What do you need to go bowhunting? Find out in this article. Photo credit: George Andrejko

Gear Up for Bowhunting

  Scott Einsmann   GearFeaturedVideo   September 5, 2018

Organizing gear is a preseason ritual for bowhunters. It involves bow tuning, screwing on new broadheads, changing headlamp batteries, and buying the latest calls and scent-killing sprays. This process ensures all the essentials are ready to go and won’t let you down once the hunt begins.

The first step for most bowhunters is preparing their archery gear.

Archery Gear

Your archery equipment goes with you on every bowhunt, and much of your success rides on that gear being correctly set up. If you haven’t visited an archery shop recently, take your bow in now for a preseason tuning and checkup. Your bow must be accurate, reliable and easy to shoot, so don’t skip this step.

Checking broadhead flight is the next must-do item on your list. Broadheads, even low-profile mechanicals, often have different impact points than practice heads. If your broadheads don’t strike the same spot as your field-points, adjust your arrow rest to tune them. Move the rest in the direction your broadheads must hit. For example, if your broadheads hit low, raise the rest.

Now that your gear shoots great, make sure your broadheads are razor sharp. Broadheads kill by causing massive hemorrhage, and dull broadheads make that less likely.

To test your broadheads’ sharpness, stretch a few rubber bands over a small cup. Then graze the rubber bands with a broadhead. If the bands snap, you’re in business. Why rubber bands? They simulate the elastic nature of veins and arteries. If your broadheads don’t pass the test, replace the blades or sharpen them until they scare you.

Now screw those sharp broadheads onto your arrows with a broadhead wrench, and load them into your quiver. With your bow, arrows and broadheads ready, you can start packing the rest of your hunting gear.

Hunting Gear

Bowhunting isn’t about owning all the gear an archery shop stocks. It’s about keeping the right equipment in working order. You must bring everything you’ll need to hunt safely and comfortably. Hunting styles, regions and habitats vary, so it’s difficult to specify what to bring. The two lists below cover most situations.

Packing List

A minimalist pack list of just the essentials. Photo Credit: ATA

This first list – a minimalist lineup of essentials – includes gear you should bring on a half-day hunt near home. These items easily fit into small backpacks or fanny packs.


  • Bow, arrows and broadheads;
  • Release aid, finger tab, or glove;
  • Rangefinder and binoculars;
  • Water;
  • Snacks;
  • Knife;
  • Hunting tags and license;
  • Wind checker;
  • Safety harness, lineman’s belt, lifeline (If hunting from a treestand);
  • Headlamp or flashlight.

You might need more gear, based on the site and your hunting style. For example, if you’re hiking into a wilderness area, consider bringing more emergency gear than someone who hunts a woodlot behind their home. And if you’re hunting all day, you’ll need food, water, toilet paper and a phone charger.

Other Items You Might Need:

You might want to bring more gear with you based on the location and style of hunting you’re doing. Photo Credit: ATA

  • Map, compass, GPS unit;
  • Food;
  • Toilet paper;
  • Flagging tape;
  • Camera;
  • Phone charger;
  • Latex gloves for field dressing;
  • Bone saw;
  • Game bags;
  • First-aid kit;
  • Fire-starting kit and emergency blanket;
  • Emergency locator beacon;
  • Water filtration device;
  • Bear spray.

Checking Your Equipment

Go through each item and make sure it’s ready to be used.
Photo Credit: ATA

While assembling your gear, review and assess each item’s functionality. Do you need to replace or charge any batteries? Is your hunting knife sharp? Are your lifeline and safety harness in good condition? Inspect each item and make sure it’s ready for use.

Packing the right gear makes your hunt more enjoyable and contributes to your success. If you don’t have everything you need, visit an archery shop for all your bowhunting essentials.


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