GH 8: Planning and Preparation for the Hunting Trip

Getting Ready to Go Hunting

On today’s podcast, we will discuss getting ready for your next hunt. This podcast will be full of ideas and helpful tools that you can use to limit mistakes when it comes to planning your next adventure.

If you have been following along in this series of podcasts, you know where you are going hunting and what animal you plan to hunt. If you haven’t listened to the last 5 podcasts, you might want to go back and see what you missed. Today we will focus on having everything you need when you leave the house. You won’t need to turn around and go back.

Buy Your License and Tags

So now that you made a decision as to where to go hunting and what animal you plan to hunt, let’s get your tags and license purchased. I suggest buying them as soon as they become available and your budget can afford them. Now you are committed to the hunt, sweet, let’s start planning what you need to take. 

I know I touched on this in a previous conversation, but if you know where you want to hunt but you don’t know what tag or license you need, call your local wildlife agency and ask for help. Their job is to help you hunt within the laws. Someone will answer your questions. And if they won’t, please let me know. I will do my best to help you solve that concern.

Taking Time Off Work?

Something you should consider is planning to take time off work to hunt. Schedule it on your work calendar as soon as possible. You certainly don’t want to do all this planning and then not be able to go because of work scheduling issues. My brother puts his September elk hunt on his work calendar the first week of January when he is allowed to schedule that year’s vacation.

Now you can start gathering your hunting gear together. I suggest months before the hunt. Why? Because that gives you plenty of time to purchase and decide on the proper gear for your adventure. Now I promise you will continue to add gear over the years, but for now, let’s stick to the basics.

3 Items Every Hunter Needs

  1. Clothing and boots 
  2. Backpack with survival gear 
  3. Gun and ammo, or bow and arrows

Clothing and boots are critical to a good hunt. When you are comfortable and warm, you will stay in the woods. I know from experience that the first thing that sends me back to the truck or back to camp is not being comfortable. And with all the manufacturers of hunting clothing today, it’s way more affordable to buy good gear than in the past. 

No Cotton Clothing for Hunting!

But the first thing I’ll say without any real explanation is no cotton clothing period. Cotton holds moisture and does not dry quickly. This is the fastest way to develop hypothermia. End of story. There are way too many better options.

Now I can suggest lots of quality brands but that is not what this is about. What I suggest is buy clothing that is designed to layer together and keep you warm, dry and comfortable. And second, buy the best quality you can afford. Most of my hunting clothing I only wear when I’m hunting and it has lasted me for years. I seriously have hunting clothes that are over 20 years old. Pretty cool that they still fit I think.

Dry and warm feet will hunt longer

Boots are important too. Wet or cold feet will turn you back faster than a coon dog on a hot trail. So there is really only one option when it comes to boots. Water-proof period. Again, way too many options to list. I have found a brand that works for me, the quality is fantastic and the comfort is like wearing my slippers. 

You just need to spend some time trying different ones on and definitely ask others their opinion. Buy the best quality you can afford and they will last you several seasons. My current hunting boots are 4 1/2 years old when I’m writing this but again I usually only wear them when I’m hunting or scouting. 

You typically put lots of miles on them also, so make sure they are comfortable. And related to comfort is, do they need to be insulated or not? My feet can bear the cold if I’m moving which is how I typically hunt, so I don’t prefer insulated boots. But it is something you should consider depending on your hunting style. Will you hike a lot or sit a lot, you will need to decide that. But the two most important things are your boots need to be waterproof and comfortable. 

Large Backpack or Simple Daypack?

Next on the list is a backpack and your survival gear.

Backpacks can be anything from a small day pack up to a 7500 cubic in mountain pack. What you need depends on how you hunt. Are you planning to hunt from the truck every day or are you planning to hike into the backcountry for 7 days?

My best suggestion is to don’t have a pack that is any bigger than it needs to be. So, of course, I own a couple of packs. But the one I use the most is my day pack. I prefer a day pack with several pockets so I can keep things separated and easy to access. 

