Six essential pieces of gear for whitetail hunting

A public land buck Andrew helped his buddy take in New York. Photo credit: Andrew Elder

Whitetail hunting is a thrilling and rewarding pursuit, but it requires careful planning and the right gear to ensure success. Whether you're a seasoned hunter or just starting out, having the right essentials can make all the difference in your hunting experience. In this article, we'll explore six must-have items for whitetail hunting that will help you stay comfortable, safe, and effective in the field. From high-quality clothing to essential tools and gear, these items are key to a successful hunting season.

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Merino: Warmth plus scent control

Merino wool truly lives up to its reputation. It performs exactly as advertised: providing warmth, efficiently wicking away sweat, drying quickly, and remaining odor-free even after repeated use. Merino wool is an absolute essential for every hunter, particularly those pursuing whitetail deer who understand the importance of keeping human scent to a minimum and staying comfortable during long sits. In my previous season, I experienced unparalleled warmth. Those persistent chills that often creep in after hours of sitting in a treestand were effectively kept at bay by Sitka's Core Merino, ensuring that I stayed comfortably warm throughout my hunting sessions.

Headlamps: Guiding light 

Navigating to our hunting spots in the cover of darkness is a common practice. A high-quality, functional, and dependable headlamp is an absolute necessity to ensure we move with precision and without stumbling over obstacles, like twigs or, worse, losing track of the location of our treestand. For far too long, I attempted to cut corners with inexpensive headlamps only to be disappointed by their dimness, how quickly they drain batteries, and their short lifespan. Personally, I lean towards headlamps equipped with a red light option, which allows me to climb my tree and rummage through my gear without drawing attention with a glaring spotlight. Moreover, having a headlamp that can brilliantly illuminate the surroundings is indispensable for effective blood tracking. Fortunately, GOHUNT offers a variety of reliable headlamp options that you can confidently rely on for your hunting adventures.

Knives: Sharp and dependable

Carrying a high-quality knife is an absolute necessity for any hunter, primarily for the essential task of field dressing a deer. There's a unique connection that forms between a hunter and their trusty, well-crafted "lucky" buck knife—a connection that often becomes a repository of cherished memories. It symbolizes the essence of being a woodsman, marking the initial moment when an animal transitions into food. The enduring, robust shape of such knives serves as a poignant reminder of the generations of hunters who came before us — all of whom, after a successful kill, would retrieve their knife and declare, "Now the work begins."

One standout choice is the Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner, which preserves the classic knife shape without unnecessary embellishments while incorporating a distinctive blaze orange sheath. This feature ensures you won't misplace or overlook your knife in the midst of the hectic field dressing and extraction process. Your knife will serve as a constant reminder, practically shouting, "Hey, don't forget me!" before you embark on the task of dragging out your deer.

For those seeking additional functionality, the Benchmade Grizzly Creek is an excellent alternative. With its foldable gut blade, it safeguards against unintentional punctures while field dressing. Those who are familiar with the challenges of field dressing know the value of such a feature.

As a mobile hunter, the Leatherman Signal Multi-Tool proves indispensable. Its saw blade, in particular, sees frequent use at each new hunting spot, facilitating the quiet trimming of twigs and branches without the noise associated with snapping them. The blade, pliers, wire cutters and screwdriver components have all proven their worth time and again throughout the hunting season, making this multi-tool an ever-ready, easily accessible companion in the field.

Kits: Prepare for the best and worst

In the world of hunting, it's crucial to be ready for a range of scenarios — from the most favorable to the most challenging. To ensure you're adequately equipped, always carry GOHUNT's Kill Kit and a comprehensive first aid kit in your backpack. While we hope you never have to resort to the first aid kit, it's a prudent precaution to have on hand. Minor injuries like cuts are almost inevitable, and having the right tools readily available can make a significant difference. On the other hand, we wish you all the success in the world and hope your kill kit sees plenty of use in those best-case scenarios.

Optics: Don’t rely on your eyes alone

Possessing a top-notch pair of binoculars is akin to possessing a superpower. At times, it seems almost unfair how the Vortex Diamondback HD 10x42 Binocular can effortlessly penetrate the forest's mysteries. Our human eyes can sometimes deceive us, but binoculars unveil the unadulterated truth, laying bare what our limited vision cannot discern.

For archery hunters, knowing the precise yardage is paramount. Even the most seasoned hunters can falter in their judgment, especially when a rutting buck charges into range without notice. To ensure accuracy in these critical moments, it's imperative to have a high-quality, dependable rangefinder at your disposal. Change the story of how you missed because you misjudged the yardage to how you settled in on your pin and made a great shot.

Backpacks: Pack Smart

Whether you embrace a minimalist approach or you're a mobile self-filmer with both climbing and filming gear, we all find ourselves lugging extra gear into the woods alongside our trusty weapons. The choice of the right backpack is a pivotal element in fine-tuning your setup. With a plethora of options available, Mystery Ranch caters to the diverse needs of all hunters.

As a mobile saddle hunter who ventures deep into the wilderness while capturing the hunt on film, I've discovered that the Mystery Ranch Pop Up backpack comes remarkably close to perfection. Not only is it lightweight, but it also boasts an impressive carrying capacity, making it ideal for my needs. What truly sets it apart is the option to carry out a quartered deer if necessary, thanks to an adjustable frame and a load shelf between the frame and bag. During long hikes, I utilize the load shelf to stow my saddle and climbing gear for easy access, while my hunting clothes and other items are neatly organized in the main compartment. It's a practical and efficient way to stay organized, and it's an approach that resonates with numerous saddle hunters. If the Pop Up seems like more backpack than you need, you might want to explore the other options in the Treehouse series, which offers packs in nine, 16, 20, and 30 litters and have a fuzzy polyester laminate to dampen sound. 


Honey Stingers

Move over, Little Debbie! Honey Stingers are my new favorite treestand snacks and that's saying a lot!

Hand warmers

I'm not sure how I ever survived more than three hours in the woods without hand warmers during the cold November rut.


As you prepare for your next whitetail hunting excursion, remember that the right gear can make or break your experience. From the warmth and versatility of merino wool to the practicality of a good headlamp, a reliable knife, and essential kits for field dressing and first aid, make sure that you're equipped for success. Don't forget the power of optics. Binoculars and rangefinders ensure you never miss a shot or let deer go unseen. And finally, invest in a quality backpack to carry all your gear while keeping you organized in the field.

By incorporating these six essentials, you'll not only increase your chances of a successful hunt, but also enhance your overall enjoyment of the pursuit. So, gear up, head out to your favorite spot, and may your next hunting adventure be filled with unforgettable moments and a successful harvest. Happy hunting!


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