You don’t need everything in the archery shop to go bowhunting, but these essentials will get you started.
Bowhunting gear is fun to collect and even more fun to use. That’s why most bowhunters love walking into archery stores. Even though they love trying the latest gadgets, experienced bowhunters make sure their essential gear is up to the tasks ahead. Let’s discuss the vital equipment you need to get started.
Bows, Arrows, Broadheads
First, you need a bow that’s fitted to you, outfitted with the necessary accessories, and set to an adequate draw weight for bowhunting. You also need arrows, with field points for practicing and broadheads for hunting. To buy bowhunting equipment, it’s best to visit an archery store. These archery pros have the local knowledge and technical expertise to outfit you properly.
The backpack you choose must meet the demands of the areas you hunt. For bowhunters pursuing white-tailed deer, a small daypack can handle lunch, water and hunting gear. You typically won’t be wearing the pack all day on long hikes. Even so, some bowhunters prefer a quality backpack that caries their bow for hands-free hikes to their stand.
If you hunt Western states, a quality backpack is essential. Backpacks come in many sizes to carry various loads, and their frames often adjust to match different torsos. Properly fitted backpacks carry heavy loads comfortably by distributing the weight to the bowhunter’s hips. That’s especially important for Western bowhunters, who must often pack their animal’s meat out of the mountains. As with any gear that requires proper fitting, buy your backpack from a store that employs an experienced hunter to help you test and choose the right size and model.
A field-dressing kit is something you hope to use on every hunt. It includes latex gloves and a sharp knife for most deer hunts, plus a knife sharpener and bone saw for back-country elk hunts. If you’ve never field dressed an animal, print out field-dressing instructions and keep them in your kit.
Good, sturdy, broken-in boots fit your feet and protect them in any weather. Dry, warm, blister-free feet keep you feeling great so you can hunt hard and long. Base your selection on the time of autumn and your hunting locations. Western hunts require rugged boots that hold your foot firmly to protect your toes during steep descents. Also, boot sizing can vary, so visit a reputable store and try on several pairs before deciding. If you hunt in warm climates, boots should be breathable. If you hunt wetlands and marshes, choose quality calf-high rubber boots. And if you’re hunting cold regions, don’t scrimp on insulated boots, especially if you’re sitting for hours at a time on treestands or inside ground blinds.
Proper fit is also critical for bowhunting clothes. When you release the bowstring, you can’t afford to have it strike baggy clothing that sends your arrow off target. Proper fitting clothes are comfortable and practical. Try on clothing at the store to spare headaches and heartaches later.
As with your boots, hunting clothes must match the conditions where you hunt. Early-autumn hunts in warm temperatures require lightweight clothing made from moisture-wicking fabrics. For cold conditions, choose layering systems that include a base layer, insulation layer and an outer shell so you can regulate your temperature. Don’t forget that warm hats, gloves and socks are vital to cold-weather hunting.
Maps, Compass, Flashlight, First-Aid Kit
To top off your essentials at the store, pick up a map, compass and first-aid kit for your backpack in case you need them. Also buy a quality headlamp, and backup flashlight for your backpack. A headlamp lights your path while keeping your hands free.
Finally, many bowhunters consider wind indicators essential gear. Keep one handy at all times to monitor wind direction, which helps you fool an animal’s nose by setting up downwind whenever possible.
Keep one thing in mind about this bowhunting gear list: The equipment we’ve discussed is general, and will vary by region. Western hunts, for example, are far different on the Great Plains than the Rocky Mountains. For specific gear advice for bowhunting your area, check with your nearest archery shop. If heading to the West, look up an archery shop near your destination, call for advice, and stop in when you’re out there. The staffs at these stores are savvy bowhunters who can provide great advice on what you need to start bowhunting.