By Cody Altizer

It’s tough to believe what I am about to write, but it’s the truth and it’s honest, so I guess it shouldn’t feel all that weird.  But I am prepping myself for what will be my 17th whitetail season.  Holy cow, I’ve been hunting deer for 16 years.

I’ve learned a lot during those 16 years in the field, but I am nowhere close to what you call an “expert hunter.”  Actually, now that I think about it, if I were anywhere close to that level, I wouldn’t want to be called an “expert hunter.”  That just sounds weird. But I digress.

That being said though, one of the most important things I’ve learned just recently is that quality gear and equipment can make or break your hunt and ultimately determine your success.  Early on in my hunting career, especially my bowhunting career, I just bought whatever looked good on the shelf and thought it would get the job done.  Admittedly, I couldn’t afford top flight gear (and still can’t in many cases), but I was hoping I could “just get by.”  That’s not a phrase I’m comfortable using in the whitetail woods any more.

I’ve since learned my lesson and learned that quality gear goes a long way in determining the quality of hunts. Below are my three favorite pieces of hunting gear or equipment.  Items that I feel absolutely make me a better deer hunter and increase my chances for success.

Lone Wolf Assault and Climbing Sticks

I’m a treestand hunter, through and through.  I know ground blinds have their place and you can be successful hunting out of them, but I’m most comfortable when I am in a tree.  My hunting style is also very aggressive in that I am very mobile and willing to move my sets in attempt to keep deer guessing and successfully ambush mature deer.  A Lone Wolf Assault and a set of Lone Wolf climbing sticks allow me to do that easily.

I’ve safely hunted and shot deer out of a number of stands, but for my style of hunting I’ve yet to find a stand that trumps a Lone Wolf Assault and sticks.  They are lightweight, easily packable, rock solid, and easy to hang.  On top of that, they are made right in the United States of America.  It’s a good feeling knowing you’re buying a product that was fully manufactured in this country.

Last fall I was curious to see how quickly I could take down and move a Lone Wolf Assault with sticks. I wanted to move my stand across a clover field because I had been busted the night before and wanted to continue to hunt the food plot.  It took me only 28 minutes to take down my Lone Wolf Assault and 4 climbing sticks, pack it, move it 200 yards, and have it safely hung.  I simply couldn’t do that with any other stand.

Axcel Armortech HD Site

Since I’m a pretty aggressive bowhunter I need gear that is rock solid and equipment that can take a beating and I can depend on.  Like Lone Wolf stands, I found that in an Axcel Armortech HD site.

Two years ago I was in a tree in Pike County, Illinois for my first hunt ever in the famed Golden Triangle.  I was 20 years old, and living every one of my friends’ dream as I watched the sunrise over a frosty CRP field in mid-October.  Out of habit, I always stand up at first light to stretch my legs and back, draw my bow and prepare myself shot a deer come walking back.  This hunt was no different, except when I drew back my bow, my site fell off.  I always carry a spare Allen key in my pack in case such a problem should arise, but the site wasn’t fixable.  I spent a cool morning in that stand actually hoping a deer wouldn’t show, and fortunately none came within range, because I was weaponless.

The site that broke was a cheap one, so I manned up and bought the Axcel Armortech.  It hasn’t let me down since. The pins are bright and provides easy tool-less adjustability and it takes the beating I throw it at every fall with ease.  I hike through some thick brush and vines during the season and scale some rocky terrain, and I’ve knocked my bow around plenty of times, yet the Armortech hasn’t been off once.  It certainly lives up to Axcel’s motto, “built like a tank, fine tuned like a sports car.”

Hunter Safety System Ultra Lite

Finally, and certainly not least my favorite piece of gear is the Hunter Safety System Ultra Lite.  Like treestands, I’ve used several different safety harnesses on the market and trust them all in the event I should fall.  They were all easy to put on and I felt safe wearing them, but it’s the subtle key features of the Ultra Lite that give it the nod over its competitors.

The Ultra Lite is lightweight and very easy to put on and once it’s on, I forget it’s on.  Sounds catchy, eh? It’s so lightweight, however, that I wear it while I hang my stands for two reasons: one it’s light, two the lineman’s strap easily wraps around the tree for safe stick and stand hanging. Once the stand is hung I can safely sit in the stand and trim lanes, screw in hooks and hangers and safely be on my way in no time.  Also, like the Lone Wolf Assault and Armortech, the Ultra Lite is extremely durable.  I’m pretty hard on my gear and equipment, and have hung countless stands using this harness and linesman belt this summer in extreme heat, but it’s held up beautifully.

So there you have it, three pieces of equipment that I not only wouldn’t go afield without, but honestly believe make me a more successful hunter.  I trust these pieces of gear because they have worked for me, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they fit in your arsenal.  So I’m asking you, W2H nation, what are your three “go to gear items?” Let us know in the comments section!

– Cody Altizer