Bow Hunting Pack List | Essentials for Your Opening Day Bow Hunt

Archery hunters generally break deer season down into five phases. These phases consist of the early season, pre-rut, rut, post-rut, and the late season. Successful bow hunters have to understand how deer transition in and out of these phases and also how to adapt their bow hunting gear throughout the long archery season. Your bow hunting pack essentials will change considerably from early season to late season and every part in between. Picking the things to put in your hunting pack for day one is not as hard as you think.

Setting the Stage for The First Day of Archery Season

The first day of archery season is an all-around tough day to hunt. The weather can range from hot, summer-like conditions all the way to cold fronts that make it feel more like the start of gun season. Deer, similar to the weather, are also in a changing pattern of uncertainty.

For instance, in Pennsylvania the first day of archery season is a time when bucks largely transition from their summer routines into their fall patterns. Up until this point, bucks were largely focused on warm season food sources such as soybeans, alfalfa and native vegetation in hardwood forests. Day in and day out one of your most important pieces of archery equipment, the trail camera, has been documenting bucks regularly visiting these areas. Right around opening day, however, many of these food sources have diminished. Bucks now shift their focus on cool season forages like rye, oats, and other food plot forages. They also seek out thicker cover as activity builds in the woods and fall conditions move in. These factors all play into what is considered bow hunting pack essentials for opening day.

Two Opening Day Bow Hunting Pack Mistakes to Avoid

It can be difficult to put together the right hunting pack essentials for opening day. Archery hunters tend to make one of these mistakes. Either everything goes in the pack or the pack gets loaded with the wrong gear.

The first mistake many hunters make is to bring way too much bow hunting gear. Since last season ended, new gear has come out and months of preparation have been spent for this day. The result is you bring every piece of archery equipment and gear you have. The first day does not require everything. In fact, there is no need for grunt calls, rattling antlers or scents. It will be weeks until even pre-rut action starts so those items provide little value in your bow hunting pack.

Hunters commonly make a second mistake when preparing their pack for the first day of archery season. Key bow hunting gear gets left out. Bringing everything, mistake number one, is one strategy for not forgetting something, but not a very good one. You want to strategically build your opening day pack with the right gear. Strategically decide on the right bow hunting pack essentials and do not bring the wrong ones. For instance, early season will require some sort of bug control. Scent control will also be import. Both should be on your bow hunting pack list for day one.

Must Have Bow Hunting Pack Essentials for Opening Day

The opening day pack should not be a goliath sack filled with everything archery you own. Rather, it is a simple, streamlined bow hunting pack that has all the right archery equipment for the conditions the archery opener presents.

Check Out Our Best Hunting Packs

These bow hunting pack essentials are not unique to only the first day of archery. However, they are important and should be on every archer’s bow hunting checklist for day one.

Safety Gear

Always, always have a quality safety harness if you are archery hunting from a tree stand. A safety harness is a must have piece of archery equipment anytime you are hunting from a tree stand. In addition, a small first aid kit is one of those things to put in your hunting pack each time you head to the field. A small waterproof container with a few bandages, superglue, antibacterial cream, and headache relief is really all you need to be prepared.

Scent Control

It’s the name of the game to get an opportunity at a mature buck especially on opening day. Temperatures will most likely be warm and sweat and stink are likely unavoidable. Full scent control clothing is a must. How this plays into your bow hunting pack essentials is that a great tip is to carry in, your scent control clothing instead of wearing it to the stand. You will maximize effectiveness of the clothing this way. Two other important items are odor eliminating spray and a wind checker. A small spray bottle of odor eliminating spray will go a long way in keeping you concealed. Also a simple wind checker will help you hunt the wind and position yourself move effectively in stand.

Insect Repellant

At the top of the bow hunting must haves list is a ThermaCell®. It is one of the best insect repellants on the market, which is certainly required during those first few warm days of archery season. A camo facemask and gloves also help with bug control. These two items keep insects off your face and hands, which reduces movement and keeps you focused on hunting.

Of course every pack will need to have certain essentials regardless of the time of year you are archery hunting. For instance, a knife, bow and gear hanger, flashlight, GPS, extra batteries and drinks and snacks should be in everyone’s pack from opening day to the last day.

The Bow Hunting Pack Essentials List

  1. Safety harness and lineman’s rope 
  2. Small first aid kit 
  3. Scent control and breathable clothing 
  4. Odor eliminating spray or device 
  5. Wind checker 
  6. ThermaCell® insect repeller 
  7. Lightweight camo facemask and gloves 
  8. Bow and gear hanger 
  9. Multi-purpose knife 
  10. Tree saw/pruners for limbs and shooting lanes 
  11. Flashlight or headlamp 
  12. GPS or location sent to family members/friends 
  13. Replenishments (drinks and snacks) 
  14. Pull up rope for pack and bow 
  15. Grunt call and/or deer scents

As you continue down your pre-season bow tuning checklist, remember to also think about your bow hunting pack list. The first day of archery is highly anticipated and exciting, but do not let that overwhelm your pack. Focus on the bow hunting pack essentials that matter for opening day and leave the rest at home.