Rarely will you need to carry every hunting item you own into the woods. Unless you are staking out in the woods for a few days, you want your pack to be light but useful. Consider having these essential items in your hunting pack, and chucking the rest.

Water

Always, always always, have water.

Knife

A good, sharp, trustworthy knife. Mostly you’ll need this to gut your deer, but you never know what kind of danger lies in the depth of the woods. 

Dressing

Also for your deer.

Gloves

I shouldn’t say that these are essential, but you’ll be happy you wore them when you get back to your car and have to dig out your keys from your pack – and drive your car.

Wipes

Mostly for your hands, for the aftermath. Yes, also just in case you have to … you know.

Compass

These days most smartphones are equipped with a compass. However, you should conserve that battery in case you find yourself in an unfortunate situation, though it is not guaranteed you will have service. Carry a classic compass (and maybe even a map) and know how to use it. Don’t know how to use a terrain map? Ask a service member or a veteran.

Dragging line

This makes things a little easier when dragging your deer out of the woods. You can never be sure how far you’ll have to drag the dead weight, pun intended.

Scent blocker

Whether it’s a store bought one or just some vanilla mixed with water, you can never be too careful when going against a deer’s nose.

Spare pair of socks

Just in case you step into a puddle on the way into your spot, you don’t have to sit ‘til dawn in soggy socks. Your feet will thank you.

Permit and pen

Of course you need your paper granting you the right to hunt, and a pen to record your kills.

© Pavel Rodimov | Dreamstime.com – Hunter with gun on the swamp