Hunting Pros Reveal Their Top 3 Essential Hunting Gear

Crossbow Critic - Hunting Gear

As a hunter, we all know that the primary weapon of choice and ammo is essential to every hunt (unless you are planning to wrestler a duck down). But what else is on your essential hunting gear list that you would bring (or gift) to a big hunt?

What accessories (such as their favorite bolts and broadheads when they go hunting), unique clothing, and other essentials would you pack? We wanted to find out and so we asked the top hunting experts the following question: 

If you could only take 3 items of hunting gear on your next hunt, what would they be? 

Their feedback was absolutely outstanding! We added up all the answers and the following 3 items are the top picks:

  1. - A Good Hunting Knife (check out our top pick here)
  2. - A Rangefinder (read or reviews on the best brands here)
  3. - A Rope or Paracord (this one is good)

There are many other recommendation. Take a look below to see what they said. 

Matt Staser
Average Outdoorsman

At Average Outdoorsman we are everyday people who love, respect and enjoy outdoor activities whenever we can. As a visitor and a customer you can expect Average Outdoorsman to bring you educational and informational news and articles about all outdoors activities. We will also bring you product reviews on several different types of outdoor products. Average Outdoorsman was born from the original site of Average Hunter. The continued growth and popularity lead to the need for upgrading the site for greater customer satisfaction. We were able to add forums and photo galleries for a more follower friendly and interactive website.

Matt Staser

Three items that are on every hunt:​

Item #1 - A good knife

Item #2 - Roll of Electrical Tape

Item #3 - 30' of Paracord

It's never about survival where I hunt, but I like to be prepared for any situation and those 3 items will get me through most of them.

Mark Huelsing

Mark Huelsing
Sole Adventure

Sole Adventure exists to inform and inspire passionate bowhunters of all types.

I am a husband to one very patient and understanding woman, a father to two amazing kids, a hunter of several wild game species, and an outdoor writer. I love to share my passion for the outdoors with others through stories of success and failure. I have written for various outlets and publications including, Extreme Elk, Wired to Hunt, Elk Hunter & Western Hunter, Driftwood Outdoors, Bow Adventures, Bow America, and others. I am also a member of the Elite Archery Factory Pro Staff, the Real Avid Field Staff, and the Minox Optics Adventure Team.

Item #1 - A Knife

I started using a Havalon last year. After butchering both whitetail and elk with one, I'll never not have one on me during a hunt.

Item #2 - A Headlamp

It's important to have "hands free" light while hiking in and out of the woods in the dark. Looks for a headlamp that has adjustable brightness settings, as well as a red light option. The red light makes it easy to retain your night vision and avoid spooking game, while also giving you some ambient light to climb into a treestand, fetch items from your pack, etc. Black Diamond has some very powerful, affordable options. [Editor's note: We received one of these in our last hunting subscription box delivery, and love it]

Item #3 - Clothing

It is gear. Having the right clothing for the hunt makes all the difference in your comfort and safety. If you're dressed properly, you will be less distracted by the weather conditions, and have more energy and willingness to hunt longer and harder. Whether it is 80-degrees or 5-degrees, I typically have some type of merino wool from First Lite on every hunt.

Hank Shaw
Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

Honest food is what I’m seeking. Nothing packaged, nothing in a box, nothing wrapped in plastic. I eat meat, and I’m not keen on factory farms, so I either hunt it myself or buy it from real people who raise animals humanely. Other than pork fat for charcuterie and the occasional octopus, I have not bought meat or fish for our home more than a handful of times since 2005. I am a constant forager, angler, hunter, gardener and fan of farmer’s markets, and eating locally and making good food from scratch is what I do. Seasonality rules my diet: In winter, I would rather eat a well-cooked turnip than asparagus from Chile.

Hank Shaw

Item #1 - A Length of Stout Rope

I sometimes end up shooting deer in canyons, and that means I'm always dragging, hoisting or otherwise hauling animals out of un-fun places. Rope helps a lot.

Item #2 - Binoculars

I hunt the West, with lots of wide open spaces. Hunting without binos is essentially hunting blind.

