Great Deer Gear

Posted on July 14, 2011

These products were designed with one thing in mind: more deer-hunting success

By Steve Bartylla


Within minutes of me sitting on stand, deer began filtering out. It was mid-December, and the temp was going to hit negative numbers.

About an hour before shooting light expired, an old 8-point stood near the wood line, surveying the scene. Six deer were feeding in the standing corn behind me. Soon, the buck made his way across the CRP to the corn, and I began preparing for the shot. My two biggest concerns were getting out of my Heater Body Suit undetected and the shot distance, which was more than 40 yards.

However, by moving very slowly, I pulled it off; before I knew it, I had my Nikon rangefinder in action and my Z7 bow to anchor. I settled the bright and crisp fiber-optic pin right where it needed to go and sent the arrow on its way. The Titanium Rage-tipped Easton shaft blurred out of sight and into the buck. Seconds later, the buck hit the ground.

I used a variety of products that helped me obtain success while hunting that day. Some I used prior to the shot, some during and some after. However, all of them contributed toward my success.

Baselayers and Head Hunter

After years of searching for the best deer gear, here’s what I use the most. I’ve also listed some new stuff on the market that I’m dying to try out.


I don’t see any better place to start than odor-reduction products. Over the years, nothing has helped me fill more tags than anti-odor gear. I can’t tell you how many bucks I’ve shot that came in downwind or while being surrounded by does. I believe it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t have killed half as many if I had relied solely on the wind.

Here are a couple of products that I find indispensable in dampening a whitetail’s sense of smell:

Scent Killer ( Odor-control begins with your body. For years, I have used the full line of Scent Killer products, including this company’s detergent, soap, shampoo, deodorant, field wipes, spray and foot powder. No doubt there are other scent-killing products that work to one degree or another, but I don’t believe any work better.

Scent-Lok ( hunters have strong opinions about carbon clothing. I can tell you that I have personally conducted test after test on wild deer, and the results have been clear: Scent-Lok carbon suits do work. Of course, this clothing will be useless if you skip showering and forget to deodorize your hunting gear as most hunters often do.

Scent-Lok Baselayers and Head Hunter

Scent-Lok offers several options for base layers, including the new Level One, a pure anti-microbial product. The BaseSlayers product features infused carbon and is a good choice for a second layer. Both come in light, medium and heavy options.

Great outer layers consist of the lightweight Savanna, the mid-weight Full Season and Headhunter and cold-weather ThunderTek and Timberfleece.

Scent-Tote ( A great accessory to use with hunting clothing is the Scent-Tote storage system. I’ve used this system for the last five years. The units come with an airtight seal that’s worth its weight in gold. In addition, the activated-carbon liner technology is a bonus feature that absorbs unwanted human odor, leaving your stuff primed and ready for serious field use.

Nose Jammer ( I wouldn’t have tried this product if my friends, John Redmond of Fair Chase Outfitters, and co-guides Chris Behrens and Bobby Anacabe (all of whom spend an inordinate amount of time in the woods), didn’t swear by it.

My first time using Nose Jammer involved walking across a soybean field. I sprayed some on my boots and was amazed that none of the old does gave my tracks any attention. In fact, some of them even ate the beans I’d walked across. I even used it on my hunting blind, and there seemed to be no ill effects from its scent. I was sold. Nose Jammer really does work.

Nose Jammer is unique, because it’s not a cover scent or an odor-eliminating product. It’s actually a “scent-jammer” that blocks an animal’s sense of smell by using a combination of “secret” ingredients, vanillin and a natural extract from trees.

Heater Body Suit ( Technically this a cold-weather garment, but it still works to fight odor, because this garment allows me to under dress, preventing sweating on the way to the stand. It also provides intense warmth and tends to hide small arm movements. It keeps me on stand longer, and that translates to more shots.

Shooting Stuff

As important as odor-reduction is, it doesn’t matter if you can’t make the shot. These products will help you do just that.

The Block ( I like to shoot field points and broadheads year-round and not just weeks before hunting season. And, personally, I’ve yet to find a dual-use target that equals The Block. Newly designed in black and with more aiming points, the B-20 (20x20x16 inches) and B-22 (22x22x16) are outstanding models to consider for intense practice use.

