Published Nov 21, 2022 1:00 PM
Deer hunters want gear that will increase their chances of success. While nothing can guarantee a big buck walking by your stand, there are pieces of equipment that can improve your days afield. Modern trail cams now let you know what deer are doing at the click of a button and tree saddles are so light you can hike miles in and still get elevated.
There are plenty of hunting gimmicks and gadgets that aren’t worth it. But there are also plenty that are. That’s why we asked our deer hunting experts as well as the Field & Stream staff for their best gear recommendations. This list is a cumulation of field tested gear that has helped our team in the woods. We can’t guarantee your deer hunter will punch their tag, but this gear will make their experience in the woods more enjoyable and comfortable. Here are the best gifts for deer hunters in 2022.
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The Best Deer Hunting Gifts
You know what kills big whitetails? Hours logged in the right spot. It took me 25 sits before I even saw my target buck this fall, and a numb rear end won’t cut it for a task like that. It’s also a nice perk if the stand is easy to carry and hang, and doesn’t outweigh an anvil. The new Overland from Vertical Treestands is all the above. The platform is big—22.25 x 31.25—and it’s built from cast aluminum, so it’ll last. The seat is woven textile (like a Millennium) that’s UV and abrasion resistant. Yet, the stand weighs less than 19 pounds and folds up flat. The platform is level-adjustable, and the stand is compatible with accessories including foot-rest pegs and a bow holder. I used an Overland all season, and loved everything about it. A slightly smaller, lighter model called the Drifter is also available. —Will Brantley
This is one of those pricey gifts that you might need to get for yourself, but you so deserve it. Plus, you’re not really splurging here when you consider what processors charge these days. Every deer you tag and process yourself is another reason to own a commercial-grade grinder, like this one. The ¾-horse Carnivore chews up the toughest cuts and turns them into burgers and sausage like nothing. You could probably put the whole deer in this thing, skin on, and it wouldn’t bat an eye. (Don’t put the whole deer in.) It’s quiet, doesn’t heat up quickly, and has a Cool-Tek Gel Ice Pak that keeps the grinder head cold for smoother grinding. It comes with two grinding plates, a stomper, and a sausage stuffing kit. If this model seems a little too pricey, there’s a ½-horse version for less. But I think a 3/4 -horse (at least) is the way to go. Plus, you can offset the extra cost by just getting another deer. —Dave Hurteau
The new Moultrie Edge was one of the top performers in our Best Cellular Trail Camera test this year. It has useful features like image recognition so you can sort bucks from does, for example, and activity recording which allows you to identify top movement times. Our trail camera expert, Scott Bestul, was impressed with how easy it was to set up the Edge. “Installing and running the Moultrie Mobile app is pretty darn simple and tweaking the camera settings requires zero special skills.” The simplicity of this cellular camera eliminates any intimidation that comes with jumping into the wireless cam game. Plus, for $100 (on sale now at Cabela’s for $80), you’ll be hard pressed to find a better deal. We also took a closer look at the new Moultrie Edge after our big test. —Ryan Chelius
The hunt isn’t over when the hammer falls. The kitchen awaits, and this time-tested tool can be your secret weapon to turn every cut of meat nearly biscuit-tender. Forty-eight stainless steel spring-loaded blades ride up and down in a sturdy handle, and they slice through fascia, fats, and connective tissue to take the chew out of the meat. The tool is a cinch to use. Just place it on the meat, press the handle firmly, and repeat. The results on tougher cuts such as flank steak are striking, and even on cuts that need little tenderizing, such as backstrap, the tool will take them to the next level. And since the blades cut small slits into the meat, marinades penetrate deeper and more quickly than they would when you simply give your steak a good stabbing with a fork. I’ve used this device on venison, bear, and duck, and simply put: It works. —T. Edward Nickens
The M18 Savanna is the first affordable rifle I’ve seen that I’d be proud to own. In fact, I am proud to own it because I bought it after our annual Rifle Test. What I like most about the M18 is that it’s still a Mauser, made by the same people who make five-figure-priced safari rifles. And that over-the-top quality has trickled down into the M18. Aesthetically and ergonomically, it feels and looks like a hunting rifle should. It has a high-quality, cold-hammer-forged barrel, an adjustable trigger, a three-position safety, a 60-degree bolt throw, and a threaded muzzle. Make no mistake, the M18 is still a plastic, utilitarian rifle, but it’s made from the kind of plastic that feels like it can take a beating. The only thing is, after the deer hunter in your life shoots the M18, they won’t want to abuse it. —Matthew Every
I’ve kept two Havalon Pirantas in my pack for years, but the new Expel from Hogue has become my favorite replaceable-blade knife. It takes the same scalpel blades as a Havalon (the 60A is my favorite), but this knife is made of 440c stainless steel and paired with removable orange grip panels that are comfortable in the hand. It weighs less than 2 ounces, and provides the precision of an ink pen. But the best feature is the blade locking and ejector system that keeps your fingers mostly away from those viciously sharp surgical blades, which will make a lasting impression on a finger after just one good slip-up. When it’s time for a fresh edge on the Expel, simply pull the lock down, use it as an ejector to flip away the old blade, and then clip in a new one. I’ve skinned, quartered, and deboned 10 whitetails and an oryx with mine so far this season, and I haven’t reached for a different knife yet. —W.B
After only two sits in the Game Winner 18-foot ladder, my hunting buddy dubbed it, The Luxury Suite. I couldn’t blame him; this is one comfy stand, thanks to high-end details rarely included on such a moderately priced ladder. The nylon mesh backrest and mesh flip-up seat are very comfortable, and the padded armrests and flip-down footrest are features that just help a guy settle in and not fidget. Oh yeah, there’s even an accessory shelf (with a beverage holder no less) you can mount on an armrest.
