Over the years, I have used many gadgets that were supposed to help me become a more successful hunter. Some of them stood the test of time, while others are just collecting dust in my shed. Here are the accessories that I refuse to leave at home.
1. Wind checker
Scent-eliminating machines and sprays are effective, but having the wind in your face is still the best option. Because wind direction isn’t always obvious, I squeeze a wind-checker puff bottle to get the accurate wind direction of my area. Then, I decide which stand I will sit in (I have multiple stands on the property) based on the wind direction. Nothing makes big game animals nocturnal faster than human scent. Hunting a stand with the wrong wind will alert deer in the area of increased human activity, making the stand basically useless for some time.
I never hunt deer without a grunt call and doe bleat. It doesn’t mean that I use them every time. I just have them if I need them.
The largest deer I ever harvested was a direct result of a doe-bleat call. He literally ran to the stand after two turns of the can call. I guarantee I would not have harvested that deer without it. Soft buck grunts can potentially calm down a deer. If a deer seems to be acting a little nervous, a soft call might convince it to head in your direction.
3. Bow holder and hooks
A few years ago, I was invited to hunt with a buddy, and when I got up into the stand, I saw that he had a bow hook screwed into the tree. It swung on a hinge, allowing me to position my bow where I was able to quickly grab it. I went right out and bought one. That simple little gadget means I don’t have to hold my bow for hours at a time. I can use my binoculars, rangefinder, and wind checker without the worry of dropping my bow. What an advantage. I use one at every stand location. They are inexpensive and easy to install. I also use a screw-in hook to hang my backpack against the side of the tree.
4. Soft backpack
Game animals have exceptional hearing. That’s why my backpack is made out of a quiet material. Noisy backpacks can be just as much of a problem as hunting the wrong wind. Sound travels far, especially in the cold. If a deer hears your backpack scratching against the tree, the hunt can be over before it starts.
5. Video camera
Something that has become very dear to me, is trying to capture the hunt on video. This became especially important as I was mentoring my boys. Our family now has some amazing footage of hunts from when they were participating in the hunter apprentice program. Whether you hunt from a tree stand or a ground blind, there is a video camera arm that will work for you. Being able to look back at successful hunts is fulfilling.
I have to admit, for more than 20 years of bowhunting, I never took binoculars with me to the stand. I figured that if I needed binoculars to see the animal, it was too far to shoot with an arrow. One of my best friends convinced me to take them with me, and boy am I glad I did. Even at closer ranges, binoculars let you see a little farther into the brush than the naked eye. If you hear something walking, you will have a better chance to spot it.
Because it’s always good to know the distance to your target.
Finally, don’t forget your cell phone (set to vibrate). Not only will it help pass the time if you have a couple of games to play, but I can call a buddy to help drag out an animal. Should a buddy need my help, I can be on the way to them in a matter of minutes. If your vehicle won’t start, you can call for help. Or (speaking from personal experience),if you have lost your keys in the woods, you can call for a ride.
Tim Watts has competed in archery tournaments for over 30 years and has represented Canada at world championship events. He is also a bowhunter. Reach Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published in Ontario OUT of DOORS‘ 2020 Hunting Annual