Deer Hunting Checklist

Deer Hunting Checklist

Written By: Ian @ World Deer

In one way, deer hunting is like any other activity or sport: you’ve got to have the right gear. A good deer hunting checklist will keep you organized, and it’ll set you up for hunting success and safety. Keep reading to discover our deer hunting checklist and more useful information.

We’ll discover must-have items for the deer hunter. As most hunters target white-tailed deer, we’ll focus on that species here. Let’s get started!

List of Essential Deer Hunting Items

Here is our list of essential deer hunting items. Start stocking up on these items if you want to get started as a hunter.

List of Essential Deer Hunting Items

With this list, you’ll know what to wear and bring, and what you should prepare in advance of your foray into this popular field sport. is reader supported. If you make a purchase after clicking a link, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Hunting License

You must get a hunting license from your state in order to hunt deer.

Every state has its own rules, fees, and fines, so take the time to find out about the ones in your own state before planning your first hunt.

Permission from Landowner (on Private Land)

Do you want to hunt on private land? You’ll need formal permission from the landowner.

Deer Hunting Permission

The Right Scents

Having scents that will attract deer will help you on the hunt. There are plenty of excellent deer scent products on the market, and each is made to smell like scents that attract deer.

For example, the scent may imitate the smell of receptive does in order to attract bucks.

Deer have a keen sense of smell, and human scent stands out like a sore thumb in the woods, so getting some products to mask your odor will help ensure a successful hunt.

Scent-Control Spray

Most hunters use a spray like this product made to reduce or eliminate their smell, or to overload a deer’s sense of smell with other odors like this product on Amazon. Many also use scent eliminating laundry detergent like this one.

Either type of scent control spray can stop deer from being able to detect them in that way.

The deer sense of smell is far superior to our own. In fact, deer have a sense of smell comparable to the one we all admire in canines.

Scent-Control Spray for Deer Hunting

In fact, the cervid sense of smell is as much as 500 to 1,000 better than ours.

A white-tailed deer is also able to detect and identify as many as six different odors simultaneously.

What does that mean for you as a hunter? Well, if you don’t disguise your scent with a spray, a deer will be able to detect you if you’re half a mile or less away from it.

These famously skittish animals don’t take chances when it comes to their safety. They’ll flee immediately if they smell or otherwise detect something they think may be danger. It’s their primary natural defense from predators.

As well as spray, there are scent-reduction washes available on the market. Look into these if you want the best possible chance of going undetected and enjoying a successful hunt.

Deer Hunting Scents


A rangefinder is an advanced piece of equipment that lets you detect the difference between your position and that of your target (the deer).

You should get and use a rangefinder and this Bushnell model is one of our favorites.


Depending upon the conditions where you’re hunting, you may benefit from having a good set of binoculars. While some hunters prefer to use their scope, binoculars offer a better field of vision for scouting terrain and identifying targets.

Binoculars for Deer Hunting

Binoculars are a piece of equipment that are worth the investment if you don’t have a good set already. These ones from Bushnell with Realtree AP are in our view one of the best values you can get right now.

Optical Cleaning Cloth (Fog Eliminating)

You’ll need an optical cleaning cloth for keeping the fog off your binocular lenses, rangefinder, and scope. You don’t want fog build-up suddenly obscuring your view as a prize buck comes within it.

The reality is that you can use any clean cloth for this, but a fog eliminating cloth may be worth the investment depending upon the hunting conditions you’re dealing with.

Clothes for Layering

Weather can be unpredictable, and hunters must be ready for every eventuality if they want to stay out in the field until they take down a deer.

You’ll need three kinds of layers of clothing when you go hunting. This includes the base layer, the mid-layer, and the outer layer.

Clothes for Deer Hunting

What is the Base Layer?

The base layer is exactly what it sounds like. This layer of clothes is the one that is immediately against your skin.

Choose lightweight clothes for this layer, specifically garments that have moisture-wicking abilities. This is important if you want to stay warm and dry during the hunt. Look for man-made fibers like polyester.

