your stand will leave you sweating, and putting on layers once you’re situated in your stand, you’re quickly going to chill as that sweat dries, and that makes for a long, uncomfortable day of hunting. But layering isn’t limited to cold-weather hunts. Deer hunting in southern climes can start with very cool pre-dawn hours, but by mid-morning you’re roasting. A base layer of a breathable, wicking layer should be a no-brainer, with a lighter layer or two on top for the walk to the stand and those hours before the sun amps up to broil.

A note about camouflage. It is very important to bowhunters, as they need to be close to game. Remember, camo is about breaking up the shape of the human form, something most animals recognize as danger, rather than hiding you in totality. That said, it certainly doesn’t hurt those who enjoy hunting with a firearm, but sitting still and staying downwind of a deer is more important than any camo pattern. Too, nearly every firearms deer season in this country requires the use of blaze orange. Amounts of blaze orange required will vary by state and sometimes locality, so check your game regulations carefully to make sure you’re in compliance.

Photograph Courtesy of Phil Massaro

Quiet, comfortable, warm clothing helps you stay on the deer stand longer, increasing your odds of success. For hunting in the Northeast, the author prefers layered clothing, usually of a natural material like wool.

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