I’m normally not the guy who says you need to drag a bunch of junk to the woods to kill a deer. In general I believe most hunters take too much stuff to their treestand—which usually is only a few hundred yards from their truck. However, I’ll admit that over the years I’ve collected a few pieces of gear that make taking game with a bow slightly easier; others simply make the hunt more enjoyable. Here they are.
Quality Safety Harness I’m always amazed at the number of hunters who don’t wear a safety harness while in a treestand. What value you place on your life is your business, but most hunters will kill more deer if they’re relaxed, comfortable and not worried about falling to their death. Most harnesses have pockets to keep other gear organized. You can even lean on the harness if you have a tough shot angle. We all know a guy who was killed or maimed by falling from a tree. Don’t be that guy. MSRP: $59-$139.
Great Binocular with Harness Some folks argue that treestand-based bowhunters don’t need a binocular because if the animal is in bow range they can see it clearly enough. This, of course, is nonsense. Hunters shouldn’t use binoculars only to gauge trophy quality; rather, they should use them to spot animals they wouldn’t otherwise see, and to spot them sooner, allowing extra seconds to get into shooting position. For spot-and-stalk hunting they are an absolute must. Buy an 8X or 10X, 32mm to 42mm bino of the best quality you can afford, and then add a harness that keeps it snug to your chest so it won’t interfere with your bowstring. I like Swarovski’s EL 10x32, but there are plenty of great options costing a quarter as much. Buy one, because it will help you kill more game. MSRP: $2,000.
Folding Bow Hanger A folding bow hanger that screws into the tree and places your bow at your fingertips so you can access it in seconds with little movement is worth its 6-ounce weight in deer steaks. The Bow Hanger from Primos is perfect. It folds up to fit in a pocket and installs in seconds to free up your hands to glass, grunt or play on your phone. Back in camp you can use it to hang your coat, bow or a lantern. MSRP: $15.
Lighted Nocks I’m a big fan of lighted nocks because they make finding lost animals—and lost arrows—easier. While there’s an argument that says animals can see them coming better than non-lighted nocks, which makes game more apt to duck the string, I haven’t seen evidence of that.
One of the best clues regarding when to follow up wounded game comes by examining the blood on the arrow—but that only works if you can find the arrow. Lighted nocks, such as those from Lumenok or Nockturnal, make arrows stand out like lightning bugs in a night sky. Plus you’ll save money by finding more of your arrows after whiffs on the practice range.
Portable Ground Blind Many bowhunters today hunt exclusively from treestands because that’s what they’ve always done, but there are plenty of situations best hunted from the ground—if the hunter can be concealed. This is why a portable ground blind is a godsend.
Of course the tent-like units from Ameristep and other makers are great especially when set up in advance, but even small foldable blinds like the Portable Ground Blind from Hunters Specialties are highly effective for setting up on a ridge or funnel and concealing a hunter’s draw. Carry it in your backpack or on your belt, and throw it up in seconds. While you’ll probably stick to your tree most of the time, having the option of going to the ground with a portable blind is a great trick for your bag. Ultimately you’ll kill more game. MSRP: $25.