I’ve assembled and erected a pile of ladder stands, so I’ve come to appreciate attention to detail. This stand is filled with smart features that result in easy assembly and setup. The components are all packaged neatly, and match perfectly with the simple step-by-step instructions; if you can’t assemble this stand correctly on the first try, you aren’t paying attention. I also love the powder coated finish, which results in safe and secure steps and reduces clanging and banging. Finally, the nut-bolt combos come with silicone washers that eliminate squeaks and creaks. —Scott Bestul
Two or three times, every year, I remember that I really, really want an electric game hoist. Then, when I’m done groaning and swearing and my deer is all hung up, I forget. So, this year I’m going to send a link for this Vivahome 440-Pound Electric Hoist to my loved ones and conspicuously rub the site of my hernia surgery whenever they’re around. This hoist is compact, sets up easily, and will hang the heaviest buck with the press of a button. Plus, at a little over $100, there’s actually a decent chance one of your loves could spend that much on you. In my case, we’ll see. I may have to buy one myself after Christmas. If I remember. —D.H.
I’m not a knife snob. By that, I mean that I won’t hold off butchering a deer just because I can’t find my deboning knife. I’ll use any knife that’s lying around as long as it’s sharp. But I’ve always wanted to own a roll of butcher knives, and this year I got the MEAT! Butcher Knife Set and Knife Rollup. Each knife came razor sharp, and they performed great on the deer I cut up with them. The knives are made with a full-tang construction and have a no-slip rubberized handle. For about 100 bucks, you get a curved boning knife, a straight boning knife, a breaking knife, a granton butcher knife, a cimeter knife, and a sharpening rod. Honestly, I don’t know what makes any one of those shapes better than the other, but when I unfurl the roll, I look like I know what the hell I’m doing, and that’s half the battle. —M.E.
Accessory hooks are one of the simplest yet most overlooked pieces of deer hunting gear. They allow you to hang your bow, gun, or pack from the tree for easy access while limiting noise and movement. Hooks like the Muddy Extreme Multihanger are especially important for hunters who use hang-on treestands, climbers, and saddles. The Extreme Multihanger has sharp metal teeth that easily screw into any tree with a support leg for a secure mount. They are also vinyl-coated to prevent scratches or damage to your bow or gun.
I hunt whitetails from the ground, and the Extreme Multihanger works just as well there as it does in the tree. I throw my pack on the hook for easy organization and keep my gun in my hands. The hook pivots in any direction for your desired setup. I always carry two in my pack because I never know when I might need another, and for ten bucks, I have no problem buying a few. —R.C.
I’ve logged enough time in precarious hang-ons and lugged enough cumbersome climbers through the whitetail woods to know a revolutionary stand design when I sit in one—and Trophyline’s new Venatic Tree Saddle is just that. I had a chance to try the setup during a bow hunt in Kentucky earlier this season and was impressed by the portability and freedom of movement of the system.
