Introduction to the Hunting Checklist:

Process Street - Hunting Checklist

This hunting checklist is designed to guide you through your hunt from deciding where to go, to packing away and storing your gear. 

Following a process helps improve performance, organization, and safety. As you use the process, you can review it and improve it. The iterative improvement of your hunting checklist will make it easier to follow and more effective.

As you work through the checklist, use the form fields to record relevant information. 

For a brief intro, check out this video below. It gives a personal account of packing for a hunt, with some tips and tricks which are worth listening to!

Tulsaworld - Deer Hunting 101: Basics to carry in your day pack

Before the Hunt:

Make sure you have the necessary license

Different states have different legislation pertaining to hunting. 

Make sure you have all necessary licenses and that they are all currently valid.

Read about the licensing in Florida as an example of existing licensing laws.

Decide upon location and parameters

Work out with a map exactly where you will be conducting your hunt

It is important to plan out the parameters which you'll be working within in advance so not to enter onto private property for which you don't have access permissions. 

Find the information of the relevant landowner for the area you have designated for your hunt.

Check out this post for more detailed information: Summer Big Game Scouting Tips On Public Land.

Record the date of the hunt in the form field below.

Contact the landowner for permission

Contact the landowner to notify them when you want to hunt and where you expect to cover. 

Contact them in advance to give them time to respond. 

Use the email widget below.

Read up to date legislation and trapping guides

This legislation, specific to your state, is easy to find and summaries or overviews will be easily accessible. 

Make sure you're aware of what your legal responsibilities and limitations are before you begin your hunt. 

See this Kentucky documentation as an example.

Scout the hunting zone beforehand

If possible, visit the area you'll be hunting in before the day of the hunt. 

This allows you to scope out any hazards or areas of interest.

Purchase ammunition

The last thing you want is to be caught with less ammo than you need. 

That would bring a very abrupt halt to the day. To avoid this, make sure you've purchased all the ammunition you will need.

Prepare your firearm

It is important to check a couple of key areas before you begin using your firearm. 

Correct assembly and checking it has been cleaned are the obvious first steps. What some people can forget is to run a bench check of your firearm. 

This will allow you to be sure there are no jams or problems within the mechanisms.

Practice your movements with an unloaded weapon

Let your inner Mr Miyagi guide you through practising your movements. 

Practice your stance, your trigger discipline, and your reactions. 

This may seem silly at the time, but when the opportunity to take a shot presents itself, it can sometimes be fleeting and require sharp reactions. Practising and training for these moments is vital to make certain you're performing at your best.

Mr Miyagi will guide you

On the Day of the Hunt:

Check the expected weather for the day

Check the weather before preparing or packing anything. 

This will dictate how you dress and what items you need to pack. 

A hunt in a storm is a very different experience to one on a dry summer's day.

Weather, rain in particular, can also play a big role in the behaviour of your prey. Depending on what you're hunting, the nature of the weather can dictate whether it's worth venturing out or not. 

Make sure you're dressed appropriately

Be sure to pack your waterproofs if there is a chance of rain. 

Don't head out hunting in shorts and a t-shirt unless you can be certain that the weather is going to be nice to you. 

Even then, it doesn't hurt to pack some warm clothes.

Wear hunter orange and keep in line with regulations

The regulations pertaining to hunter orange vary state by state. 

However, good guidelines are to wear an outer layer on your top half of hunter orange which is visible from all angles. 

For a breakdown of every state, you can click here.

Sharpen your knife

You're going to need your knife when you field dress your catch.

Make sure it has been sharpened and is ready to perform. 

You don't want to be stuck in a forest in the rain with a blunt knife trying and failing to slice.

Watch this video below for some sharpening tips from Gordon Ramsey, of all people.

How to Sharpen a Knife

Bring spare batteries for your headlamp/flashlight

Spare batteries are an essential for your electrical goods. 

Beyond simply batteries, consider taking a portable charger for your mobile phone

Double check you have your license and ID

Be sure to carry your license and ID with you when on a hunt. 

Pack rope

Rope is one of those universally useful items which you want to take with you on any trip into the wilderness. 

Make sure your rope is in good condition before you take it. Certain ropes, like climbing rope, have to be taken care of more than others and shouldn't be left in direct sunlight for too long. 

