You can buy all this stuff for less than $100 total. It won’t take up much space in your day pack. It’s must carry hunting gear.

bow hanger

–The best bow holder I’ve ever used is the long EZ Hanger. The tapered, self-tapping screw makes it easy to fairly drive into a hard tree. (I say “fairly” because all trees are different.) Adjust the hanger’s elbow up to 180 degrees to position your bow precisely where you want it. Later in the season, screwed into a tree at just the right height and angle, it doubles as a convenient gun rest if you need to fire at a deer off to the side and slightly behind you.

–Buy a few rubber-coated hardware hooks from Lowe’s or Home Depot. Screw them into a tree around your stand and organize your pack, binoculars, range finder and the like.You need two 20-foot ropes. One for pulling your bow or gun (fully unloaded and pointed down toward the ground) up into a tree stand, and the other for lugging up your pack. Never climb a tree with a pack on your back. I used to do that in my younger and dumber days, but it’s not safe. Climb into a stand, and then pull it up.

–After each hunt jot in a notebook (old-school) or in notes on your phone: day’s temperature, wind direction, moon phase, total deer seen, bucks seen and size, directions and areas of major buck sign and activity… The more notes you take after each hunt, the better the deer patterns in an area begin to emerge as you tally the data up. You’ll be surprised at some of the new patterns that jump out at you after two years of recording and analyzing data, and amazed at the things you’ll learn after 5 years. That info will help you shoot more big deer.

bright eye tack

–After setting a stand or blind, use reflective “bright-eye” tacks or ties to mark a clean, quick route to and from it. You won’t waste time stumbling around in the dark, looking for a stand and spooking deer.

–I carry a bottle of wind-checking powder in each side pocket, and another couple in my pack. I test the wind several times on the way into an area I plan to scout or hunt. On stand I check the wind and thermals every 20 minutes or so. If I see the wind turn or drop down into my best shooting lanes and don’t feel right about it, I scat. Carry several wind checkers because the small bottles are easy to lose or misplace.

–Use a hand clipper and saw to clear a quiet path to a stand…cut branches for a natural ground blind or to hide a pop-up….trim shooting lanes…snip limbs or leaves that might snag a bow limb when you draw… You’ll be surprised how much you’ll use the tools.

–In the predawn and after dark, you need your hands free to carry your bow or rifle while you watch your step; on a good evening you’ll use it to gut and pack or drag a buck. Wear a good head lamp like the Petzl Tikkina. I carry two head lamps with fresh batteries so I never get caught in the dark.

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