What is the Mid-Layer?

The mid-layer is the layer that goes on top of the base layer and underneath the outer layer. Merino wool, polyester, and nylon are popular fabrics for mid-layer clothing.

As we’ll touch on in the next section, you may find you don’t need separate mid-layers and outer layers. This may be the case in warmer weather, or if your outer layer has down or some other insulating material.

If you won’t need a separate mid-layer and outer layer, make sure your most outer layer is made of an appropriate shell-type material.

What is the Outer Layer?

If you go hunting when it’s warmer outside, you may not need this layer. In other words, your mid-layer will turn into your outer layer, with one important caveat: you must choose materials that are suitable for outer layers.

The outer layer is often referred to as a shell. The material you choose should be weather-repellent.

You need something that will protect you from snow, rain, and wind.

Depending upon how you’re hunting, you’ll also want to keep safety in mind here and choose an outer layer with blaze orange that other hunters can easily see. Deer can’t see orange, which makes it a great choice.

Bug Spray

No one wants to be distracted by biting insects when they’re trying to track a deer. Use some appropriate bug spray, and bring the container with you so you can replenish whenever necessary.

Certain kinds of pests, such as mosquitos and ticks, can present health threats to hunters, and as we all know ticks and deer have a close relationship where many ticks rely on deer to survive.

If you’re in deer country, you’re probably in tick country too, and a product like permethrin insect repellent may be your best bet to keep ticks at bay.

Deer Tags (Including Tie)

When you have a hunting license, you get access to deer tags that you attach to the animals you capture. Ensure you use these tags in the way instructed by your state authorities.

Deer Tags

Batteries (Fully Charged)

Make sure you have fully charged batteries (and some extras on hand) to power all battery-powered devices you bring into the field.

As a modern hunter, you probably have quite a few, so sit down and list them first.

First Aid Kit

Hunting can be a dangerous sport, and you should have a first-aid kit on-hand at all times to keep you and your companions safe. This one is one of our favorite options for hunters.

First Aid Kit for Deer Hunting

Gun and Ammo or Bow

This is an obvious one, but it’s something you should start thinking about now. Have you decided on a weapon, and have you made sure it’s appropriate for deer hunting (and legal where you’ll be hunting)?

Hunting Vest

If your outer layer isn’t already blaze orange, an orange hunting vest is necessary to stay safe in the field. Its bright color lets other hunters know that you’re there and prevents them from thinking you’re a deer and shooting you.

Rain Jacket

As we touched on earlier, you’ve got to be prepared for every kind of weather when you go hunting. Remember, conditions can change.

Even if there is no rain in the forecast, there is still the chance some showers will come your way.

We like to choose an outer layer that’s waterproof, but if yours isn’t, grab a poncho that is lightweight and easy to slip on when you need it.

Field Dressing Kit (Including Knife)

Proper field dressing of deer is necessary, especially if you want to be able to eat and enjoy the taste of your venison. Without field dressing, dangerous bacteria will proliferate in the deer’s meat and it will be contaminated.

A field dressing knife is a vital part of your field dressing kit, and while you can get an elaborate set of knives for this, we like the simplicity of this 2-piece Elk Ridge fixed blade set.

Our Favorite Field Dressing Knife Set

Our Favorite Field Dressing Knife Set for Deer Hunters

We like fixed-blade hunting knives for field dressing and skinning deer (it’s a safety thing).

This 2-piece knife set is razor sharp, comfortable in the hand, and includes an effective gut hook. It’s a budget-friendly option that will be perfect for most hunters. is reader supported. If you make a purchase after clicking a link, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Make Sure to Use Our Deer Hunting Checklist

The deer hunting checklist we’ve provided here is perfect for making sure you have all the gear you need.

Field Dressing Kit for Deer Hunting

Make sure to refer to it as you gather your equipment and plan your first trip.

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Picture of By: Ian from World Deer

By: Ian from World Deer

A passionate writer for WorldDeer using the most recent data on all animals with a keen focus on deer species.

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