Most whitetail bowhunters who leave their home grounds to pursue whitetails do so in November. As much as the rut influences travel in bucks, it does so in those of us who obsess over deer. I'm certainly no stranger to this far-flung, deer-woods gravity and over the years I've come to rely on certain products to help my over-the-road hunts.
Most would be a good thing to bring on guided hunts, but are an absolute must on DIY hunts. Since that's where my heart lies, I tend to be pretty particular about which deer gear travels with me toward my public-land destinations, and which stuff stays at home in my garage.
Badlands | Stalker Backpack
Badlands has developed a following out west for quality backpacks that is slowly migrating east, a movement that should see a boost from the Silent Series. A favorite of mine in the lineup is the Stalker, but don't let the name fool you. This is a great whitetail pack for several reasons like the usage of Silent Mutex Fabric and the absence of all external buckles and zippers. Or in other words, its ability to stay truly quiet in the woods. At only two pounds yet boasting 1400 cubic inches of overall storage space, the Stalker will hold everything you need for an all-day sit in the November deer woods.
Lakewoods | C275 Drop-In Bowfile
I started using Lakewoods' cases a few years ago and may never use anything else from here on out. A personal favorite is the Drop-In Bowfile, which is foam-lined and designed specifically for parallel-limbed bows. It's also designed to hold up to 18 arrows in the bottom compartment, which even when full of ammo, won't affect its ability to safely store your bow. The Bowfile may seem like overkill for most whitetail travel, but it's not. I've had bows get inexplicably knocked around on two different trips and neither was much fun. That doesn't happen anymore, because I make sure it doesn't with the right case. If you're still not sold, consider that Lakewoods makes their Bowfiles in the good ol' USA.
Nikon | Arrow ID 5000 Laser Rangefinder
New situations, new stand sites, deer that might be larger or smaller than you're use to, and a host of other factors pretty much dictate that carrying a quality rangefinder on all traveling hunts is a good idea. The new Arrow ID 5000 from Nikon is a great choice thanks to its compact size, large ocular lens, ID Technology (incline/decline) and its ability to offer highly accurate readings up to .1-yard increments. If you plan to invest time and money into going for an away-game deer, do yourself a favor and get real comfortable with a rangefinder like the Arrow ID 5000. You won't regret it when you do earn a shot, believe me.
Ozonics | HR-200
No product is as subject to ridicule and misinformed opinions than Ozonics. A little research into the uses of ozone will go a long way toward understanding how the HR-200 works to greatly reduce a bowhunter's scent. The technology has been in use for decades in various forms from water purification to medical sterilization. This is because ozone is a bleaching agent, and one of the things it can bleach right out of existence is your scent. I thought this was bunk until I tested an HR-200 for two years on public-land whitetails in Minnesota. Now I don't travel without one, and no, they don't pay me to say that. An on-the-road scent control regimen is tough to stick to, and gets even harder if you're a tent-camper like I am. An HR-200 can alleviate many of the scent-control headaches and while it's not magic it's the best you're going to do to beat a buck's nose when you're on the road.
Stealth Cam | GXW
Most of us travel with a trail camera or two, just to scratch an itch in a certain spot. If this sounds familiar, consider the GXW from Stealthcam. This 12mp, BLACK IR outfitted miracle of technology is capable of sending both stills and videos to your phone. That way you'll know exactly what you're missing while sitting on a dead ridge watching leaves blow in the wind. Each GXW features a Reflex Trigger (.4-second speed), a two-inch LCD screen, Matrix Blur Reduction, and a litany of other goodies that basically result in some of the best trail camera images you'll capture all season.
Tenzing | TC BH15 Binocular Holster System
In a boneheaded move that I can only blame on the hazy mental state of having 3.5 year old twins, I recently forgot my binoculars when I drove 14 hours to hunt public land in Oklahoma. I used loaner binos the whole trip and hated every second of it, largely because of the lack of a harness like the TC BH15 Binocular Holster System from Tenzing. This is a trick out of the western hunter's playbook, but is a necessity for the diehard whitetailer. You need your binos close, dry, debris-free and at the ready at all times, which is what the TC BH15 provides. It also keeps the binos out of your way when you shoot, which is always a plus.
Tink's | No-Freeze Doe-In-Rut
When you scour the shelves of your local Cabela's store to buy some doe pee, how do you choose from the myriad options? If you're north of about Arkansas, a good start is to just pick up some Tink's No-Freeze #69 Doe-In-Rut Buck Lure (southern hunters - just get the regular #69). An odorless anti-freezing agent keeps this lure liquid and ready to use during the days leading up to the rut and all of the way through to the late-rut.
Wildlife Research | Center Scent Killer Gold
Hunting with wet clothing isn't that much fun when it's cold enough to freeze your boogers, which is why it's a good idea to throw a couple of bottles of Scent Killer Gold in your truck. Wildlife Research Center came up with Hunt Dry Technology, which is the cornerstone of this effective scent eliminator and it allows you to spray your clothes and then let them dry before hunting with them. It remains effective for up to 10 days after drying, and works to not only attack a wide range of buck-spooking odors, but also prevent new ones from forming. If you're not sold on scent-eliminating sprays, at the very least spray your boots and pants down before a hunt. Then pay special attention to any deer that might cross your entrance path. That should provide enough evidence to prompt another WRC purchase.