I also keep items in my day pack that can stay in there all season. We will cover the essential items in a later podcast, but for now, I just want you to know that your pack should be on you or near you at all times. Use one that is comfortable and not too big because you should never be hunting without it.

Get my Daypack Checklist

This leads me to my next point that your pack is your survival tool kit. As I said, having your pack with you all the time should become a habit. Even when you walk off the road for a 5-minute hike I suggest you take your pack. I’ll tell you from experience, if you grab your gun, you should grab your pack. Because if you see an animal, it could be hours before you return to the truck. You can get my list of items that I keep in my day pack at You may want to look at it and see if there is something you forgot.

The last item on my shortlist is your gun and ammunition. Back in episode 4 of this podcast we covered choosing the right rifle and ammunition for you. If you are struggling to decide what rifle to buy, you should check out that podcast. But to reiterate that message a little, I’ll say pick a gun and hunting ammunition, practice with it, and get comfortable handling and shooting it.

I also want to mention archery equipment here too. This is my favorite hunting method. It takes patience and practice to become efficient with a bow and arrow, and what a tremendous accomplishment it is to fill your tag this way. Just make sure you invest time finding the right one that fits you. Again if you missed it, go back to episode 4 and listen if you are still trying to find the right bow and arrows.

Expensive equipment doesn’t equal success

You can spend 1000’s of dollars on hunting equipment, but I don’t want you to think that it’s necessary to be a successful hunter. You can certainly spend more money on hunting clothes and gear and it will potentially increase the quality of the products you choose, but don’t get hung up on these things. Spend what you can comfortably afford and let’s get you onto the next step. 

Get my Gear Checklist

Now aside from these basic items, there is other gear you should consider, especially if you are going for several days. I have a list over at that you can print off. This list is a good reminder when it’s time to load the truck.

Another important part of planning your hunting is deciding where you are going to be hunting. We discussed this in more detail in episode 5 when we talked about scouting. Now that you are getting ready to go, it’s time to fill out a hunting plan. 

Fill out your Hunting Plan

A hunting plan is a simple document that tells someone exactly where you are planning to hunt. We never know what kind of challenges life may throw at us while we are in the woods. A hunting plan tells your loved ones how to find you if you don’t make it home when you planned. You can get a copy of my hunting plan at It’s simple to fill out and may prevent you from spending an unnecessary night in the woods.

Who will process the meat?

But what will you do when you fill your tag? Who is going to process it? Let’s do a little preparation for when you are successful. 

So are you going to cut up your animal yourself? If you want to do that, awesome. It’s really not difficult. You just need to plan where you are going to hang the meat for a couple of days before you cut it up. We will talk about meat storage in a future podcast, but for now, you just need to decide on a cool place to hang it prior to processing it.

But maybe you want someone else to process it, that is fine too. But I want to encourage you, in this case, to find a butcher now before you shoot it rather than after. Make a couple of phone calls and ask about processing fees and availability when you return from your hunt. 

If you are going to hunt regularly and not planning to cut up your own meat, you want to start building a relationship with a butcher. This is the guy who is going to be handling the meat you put on the table. Find a good one and keep him on speed dial. And let him know you are coming his way as soon as you head for home with your harvest because so often it’s after business hours when you get back. To find a butcher that understands that and is willing to work with you is important.

You can start planning for your next hunt now. Don’t wait till the last minute and cause yourself unnecessary stress. Getting prepared for a hunt can be simple if you just follow the steps.

Help pass on the hunting tradition

If you are a veteran hunter who cares about the future of our hunting tradition and lifestyle, you can make a difference by finding someone to mentor.

If you are a new hunter and don’t have someone in your immediate family or a close friend to show you the way, then join me and the Greenhorn community so you can learn from us and experience the joys of hunting.

So a couple of simple ways to do that.

  1. Subscribe to this podcast.
  2. Get a free copy of my guide at 
  3. Join the community of greenhorn hunters and greenhorn mentors at

Remember when you mentor someone, you’re making a difference. We don’t need more heroes, we need more guides.