Hunters are always looking for the best new tips and tricks that will give them an edge against their quarry, but sometimes the old ways work best. Here are 10 effective, cheap, and common-sense hunting hacks that will make your next deer hunt a little bit more enjoyable—and hopefully more successful as well.
1. Tic Tac silence method
How quiet do you think you are while walking? One method to test that is to put half-empty containers of Tic Tacs in your pockets and go for a stroll. If you are making too much noise, you should slow down your gait until the jumbling mints are barely audible. Its hardly the most scientific of methods, but it is a cheap, easy way to get you in the habit of moving silently.
2. Change into your hunting clothes after, not before, reaching the field
When you put on your clothes at home, you give the fabric more time to pick up your scent—and just about everything else that doesn’t belong in the woods. This is especially important if you plan on driving long distances to get to your favorite hunting spot. Wait until you get to the field and put on your camo there.
3. Use tea tree oil to avoid ticks
If you live in tick territory, odds are that these little pests are one of your biggest concerns. Tea tree oil is a natural, inexpensive and quick method to repel ticks. Just mix one part oil with two parts water and put it in a spray bottle. Other natural repellents include neem oil and garlic pills, but the CDC also recommends using repellents containing DEET or permethrin.
4. Don’t hunt when you’re sick
This should be a no-brainer, but many hunters will still crawl their way to the treestand when they’re sick. After all, who wants to miss the season opener? Well, if you can’t stop coughing and may be at risk for hacking up a lung, you may want to stay at home. The noise you make will also drive away any deer regardless.
5. Use free wind indicators
Need something accurate to check the wind? Well you could buy an electronic wind indicator or that fancy powder that you can sprinkle into the air, or you could save some money and use this natural method instead. The next time you spot some milkweed or similar plants (make sure to check that it’s not invasive in your area), grab some and put it into a container. You can pull some out the next time you go hunting and they are fairly accurate at gauging the wind.
6. Lock up treestands and remove climbing sticks to prevent theft
Nobody likes having their stuff stolen, especially not when you were looking forward to cashing in on weeks—possibly months—of scouting and preparation. The easiest way to prevent tre stand theft is to put a cable lock around it and remove the lower portions of your climbing sticks. If you have a ladder, take that away as well. The key is to make it look like stealing your stand is not worth the effort—the last thing most thieves want to do is to jump up the tree and try to cut your cable lock with a hacksaw.
7. Use water jugs for ambient light
Need a makeshift lamp? Simple wrap a headlight or some other light source around a jug of water and you have an instant, tent-illuminating device.
8. Wrap duct tape around your tools
Duct tape can come in handy for just about anything, but you don’t exactly want to make room for an entire roll. Besides, sometimes you want the tape on your person for emergencies. The simple fix is to wrap a small amount around some tools you’re going to carry with you anyways, like a lighter. Now you can cut off a piece of tape whenever you need it.
9. Tape off your muzzleloaders
Muzzleloaders don’t fare well in the rain, so the obvious solution is to find someway to close off the end of the barrel. The most popular method is to simply use electrical or duct tape. The tape provides an adequate seal and can even be fired through with little impact on the trajectory of the bullet. You can also use plastic wrap, glove finger tips, and other materials if you don’t want your gun getting too sticky.
10. Keep boots on their side to dry faster, stuff with newspaper
So you got wet boots and a long day ahead of you tomorrow. They smell like you waded through a sewer and probably won’t be dry by morning. One of the quickest ways to dry them without a fire is to set them on their side and stuff them full of newspaper. Putting them on their side increases their exposure to moving air (slightly) and the newspaper will soak up the moisture. This method also has the added advantage of not shrinking your shoes like a fire can.
Edited 7-20-2015: removed mention of dandelion as it is an undesirable weed in many places.