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How to Store Your Deer Hunting Gear After the Season

Brow Tines and Backstrap

How to Store Your Deer Hunting Gear After the Season

Posted 2024-02-20  by  Mike Hanback

Take care of your clothing and equipment now so it’s ready for scouting and hunting next year

After the last deer hunt of the season in December or January, many of you toss your clothes, pack and other stuff in a heap in a back room and don’t think twice about it for another seven or eight months, until it’s time to scout and bowhunt again. I used to do that, too, but I’m more organized now. This week, I’m spreading out my gear on the basement floor and giving it a good once over while this past season’s hunts are still fresh in my mind.

Image: stand_maintenance

Conduct proper cleaning and maintenance of hunting gear before storing it for the off-season. Image by Bill Konway

Out with the Old

Did you like the way those pants, shirts and jackets fit and feel? If so, put them in the keeper pile. Did those boots fit well and keep your feet dry and warm? If not, set them aside, and plan on getting a new brand. Was that raingear whisker quiet, and did it repel the elements? You get the idea. The better your clothing and boots fit and perform, the longer you’ll stay on stand each day, and the better you’ll hunt this fall.

Wash the clothes you’ll keep and wear again in an odor-neutralizing laundry detergent such as Scent Killer Gold. When they’re clean and super dry, fold and store them in scent-free plastic bags. Make a list of any new apparel you need.

Dump your daypack, and spread everything on the floor. Throw away trash and any old snacks you forgot about. Check knives and saws. If you gutted a deer this past fall — and I hope you did — scrub and wash dried blood and fat from the blade, handle and sheath. Sharpen and re-edge blades now, and you’ll be way ahead of the game this season.

Throw away any bottle of deer lure you opened, even if you used it only once or twice this past season. The instant air hits deer urine, it degrades it. Always buy a fresh doe-in-heat or tarsal before each season.

Here’s something you might not think of. Remove all batteries from flashlights, headlamps, range-finding binocular and trail cameras to prevent any chance of battery corrosion. Re-arm this gear with fresh batteries when you go back out in six or seven months.

Bow and Gun Storage

All your gear, and certainly your bows and firearms, should be stored in an area that stays around 70 degrees year-round, with a humidity of 50 to 55%. As long as it has a functioning HVAC system, a storage room in the basement is fine. In the humid Virginia summer, I also run a portable dehumidifier in my basement gear room to make doubly sure none of my gear gets a hint of mildew or rust.

I like to hang my compound bows on hooks, with sights, stabilizers and arrow rests attached. Many hunters I know store their bows in hard cases. Wax bowstrings liberally to minimize drying and fraying. Store arrows straight and neatly in a quiver or arrow tube. Remove broadheads, and pack them in a broadhead case.

After a thorough bore cleaning, wipe down the action, barrel and all exterior metalwork of every firearm with a light coat of gun oil. Run a patch dabbed with bore solvent through every barrel to prevent trace rust.

Lock all firearms and ammunition in a gun safe. At the least, secure guns and ammo in a closet or room that you lock tightly. Affix trigger locks or cables to all guns for added security and peace of mind.

Organize and store all your keeper gear a dry place where it will be easy to find when scouting and hunting time rolls around in a few months. Also, make a list of new gear you’ll need for this fall, and then go online to Cabela’s or Bass Pro and shop. You can get some killer deals on deer gear this time of year.


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