By Erik Barber
The dawn of another opening day is approaching fast. Nothing builds your bowhunting confidence like in-depth knowledge of your gear. That’s why it’s important to make a checklist before you head to the woods. Success lies in the details. Bowhunters who make their preseason checklist a yearly ritual typically fill their freezer more consistently than those who overlook the little things.
Once your bow is dialed, it’s time to change your practice regimen. Shooting arrows at known distances in your backyard is a fun and beneficial way to sight in, but hunting situations are vastly different. Prepare yourself by shooting a 3D target at unknown yardages and awkward angles. If you hunt from a treestand, shoot from an elevated position. Position your target between trees that offer tight holes to slip an arrow through. To add even more realism, practice stopping a deer with a mouth grunt before the shot.
Whether you shoot fixed blades or mechanicals, execute these shots with the same broadhead that will be in your quiver on opening day. Number your arrows and pay attention to those that consistently land behind your pin. Be sure those arrows are in your quiver on opening day.
On Remi Warren’s Cutting the Distance podcast, Remi shared a story from an elk hunt with his father. His dad complained that his backpack was too heavy. Upon further investigation, Remi and his dad found a few pounds worth of entirely unnecessary items inside the backpack. The moral of the story? Understand the purpose of each item you deem worthy of putting in your backpack. Whether you’re hunting elk out west or whitetails on the back 40, this is important.
Start with an empty pack. Fill it with items in the chronological order you plan to use them. A good starting point for an early-season hunt might look something like this:
There’s nothing more frustrating than turning your house upside down in search of a missing hunting jacket you haven’t used since last season. Start by assembling early-, mid-, and late-season layering systems, and organize them accordingly. Rather than lumping your hunting clothes together in one large tote or duffel bag, separate them based on the seasonality of the garments. That way, when the first cold front of the season blows frigid winds and unseasonal weather across your hunting area, you’ll spend less time searching for clothes and more time prepping to hunt.
Now more than ever, bowhunters rely heavily on digital mapping applications. Digital maps are easier to use than physical maps, but they require cell data and phone storage to save them for offline use. Before your hunt, confirm that your hunting area and waypoint are updated on your digital maps.
After you’ve combed through your hunting gear, you’ll likely identify a few last-minute additions to your preseason shopping list. When visiting your favorite pro shop or local retailer, stock up on backup items, like replacement broadhead blades, scent-free laundry detergent, or batteries for your trail cameras. Stash these items in a tackle box or tote. Whenever you need to replace something, you won’t have to make an extra trip when you could otherwise be in the woods.
Perfecting your hunting gear organization is a never-ending task. As the season progresses, you’ll experience opportunities for improvement. Keep notes on your phone. Jot down anything that comes to mind throughout the season. When the season ends and you put away your gear, you’ll have a head start on the next season.