Item #3 - A Heavy-duty Folding Knife

I love Havalon scalpel knives for skinning, but they're too fine for serious cutting, especially if you find yourself stuck in the woods lost overnight. A strong knife is an invaluable tool.

Barbara Baird

Barbara Baird
Women's Outdoor News (theWon)

Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in travel and outdoor markets, which includes writing a column for "Turkey Country" magazine and being a news blogger at Also a contributing editor to "SHOT Business" and columnist at "Shooting Sports USA" keep her on the road and hunting for new stories. When not working, Barbara can be found fixing fence, building wildlife habitat, fishing, hunting, instructing NRA-certified pistol classes or bird watching.

Item #1 - Pack

Item #2 - Personal defense pistol (if legal)

Item #3 - Water

Locke Wheeler
Sportsman Outfitters

We are a Louisiana based internet retailer dedicated to serving those passionate about hunting and outdoors. We have built our internet store around top quality brands and products in the hunting and outdoor industry; while also striving to provide new and innovative products to our loyal customers.

Locke Wheeler

Item #1 - Binoculars

Quality optics not only enhance the experience of experiencing wildlife on the hunt but ensure you are able to most effectively identify your game in terms of age, sex, etc. This is the best way to ensure you are harvesting the right game, and it's a lot more fun to get a better view of the game you are after!

Item #2 - Rangefinder

Specifically for archery hunting, rather crossbow, compound, or traditional shooters, knowing your range is the only way to know you are doing your best to perform an ethical shot on the game you are pursuing. With that accuracy of the laser rangefinder on today market, and their affordability, EVERY archer should be ranging his shots in the field without excuse. You owe it to the animals you are shooting!

Item #3 - Safety Harness

If you are climbing trees, you need to be using safety harness to ensure your safety. With today's diverse market of innovative fall prevention products, there is really no excuse, because you can find a product to fits and works for you. You owe it those depending on you making it home to protect yourself, and securing yourself can provide an increased level of confidence in the stand when standing to make that shot you've worked so hard to get.

Mike Hanback

Mike Hanback
Mike Hanback's Big Deer, Hunting Advice and Tips

Michael Hanback, one of the most respected hunting writers in the world today, is a columnist and contributing editor for several popular outdoor publications, including American Hunter, Outdoor Life, and Whitetail Hunting Strategies. The Virginia writer has hunted most species of North American big game over the last 25 years, but whitetails remain his passion. Many of his hunts appear on Mossy Oak’s television shows and videos. He hunts for large bucks with bow and gun in five to 10 states and Canadian provinces each fall. He lives in Warrenton, Virginia.

Item #1 - Hunting Boots

Pair of top-quality, high-tech hunting boots tailored to the terrain and time of season (i.e. non-insulated in summer or 400 grams Thinsulate for winter); can't hunt effectively if can't hike/climb with comfort and ease.

Item #2 - Binoculars

Best 10X binoculars you can afford; can't shoot a big buck if you can't see it and size up the rack first.

Item #3 -  Pack with Slots and Pockets

Well-designed pack with good number of slots and pockets; organize and carry all your gear comfortably and quietly to hunt your best.

Byron Champagne Jr.
Xtreme Tactical Archery Gear (XTag)

XTAG (Xtreme Tactical Archery Gear) was formed by avid bow hunters with new ideas that will advance us as hunters in the field. We at XTAG will strive in bringing you new and innovated archery products. The archery industry has come a long way from a stick and string to today's most advanced compound bows. XTAG wanted to join the revolutionary train with some of our innovated archery products that will compliment any bow hunters outfit. XTAG introduces you to the world's most versitile stabilizer on the market, "The TACULIZER". 

It's not just the hunt, but what's "Beyond the Hunt" that will bring you success in the field.

Byron Champagne Jr

I feel that the question asked should maybe be a little more detailed. For example, is the hunt out of a ground blind, spot and stalk or tree stand. This will determine whether or not I would bring one of these items. If I was to answer this question the way it is asked. I would assume that I would not need to bring a blind or stand.

