The Essential Bow Hunting Checklist

August 18, 2022

Do you have everything you need for hunting this bow season? Preparedness is key, ensuring that you don’t forget the essentials. And whether you are a novice bowhunter or an experienced bowhunter, having a bow hunting checklist can help guide you through all the checks and must-have accessories. It can even help you think about what may need maintaining, replacing or upgrading before your first hunting trip. .

Need a thorough list to help you organize and remember everything? From a crushproof and watertight bow case to basic hunting gear and scent control items, here is the ultimate bow hunting checklist for your reference so that you can be prepared.

Your Bow, Arrows and Must-Have Accessories

Every bow hunter probably has these basics, so think of this list as a reminder of things to check before heading out on your first hunting trip. First, make sure your gear is in good working order and pack it away in your case for safekeeping. In doing so, take your bow to a reliable archery shop for a pre-season tuning and checkup.

Bow and arrows: A compound bow and crossbow are popular among bow hunters. Broadhead arrows are great for hunting large animals. Use field points if you plan to do any hunting practice.

Quiver: Shoulder pouch or a bow-mounted style, find a quiver that can hold three to six ICS-style arrows.

Release Aid: Also called a mechanical release, this device will help you fire your arrow more precisely via bowstring trigger instead of your fingers. A finger tab or glove works well, too.

Bow Sight: A sight is a circular housing with fiber optic pins that help you target and hone in on your game or mark. This is an important piece of equipment so take time to choose one you feel comfortable using.

essential bow hunting checklist

Peep Sight: Like a rifle, a peep sight is a hole in the bowstring that offers a more accurate line of sight.

Rest and Plate: These pieces protect a bow shelf from wear and tear and, for stealthy hunters, offer a quieter draw. Leather is a great material for a bow rest.

D-Loop: This cord will attach to your bowstring and below the nock to create a connection between the release aid.

Multi-tool: Choose a multi-tool with an Allen wrench and hex keys to tweak your bow.

Bow Case: Since many hunters carry their gear into the field and leave it behind as they enter the wood, it’s crucial your gear is protected during transport. Protect your bow, arrows and much of your hunting equipment inside a crushproof, dustproof and watertight hard bow case. Pelican’s bow case is designed with a lightweight HPX resin, six heavy-duty latches and interior components to secure everything you need for the hunt.

Basic Hunting Equipment and Camping Equipment

man opening bow case

Aside from your bow and all of its gear, you will need to bring along some extra bow hunting equipment. In addition, you may want to consider bringing along the Ten Essentials to keep you safe in an emergency. However, if your hunting trip consists of multiple days or a week in the wilderness, you’ll need to bring along camping gear, too. Here are some extra essentials to consider:

Backpack: Choose a camo backpack to keep your other hunting gear inside. Side straps can secure sheds and other items in and out of your hunting site.

Hunting License, Permits and Tags: Don’t forget these items or it could result in a fine or worse. A hunting regulation book or manual doesn't hurt either.

Binoculars: Invest in a good pair of binoculars to help you scout out your game in the distance.

A Field Dressing Knife: Along with a multipurpose knife, a bow hunter should also carry a larger knife for other tasks like field dressing an animal before taking it back or chilling it on ice over a cooler. A bone saw is also a nice addition to have, if you have the space for it.

Field Dressing Tools: For field dressing, you will need some extra bits of gear. Aside from a large rolling cooler to transport your game back home and keep it preserved, consider packing latex gloves and a game bag (especially if you want to keep that cooler clean).

LED Headlamp: A hands-free LED headlamp will help light your way while in a tree stand or on the ground. It will come in especially handy if you need to trek back to your vehicle after dusk. Pack spare batteries and bring a backup flashlight for emergencies, too.

First Aid Kit: Every hunter should carry a small first aid kit on them at all times. It’s one of the Ten Essentials for any outdoor excursion. Keep your first aid kit items like bandages, medicine and antiseptics protected from the elements with a waterproof case.

GPS Unit: Make sure you know where you’re headed. But as a precaution, bring a good old-fashioned paper map and compass, too. Just be sure to protect the map inside a waterproof bag or personal case.

man looking at hunting tools

Emergency Locator Beacon: You never know what might happen on a hunting trip. If you lose cell signal and become injured, an emergency locator beacon can alert search and rescue units of your location. (Regardless, always leave an itinerary with someone you trust.)

Scents and Calls: Whether you are hunting deer or wild boar, don’t forget to pack the scents and calls to attract them to the area.

Trail Camera: Trail cameras can capture what animals are passing by your way so you can be ready to take the shot. They can also give you a good idea of the habits of deer and when you might expect them to pass your way again, allowing you to choose the best position for your hunt. Make sure to keep your SD cards for your trail cam safe in an SD card case, such as the Pelican 0915.

Zip Ties: Simple yet effective, zip ties can come in handy for all sorts of things when bow hunting. You can use them to tie back foliage obstructing your shot or view and you can use them to secure foliage around your blind to disguise yourself better.

