Whether it is choosing a first gun, bow, crossbow, or deciding what to put in their daypack, young hunters have many choices to make as they take to the deer woods. Story by Tim Herald of The Zone, which can be seen on Sportsman Channel on Mondays at 3 PM ET, Wednesdays at 9:30 PM ET and Thursdays at 12:30 AM ET.
CHOOSING “OTHER” GEAR
I was going to call this section “what to put in a daypack, but some essential gear just won’t fit in a pack, thus “other” gear.
I think a quality set of binoculars should be the first piece of gear anyone should consider. Youth learn so much by observing wildlife, and a good binocular will make this enjoyable as well as educational.
Youth hunters should have distance limitations for shooting no matter the weapon, so a nice compact rangefinder is important. It is also a great tool to teach yardage estimation. My boys and I enjoy picking an object, guessing the range and then checking with our laser rangefinder. This builds a skill that will often come in handy in the deer woods.
Shooting sticks for a gun or crossbow can literally make or break a hunt. This isn’t only true for youth hunters. Having a steady rest in the field aids everyone’s accuracy, and with the many choices out there today, I think folks are really cutting themselves short of they don’t pack along a good bi or tripod shooting rest.
Smaller things that are important that will go in a daypack include a compass or GPS for learning and knowing one’s whereabouts. A pull-up rope for your weapon if you are hunting in a treestand is a must for safety, as is a safety harness of some sort (but should be on your body before ascending the tree). A good hunting knife or multi-tool has endless uses, and I think a wind checker of some sort is essential. Youth need to learn to hunt the wind from the very beginning. I also think a screw in bow/gun holder is a great tool so a young hunter doesn’t have to sit for hours with their weapon uncomfortably in their lap or over their shoulder.
Of course no deer hunting daypack is complete without some water and a snack. The longer you can stay out hunting, the more success you will have, and if you have something to eat and drink, you will be able to hunt longer. The same goes for packing a rain jacket along every time you hit the field.
One item, though not essential for a hunt, but that does add enjoyment of the experience, is a small digital camera. If youth hunters see something in nature that they find interesting, often they can get a good photo of it to share with others. On hunts when no animal is shot or even seen, this can be something that makes the whole experience worthwhile. I have seen youth bring back photos of a squirrel or turkey and be just about as excited when showing it to friends and family, as they would have been if they had taken a deer.
With a little time, every hunter will develop their own personal gear list that they feel is essential to take to the field, but the above are a few that I found important while growing up as a deer hunter and that my boys now use almost every time we hit the field.
Gear definitely does not make a hunter, but proper gear can certainly help a young hunter become more successful and realize that success more quickly. Everyone must determine what is right for them when choosing their deer hunting gear, and considering fit, price, quality, availability and ease of use are all factors that should be considered. One thing is for sure, if a youth has the desire, is afforded the opportunity to have and use good hunting gear, and receives guidance and mentorship from a hunting adult, that youth will have a great opportunity to become a real hunter him or herself, and as far as I am concerned that is what it’s all about. We must give our next generation the ability to become hunters in their own right.
Gear of the Herald Hunters
Now my twins both have compound bows, but we still don’t feel that they are ready to shoot a deer with them. Below is a list of some of the gear that Will and Drew use, and at age 10, they have harvested 19 deer between them. Something is working…
Crossbow: Carbon Express Covert II and Bolts
Broadhead: Rage 100 grain 2 blade
Rifle: TC ICON and Encore .243
Ammo: Winchester 100gr PowerMax Bonded .243
Optics: Nikon ProStaff 10×42 binocular, Rifle Hunter 1000 rangefinder, Monarch 2.5×10.42 scope
Rest: BogPod RLD Tripod shooting sticks
Pack: Cabela’s Gun/Bow Daypack
Misc: Realtree EZ Hanger, Gerber Multitool, Nikon CoolPix camera, and Keebler peanut butter and crackers