Bring your temporary transportation tag and ziptie

Make sure you have your temporary transportation tag if you live in a state where this is a requirement. 

If you don't live in a state which requires this, consider attaching one anyway as best practice. If questioned about your catch you can more easily demonstrate the situation.

Here's an example of tags in Indiana.

Pack a GPS and a backup map with compass

In the modern world of technology and satellites, a GPS is the standard way to navigate and avoid getting lost!

However, on the off chance that something happens to your GPS, always carry a spare map and compass to save yourself from getting lost. If you're out in the wilderness, not taking your manual backup tools is a big risk.

Stock up on water and snacks

Take plenty of water with you. 

A good approach is to carry a flexible water pouch as well as your normal bottle. 

Check out a range of options here.

High sugar snacks are also a good suggestion. Flapjack or similar provide all the nutrition you'll need to stay aware and have a successful hunt.

Pack extra ammunition

Decide how much ammunition you need before you leave. 

Then throw some more in

You don't want to weigh yourself down with a shop worth of ammunition, but it's one of those things you don't think about until you don't have it.

Maybe not this much ammunition

Include a small saw

Your knife may be sharper than it has ever been, but it will struggle to eat through bone.

Remember to pack a small saw to help with those solid obstacles.

Have your cell phone on you

Whether you can expect to have signal or not out in the wilderness depends on where you've chosen to go. 

Nevertheless, it doesn't hurt to take your phone with you. In case of emergency, a phone can be incredibly useful. 

The film 127 Hours would have been a lot shorter if James Franco hadn't left his phone at home. 

Tell two people where you will be and the details

Tell at least two people where you are going to be and what time you'll be there until.

These people can act as your emergency contacts. If you become injured or uncontactable and are in danger, these emergency contacts will save your life.

Bring rubber gloves and paper towels for the dressing

Dealing with a fresh carcass is a messy job.

Bring the appropriate protective equipment when dealing with the insides of a dead animal.

Pack your treestand harness

Depending on where you're hunting and what you're hunting, you'll require different specialist equipment. 

If you're going to be using a treestand, then make sure to bring everything you need to use it safely.

Watch this video for an example of how to use one effectively. 

How to use a treestand

Include a first aid kit

Out in the wilderness, there are a lot of little hazards and risks. It's not unusual to have hurt yourself at some point when on a hunt.

Make sure you've packed a first aid kit so that you aren't risking any infection from cuts, or even more serious concerns.

Add binoculars or rangefinder

20/20 vision might be good enough in the real world, but out here you need something a bit stronger.

Remember to pack your binoculars or rangefinder.

After Harvesting Your Catch:

Make sure the animal is not suffering

Don't let the animal suffer. End any suffering in a humane manner.

Field dress your catch

Once you've successfully made your catch, it's time to field dress the carcass. 

If you don't have much experience with field dressing, there are plenty of videos online which can guide you through.

Here's one to get you started.

How to Field Dress a Deer

Remove the body from the forest

Take your catch out of the forest and back to your camp or vehicle. 

Attach your temporary transportation tag

If necessary, attach your temporary transportation tag which you should already have filled out.

Check-in the catch online or at the nearest station

Make sure you check in your catch after the hunt. 

Best practice is to do so at the earliest opportunity, but it is recommended to check-in within 24 hours of the hunt.

The AGFC even have a mobile app for you to use, if you happen to live within their jurisdiction.

Take the carcass to a processor or do it yourself

After the hunt is done, you can either choose to process the carcass yourself or take it to a professional.

Read this article for a longer discussion on the topic.

After the Hunt:

Strip down your gear and clean thoroughly

To keep your equipment in peak condition, it is important to strip and clean it after use. 

"Without me my rifle is nothing. Without my rifle I am nothing."

Take good care of your firearm. 

Watch this video for an overview of a cleaning process.

Shooting USA - How to field strip and clean your AR-15.

Thank the landowner for permission

Use the email widget to thank the landowner.

Pack away your gear safely

Pack all your gear away ready for the next hunt.

If your waterproofs are still soaked, hang them out to dry before packing them away.

Secure your firearm

Storing your firearms effectively leads to them lasting longer and leads to greater safety.

Have a process for storing your firearm and it will stay in top condition for longer. 

Watch this video to hear about one man's process for his weapons. 

How to Store Your Guns (Avoiding Rust and Scratches)


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