I’ve used the B-20 model for three years now and it’s still going strong. It’s the best open- or closed-layer target I’ve tried. It also offers the easiest arrow removal.

The Equalizer ( I haven’t used the Equalizer in the field yet, but I plan to. This revolutionary release aid will extend your draw length by 1 to 3 inches while maintaining your same anchor point. This results in more arrow speed and energy.

IQ Bowsight ( There are three reasons I like this sight. First, I demand a sturdy sight, and this one delivers. Secondly, it delivers super-bright aiming pins. Third, it provides an effective means to reduce shooting torque, using the sight’s Retina Lock device. This unique feature is a simple alignment system that places the “retina dot” in the circle, which forces you to use the same anchor on each shot, significantly boosting consistency. Since using this sight, I’ve shrunk my 50-yard groups by two inches!

Easton Axis 340 N-Fused Carbon ( There are a lot of good arrows on the market. That said, I don’t believe I’ve ever found one that hits my desired sweet spot for balance in relation to speed, kinetic energy and friction-free penetration better than the Axis 340 N-Fused Carbon. It just delivers for me.

Titanium Rage ( I’ve never shot a better head, period. The newly designed, oversized, instant-cut tip is outstanding. Wrapping around more than a third of the head’s ferrule, it serves to increase penetration and promote bone busting. The sleek ferrule also penetrates with less friction while offering maximum strength and a deadly 2-inch cutting diameter with the proven-to-work Slip-Cam blade-deployment system.

The Ghost Quiver ( I flat out love Mathews’ quivers but have always struggled with Rage heads deploying in the quiver. The Ghost Quiver is a no-foam design specifically made to solve that problem. Sure, it has other bells and whistles, but that’s the reason I use it.

Mathews Bows ( I’ve had numerous debates with friends over which company makes the best bow, it really comes down to what the individual hunter prefers, in terms of feel. For me, the two bows that hit that mark are the Z7 and new Z7 Xtreme.

Treestand Hunting Products

Stand-Related Products

You have to be there for the shot, and these gear-related items help with this aspect.

Hunter Safety Systems ( When in stands, nothing is more important than a good safety vest or harness. Because the Pro Series vest offers good fit, ease of use, numerous pockets, binocular strap and safety features, it is the only vest I use. Now, because this company’s new ULTRA LITE X-treme Harness features a built-in binoc strap and weighs a scant 2 pounds, I will definitely switch to this harness.

Leverage Treestands ( This company offers three new hang-ons that have 21.25–27.75-inch single-cast aluminum platforms. Utilizing a honeycomb design, these treestands offer greater strength while shaving weight. They’re also dual-post designs with Over Center Levering for incredible “bite” into the tree and greatly enhanced stability. Their platforms and seat-leveling systems enable a comfortable sit on trees with as much as a 10-degree lean. Finally, they weigh about 14 pounds for perfect balance between comfortable features and all-around portability.

Hang On Buddy ( product operates with a steel-mounting base ratchet that straps to the tree along universal-mounting hooks that bolt to the stand. Once the base is secured, one can pull up the stand and simply hook it into place, inserting the locking pin to further secure it. For me, the real selling point for this product is that additional bases can be purchased for $20 each. One can prep numerous trees and switch the stand between them nearly as effectively as having stands already set in each tree. I see this as a big cost-saver for hunters who are on a budget but don’t want to limit stand sites. As a bonus, because the stand can easily be removed after the hunt, it can eliminate the threat of stand theft.

Laddestand 2nd Man

The Ladderstand 2nd Man ( Anyone who has attempted to put tall or heavy ladders up by themselves realizes it’s both difficult and dangerous. This product solves that problem.

A winch-bracket straps to the tree, with ground swivel pegs bracing the base of the ladder in place. After positioning and bracing the ladder on the ground, the treestand-tether strap is secured to the upper portion of the ladder steps. With that, one just cranks the ladder up in place. After attaching the ladder stand’s brace bar to the tree, the ladder is already secure, making attaching the ladder’s own upper straps/ratchets/chain a safer and more stable operation.