Complete Deer Hunting Checklist

A White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) buck | Complete Deer Hunting Checklist | featured

Do you find yourself leaving behind essential equipment and gear on almost every hunting trip? Let's fix that! Before you head out this coming deer season, make sure you go through our comprehensive deer hunting checklist.

RELATED: Hunting Gear That Comes in Handy All Year Round

27 Essential Items You Should Add to Your Deer Hunting Checklist

Pre-Hunt Deer Hunting Checklist Essentials

1. Hunting License

The Hunting still life. | deer hunting checklist pdf

Just as a motorist shouldn't drive without their driver's license, a hunter should always have their hunting license with them at all times. There are serious fees and penalties for hunting without the proper license and certifications.

2. Copy of State Hunting Regulations

No Hunting Sign with graphic on Public Land in the Painted Hills | hunting gear tips

Familiarize yourself with the state's deer hunting laws and regulations. Most states only allow hunters to bring home one or two antlered deers per season.

Also, non-antlered deers—including those with antlers measuring less than a few inches—are often off limits. You'll face some serious penalties if you violate these laws.

3. Landowner’s Hunting Permission (Written or Verbal)

hunters shake hands | mule deer hunting checklist

Generally, hunters should ask for the landowner's permission a couple of weeks or months before the start of deer season. Don't wait until the last minute to do so. It's rude, and there's a good chance that the landowner may get pissed at you for the intrusion.

Also, make yourself look presentable. Wear clean, fresh clothes. Don't show up in full camo gear dripping with dirt and mud from a recent hunting trip.

4. Hunting Area Map

Hunting high tower on the meadow | hunting trips for beginners

Another essential to add to your hunting pack checklist is a hunting area map. Do a full-scale ocular visit to assess deer activity. See where they often hide in, spot their food/water source, and determine what times they are most active.

5. Prepared Ground Blind or Treestand

Hunter with rifle in a tree stand | deer hunting gear must haves

Decide whether you'll be using a treestand or ground blind then set it up around a day before the hunt.

6. Cleaned, Tested, and Well-Maintained Weapon

Hunting ammunition | equipment for hunting deer

Make sure your go-to hunting weapon is in tip-top shape and ready for the upcoming trip. Try shooting a few rounds to get a good feel of it. This is especially important if you haven't touched your weapon for months now.

7. Sight-In Rifle

hunting moose | essential hunting gear for beginners

Never forget to sight-in your rifle before a hunting trip. It's recommended for deer hunters to adjust their rifles to hit the set target at 100 yards.

8. Game Camera

camera attached to a tree, used by hunters to spy wild animals | deer hunting gear list

A game camera is one of the most useful must-have hunting gadgets for modern hunters to have.

They can help one subtly track and monitor deer activity. We suggest investing in modern options that produce high-quality images and feature a fast capture speed.

9. Fully Charged Batteries

a selection of batteries | ultimate hunting checklist

Add fully charged batteries to your deer hunting checklist. Make sure to carry backup batteries for all your electronic devices—flashlight, phone, walkie-talkie.

In-Hunt Deer Hunting Checklist Essentials

10. Walkie-Talkie and GPS Device

Portable civilian radio stations in the hands of man and on clothes | deer lease checklist

Mobile phones are fine, but many hunting areas have poor reception. It's best to have a walkie-talkie and hunting/scouting GPS device as well.

11. Gun

Autumn hunting season. Woman hunter with a gun | elk hunting checklist

This one's a given. Unless you plan on using your bare hands—which isn't allowed—make sure you have your hunting gun with you.

12. Ammo

shotgun, hunting cartridges, hunting ammunition | crossbow hunting checklist

One of the worst things that could happen on any camping trip is running out of ammo. To prevent these kinds of issues, make sure you bring as much ammo as your hunting bag can carry.

13. Flashlight/Headlamp

A hunter goes on a starry night with his rifle and flashlight to his hunting pulpit | muzzleloader hunting checklist

This is an especially important deer hunting checklist item for those who like to hunt early or later in the day when the sun isn't out.

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14. Gun Cleaning Kit

Hunting rifle after firing | archery deer hunting checklist

Being able to clean your rifle or muzzleloader after every few rounds is important to maintain accurate shots.

15. Folding Knife

stainless steel folding knife with wooden handle | deer camp gear list

Bring a durable folding knife you can use to cut and slice various things.

16. Deer Call

Young red bearded hunter sitting it grass and blowing at hunter's whistle | essential hunting clothes

A deer call will prove to be very useful if you're struggling to spot your prey's hideout.

17. Rain Jacket

hunt sabs trespassing with vehicle in rain | hunting pack checklist

It's hard to focus on catching your prey if you're shivering in the cold rain. Add a rain jacket to your deer hunting checklist to ensure you can stay active and mobile even if the rain pours.

18. Hunting Vest

A man with a gun in his hands and an orange vest | essentials for deer hunting

Choose a practical hunting vest that can protect you from extreme weather conditions, hold an array of tools/weapons, and serve as camouflage.

19. Hunting Boots

Wellington boots stand in the rain on the wooden ladder of a hunting pulpit | deer hunting checklist excel

The grasslands can get pretty messy, especially when it's raining. To ensure you can stay mobile no matter how wet the ground gets, make sure you bring—or wear—a durable pair of boots.

20. Scent-Reducing Formula

Bear Spray - Frontiersman | best hunting pants

Bear in mind that deers have an amazing sense of smell. They heavily rely on these when detecting predators, so you won't be able to go near one without masking your natural scent.

21. Backpack

shotgun resting on green backpack with freshly hunted grouse birds in hunting net bag | whitetail hunting checklist

Choose a durable, spacious, and waterproof backpack capable of holding all your deer hunting checklist essentials!

22. Binoculars

Caucasian Hunter in Masking Camouflage Uniform with Binoculars | hunting clothes

Ideally, you'd want to be able to monitor deer activity from a safe distance. Getting too close to them right away will only scare them off.

23. First Aid Kit

Hands in latex gloves opening a first aid kit | mule deer hunting must haves

Prepare for basic wounds, injuries, and accidents. If you take any special medication or prescription drugs, make sure to bring them along as well.

24. Bug Spray

Rural landscape during hunting season | bow hunting essentials

Trust us, you'll enjoy the trip better if you don't have to slap and scratch your skin all day because of bug bites.

Post-Hunt Deer Hunting Checklist Essentials

25. Deer Cart

View of a hunter in the forest with a bow in the woods | hunting day pack list

Prepare a cart and rope which you can use to safely haul the game to your vehicle.

26. Deer Tags with Tie

Large whitetail buck taken during deer hunting season | deer hunting starter kit

Essentially, you'll need one tag for every deer you plan to bring home—most states only allow hunters to bring home one or two antlered deers.

27. Field Dressing Kit

Fresh Deer Kill Being Hung and Prepped for Dressing | colorado mule deer hunting gear list

Make sure you have all the deer hunting necessities to safely and efficiently perform field dressing. This includes your:

  • Knife: A sharp field dressing knife is a must for you to be able to clean out and remove the game's internal organs quickly and efficiently.
  • Marker: Permanent markers will be handy when honing your hunting knife, writing on tags, and marking various objects for tactical purposes.
  • Gloves and Mask: For safety and hygiene reasons, do not perform field dressing without wearing disposable gloves and a face mask.

Feel like you're still missing something? Check out this newbie deer hunting checklist by Norman Smith:

Make it a habit to go through a personalized deer hunting checklist before every trip. Remember: preparation is a hunter's best defense against all kinds of possible threats and dangerous situations. You can't just grab your rifle and head out.

Try to gather tips from other seasoned deer hunters as well. Ask them what the most common issues they encounter are, assess what items you can use if ever you were put in that position, then start bringing them with you to every trip.

What else would you bring on a full day of hunting deers? Share your personal deer hunting checklist with us in the comments section below!

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