The Low-Down on Essential Gear for Archery Hunters

When I first started to hunt with a bow, you needed a bow and some arrows, a quiver and money for gas. The bow hunter of today not only needs these items, but many more, it would seem, to be successful in the field. But are all of the extra items really necessary for success?

So what do you need to go bow hunting? A bow is a good place to start. Arrows with broadheads adequate for the game you are pursuing are also a necessity.


But what about other items such as camouflage?

Camouflage helps you blend into your surroundings, but is not necessary for hunting deer, which have limited color vision.

According to a study that was published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, it states, and I quote, “Deer are essentially red-green color blind like some humans. Their color vision is limited to the short [blue] and middle [green] wavelength colors. As a result, deer likely can distinguish blue from red, but not green from red, or orange from red.”

Either way, your form is broken up into different shades and will not be detected by a whitetail’s eye. Camo clothing is nice to blend into your surroundings, and I wear it myself. But it’s not really something you need to hunt.

Most bowhunters will hunt their prey from an elevated position. There are many different types of tree stands to choose from, and the manufacturers have made sure that they are safe as long as you read the directions—and then follow them!

Whichever one you choose, make sure that you use a safety harness. I have heard of many veteran hunters who decided against using a harness for some unknown reason and their families wish they had.

Hunting from a tree stand may not be your “cup of tea.” Although it may be the most popular way to bow hunt, you can still bring home the venison using other methods.

A range finder is a must when it comes to bowhunting. Although the faster bows allow a lot of forgiveness when deciding how far the object is, you ethically owe it to the animal you are hunting to be the very best shot you can be.

The range finder is particularly important if you are using a slower bow. You should still practice on judging distance. 

One of the items I consider a must in my backpack is ThermaCell. For those of you who are not familiar with this item, let me explain. ThermaCell is a portable device that will keep mosquitoes and black flies away from you. For those of us who hunt where these pesky beasts linger, you will agree with me that these small critters can quickly ruin a good hunt.

Although bow hunting is generally considered one of the safest sports out there, it does not mean you can just toss caution to the wind. More people get injured playing golf than any other sport. Something about holding a lightning rod in your hands during a storm gives the previous statement some legitimacy.

I know I just put a smile on your face, but accidents do happen. In the bow-hunting world, they are usually self-inflicted injuries. That’s all the more reason to think about every move you make and be sure it’s a safe one. I cannot stress how important it is to use a safety harness while hunting from an elevated position.

Although there are many methods to take a whitetail with a bow, tree stand hunting has proved to be one of the most successful. It is also one of the most dangerous.

Commercial tree stands of today come with a free safety harness. If you purchase a two-man stand, it comes with two harnesses. You, as a safe, ethical hunter, need to use those harnesses every time you plan to hunt from an elevated position.

That is the problem. For some reason, some hunters seem to think an accident will never happen to them.

There are lots of other gadgets we can use, some better than others. Let me share an example. Detective television programs show investigators spraying a chemical on the wall to reveal blood.

Some companies sell a form of that chemical for hunters who lose the blood trail at night. It seems simple enough. When you lose blood, reach for your “handy-dandy” blood finding spray and you should be able to detect blood again with no problem.

Once, I was hunting a field, and I had to follow a blood trail after sunset. It is not easy to detect blood in an open field. I told my hunting buddy it’s not a problem. We can simply spray this chemical and find the blood. Sure enough, I sprayed in front of me, and the ground turned blue. Surely this was blood.

This continued for another 100 yards until my friend decided to walk in the middle of the field where we knew the deer did not go. He sprayed the chemical there too. As a matter of fact, he just sprayed in a circle. Everywhere the chemical hit the ground, we saw the blue color.

Lesson learned.

There is much more to discuss about scents and other things. I will cover those in my October column, but pay special attention to the above when bow season opens and beyond.


—story by Lou Marullo 


Return to CONTENTS Page

Roy Neves: