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October 30, 2019

Must-Have Accessories For Whitetail Hunters


By Ashley McGee, FMG Publications

Every hunter needs a firearm and ammunition or a bow and arrows — but what about everything else?

Whether someone is new to hunting or has been a hunter for decades, navigating all the latest and greatest gear to decide what is actually a need versus a want can be overwhelming. As a retailer, you can position yourself as a valuable resource and help improve the customer experience by stocking accessories that have been proven to help other hunters find success in the field.

We asked a selection of retailers from different parts of the country to name their must-have accessories for Whitetail hunters. Some shared their personal favorites, while others included their store’s bestseller. While there are scores of suggestions, this list of recommended products is a great starting point for retailers wanting to better serve whitetail hunters.

Apparel

When it comes to Whitetail hunting, cryptic coloration is extremely important to be able to disguise one’s appearance and blend in with the surroundings. SITKA takes it a step further with the only concealment pattern scientifically engineering to confuse the vision of deer. Not only this, but the company’s camouflage is made using innovative fabrics like GORE-TEX and PrimaLoft that suppress sound to outsmart deer in any environment across the country. To help you appeal to all customers, Sitka’s Whitetail system is available for men, women and youth.

SITKA Gear Fanatic Jacket
Founded nearly 15 years ago in 2005, SITKA Gear has grown into a market leader for hunters. An appeal of the newly redesigned Fanatic Jacket – Whitetail: Elevated II is the ultra-quiet GORE-TEX INFINIUM with WINDSTOPPER technology. According to the company, this cuts the audible engagement distance with a deer “in half.”

Regardless of what camouflage a hunter wears, scent control and elimination are important. Products like those from Dead Down Wind or Wildlife Research Center’s Scent Killer Gold will always sell well. But, Garren M., a firearms manager in the long-gun department at Green Top Sporting Goods (Ashland, Va.), prefers the ScentLok bags for ozone-based scent elimination. Hunters may be turned off by the price tag but encourage them to consider how much they spend in a season on consumable products like scent control sprays and detergent.

Calls, Rattles and Attractants

Calls and rattles have come a long way over the years. “If we had to pick our most popular deer hunting item it would be from Illusion Game Call Systems,” said Luke Guest, VP of Hunters’ Hollow (Oxford, Miss.). “The Extinguisher Grunt Call and Black Rack Calling System ($44.99) is a must-have for any deer hunter.”

Illusion Black Rack & Extinguisher Combo
Labeled a “must-have for any deer hunter” by Hunters’ Hollow VP Luke Guest, the Illusion Game Call Systems Black Rack & Extinguisher Combo’s patented ModiSlide enables hunters to sound like a buck, doe or fawn instantly.

The Extinguisher’s patented ModiSlide allows hunters to sound like a buck, doe or fawn in an instant, while the exclusive bone-core technology gives the rattling system realistic antler-like sounds.

Another similar option that’s easier to tuck in a hunting pack is the True Talker OG Combo with Rattle Bag ($27.99) from Hunters Specialties. Instead of antlers, the Ruttin’ Buck Rattle Bag features hardwood rods to mimic the sound of battling bucks.

In terms of attractant, the rules and regulations in your area will dictate the types local hunters can or can’t use. For Melissa Godwin, general manager of Godwin’s Outdoors (Hoke County, N.C.), their most popular item for Whitetail hunters is Hunters’ Gold Trophy Deer Lure.

“It’s a scent taken from deer right here in North Carolina,” she shared. “I’m unsure whether it’s because the scent is from our deer population and it plays a role versus others that come from other states, but I imagine it does.”

Technology

Technology is a hot button topic in the hunting community. Some hunters are constantly searching for the latest technologically advanced gear, whereas others are purists and use little to no technology beyond their firearm and optics.

However, Jay Groth, hunting and firearms buyer at Joe’s Sporting Goods in St. Paul, Minn., shared the store’s number-one accessory for whitetail hunters is a cellular scouting camera. His personal pick is the Cuddeback Cuddelink Dual Cell camera ($200 plus cellular plan, or $400 with no cellular plan required).

“It sends the pictures right to your phone so you don’t have to bother your hunting area,” he said. “Although it’s a higher price point than your average trail camera, you can link up to 16 cameras.”

Edmund Long from Green Top Sporting Goods’ archery department prefers the SpyPoint Link-Micro game camera ($149.99) because it will send photos to a smartphone without the need for a cell service agreement.

While trail cameras are certainly great, one item many hunters don’t prioritize is hearing protection. Bren Brown, president of Frontier Justice (with a location in Lee’s Summit, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan.), recommends Walker’s Silencer Bluetooth electronic earbuds ($299.99) — which serve multiple purposes.

Walker’s Silencer BT Charging Case
It may not be one of the first products on a whitetail hunter’s list, but Frontier Justice President Bren Brown is a firm believer in Walker’s Silencer Bluetooth Electronic Earbuds. These earbuds can be controlled via a free app, giving users the ability to control program settings, monitor battery levels, adjust volume and change auto shut off time from a mobile device.

“You can stream music in your ears on the way to your stand, or keep your phone notifications from screwing up your hunt,” she noted. “They also effectively manage shot noise to eliminate any chance of hearing loss and amplify the big buck’s noise coming a hunter’s way so they pick it up before their naked ear actually would.”

Another popular seller — more of an add-on than a necessity — many hunters would consider is a Tactacam video camera that can be mounted to a rifle, shotgun, bow or crossbow. The 5.0 model ($429.99) features 4K resolution, live-streaming capabilities and image stabilization technology.

Other Must-Haves

As a whitetail hunter myself, there were a few products I was surprised that wasn’t mentioned by our panel. It could be because I’m in the Southeast, but besides my rifle or bow, the one product I won’t go into the woods without is a Thermacell Portable Mosquito Repeller. (As a customer, I always appreciate when my local sporting goods store has refills in stock because I’d much rather pick them up while I’m already there shopping for other things rather than having to order them online later.)

Thermacell Repellent & Hunter Safety Systems Lady Hybrid
Right: Thermacell Mosquito Repellent represents an option for any hunter spending time out in the elements. Left: Available in Mossy Oak Bottomland, Lady Hybrid from Hunter Safety Systems is treated with ElimiShield Hunt Scent Control Technology — killing human odor before it forms for the life of the harness. It features six accessory pockets, a dedicated cell phone pocket, dual bino clips and has a charging USB port.

Another must-have is the Ultra-Lite Tree Stand Safety Harness from Hunter Safety Systems — by far the most comfortable harness I’ve found to date. No hunter should ever climb into the deer stand without a safety harness. Like a life jacket, a safety harness is useless if it doesn’t fit properly. If it’s uncomfortable or restricts movement a hunter is less likely to wear one. Consider carrying a few options to accommodate different body types.

Key Takeaway

Firearms and ammunition may be your bread and butter, but these tried and true accessories will help improve your customers’ chance of success this hunting season and help keep them safe while in the woods. By nature, Whitetail hunters tend to be a loyal group of consumers. Focus on carrying a few options in each product category and they will come to rely on your store as a one-stop-shop for all their hunting needs. In turn, you’ll see increases in returning customers and the average spend per each of those customers.

VIDEO: Selling for the Whitetail Hunting Season Can Boost Profits

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