So the 3 items I would bring would be as followed:

Item #1 - Bow and Arrow

Item #2 - Range Finder

Item #3 - Thermacell

Knowing where and what kind of hunt would allow one to answer question in a more thorough way. If the above answers are good with you, than I guess those are my answers. You know one may say what about a release for your bow, what about broadheads, etc. Is bow and arrow considered 2 items. See where I am going with this.

Steve Wall

Steve Wall
Wisconsin Outdoor Pursuits

I have a passion for bow hunting whitetail deer, but also enjoy hunting turkey, bear and small game animals. I enjoy getting on the water fishing from my kayak and walking streams or rivers with my fly rod. While this page has Wisconsin in its name, I hope that I can provide you tips, information and strategies no matter where you live and what type of outdoor activity you are doing!

Item #1 - Camoflage

Item #2 - A Knife

I guess in that case a knife to clean the animal. Otherwise if that would be something you would already have I would say a game call.

Item #3 - Treestand

I think elevation helps conceal some movements

John Tilby
Sportsmans Outdoor Products

Sportsman’s Outdoor Products (SOP) is a manufacture of soft goods in the Hunting, Shooting, and Archery markets. For Twenty One years SOP has been making and selling products to chain stores, distributors and dealers. Under the SOP umbrella we have five brands that we presently market and they are as follows: Tarantula Archery, Horn Hunter Packs, Beard Buster Turkey Gear, Splash Waterfowl, SnugFit Cases, and a new line for 2011 Sly Dog predator gear. We are avid hunters and it shows in our creativity and innovations. Our specialty is identifying a problem that we come across while hunting, and then design a product to solve that problem. We presently hold six patents and have many more in various stages of the patent process. We started this company twenty one years ago with the “Tarantula String Silencers” and have never looked back.

John Tilby

Besides the weapon that you're hunting with, a bow, crossbow or rifle, the three most important pieces of gear that I would take hunting is:

Item #1 - Optics

Good binoculars are a must.

Item #2 - Range Finder

Item #3 - Pack designed for the type of hunt

A great pack designed for the type of hunt that I'm going to be on. Western hunt I would make sure I had a frame style pack, with the ability to haul out the cape and meat. If I was hunting in the East, I would make sure I had a pack designed to be used in tree stand.


Modern Hunters

Nick is not a born hunter. Nor is he a born woodsman. He and his father did not hunt, nor fish, nor camp. What Nick did learn from his father was how to learn, how to write, and how to teach. Nick still isn’t an expert hunter, as hunting has only more recently come to play a central role in his life. He is, however, an expert researcher and writer. While his first outdoor pursuits started off slowly, he has spent the last decade actively pursuing outdoor activities including fishing, hiking, camping, and ultralight backpacking. He has learned what he knows about hunting—and the outdoors in general—mostly from scratch. After learning the difficulty of doing so, he wants to create a site dedicated to easing entry into hunting for those not born into outdoorsy, hunting families.

Assuming I'm bow hunting for deer, here are the three hunting items I'd take (assuming that water, food, and clothes, for example, are not considered hunting gear):

Item #1 - My Laser Rangefinder

Item #2 - My Havalon Knife & Extra Blade (small enough to count as one item)

Item #3 - TAG game bags

If weapon is already included and I get a fourth piece it'd have to be my TAG game bags as I'd need to keep my backcountry meat -- the most important part -- clean.

Jim Kempf
Scorpyd Crossbows

Scorpyd (Pronounced Score-Pid) Crossbows and Reverse Draw Technology are both creations of Crossbow innovator Jim Kempf. The technology that Jim Kempf created has now lead Scorpyd Crossbows to be one of the most effective hunting tools to date.Scorpyd (Pronounced Score-Pid) Crossbows and Reverse Draw Technology are both creations of Crossbow innovator Jim Kempf. The technology that Jim Kempf created has now lead Scorpyd Crossbows to be one of the most effective hunting tools to date.