Insect Repellent: To keep insects off you while you wait patiently for a deer or game to come within shot, an insect repellent will prevent you from swatting them away and being spotted. You can spray yourself down or use something like a ThermaCell portable repeller.

Sleeping Bag: Choose a lightweight sleeping bag to stay warm, especially when hunting in higher elevations where the temperatures can drop dramatically at night.

Lighter/Matches: This counts as one of the Ten Essentials, but needs mentioning anyway, especially if you plan to cook up some quick freeze-dried meals for sustenance. Don’t forget cooking pots and fuel.

Scent Control Items

The last thing you want is an animal picking up your human scent downwind on a hot day. So make sure to hunt with these critical scent control items.

Scent Control Clothing: Above all, make sure you bring scent control clothing to eliminate your human odor. While scent control clothing comes in handy to disguise your scent from your game, still be mindful of wind direction.

Odor Eliminating Spray: In addition to scent control clothing, pack an odor eliminating spray to conceal yourself.

Wind Checker: Lastly, a wind checker is helpful to determine if your scent is being carried downwind, allowing you to shift position if necessary. Used in combination with the above items, you’ll be completely unnoticeable.

Tree Stand or Tree Saddle Gear

If you plan on saddle hunting, you will need these extra pieces of bow hunting gear:

Tree Saddle/Tree Stand: If you prefer this bow hunting method, make sure it’s in good condition and perform any maintenance before heading out.

Safety Harness: Make sure it feels comfortable and chafe-free the moment you try it on. You will be standing in a tree for some time. Of course, make sure the lifeline and lineman’s belt are packed, too.

Tree Cutting Tools: Bring some tree cutting tools to cut back limbs for shooting lanes. A tree saw or a small pair of pruners will get the job done. Zip ties are good for this also.

unpacking pelican case fromplane

Proper Camo and Clothing

Along with disguising your scent, you need to disguise yourself visually. Many times, this comes down to camouflage clothing, so we’ll touch on proper attire all-around in this list.

Outer Camo Layer: An outer layer of camouflage will help you go undetected. You can also use a camo rain jacket or poncho.

Ground Blind: Camo ground blinds also help bowhunters go undetected. Make sure it has a chair so you can rest comfortably.

Base Layers: Beneath your scent control clothing, you can wear a few moisture-wicking base layers to stay warm and dry.

Camo Face Mask and Gloves: In the summer, choose a lightweight camo face mask like a Buff and lightweight gloves. If you are hunting in the winter, you can go with something more wooly and warm.

Footwear: Make sure to wear proper footwear – boots with Gore-Tex or a water-resistant barrier. A pair of wool socks will keep you exceptionally dry. Avoid cotton socks or cotton clothing in general, as it can absorb sweat and never dry out, leaving you damp and clammy.

Provisions and Cooler Items

Whether you plan on bow hunting for a day, overnight or a week, consider how you will pack in food, snacks and stay hydrated.

Food and Snacks: Think about protein-rich foods to maintain energy levels longer. Keep foods in a sealed airtight container.

Water Bottle/Filtration System: If you plan on hiking in real far to track your game, bring along plenty of water bottles. For a multi-day hunting excursion, you can’t carry that much water so consider a water filtration system or purification tablets instead.

Personal Cooler: For day trips, pack a personal cooler with your lunch and water to stay hydrated. Carry some snacks to sustain your energy levels.

Cooler: Once you take down an animal, make sure you can carry it out! A large cooler is just the thing. It can easily transport home a deer or game that you shot and keep it chilled on ice until you arrive home or to your trusted butcher. A Pelican hard cooler can even retain ice for extended periods of time, keeping all the food and drinks you need cold on a long hunting trip with your buddies.

men carrying pelican case

Personal Items

Last, but not least, don’t forget all your personal items. With hunting on the brain, it’s easy to walk out of the house prepared for hunting, but forgetting some basic items. Here are some of those items that often get left behind:

Camera: A camera can help you capture the field and your surroundings and land makers to track deer, hog or whatever you are hunting. Of course, a camera can capture your achievements for bragging rights, too! Don’t leave home without your camera and a camera charger or backup battery.

Toiletries: No matter how long you plan to be gone, some basic toiletries are a necessity. Carry along toilet paper and remember to Leave No Trace and pack out! If you plan to hunt longer than a day, pack scent-free toiletries like deodorant, shampoo, soap, toothbrush/toothpaste, etc. Pack a lightweight towel, too.

Phone Charger: It’s hard to not forget our phones these days. They’re joined at our hips. Plus, it’s probably giving you directions to the public land or area where you plan to hunt. However, a phone charger is often forgotten, so pack it or leave a spare charger in your vehicle – just in case.

Use This Bow Hunting Checklist as a Guide

With this list, you should be well-prepared for bow hunting. Use this bow hunting checklist to help you pack, whether it’s for a quick day hunting trip or a week-long trek into the wilderness. Of course, every bowhunter will have their own particular items they wish to carry and hunting equipment and tools they find useful, so tweak and customize this bow hunting checklist to your heart’s content. Happy bow hunting!

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