Deer Pack Essentials

by Phillip Gentry

Upstate Outdoors
September 27, 2019 - 9:07 am

The sport of deer hunting has not been immune from advances in technology and tactics when it comes to taking a stand for hunting whitetails. Deer hunters run the gamut from bringing nothing more than a weapon and a pair of boots to an organized pack that contains everything but the kitchen sink.

Regardless of which denomination you fall under, considering this list of essentials, along with the explanations for their inclusion in your deer pack, could help you bag more bucks this season.

Binoculars – Veteran hunters will put a good pair of binoculars at the top of their list when it comes to deer pack essentials. Binoculars are a great aid in helping the hunter see deer both near and far and are especially useful at judging a deer’s headgear.

Binoculars not only help you see deer at long clear distances but also distinguish animals before daylight and at sunset that you can’t see with the naked eye. Other benefits include being able to make sense of what you see or think you might be seeing by setting the focus at a fixed range and looking through tree limbs in the foregrounds. 

Rangefinder – Some hunters may scoff at the extravagance of carrying a range finder into the woods but having a range finder is worth the effort when it comes time to make the shot, especially using archery tackle.

Spend the first half hour or so while you’re waiting for the woods to settle back down using the finder to range trees and then memorizing those distances. Draw mental circles around your stand for quick reference on which sight pin to use. That eliminates guessing if you have to make a quick shot at a passing deer.

Grunt Call – Deer are vocal animals that communicate with each other year-round, not just during the rut as so many hunters believe. Most hunters would rather a deer not have a clue that there is a hunter anywhere around, but grunt calls can be used to coax deer out of thickets you can’t see in as well as to give come back calls when one crosses an open area without presenting a shot.

Grunt calls can also be used to soothe a nervous doe that’s on the verge of busting a hunter in the stand and may simply leave the area rather than blow and stomp for 30 minutes after a few grunts on the tube.

Thermocell Insect Repeller – The days of either swatting or suffering insect bites in silence are over with the invention of insect repellant devices.  Allethrin, a synthetic copy of a natural repellent found in chrysanthemum plants, is the repellant of choice for Thermacell, the Maryland –based manufacturer that has replaced bug spray with hand-held butane heaters that create a 15 foot radius of mosquito and tick protection for deer stand hunters.

In addition, the smell of the plant repellant is not alarming to deer.

Scent Killer Spray – Defeating a deer’s nose goes a long way towards being able to harvest him in the woods. Hunters may be accustomed to spraying down with scent killer before they leave the house, or camp, or even the truck, but he carries a bottle of scent killer with him in the stand.

Some hunters spray their boots down before they walk, but it’s nearly impossible not to sweat especially early in the season when you’re wearing full clothing and hiking into the woods. Carry a spray bottle of scent killer in your pack to spray your stand once you get set up. Plus the spray doubles as a wind indicator telling you what kind of draft currents you might have to deal with.

Toilet Paper – Aside from its intended purpose, toilet paper has several other applications that make it indispensable as a deer pack staple.

Doubling as trail markers for tracking wooded deer, lens wipes to clean up your optics in the event of rain or dust, and with the addition of a role of electrical or duct tape, can be a suitable substitute for a make shift bandage should the need arise for one.


Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM or online at 

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