It won’t be long, and you’ll be perched 20 feet up, huddled in a ground fort, or chasing bucks on the ground. Here are some excellent gear choices to help you punch that early-season whitetail tag.
by Jace Bauserman
For many whitetail goers, opening day is less than a month away. Savvy early-season whitetail hunters know if they can pattern a shooter buck on a green food source, not disturb the buck’s pattern, and play the wind, their chances for success on tagging a gagger buck are excellent.
However, the early season presents many challenges that can foil the best-laid plans. Mother Nature can be brutal. September temps can be unbearable, and often, if a heatwave arrives, bucks that were regularly showing on a food source start hitting the groceries long after the western horizon swallows the sun.
Sweltering heat also means added human stink. Even a 100-yard walk to your treestand or blind will cause perspiration.
Bugs are another issue. Ticks are not a joke, and mosquitos and tiny gnats can make evening sits brutal. Having the right gear is critical, as often, your best chance of putting a hole in the lungs of a big buck will be during that first time in.
Here are seven early-season whitetail favs of the Born Hunting Team. All have tested true around the country and deserve a place in your hunting arsenal.
Best Scent Elimination System
- Bluetooth-enabled remote operation
- 40 percent quieter than the OrionX in Boost mode
- 4 operation modes
- Extended-life battery included
Why We Like It
Controlling your stink is a must if you hope to make your velvet or early-season hard-horned dreams a reality. Of course, we follow a strict pre-tree or blind scent elimination system, but once the hunt starts, we let the HR500 take over.
Emitted ozone bonds with human scent molecules to make your scent unrecognizable to the olfactory system of whitetails and other animals. The HR500 has multiple scent-killing modes to help you fly under the radar of a deer’s 297 million olfactory receptors and punch your tag.
- Operation from your cell phone via the Ozonics App
- Comes with Smart Arm mounting system
- Pre-set functions make for ultra-easy operation
- The fan is calm and won’t spook game even when set to HyperBoost mode
- Pricy, but you get what you pay for
Best Lightweight Treestand For Mobile Hunting
- 8.5 pounds
- Robust aluminum build
- Durable powder-coat finish
- comfortMAX contoured sling seat
Why We Like It
Millennium’s M7 MicroLite is a tried-and-true go-to for many mobile whitetail hunters, and we foresee it staying within the manufacturer’s hang-on line for a while. Less than 9 pounds, this stand is ultra-light, and the Cam LOCK Receiver System means all you need to take with you up the tree is the CamLOCK. Once set, pull the stand up, slide it over the CamLOCK, and you’re set to go. This system is quiet, functional, and though the platform is small, you can’t beat the seat’s comfort. For early-season hang-and-hunts this is an excellent treestand. The stand comes with backpack-style straps but will also easily attach to any backpack.
- Seat folds up for standing shots
- Comfortable and quiet
- CamLOCK means you can set multiple straps and move a single stand around the woods
- Very durable
- Tiny platform, but not a big deal for the run-and-gunner
Best Boot For Early-Season Whitetail Hunting
- Remarkably light and breathable
- Multi-lug tread pattern grabs the ground
- Reinforced tuck board with rigid shank for better stability
- 100 percent waterproof
Why We Like It
We haven’t found an early-season boot that repels water and promotes airflow to make the feet feel like they’re not sitting in a buggy swamp like the Evalusion. The multi-lug tread pattern flexes with the hunter’s movement and easily handles any terrain. We especially like how, when covered in mud, the boots grab tree steps/ladder steps and don’t let go. The 4-way stretch material and heel kick studs make for easy on/off, and inside, the boots feel like your favorite pair of running shoes. With these boots, you can dominate the early-season whitetail woods.
- Roll down calf
- 5mm Densoprene foam insulated bootie
- Steel shank
- Back-pull tabs boost easy on/off
- Not form-fitting around the calf
Best Jacket/Pant Combo For The Early Season
- Scent-free Insect Shield repels mosquitos, ticks, and chiggers
- Lightweight and breathable
- YKK zippers
- Fabric provides UPF 50+ protection
Why We Like Them
I hunted four states this past turkey season with this dynamic duo. I didn’t get one tick on my skin, and I hunted Florida and Virginia — two states know for their robust tick numbers. The fabric is lightweight and comfortable, like all Sitka garments, and I appreciate the breathable mesh face mask on the hoody and the hidden suspender attachment points, and the side leg vents with mesh gussets on the pants. The pants also have internal gaiters that should be worn inside the socks. When blended with the Equinox Glove, this combo gives you the proper armor to hunt the early-season woods with complete confidence.
- Dedicated knife pocket (pants)
- Long tail on hoody tucks into pants
- A complete bug-proof system
- Move well with the hunter
Best Cellular Trail Camera
- .4-second trigger speed
- Easy setup
- Command App is a breeze to navigate
- Bust Mode
Why We Like It
Few things will help you develop a strike-while-the-iron-is-hot early-season whitetail pattern like Muddy’s Merge. This small, easy-to-setup, and highly functional camera requires a scan of the QR code behind the battery box, and the Command App will walk you through the rest. Once set, the 26-megapixel Merge will send right-now images to your smartphone so you know where and when to strike.
- 80-foot detection range
- Ultra-clear photos
- External power jack for SOLPAK
- Holds up to 32GB SD Card
- Battery life isn’t great in the cold
Best Whitetail Pack
- Waist belt pouches
- 1850 cubic-inch space
- Pack stands freely and maintains rigidity when empty
Why We Like It
Aside from the DEADQUIET fleece exterior, which prevents game-spooking noises, this whitetail pack has a large internal main pocket that holds its complete form when the pack is open. ALPS crafted the frame so the pack won’t collapse on itself, and when we get it in a tree or a blind, we flip the main compartment lid open (held in place by magnets) and have easy access to all internal gear. The pack has a hidden internal rain cover and drop-down bow/rifle pocket. It allows the whitetail hunter to develop a repeatable system of organized gear storage.
- Hydration is compatible
- Multiple interior mesh pockets
- Zipperless lid for quick access to the main compartment
- The aluminum hook keeps the lid closed when in transport
- We tried to find one, but couldn’t
Best Bug Eliminator System
- 6.25 ounces
- 8 inches long
- 15-foot zone of mosquito protection
- Included mats provide four hours of protection
Why We Like It
Hit the early-season whitetail woods without it, and you’ll know exactly why we love our MR450s so much. Easy to use and mess-free, screw in the included fuel cartridge, slip a pad between the metal plate and the plastic guard, turn the unit to the ON setting, wait a few seconds, and then push the START button. Minutes after activation, you’ll notice mosquitos won’t penetrate the unit’s 15-foot barrier, and you can hunt in buzz- and sting-free comfort.
Replacement pads and cartridges are sold separately, and the needed CR2032 battery is not included. In our experience, Thermacell’s don’t seem to create a deer-spooking odor, and if they do, an Ozonics unit gobbles it up.
- Scent-free repellant
- EPA-reviewed and approved
- ZoneCheck provides a visual indication of the protection zone
- Each fuel cell lasts for 12 hours, and replacements are pricy
If you’re ready to get off the early-season whitetail bench and into the starting lineup, make sure you have the right gear, get Mr. Big patterned, and move in for the kill.