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Deer hunting gear checklist


Add or remove insulation layers in different weather/hunting conditions to stay comfortable.

  • Base layer – tops and bottoms
    • Moisture-wicking (not cotton). Critical for staying warm, but it won’t be seen, so don’t worry about camouflage.
  • Mid-layer – tops and pants
    • Long-sleeve t-shirts, sweatshirts (multiple, thinner layers); jeans or nylon/wool pants; a fleece jacket or vest if weather necessitates more layers.
  • Outer layer – coat/jacket and pants/bibs
    • Wind/waterproof. Some waterproof clothing can be very noisy, especially in the cold. Walk around the store to ensure it isn't loud.
  • Heavy socks
    • Wool is a common choice. It helps to have several pairs, maybe even an extra pair with you. The quantity/quality of insulation in your socks will vary depending on the grams of insulation in your boots.
  • Waterproof, insulated boots
    • Buy one size larger than your shoe size, to leave room for socks and some open space, helping to keep your feet warm. You may want two sets of boots – one with less insulation (400 grams) for early fall and one with more insulation (800-1,600 grams) for winter.
  • Winter hat
    • Hunter orange (firearm season only) if you don’t have a hunter orange vest or jacket.
  • Hunter orange vest
    • Firearm season only, required by Michigan regulations (see page 18 of the Michigan Hunting and Trapping Digest for more details). You may also wear a cap, hat, jacket or rain gear of hunter orange.
  • Gloves
    • Make sure you can pull the trigger while wearing them.


Deer seasons vary by type of hunting equipment you will be using. Check Michigan hunting regulations to make sure your equipment complies

  • Firearm
    • Rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader.
  • Ammunition for firearm
    • Rifle – 100 to 150 grain works well for deer. Shotgun – deer slugs only; do not use buckshot.
  • Firearm case
    • Soft-sided or hard-sided.
  • Gun-cleaning kit
    • Get a kit specific to your firearm.
  • Scope/optics (optional)
    • A variable-power scope is usually for rifles only.
  • Bow
    • Crossbow, compound bow, recurve bow, long bow.
  • Trigger release
    • Compound bow only.
  • Cocking aid
    • Crossbow only.
  • Arrows
    • Bolts for crossbow.
  • Broadheads
    • Bow only

Other hunting gear and items

  • Hunting license and tags
    • Available online at E-License or at any license agent. Apprentice licenses are available for those who don’t yet have a hunter safety certificate. See the Michigan Hunting Digest for more information about license types and buying a license.
  • Backpack
    • Waterproof but quiet.
  • Field-dressing knife
    • A sturdy fixed or folding blade of 3 inches is sufficient.
  • Surgical gloves
    • For field-dressing deer.
  • Flashlight, map and compass, smartphone (fully charged)
    • Along with carrying these items, for safety’s sake, always make sure someone knows about your hunting plans – where you’ll be hunting and when you’re expected to return.
  • Tree stand (optional)
    • For more information about regulations for using raised platforms and tree stands, see the Michigan Hunting Digest.
  • Tree stand safety harness and safety rope
    • Essential if buying a tree stand. Invest in a high-quality harness, and always attach safety rope to the tree while climbing into a tree stand.
  • Ground blind (optional)
    • For more information about types of ground blinds and regulations for using them on public land, see the Michigan Hunting Digest.