Elk season is here, which means it’s time to get out there and show off your hunting skills. Before you head out, though, you’ll want to ensure that you have everything you could possibly need. Nothing is worse than being deep in the forest and realizing you forgot an item that’s critically important to a successful hunt. That’s why we’ve put together this hunting checklist of must-have gear for your next elk hunt.
Safety Card and License
Before you even begin packing for this trip, you should obtain the proper documentation. Nothing else you do will be legal without it. If you’ve gone hunting before, all you have to do is get a new elk hunting license. On the other hand, if you’re new to this pastime, you’ll likely need to earn your hunter safety card. The rules on this one vary from state to state, though, so be sure to look into your state regulations before proceeding.
Weapon of Choice
Now, it’s time to decide on which kind of weapon you want to take with you. You can go with the ever-so-popular firearm, or you can go with a more traditional weapon, such as a bow and arrow. Not only is archery a fun and challenging way to hunt, but its hunting season is longer than the one for guns, so it’ll give you more time to enjoy the pastime.
Obviously, we’re a bit biased toward bows since we sell them in our outdoor equipment shop, but as our name implies, we sell a lot more than just that. You can find most of the equipment in this list in our online store, so if you find yourself needing anything before your big trip, be sure to check us out.
Unless you live close to an ideal area for hunting, you and your group will probably be spending the night out in the wilderness to get an early start the next day. If that’s the plan, you’ll need to bring all the necessary camping equipment. Pack tents, sleeping bags, a portable stove, some folding chairs, and whatever else you might need to spend the night outdoors.
You don’t want the elk to run the second you enter their field of view, so proper camouflage is crucial. Elk are quite perceptive, so you’ll want to blend in as much as you can. That means you should try to cover your hands and face as well, if at all possible.
Unless you are the most patient hunter in the world, you probably don’t want to sit there and wait for an elk to happen by, so bring a caller. There are multiple kinds that make variations of the same noise, so be sure to play around with them to see which one is the most effective.
Your camouflage and elk caller won’t do any good if the animals can smell you before they even get within your line of sight, so pack a bottle of scent-killing spray. Humans, in general, have a distinctive scent that animals can pick up on, and if you’ve been out there all day, your sweat will have made you even more noticeable. Spray yourself down with this before you head out, and it should last all day.
Odorless Bug Repellent
Speaking of sprays, you’ll want to get some bug repellent. Insects can get quite annoying this time of year, and you’re not going to be happy swatting at them all day. Just be sure to get the odorless kind for the same reasons you don’t want to be smelly yourself.
Smart Device and Charger
Whenever you’re out in the woods, it’s a smart move to bring a smart device with you. That way, you can use the GPS if you get lost or call for help if you get into any trouble. Of course, you can’t rely on your battery to make it through the whole day, so a charging pack is also necessary. Get yourself one that either holds a lot of charges or can use solar panels to recharge itself.
It’s better to be safe than sorry. If you’re worried about losing connection while you’re out in the woods, it never hurts to carry a map and compass as well.
Even if you have outstanding vision, a pair of binoculars is still a must. These will help you spot elk at a distance and gauge how far out they are and what they’re doing. If they’re coming closer, you can sit and wait, but if they’re moving away from you, it might be time to reposition.
Unfortunately, you can only see so much with a pair of binoculars, so bring along some scouting cameras as well. When you’re doing your initial scouting in the morning, you can set a few of these up in various locations to get a wider range of view of where the elk might be at any given time. They will provide you with a live feed so that you can decide if an elk you see through it is worth pursuing. Just make sure that you remember to grab them all before you head out.
Other Outdoor Necessities
While the items we mentioned above in our hunting checklist of must-have gear for your next elk hunt are decidedly the most important for hunting, you should pack some other necessities as well. For example, bring a water bottle—the bigger, the better. There’s no such thing as bringing too much water since staying hydrated in the wild is crucial for survival. Toilet paper is another good item to bring along. Rolls of it can take up a lot of room, but luckily, some companies have made compressed toilet paper tablets, which expand when you add water.
Keep a knife on you at all times. Not only are they an excellent last line of defense against wildlife, but they will come in handy whenever you need to cut or open anything. Of course, a backpack is also crucial since you wouldn’t be able to carry half of the stuff on this list without it. Just make sure you bring a camouflage one to avoid sticking out to any nearby elk.