Hunting Gear Checklist By A Real Montana Hunter

No ads. No nonsense. Just a practical hunting gear checklist from real Montana hunters.

After a season of hunting, we unloaded our gear and wrote down each item organized by a last-minute list, a day-pack list, and a vehicle list. Of course, It’s an elk hunting gear checklist and and it has all the deer hunting gear must-haves too.

Last-minute check list: Hunting gear you can’t forget at home

Never drive off to go hunting without running through the following, can’t-hunt-without-it checklist. If I followed this advice, I wouldn’t have driven off without my binoculars last weekend. True story!

  • Licenses/permits, and some electrician’s tape for attaching it to the animal.
  • Rifle and ammo, bow and arrows, shotgun and shells
  • Binoculars, spotting scope
  • Knife
  • Boots
  • Hunter’s orange during the general season
  • Water
  • Backpack
  • Full tank of gas
  • Full charge on camera/device

Old Pointer says: If you’re going bird hunting, don’t forget the DOG!

Old Pointer is Montana Whiskey Co.'s old hunting dog. Give him a scratch at our Montana distillery.

Day-pack list: Hunting gear that makes life easy on a day hunt

  • Insulated vest and a rain jacket for wearing while glassing
  • Gloves and one thin balaclava for under the hat. Keep these at the ready in your pockets.
  • Hunting regulations (Review this post: The six Montana hunting regulations hunters SCREW UP) and maybe the Block Management Hunter Access Guide too.
  • If it’s wet, one small cotton rag in your pocket for wiping binos and scopes.
  • One game bag in your pack (and three game bags in your truck)
  • Eight feet of nylon webbing for dragging a deer. Forget the rope: Webbing is light, super strong, easy on the hands, and it doesn’t stretch.
  • One head lamp and one lightweight flashlight
  • Bandaids or a small bandage kit is mighty handy if you screw up and nick yourself with your knife. It happens.
  • Disposable rubber gloves are handy when you have an animal down.
  • Compact fire starting kit. We carry matches, a lighter, and a bunch of cotton balls smeared in vaseline.
  • Mylar “space” blanket and hand warmers, just in case.
  • Bear spray on your belt. It’s light and works great for mountain lions and rutting bull moose too. Trust us.
  • Rangefinders are handy and keep you honest about how far that shot is.
  • Flagging for blood tracking. (Don’t bother taking the whole roll! Just wad 15 feet up and stick it in a pocket.)
  • Camera/phone/device. You do have onxmaps on your phone, right? (This isn’t an ad, it’s just an awesome product.)
  • Toilet paper in a nice plastic bag. Then, use that bag to carry heart and liver in your pack.
  • A small  foam pad to sit on is really nice sometimes, especially when it’s wet. If you fold it up, you should be able to stick it in a pocket for quick access.
  • Calls. A cow call can be handy in elk country when rifle hunting the general season.
  • Decoy
  • A sandwich and snacks. Or hell, a can of chili and a spoon.

Vehicle list: Hunting gear that should be in your truck

  • Keep a bone saw in your truck. If you’re hauling out parts on multiple trips, it’s kind of cool to bring the ribs out whole, if you can. And cutting through an animal’s ankles and wrists is a snap with a bone saw, just watch for sharp bone edges.
  • Keep three game bags in your truck, unless they’re the throw-away, super light kind, then just have all four in your pack.
  • Keep a bow saw on board in case a small tree blocks the road.
  • You need a shovel, just in case. Trust us.
  • A tough game sled. (Your kid’s plastic sled is pretty much worthless when the going gets tough.)
  • And finally, lightweight ski poles make hauling heavy loads easier.

Lists are great for the DIY hunter, but of course, if you’re new to this and hire a Montana hunting outfitter, they’ll have you covered on everything. (And here’s three more reasons why you might hire a Montana hunting outfitter.) Happy hunting.