What do I need to hunt whitetail?
We’re sure you’ve all heard the lie about Grandad shooting his deer in buffalo check red plaid and a canvas coat, and for the most part it was true. But we also used to wear brightly colored blue jackets with shiny buttons, stand in long lines, and shoot at opposing soldiers doing the same. It worked, but not very well and there was a lot of wasted time and effort.
Now, modern armies use technologically advanced camos and smart tactics, and so do modern whitetail hunters. In addition to smarter camo, modern apparel helps control scent, reduce sound and just requires fewer layers. At the end of the day, it tilts the odds just a bit more in the hunter’s favor.
This is an absolute must-have for the bowhunter, as Silens combines varying levels of PrimaLoft® insulation, with high pile Silens fleece on the outside and a wind-resistant inner layer. When used as a total layering system for hunting, Silens is the ultimate clothing for whitetail hunting.
If it’s early season hunting gear you seek, an Algus Long Sleeve and Rise Pant combo is hard to beat. When the mercury runs a little warmer, the Algus Crew features CoolTouch™ technology, which is sweat activated to pull heat away from the body. Built-in odor management and a quick-dry finish mean deer will never smell you or hear wet fabric rubbing on things.
The Rise Pants are built of ultra-quiet fleece, water resistant and designed to move. But most importantly, they’re plenty of pant for early season hunts when you don’t want to bother with a base layer in the morning, but not roast come midday.
Finding clothing for women who hunt can also be a challenge. Too many companies pay lip service to apparel for female whitetail hunters by simply making everything a size smaller and using pink thread on the logo. Not at Badlands.
When we knew we needed to bring a version of our Pyre line of cold-weather whitetail clothing to a female audience, we scrapped pretty much everything except the name and insulation. The women’s Pyre Bib and Jacket have been designed from the bottom zipper to the tip of the hood for the woman who hunts.
Why did we work so hard to reinvent the wheel? Simple. Men and women are shaped different, move different and have different needs in the field. We wanted Pyre to reflect what women need to hunt whitetail.
So, we put in full-length zippers on the bib, which facilitate getting the Pyre on and off, but also allow for certain call of nature activities without having to remove them completely. We cut the waist and hips to better fit the female form. We upped the insulation and articulation to keep hunters warm while still maintaining the flexibility needed in the field.
No detail was too small, as we even redesigned the hood to better accommodate ponytails and buns. An extra-long coattail keeps the wind from sneaking up the back, making Pyre one of the best jackets for treestand hunting.
Speaking of treestands, there’s this idea out there that deer-blind or treestand hunters have no need for hunting packs. Granted, as makers of some of the best hunting packs going, we may be biased, but we think that idea is nuts.
Whitetail hunting packs are as important as good base layers. How else will you carry and organize your tags and permits, field cleaning gear, first-aid kit (you do carry an IFAK, right?), spare ammo, rattling horns, doe calls, grunt calls, scent killer and attractant spray? Yeah, like we said, our packs are workhorses even when hunting from a treestand.
This is also why we spent no small amount of brain power to design the ultimate in backpacks for whitetail hunters. Now, we know the needs of the farm stalker vary from that of the cabin blind, which differs from that of the climbing treestand hunter.
If the treestand is your office in the woods, then you need to look to the Connect Pack. 1,700 cubic inches of internal volume, pair with full-height, zippered side pockets (with more pockets inside) and a full-access top lid that folds down to become a gear shelf. This pack carries all your gear to the stand, organizes it neatly, then becomes a workstation when you’re in the tree? It’s a triple threat! The cool factor, though, lies in the outside, which is covered with strategically placed SWAP™ System attachment points. Using the included Grid, you can customize your loadout with our line of accessory pockets, pouches and water bottle sleeve.
For the box or cabin-style blind hunter, it’s easy to overlook the pack. You have a mini house, complete with a heater, what more do you need to pack in? Oh, that’s right. Everything we listed above, plus water bladders and maybe some fuel tanks for that heater. For you, the Switch Pack is where it’s at. Three layers of KXO-50™ fabric keep your contents quiet, waterproof and protected against the roughest abuse. Inside that fabric lies 850 cubic inches with a dedicated hydration sleeve (that also fits laptops) and an ultra-quiet liner. Featuring the same SWAP™ System as the Connect Pack, the Switch is a super handy-size day pack.
Finally, the spot/stalkers. These hunters likely hunt open farmland and have the ability to glass for miles. They may also spend some time on the ATV getting to stands. Either way, mobility is the key and for these hunters our Monster Fanny Pack is king. 1,100 cubic inches of interior volume, with a built-in Delron® Flex Frame for support, the Monster puts the weight where humans were designed to carry it, on the hips.
These packs also play well with other must-have tools, such as binoculars. Thanks to the Badlands Bino Connect™ System, you can lose one whole set of straps and attach your bino harness directly to your pack straps. It’s amazing how often it’s the little things that make the biggest differences.
And as long as we’re on the subject of binocular harnesses, you may have seen we have a new bino harness dropping summer of 2023 specifically for the whitetail hunter.
Bino AXS is the perfect bino harness for whitetail hunters, especially the bowhunters in the group. As the name implies, this harness allows the ultimate in access to your binos with the absolute minimum in movement required. A magnetic flap keeps binos safe and secure, while open sides allow archers to draw their binos with very little movement or noise. A top-flap magnet keeps the flap open, so your optics can be put away with just as little disturbance. Side wings and MOLLE straps on the sides and bottom allow for the attachment of any of Badlands’ accessories, which offer items from gear pouches and ammo sleeves to bear spray and handgun holsters.
This brings us to another of the small accessories, that makes such a huge impact it had to make our Best Gear for Whitetail Hunters list. We can bring the best packs, protect our binos and even keep our cores toasty warm, but the single weak point in this system is one of the most important to hunting success… our hands.
When your hands are cold, stiff and numb, everything gets harder. From flipping safeties, to smoothly and quietly stowing binos, to making a good trigger press, cold hands are just hard to work with. This is why we always advise cold-weather whitetail hunters to add the Bonfire Hand Muff to their loadout. Lightweight, almost unnoticeable, this simple hand warmer can be the difference between success in the field and a dropped rangefinder spooking off the buck of a lifetime.
Whitetail hunting isn’t a slam-dunk sure thing, these are wary deer that interact with humans enough to know how to avoid us. They have exceptional noses and spook super easy. Don’t assume that just because Grampa put a buck in the freezer (and a mount on the wall) wearing the same stuff he used to change the oil in his tractor in the cold, that you can as well. Deer have evolved, hunting has advanced. Make sure your gear is up to the task and put your own mount up for all to see.
We hope these basics get you started on preparing for your next whitetail hunt. As always, if you have specific needs, feel free to visit us at BadlandsGear.com where you’ll find solutions for any hunt.