Readying your Hunting Gear for the Rut
You’re Prepped – Here’s How to Make Sure Your Gear is Too
Are the deer chasing yet? At this point in the season, we sure hope you’re waking up each morning thinking about whether the rut has kicked off (and follow those thoughts with longing, hopeful ones about the hunting you have planned for the coming week). If not, can you even call yourself deer hunter?
The way we see it, there’s both a short and a long answer to everything you’re wondering about hunting the rut this season.
Short answer: If the chasing has yet to begin in your area of the country, it will soon. Really soon.
Long answer: Same as our short answer, plus a whole long list of things you still need to cross off your to-do list before venturing out in hopes of getting the job done. After all, the rut serves as a blatant reminder to hunters everywhere – not only does it mark the end of the early season and minimally pressured public grounds, it also reminds us that winter weather is right around the corner.
From here on out, it’s go-time.
Getting Rut Ready
Your Hunting Gear
That’s right, gone is the early season and with it the need for those lightweight jackets you’ve been relying on the last few months. The weather is changing and temps are dropping, making it the perfect time to dig out your cold-weather gear and heaviest weighted base layers.
For starters, we suggest pairing your Performance Crew L/S and Performance 1/4 Zip L/S shirts in Drake Non-Typical with the HydroHush Heavyweight Full Zip Jacket with Agion Active XL™ or Endurance 1/4 Zip with Agion Active XL – two heavyweight jackets designed with rifle- and late-season big-game hunters in mind. Both of these outer layers also feature Agion Active XL, an antimicrobial treatment that captures and neutralizes body odors, keeping your deer-deterring stink to a minimum.
And while now’s the time to ditch your lightweight outerwear, it’s definitely not the time to forget about water-repellency – you’ve still got rain, not to mention sleet and snow, to worry about, after all. Not to worry, Drake’s HydroHush Heavyweight Bibs have you covered. Not only are they 100% waterproof thanks to Refuge HS3 Layer Technology™, a high-performance fabric combining an outer layer of warm, windproof fleece with a waterproof, breathable membrane and a brushed tricot lining in a single fabric, they also boast Agion Active XL scent technology. If bibs aren’t your thing, super-quiet softshell fabric and a heat-trapping microfleece lining make the Silencer Softshell Pants the perfect substitute for cold, wet mornings.
Whatever you do, don’t forget about the extras. A good hat-and-glove combination has been known to save many a hunter during a long sit in wintry conditions. Look for accessories with zoned insulation and fleece linings, and buy them in larger sizes to allow for layering (it might sound silly now, but later in the season, you’ll thank us for this piece of advice, we promise!).
Remember, each layer you add to your body is designed to work with every other layer you add after it. Ideally, your base-, mid- and outer-layers, plus those added to your hands, head, neck and face, should also meet as many of your must-haves as possible; they should be warm, moisture-wicking, breathable and water-resistant, yet flexible, durable and packable.
Your Hunting Pack
The later it gets in the season, the deeper deer get into the rut and the colder it gets outside, the more gear you’re likely to be hauling back and forth to your honey hole. This means you need a no-nonsense hunting pack with enough straps, pockets and internal storage capacity to get the whole job done in just a single trip. Enter the Non-Typical Backpack. Complete with ample storage space, a built-in rifle and bow cradle, hydration compatibility and all-over padding, this hunting pack is as convenient as it is a breeze to lug around from first light to last.
What do we recommend you fill all those handy pockets with?
When hunting the rut – well, when hunting from now until the end of late season, which can run through late December or early January – our list is long.
- Extra layers: Temps are taking a nosedive and becoming more and more unpredictable, so we suggest being prepared for pretty much anything whenever you head out on a walk away from the truck. That said, we always recommend keeping a few extra hunt-ready layers in your pack – from base layers and mid-layers to outerwear, socks and accessories. That way, if you get wet or end up stuck in the field a bit longer than you’d planned, it’s less likely to wind up being a scary situation.
- Deer scents: A great way to draw crazed and curious bucks your way during the rut is by using scents. While doe estrous is extremely effective during this stretch of the season, Bone Collector has a whole lineup of true-to-life scent options that pull rutting bucks in again and again – from urine and estrous to rack rub and tarsal gland gels. Their scent elimination products on the other hand, are the perfect addition to the Agion Active XL technology that’s built right into all the Drake Non-Typical gear you’re dressed in.
- Deer calls: While they can be utilized at any point during the season, whether early or late, doe bleat and fawn bleat calls are our go-tos during the rut. Compact, and easy to use, these mouth calls produce sounds so like the real thing that they bring bucks in on a rope; the doe bleat because they’re convinced it comes from a lady that’s ready to mate and the fawn bleat because they know it’ll bring the does running. Grunt calls can also prove effective during the rut, with area bucks being all too willing to display their dominance over lesser rivals.
- Rattle bags: Because what buck looking to pass on his genes won’t show up to a fight wanting to show his stuff? (see our last thoughts on grunt calls above) Whether you’re imitating a sparring match or a full-on brawl over gaining and maintaining dominance, fighting is a huge part of every buck’s life, especially when they’re hot and heavy in the heart of the rut. Rattle bags are another great way to bring the big boys in.
- Not the kitchen sink: If you’re planning for an all-day sit, there’s a lot more you’ll want to make sure you have on hand, and you can start by filling up the hydration bladder in that new hunting backpack. Once you’ve done that, there are a few more items we advise you not leave at home if you’re planning an all-day sit …
- Snacks (yes, we listed this first on purpose – priorities, people!)
- Wind indicator
- Field dressing kit, including a knife sharpener and/or replacement blades
- Game bags (or scentless garbage bags if they’re more your style)
- Foldable saw and any other just-in-case tools that might suit your fancy
- First aid kit
- Reading material or a great app (because all day is a good long while)
- Portable phone charger
- Hand and foot warmers
In other words, feel free to leave the kitchen sink intact, but go right ahead and pack up … pretty much everything else.
Good luck out there!
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