What Not To Forget On Your Hunts


When the slow climb finally brought me to hunting height, I connected my safety harness and stowed the lineman’s belt. I screwed in a tree hook for hanging my bow and another for hanging my small gear pack. I attached my Thermacell to the rail of the climber. I strapped on my release. All seemed ready for the approaching dawn, and I hadn’t spooked any deer, and I’d barely broken a sweat. A great feeling. So, I began the final preparation. I picked up the line to hoist my bow into the tree with me. I kept expecting the line to draw tight with the weight of my bow, but it never did.

Bonehead Prevention: Dress Rehearsal

There are several things we can all do to help prevent a ruined opening day. First, and most important, I like to conduct a dress rehearsal if possible. Before opening day, I go through the motions of actually packing my gear and climbing into a stand. It might only mean climbing into a tree in my backyard, but I go through the full exercise. A practice run is great for refreshing all the vital steps, like packing your release and clipping your hoist to the bow.


This year, dress rehearsal is especially important for me, because I’m trying saddle hunting for the first time. Those who saddle-hunt know this means a whole new collection of ropes and specialized gear you can’t forget, plus learning and practicing a new method of climbing. This summer, I spent time in my backyard shooting my bow while hanging in a saddle. This not only helped me get familiar and comfortable with all the new shooting angles possible in a saddle, it made me very familiar with all the pieces of gear I must have with me, and how to use them.

Testing and learning to use new gear before a real hunt is also a great idea. That’s especially true if you bought a new safety harness. Makes sure all your new gear works right and that you know how to use it, because it’s going to be much more difficult to figure it out in the dark when you’re trying to be quiet and stealthy.


Just like packing for a long camping or hunting trip, developing a check-list can help you ensure you’ve got everything before you head into the woods. Use you smartphone to send yourself reminders or record an actual checklist.

Here’s part of my own checklist. There are things you can’t hunt without, like ammunition. There are things you shouldn’t hunt without, like a a safety harness. And there are things you really may not want to hunt without, like insect repellent.

We can’t carry duplicates of everything, but during hunting season it can pay to have some redundant gear in your vehicle’s glove box in case of emergency. A spare release stowed in your vehicle can save you if you leave your main bow release at the house. Extra ammunition, Thermacell refills, toilet paper, and a skinning knife might be a good idea, too. A length of rope could have many backup uses, whether hoisting a bow or dragging a deer.

By Lindsay Thomas Jr.

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