By Cody Altizer
‘Tis the season, ladies and gentlemen! And no, I’m not talking about the late season, it’s Christmas season! But what right minded deer hunter isn’t out making he or she a wish list of Christmas goodies that they hope will be under the tree Christmas morning? You know the usual stuff. A brand new bow? A couple new treestands? How about a new trail camera? An outfitted hunt in the fertile Midwest? These are all common and very popular wish list items for hunters around the holidays, but what about the less popular items; the gear and toys that don’t generate a lot of buzz, but are darn near necessary in the whitetail woods?
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my Top 5 Un-Sexy Christmas list Items of 2012:
Boooooorrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiingggggg! No kidding, right? How can a hunter get excited about a pair of socks? There are no celebrity commercials for socks, no TV shows sponsored by socks, why would I want socks?! Well, personally, socks are one of the most practical and functional items of clothing I wear.
I’m extremely picky about what goes on my feet during the deer season. Now, I don’t have a favorite sock, or one that is better than the next, I just look for two criteria. First, they have to be merino wool. Merino wool is warm, comfortable, naturally odor resistant, and wicks moisture away from your feet keeping them nice and dry. Secondly, they need to be tight and reach above my calf. This is more personal preference than anything after years of playing basketball, but I hate socks that slouch. I like them to fit tight against my skin and I like them comfortable.
Again, how many of you have dug through your stocking or ripped open a package to discover hand warmers, and then proceed to give an acceptance and “thank you” speech that would put Emmy winning actors to shame? I’m guessing none.
But, like socks, hand warmers are a god send, especially during the late season and especially for bowhunters. When bowhunting, regardless of the temperature, I only wear a lightweight pair of rubber scent blocker gloves because I like to feel my bow, release, grunt call, etc. as best I can. It may sound like I’m trying to be a tough guy, but I’m really not. I can do this because I always have two hand warmers in each pocket. My hands always stay warm, and I cut down on added bulk in the tree stand.
SD Cards and Trail Camera Batteries
Two for one? Yes! If you asked for a trail camera for Christmas, then you are going to need something to record the images to, and a power source to run the unit, am I right? If you already have a trail camera, then having extra batteries and SD cards will provide added peace of mind. I like to always carry a couple SD cards and batteries in my pack with me because there’s nothing more frustrating than checking a trail camera to find 500+ pictures, and no SD card to swap it out with to check the photos. Even more frustrating, however, would be to check a trail camera and find the batteries took a nose dive and the camera died since you last checked it, especially during the hunting season. A trail camera sitting at the hunting camp having its batteries changed or a new SD put in is a trail camera that SHOULD be out in the field capturing images of big bucks.
Gear and Bow Hooks
Lame. Or are they..? Personally, I have an obsession with them. In my humble opinion, you can’t have too many gear hooks in one set. You can, however, have too many bow hooks because, well, you only need one, but that’s beside the point.
The point is when I’m in the tree bowhunting I like to have everything organized, within close reach, and have my hands free. This means my bow is sitting on a bow hanger that’s out from the tree where I barely have to raise my arm to get it. I’ve hung my bow on tree steps that are up close and tight against the tree and nothing bothers me more. Sure, they securely hold the bow, but I have to turn almost 180 degrees to get my bow. What’s worse is if I have to turn all the way around to get my bow when a deer comes from an unsuspecting direction. Bow hangers are cheap, practical, and keep your movement to a minimum while you are in the tree.
Gear hooks, on the other hand, are just that, hooks for gear. I’ll usually have a gear hook for my pack, maybe one for my range finder, grunt call, rattling antlers, and quiver. In trees that don’t provide enough cover gear hooks are excellent tools to help brush in your location with tree branches. Small, simple, and inexpensive, and can greatly increase your comfort level and level of stealth while in the tree.
There’s certainly nothing sexy about a lifeline and prussic knot, but this item should be on EVERY deer hunter’s Christmas list. Treestand lifelines have become increasingly more popular over the years, and I am so very thankful that they have. I’m a safety nut when it comes to hanging and hunting out of treestands. I’m not afraid of heights and, but I am very aware of the damage they can present. This awareness doesn’t keep me from falling, but it does make me very safe conscious.
Admittedly, I don’t have a lifeline in every one of my sets this year, but next year I will. There are a number of different companies that make them, and they all serve two simple purposes: to keep you attached from the moment you set foot off the ground until the moment you get you down, and to get you home to your family safely. I don’t think there’s a better Christmas ask than that.
So, there you have it. Five Christmas list items that aren’t sexy in the least, won’t get you many notifications if you post pictures of them on Facebook on Christmas day, and certainly won’t get you any retweets on Twitter. But, they are practical, useful, cheap, and can make you a better hunter. Consider adding these to your last minute Christmas list, or getting these for a hunter in your family! They might not thank you now, but I bet they will the next time they climb a tree to hunt!
– Cody Altizer