Whitetail hunting can be gear intensive, but I like to keep things as simple as possible. When hunting Texas in Episode 3 of Season 10 of MeatEater, we were constantly changing setups. This called for different gear than what I traditionally use for my whitetail treestand hunts. Here are five things pieces of equipment that were crucial for this trip.
Vortex HD 4000 Rangefinder When rattling from the ground, a good rangefinder is essential. In bowhunting, the difference in five yards can be the difference between a dead deer or a miss. I find the Vortex rangefinders to be compact, clear, and quick at acquiring the object when each second counts. The HD 4000 comes with me on basically every hunt—whether it’s bears in Montana or whitetails in Arkansas.
Benchmade Steep Country I take two knives with me on every hunting trip—one for the hunting pack and the other for butchering. Somewhere in my hunting pack, you’ll always find a Steep Country. It’s compact and keeps an edge as good as any blade. I like the slim kydex sheath and being able to resharpen it in the field when we’re skinning multiple animals, like what happened in Texas. The knife is the perfect size for field dressing and quartering out any animal. Plus, as we discussed in Episode 287 of the MeatEater Podcast, it has perfect jimping.
Benchmade Essential MeatCrafter Knife The second knife I always carry is the Essential MeatCrafter. This knife is my go-to butchering knife because of its genius design. Confidence when you’re standing over the butcher block is important, and the MeatCrafter is just the right length and shape to get the job done. When Jesse Griffiths and Steve are scrutinizing your every cut, you need a good knife.
First Lite Corrugate Foundry Pant These are my must-have pants for active, on-the-ground hunting like we did in Texas. The tough, yet comfortable fronts protect you from briars and stickers, but the knee pads are the real MVP. I’ve never worn knee pads in a hunting pant, and I didn’t realize what I was missing. The First Lite Corrugate Foundry Pants made shooting from the ground and crawling through the brush easy.
First Lite Wick Short Sleeve Crew I wear the First Lite Wick Short Sleeve Crew as the base layer almost every time I go hunting. It’s a great feeling shirt for being a thin, wool blend tee. When the sun is high, you can strip down to it and be comfortable. It handles moisture well and dries quickly, too. Plus, like every whitetail hunter should care about, it doesn’t hold near the odor a cotton shirt does when sweating. I love this shirt.
This was an incredible trip aside from Steve breaking my beloved set of rattling horns, which are now up for auction on the MeatEater Auction House of Oddities. I’ve never hunted in such a whitetail-rich region. Calling deer and bowhunting them off the ground was a new challenge, and I look forward to trying it again.