Bill Howard Outdoors

Item #1 - Ventilator 125 package

Item #2 - A range finding pair of binoculars

Item #3 - Extra set of strings

Chris Burget

Chris Burget
Bulls and Beavers Media Group

Chris Burget is the founder of Bulls & Beavers. From his cabin in the hills of Idaho, he spends his day hunting, fishing and appreciating the thousands of acres that surround the Bulls & Beavers headquarters. He is a third-generation outdoorsman and sharing hunting and fishing news and information is his lifes work. The Burget familys love appreciation of Americas greatest gift “ our environment, is something that Chris began learning as a young boy and is reflected in today. Although he is single for now, Chris is definitely married to the outdoors lifestyle and leads hunts and fishing trips in his free time.

Item #1 - A Sharp Knife

Item #2 - Water

Item #3 - Beef Jerky

Bill Howard
Bow Adventures Magazine

Bill shows a passion for the outdoors and hunting, particularly bowhunting, and teaching others, whether they are youth or adults new to hunting and fishing. He hopes to share that passion in his stories each week, and convey the emotions and experiences shared between family and friends who witness the outdoors together.

Bill Howard Outdoors

Item #1 - A Knife

I keep one whether hunting or fishing that has a gut hook. The hook is not only good for the intended use, but it can cut through small limbs in a pinch to clear lanes or sight windows.

Item #2 - A Light

I usually keep a LED flashlight and a LED headlamp in my bag. Either work fine. I also use my phone as a light source at times. But going in, coming out, or if you were to get lost or hurt and the dark comes, a light can save you.

Item #3 - Extra Battery

Not just any extra battery. One for my cell phone. Cheating a little bit here, because I am including the fact I already have my cell phone. It is easy to run a battery low on the phone, and with the different apps available, the cell phone sure does save a lot of space and weight compared to what we used to haul around. GPS unit? The cell phone has it and the maps are much better than anything the GPS had a decade ago. Communication? Of course. Takes away walkie talkies. That being said, I have been places where there is no cell service, but the comfort of know if you keep moving you will find service eventually is nice. The lack of service does little to deter the fore mentioned GPS apps, since many are downloadable now rather than sucking up data plans and makes them work without data service. If my phone runs low, the extra battery reminds me to start conserving energy the rest of the way, only use GPS locations intermittently so as not to over consume power, and just gives you peace of mind.

Asif Ilyasov

Asif Ilyasov
Global Safari Azerbaijan

We started organize hunting trips in 2003 in Azerbaijan but with the time passed the area of our routes involved not only the CIS countries but Asia, Europe, Africa, The North America and the South America and Oceania as well. You have an opportunity to choose an exclusive tour. Also you can choose any trophy to fill up your collection. You can always count on our professional support in organization of hunting. We will be happy to organize your hunting and the overall travel. So let us realize your dreams together.

Item #1 - Rain Coat

Item #2 - Jamper

Item #3 - A Second Booth

John Eberhart
Eberhart's Bowhunting

Bill John has been hunting whitetail deer in the heavily hunted state of Michigan for 45 years and has concentrated his efforts on mature bucks for more than 20 of those years. he has 23 bucks entered in the Commemorative Bucks of Michigan record book from 9 different counties. John does not own or lease any hunting property, or belong to any hunt clubs. He receives permission by knocking on doors, which at times can be more difficult than actually hunting. Most of his bucks have come from heavily hunted areas, with several of his largest coming from state land. John has hunted both big timber areas and agricultural areas in his home state and is dedicated to the no-nonsense pursuit of mature whitetail deer.

John Eberhart

Assuming I already have a bow and arrows and clean rubber or neoprene boots:

Item #1 - Scent Lok suit

Properly cared for Scent Lok suit which includes the head cover and gloves – other than the invention of the compound bow, the use of activated carbon into hunting garments has been the most useful innovation since the mid 1970’s as when used properly wind direction doesn’t matter

Item #2 - Grabber Warmers (the brand) – 4 Adhesive Body warmers

These allow me to hunt in bitter cold weather all day if needed and they weigh nothing and add no bulk.

Item #3 - Pee bottle

I typically have to pee at least once while on stand and would hate to have to get down and go elsewhere and come back as that would ruin the hunts

One item that every single one of these outfitters says is very important to have gear or not, is hunting insurance, it's the responsible thing to do. So regardless of what you carry and who you hunt with, you should make sure you have the right type of cover before your next trip.

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