Gearing Up for the Hunt

Gearing Up for the Hunt

Mike England
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Four products to enhance your hunting.

With a few seasons already open, and the general rifle opener rapidly approaching, it's time to check your gear – both that which you have, and that which you need. For the latter, you won't find more impressive, useful equipment than the fabulous foursome described herein.

1. OnXMaps HUNT Premium Map
Getting to a good hunting spot is the first step – and that means 1) knowing where you are, and 2) staying legal. Montana-based OnXMaps meets both these needs with their HUNT overlay chip. Pop one of these in your Garmin and you'll never again leave home without it. The micro-SD chip gives you land ownership info – including boundaries and owner names – as well as roads, topographic features, water data, even hunting districts. Gone are the days of packing multiple maps and hunting regs along on every foray from the vehicle; with this handy tool, it's all right there – on your computer for planning your outings, and in your GPS for the actual hunt. OnX makes less expensive chips and apps for computers and mobile devices as well. $100;

OnXMaps Montana Hunting Chip

2. Bushnell Trophy Cam HD
Guesswork is part of hunting, but nothing's worse than wasting precious time in an unproductive area. Before the season begins, find out what game moves through your hunting spot with the Trophy Cam HD, a rugged camera with impressive picture quality – 720p HD video, with audio, and 8 megapixels for still images – and an even more impressive array of features. Use the 33 Hyper Night Vision LEDs to capture nocturnal activity up to 60 feet away, or the hybrid capture mode to snap both a photo and video of the same critter. You can check your footage at weekly or even monthly intervals – Bushnell's legendary battery is good for up to a year. Either way, you'll soon learn what the animals are up to – or if you should be hunting somewhere else entirely. Ultra-customizable, with extensive settings and options, yet still straightforward in operation, this camera will please both old-school mountain man and new-age techno-geek alike. $200; (Editor's note: In Montana, trail cams are illegal to use during the hunting season.)

Bushnell Trophy Cam HD 

3. Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler 150-Quart

For early-season road-trips, you need a reliable ice-chest to keep your game cool for the long ride home – not to mention those extra days afield as you chase antelope, deer, and pheasants all in the same long weekend. Rated for 7-10 days of ice retention, the ProGear Elite Cooler gives you peace of mind during those warm October days. Just load a few blocks of ice on the bottom, pile in your ungulate quarters and whole birds, and worry not – it might as well be hanging in a walk-in meat locker. Like all Pelican products, this cooler is also built to take a beating, with heavy-duty thermo-molded plastic, burly carrying handles, and rock-solid, press-and-pull latches to ensure a tight seal. We all know the days of Igloo's ascendency are over, with a variety of excellent coolers on the market these days – but the Pelican beats them all. It's pricey, for sure; but as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for. I chose the 150-quart, which is humongous and thus allows me to carry an antelope, loads of pheasants and sharptails, and maybe even a mule deer for my annual week-long trip to eastern Montana. $530;

Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler

4. StowAway SwingAway Hitch Carrier

To ensure plenty of room for people, gear, and dogs, add some storage space outside the vehicle with a SwingAway Hitch Carrier. Hunting gear, bloody clothes, dead animals – whatever, the roomy box holds it all, while keeping your vehicle's interior clean and free of clutter. The swinging frame locks tight for travel over bumpy dirt roads, but then opens easily once you're ready to unload your gear and start hunting. Surprisingly stout, the frame can handle up to 200 pounds at full swing-out. The cargo box comes in two sizes, has stout latches and carrying handles, and includes a lock and tail-lights for safety and security. You can also buy the frame alone, like I did, and build a platform to carry your own storage box – like, say, a 150-quart Pelican cooler. $529-$629, depending on box size;

Stowaway Swingaway Hitch 


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