The Venatic is Trophyline’s newest offering, and at just 2.7 pounds, it’s the lightest tree saddle on the market. I’m convinced this thing would be even handier on some chunk of public land in the Midwest than it was on an 80-acre farm in north-central Kentucky. I’d suggest purchasing the whole kit if you’re looking for a show-stopping gift for that whitetail-obsessed hunter in your life. It comes with two six-ounce TechCore ropes with 8,600 pounds of breaking strength—one to use as a lineman’s belt as you work your way up the tree and the other for tethering off once you’re on the platform. The Venatic pairs well with Trophyline’s Mission Platform and their Double Step Mini Climbing Sticks. And for easy transportation to and from your big buck hidey-hole, you can throw the whole setup in one of their Sumpter Frame Packs. —Travis Hall
You can’t go wrong with a classic gift because it never goes out of style. And it’s hard to find a more classic piece of deer hunting equipment than a Buck 110 folding knife. The only problem is, the deer hunter you’re shopping for probably already has one. That’s OK, because Buck is offering custom 110 folders on their website. You can choose from seven blade shapes, nine kinds of scales, four leather pouches, and custom engraving to put together the perfect blade. There’s also the option for high-quality steel, like S30V, for years of use in the field. The Buck Custom Knife Shop will also customize eight other kinds of Buck knives from fixed blades to folders. Just keep in mind that there’s a six- to eight-week lead time, so you’ll want to put your order in soon. —M.E.
I was an early Ozonics skeptic. I carried one of the original units for a season and thought, at times, that it probably kept deer from winding me. But the unit’s fan was loud and aggravating (my wife swore it spooked deer), so I didn’t bother with it much. The new HR500 solves the fan issue—it’s almost silent—and with the new Smart Arm Mounting system, it’s easy to secure the unit in place so that it’s putting the ozone exactly where you need it on your downwind side.
You can pair it with an app to adjust the settings without too much movement, too. I had an evening this October when 16 does and fawns walked directly downwind of my stand on an unexpected path, and I held my breath each time as they’d stop, test the air, and then move along. Not a single one of them spooked, and there is no doubt in my mind that it was because I had the HR500 running. It works. —W.B.
I think I’m like most hunters in that I don’t need, or want to spend the money on, a fancy rangefinder with a ballistic ap and all the rest. I just want a simple, compact, rugged unit that’s bright and clear and tells me how far stuff is every time I press the button—fast. I’ve had Maven’s new CRF.1 in hand long enough now to say that it’s all these things. It ranges reflective objects out to 2,400 yards and deer out to 650, which is plenty far for me. You can toggle between a black or red LED display, line-of-site or angle-compensation readings, and between field or forest modes, the latter of which makes it easier to range objects through brush and branches. But what impresses me most about the CRF.1 is the quality of the 6×22 optic and the speed and reliability of its readings—all at an affordable price. It’s a can’t-miss gift. —D.H.
Benchmade sent me this knife to test before it was released last month. I carried it around the elk woods for a week in September and finally put it to use on a mule deer I shot in late October. It didn’t disappoint. The Raghorn is lightweight, sharp, and durable. Designed for backcountry adventures, it performs just as well in the deer woods. The 4-inch drop point steel blade gives this knife a lightweight feel (3.56 oz) and durable construction. Plus, the fixed blade allows for excellent control and great push-cut performance. I processed my muley in the field, and the knife made precise cuts while staying sharp the entire time. The CPM-CruWear steel and the carbon fiber handle give it the light-as-a-feather feel. Add the high-vis orange cerakoted blade for improved durability and safety, and you have one of the best big game hunting knives on the market. —R.C.
The best present for a deer hunter is a bag of deer corn. But not just any corn will do, it has to be in the bag with a picture of a massive ten-point buck. The other brands are only good for raccoons and feral hogs. Why is deer corn the ultimate gift for a deer hunter? For starters, deer hunters are notoriously picky about their hunting gear, so you’ll inevitably buy the wrong thing. But deer corn is the universal present because it works the same for everyone. It’s also affordable, works year-round—in and out of the rut—and doesn’t have that rotted smell of deer pee. And don’t overlook the fact that deer corn comes pre-wrapped, and you don’t have to be smart to use it; just pour it on the ground and you’re an instant outfitter. It’s an especially great gift for that hunting buddy who only sees a deer when he’s helping drag yours. The truth is you might as well buy two or three bags. You don’t want anyone to think you’re a novice, and admit it, you could probably use a little help with your deer hunting too. —Richard Mann
If you’ve got a serious deer hunter on your gift list, get them a tough, quiet set of climbing sticks that won’t break the bank. Each section of the Ranger sticks come with angled, cleated steps that ensure a non-slip ascent. And while the steps don’t flip up neatly like the Helium model offered by Hawk, the Rangers are still plenty portable and much more affordable.
Each section is 32”, which means a 3-pack will get you plenty high in a tree. If you need to get a few feet higher, simply add a screw-in step or, better yet, add Hawk’s Monkey Bar strap-on steps, which come in a 4-pack for $35. Your hunter will get as high as they need to go with an easy and secure setup. —S.B.