If you’re a serious deer hunter you don’t need anyone to explain the significance of the rut. When big bucks begin chasing does there’s a limited window of opportunity to take advantage of the deer’s breeding behavior and put yourself in the right place to make the shot of a lifetime. It’s the time of year for which hunters spend months preparing — scouting, gathering trail camera photos, hanging treestands, clearing shooting lanes, practicing with their bow or rifle, and dreaming about the buck of a lifetime.
All the pre-season recon work may prove useless if you don’t make the most of the narrow window of time you have to intercept a doe-chasing buck in the fall. You need to stack the odds in your favor — here are eight gear items to help you be successful. You can find all these hunting accessories and optics on GunBroker.com.
Bushnell Trophy Xtreme Laser Rangefinder:
Despite what you may think, humans are notoriously bad at judging distance. This is particularly true in unfamiliar terrain and when you are in elevated position. When you are hunting even a misjudgment of a few yards can spell disaster. After all your diligent off-season prep work doesn’t blow the opportunity at a shot by guesstimating how far that buck is from your treestand. The compact, portable Bushnell Trophy Xtreme Laser Rangefinder takes the guesswork out of range estimations. It offers an effective range from 7 to 850 yards in one-yard increments so you know you’ll be on-target, and it features Bushnell’s ARC (Angle Range Compensation) technology that accounts for uphill or downhill angles — critical when shooting in steep terrain or from a treestand. RainGuard HD coatings make the unit waterproof so you won’t have to worry about hunting in inclement weather, and the durable rubber housing is easy to grip even with wet hands. Large, easy-to-use controls prevent you from struggling to find the right buttons as a buck slips closer to your stand, and the compact design easily fits into your pocket. In addition, it’s backed by Bushnell’s Bulletproof guarantee. MSRP $229.99. www.bushnell.com. Shop high performance Bushnell optics on GunBroker.com.
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Browning Buck1700 Pack:
Keeping your gear organized and close-at-hand is critical when hunting the rut. The Buck1700 from Browning Packs weighs just a pound-and-a-half, which is great for climbing in and out of treestands or still hunting and glassing. It’s Baumshell knitted fabric construction helps reduce weight by about half of what you could expect with traditional knitted pack designs and it’s also water-resistant to help protect your gear.
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Despite its lightweight, you can actually haul a lot of gear in this pack. Interior capacity is 1700 cubic inches and there are a number of interior pockets that are easy-to-access as well as a stash pocket that folds down to become a shelf for items which require immediate access. There’s a heavy-duty top strap that’s perfect for hanging the Buck1700 on a branch or hook while in the stand, and the hypersonic toothless self-healing closure design allows you to unzip this pack in silence. It’s available in either A-TACS or Mossy Oak Break-Up Country camo and has an MSRP of $80.00. www.browningpacks.com
Stealth Cam DS4K Trail Camera and Wi-Fi Card Reader:
Grand Prairie, Texas-based Stealth Cam recently released their new DS4K, the first trail camera to offer 30MP resolution and 4K HD video technology. This means clearer images and better video when you need instant feedback on what’s happening in the woods. Dual image sensors detect day and night and 42 NO GLO IR emitters provide crisp nighttime images without spooking game. The Reflex system has a less than .4 second trigger time and Matrix Advanced Blur Reduction helps capture images of animals that are moving (so no more guessing whether that garbled image on your camera is a big buck or a big bug). MSRP is $299.99. Find it on GunBroker.com.
Another must-have option for the DS4K is Stealth Cam’s new Wi-Fi reader that allows hunters to stream images and videos from their camera (or anything else that uses an SD card) directly to their Apple or Android mobile device —faster photo retrieval translates to less time contaminating the area. The unit comes with 3 USB ports and serves as a charging bank for mobile devices. MSRP for the Stealth Cam Wife Wireless Card Reader is $59.99. www.gsmoutdoors.com
Nikon Spot-On Wind Meter:
The wind probably ruins more great hunting setups than any other single factor — the most lovesick buck won’t be stupid enough to come close enough for a shot if he smells you. Nikon’s new Spot-On Wind Meter weighs just a few ounces and plugs into your smart phone’s headphone port. Using the free Nikon Spot-On app on your phone, you can monitor wind direction and speed so you’re always aware of the surrounding conditions when you are in the field. If you’re a rifle hunter this technology is extremely important since you can input load data into the Spot-On app and the Wind Meter will give you accurate click, inches, or MOA hold for Nikon scopes to compensate for the wind based upon the load input.
