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Sure, your grandpa killed deer with nothing but his old .30-30, some well-worn flannel, and the skill of a veteran woodsman. But grandpa didn’t have all of today’s cool modern gear at his disposal. Deer hunters now have access to cellular trail cameras, heated socks, precision scopes, and countless other gizmos.
Some of this modern gear is frivolous. However, many more deer hunting gear items will make time in the field more productive, or at least more comfortable. So if you’re shopping for a holiday gift to give that deer hunter who seems to already have it all, you’ve come to the right place. Below I’ve compiled a list of stocking stuffers and big-ticket items that any deer hunter would love to see beneath the Christmas tree—even grandpa.
These simple gifts all cost less than $100 and have been reviewed by O.L‘s gear testing team.
Give the gift of safety this holiday season. This simple lifeline system is a great gift for any and every treestand hunter. It attaches above the stand and includes a sliding prussic knot. You simply clip your harness into the knot and then slide it up the line as you climb. Most treestand accidents happen while the hunter is climbing into or out of the stand. This system ensures that a fall won’t be life threatening.
This clever rechargeable handwarmer was picked as a top choice during a test of the best hand warmers. “The Ocoopa was impressively easy to use, making it the best multiple-use hand warmer in my test,” staff writer Laura Lancaster wrote. “Upon opening the box, I plugged in the hand warmer using the supplied cable. Once all three lights next to the power button were a steady blue, I unplugged it and turned it on. It immediately started warming up; In fact, this was the fastest warming product I tried.”
In testing, the Ocoopa ran for five hours, which should keep you warm for a full morning sit.
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Zach Ferenbaugh, from The Hunting Public crew, picked the Woodhaven Ninja Intimidator as his go-to call for drawing in big bucks on public lands (read our review of the best deer calls here).
“I’ve used a lot of calls over the years, but this is by far my favorite,” Ferenbaugh says. “I can be as subtle as I need, or I can crank up the volume if I need to grab a deer’s attention, even if it’s 100 yards away. If you look at our videos, this call is literally tied to my vest all season long.”
If Ferenbaugh trusts it, the deer hunter on your list will too.
This is one pair of socks that people will actually be happy to get for Christmas—if they’re deer hunters. These socks are battery-powered and link to an app. You can set the temperature from 85℉-158℉ with a few swipes. The batteries will last for 10 hours on the lowest settings. Just make sure to take the battery out before you wash it. With these bad boys, there’s never a reason to hunt with cold feet again. (Read our full review of the best socks for hunting, here).
There are a lot of companies that make great base layers for hunting, but it’s hard to beat Smartwool. This is their heaviest layer, and it’s made of 100% Merino wool. That’s important because Merino wool is odor resistant. Plus, these layers aren’t skin-tight like spandex, which makes them more comfortable for sitting on a treestand (save the super-tight spandex for yoga class, thanks). If the deer hunter on your list is still wearing the old flannel long johns, help him out with a pair of these.
Big Ticket Items
These gear items are sure to bring joy on Christmas day—or before that, if you decide to just buy them for yourself.
This is the ultimate gift for the deer hunter on your list who wants the best data to pattern mature bucks—and who loves to geek out over whitetail behavior. The cam won the great buy award in our test of the best cellular trail cameras because it’s feature-packed and costs only $100, which is impressive. But what’s truly remarkable about the camera is the Moultrie Mobile app that it’s paired with. The app is designed with image recognition, so it identifies deer (including bucks vs. does), turkeys, vehicles, and humans in photos. From there, you can sort your photos based on species. Say, for example, you set the camera in the summertime, and by November, you have a few thousand photos, including some shooter bucks, does, squirrels, coyotes, and that neighbor who keeps riding by on his ATV. The app allows you to filter images, so you’ll only see the buck’s photos. What’s more, it gives you activity data, showing when bucks are passing by the camera most frequently.
I’ve been running the Moultrie Mobile Edge all season on a deer hunting property in Wisconsin, and it’s worked flawlessly, capturing excellent photos day and night. I ended up tagging the buck in the photo above on Nov. 6, from a stand just a few hundred yards away from where I captured him on camera. We had trail camera pictures of the buck going back to August, and we used them to zero in on his main travel corridor.
And what’s really exciting is that the data the app has collected from a season’s worth of photos will help me pattern deer activity for many seasons to come.
Using deer decoys is the trendy tactic these days, and for good reason: watching a rutting buck swagger in to run off a challenger (your decoy) is a rush. Flambeau makes a simple and realistic buck decoy that is much more affordable than the high-end, ultra-expensive decoys out there. It’s a collapsible and packable decoy, so you can hike it to spots, just make sure you always wear orange when transporting a deer decoy and never use a decoy during firearms season.
This is a serious knife for serious wild-game butchers. It’s designed essentially as a hybrid fillet knife/boning knife with a thin six-inch blade. The Meatcrafter shines when quartering, deboning, and butchering an animal—it’s not a skinning knife or a gutting knife.
The base model of this knife, the 15500 comes with CPM-154 (58-61 HRC) steel, and an orange Santoprene handle. The knife comes with a nice Kydex sheath. But this is just the beginning. You can upgrade the steel or handle material (the 15500OR-2 model comes with a carbon fiber handle and CPM-S45VN (60-62 HRC) steel and costs more than twice as much). You can also mix and match materials and colors to create your own custom Meatcrafter here.
The Skeletor won a great buy award in a review of the best climbing sticks for mobile hunting. Even though these sticks won a value award, they’re still a little pricey (as mobile hunting gear tends to be). But for the price you get some high-end features: DynaLite rope attachment method, folding double-step design, and the StickLoc pin system. Four aluminum sticks weigh 8 pounds 7 ounces.
This roomy, comfortable blind blends perfectly in farm country. The interior measures 72 inches long x 72 inches deep x 72 inches high, which is plenty of room for two or even three hunters. It includes six windows that slide open silently thanks to a clever rope system. The frame is powder-coated steel. My hunting buddy and I have been using this blind on a property in western Wisconsin for two seasons now, and we’ve killed a couple freezerfuls of deer out of it. We’ve left it out all winter, and it’s showing hardly any wear-and-tear. The blind is heavy (146 pounds) but I’m able to slide it into my truck bed by myself and transport it to new spots around the property without too much trouble. Tucked in next to a real bale or along a fenceline and the blind becomes invisible to deer.