October 20, 2015
It's a drill that yours truly knows all too well – and I'll bet many of you out there reading this do too – that frantic search through the backpack or fanny pack looking for something that is a must-have item.
Whether the item is a rangefinder, a pair of binoculars, a bowhunting release, a stabilizer for a compound bow, a grunt call or a pair of rattling horns, we've all been there and we've all done that.
And believe it or not, that even includes well-known Outdoor Channel hunting and fishing personalities too.
In fact, Travis "T-Bone" Turner was recently featured on a bowhunting episode of Realtree Roadtrips where he traveled to Colorado and actually forgot his entire quiver full of arrows!
Editor's Note: In true T-Bone fashion, it didn't take long for Turner to recover from the shocking realization that he had left his arrows back home in Georgia. After a trip to the local archery shop, Turner soon had a dozen fresh-cut arrows and new broadheads in his quiver, tools that he would use to harvest a stud of a velvet-rack mule deer. That a boy, T-Bone!
In light of the above musings, the thought came to me as to what's the one piece of indispensable, must-have, can't-leave-home-without-it gear Outdoor Channel television show hosts have got to have with them in the field this fall.
With that in mind, here's a smattering of responses I recently received after posing the question to several of them:
Brent Chapman, Major League Fishing: "I never leave home without my safety harness and my cell phone," said Chapman. "As I get older and my family is growing up, I'm realizing that safety is the most important consideration I have while I'm out bowhunting deer."
Kandi Kisky, Whitetail Freaks: "I think that one of the most important pieces of equipment I have with me in the field each trip are my Nikon binoculars," said Kisky. With Kandi and her husband, Don, committed to taking only mature, old Midwestern bucks, she uses such optics often while filming long sits in an Iowa treestand or ground blind while closely scrutinizing the body characteristics that tell the Kisky family which bucks are shooters and which ones are not.
David Holder, Raised Hunting: "Actually, there are several pieces of gear that I never leave home without," said Holder, a former Montana resident turned Iowa-based bowhunter. "I say several because I have several Kershaw knives with me (on hunts). I have a pocket knife in my pocket, a gutting knife in my hunting pack, a multi-tool strapped on my ATV and a caping knife in the skinning shed. I love knives and you just can't leave home without the right knife (for the job at hand). And Kershaw has them all."
David Morris, The Bucks of Tecomate: "I never leave home without my rattling horns," laughed Morris, a co-host on the Tecomate show, the founder of North American Whitetail magazine and one of the nation's top horn rattling gurus.
Rattling antlers are a must-have for “The Bucks of Tecomate” co-host David Morris. (Lynn Burkhead photo)
Mark Drury, THIRTEEN: "The one piece of equipment that I never leave home without would have to be my wind-checker," said Drury. "I am a slave to the wind! If the wind isn't correct, I simply will not hunt a spot."
"In addition to that, I find myself looking at my cell phone all of the time," he added. "I check the weather, I check the wind direction, I check the wind speed and most of all, I check the barometric pressure."
All of which goes into Drury's mental computer as he figures out his next move in the on-going THIRTEEN phase chess game between himself and another big bruiser buck on the Team Drury hit list!
Lee Lakosky, Crush with Lee & Tiffany: "Gear that we never leave home without?," said Lee. "That has to be our Nikon rangefinders! What an amazing tool (they are)! It hasn't been all that long since we used to step off (yardages in our) shooting lanes and hope that we'd remember what the yardage was if we happened to shoot!"
Editor's Note: While Tiffany Lakosky has been busy this fall – from taking care of new son Cameron to filming a TV show and laying low some mighty big critters from a huge bull elk out west to the biggest Midwestern white-tailed buck of her hunting career – she has some favored gear too. Word on the street is that the YETI Hopper soft-sided cooler is one of her must have items in the woods.
Gregg Ritz, Hunt Masters: "I never hunt without my Benchmade Summit knife and my Streamlight flashlight," said Ritz. "You never know when you (will) be caught in the field at night, so having a quality flashlight is imperative. And there (are) a million and one uses for a good, sharp pocket knife."
Michael Hunsucker, Heartland Bowhunter: "This is a tough question for me!," laughed Hunsucker. "Being a serious bowhunter, I am a bit of a gear head. So there are so many things that we use to help us be more successful in the field (each fall).
For “Heartland Bowhunter” co-host Michael Hunsucker (left), optics are just one of many important must-have items. (Photo courtesy of “Heartland Bowhunter”)
"Other than the obvious necessities (bows, arrows, broadheads, releases, etc.), I would (have to) say that the one piece of gear that I never leave home without would be my Bushnell optics," he added. "Both my binoculars and a ranger finder are super important for us, to not only be able to properly identify game (in the field), but to also to know the exact yardage and angle to the animal before (we make a) shot.
"Bowhunting is a game of inches and not knowing the exact yardage can cause your arrow to miss its mark. Precision is an absolute necessity in our game."
Shawn Luchtel, Heartland Bowhunter: "The piece of gear I won't ever leave home without are my NAP Killzones broadheads," said Luchtel. "Being a bowhunter, I rely on a cut-on-contact head, (one) that is lethal and has an excellent cutting diameter. When I've got one of the Killzones at the end of my arrow, I have 100-percent trust in (that broadhead) while (I'm) at full draw. And I have zero doubt (about how it will perform) if I might make a marginal shot."
Jordan Shipley, The Bucks of Tecomate: In his second season of being a co-host for the Tecomate show, Shipley has been tough to get in touch with this fall while out and about tagging two bull elk and several whitetails so far.
But he did note that he has already learned that there is one piece of gear that he never leaves home without: "When we travel to a new place, we use trail cameras so much of the time to help us figure out big game movement," said Shipley. "Without a doubt, our Reconyx game cameras are the biggest single tool that we use in our scouting and prep work to get a stand in the right position."
Due to always being on the run during the season, “The Bucks of Tecomate” co-host Jordan Shipley put game cameras at the top of his must-have list of gear. (Photo courtesy of “Heartland Bowhunter”)
So there you have it, a hodge-podge collection of must-have deer hunting gear that Outdoor Channel show hosts consider indispensable when they go afield to kill a big white-tailed buck this fall.
What can you learn from all of the above? Simply this: Consider what you need to have in order to make your next deer hunt a big-time success this fall.
Then make a list of what that gear is and follow up by making sure that you don't leave home without it, from a sharp hunting knife to a yardage-calculating rangefinder to a set of rattling horns to a quiver full of arrows.
Sorry, T-Bone, I just couldn't resist!