The Spot-On Wind Meter is a high-tech, low-cost lightweight addition to your hunting gear that will keep you in-tune with the effects of a fickle wind on your hunting setup. When you may only have one shot at the deer of a lifetime you don’t want to leave anything to chance. MSRP $39.95. www.nikonsportoptics.com
Hooeyman MegaBite Trimming Tool:
If you stand hunt enough, you’ve climbed into your stand and suddenly realized you’ve missed one small limb while trimming and the lone limb lies dead center in a vital shooting lane. This is why I always keep the lightweight Hooyman MegaBite saw in my pack. The saw comes with two eight-inch blades (one for wood, one for bone) and folds up neatly in a nylon carry case. The oversized rubber handle offers plenty of grip space and a textured surface that is easy to hold while wearing gloves. This saw also makes it much simpler to move stands while hunting. If the big buck you’re chasing is constantly showing up on the other side of the ridge you can move your stand and lop off branches with relative ease and open shooting lanes. The saw is also great for trimming cover material to camouflage and ground blind. Once your deer is down you can quickly and easily swap to the bone saw to ease field-dressing chores. MSRP $44.99. www.btibrands.com
Primos Bottleneck Grunt Call:
Calling deer has proven to be effective, but not if the buck you’re chasing hears a half-dozen cans, bleats, and grunt tubes clanging together in your pocket or around your neck. Primos eliminated the need to carry a pack full of calls with the introduction of the Bottleneck, which is small enough to fit in a shirt pocket and offers a level of versatility not found on other calls. By adjusting the O-ring to designated positions along the tube hunters can mimic everything from estrous bleats to grunts of mature bucks. That type of versatility means this call works in a wide variety of situations and allows you to try multiple tones without having to switch between calls. MSRP is $21.95. www.primos.com. You can find Primos Bottleneck Grunt Calls on GunBroker.com.
Browning USB Rechargeable Lights:
Ask most hunters for a list of items they wouldn’t leave home without and a good light is at the top of the list. Whether you’re heading in before daybreak, following a blood trail, avoiding stumps as you head back to the truck or trying to signal help in an emergency situation having a good flashlight is critical. The big problem, though, is most flashlights run on disposable batteries that have a finite life (and usually run dead just about the time you need them most). In those situations your options are limited. But the new USB rechargeable lights from Browning allow you to start with a full battery on each hunt. By simply plugging the lights into your truck’s USB port (or a portable charger) you will have plenty of light for each hunt, even if that hunt turns into an hours-long tracking session in total darkness.
There are three different Browning USB Rechargeable options available including the 14.5-ounce High Noon Spotlight with an output of 50 to 950 lumens and an effective range of 125 to 550 yards that runs on lithium-ion batteries that are good for 500 charging cycles. The Crossfire 1AA model handheld flashlight that produces 102-300 lumens for a maximum effective range of up to 150 yards and a battery life of 2 to 18 hours depending upon mode. For hunters who prefer a hands-free light, the Epic 1AA Headlamp from Browning has an effective range of 115 yards, offers three settings (2-hour, 4hour, and 10-hour battery life settings) with a built-in rotary selector knob and comes with an adjustable elastic headband. MSRP $109.99 for the High Noon Spotlight, $54.99 for the Crossfire, and $64.99 for the Epic headlamp. www.browning.com
HME Camo Face Paint Stick:
An uncovered face reflects light and spooks deer, so having face paint to cover your visage is critical when hunting. But face paint typically leaves a greasy residue on the hands, which usually ends up on your gear and your hunting clothing. HME (Hunting Made Easy) has developed a simple solution to this problem — a camo face paint stick compact enough to fit in a pocket and doesn’t require a messy application. Available in either black or tricolor (brown, black, and green), the HME Camo Face Paint Stick is sweat-resistant, scent-free, and won’t generate a glare and spook game like some face paints. Because it won’t wear or run as you perspire you can also apply this paint to the back of the hands for total concealment in the field. MSRP $10.00. www.gsmoutdoors.com