According to a 2019 US Fishing and Wildlife Service report, more than 15.6 million people have hunting licenses and almost $900 million was spent on hunting licenses alone. Yowza. With all us hunters out there, we gotta have a place to store all our stuff, don’t we? Want to start putting your hunting gear away and get some proper storage in place? Yeah, us too. We’re straight up tired of finding our gear covered in mold spores or chewed up by vermin. So let’s things right, shall we?
DECKED’s got you covered. In this article, we’re going to run through how to prepare your hunting gear for storage at the end of the hunting season. We’ll also check out some of the best hunting gear storage options available and talk about why storing your hunting stuff properly is important. We’ve even thrown in some helpful tips, with Amazon links throughout the article to help you get your gear storage space lookin’ right. Here’s the run of it:
- The Gruntwork
- 8 Ideas for Storing Your Hunting Gear
- Benefits of Properly Storing Your Gear (with support from our ambassadors!)
- Tips and Tricks
More than $16 billion is spent on hunting gear, vehicles, and accessories every year in the US.
And while supporting the economy is great and all, you don’t want to be paying out for replacement gear every year. The idea is to upgrade your kit—not have to start from scratch every other season. Properly caring for and storing your hunting gear at the end of the season solves that problem. So how should you go about it? Here’s a simple step-by-step to getting your hunting gear ready for storage during the off-season.
Empty all bags and pockets. Anything that can hold any other item, no matter how small, needs to be checked. Even that mini pocket. Yes, and that other one, too. Aaaaand that other one. Just unzip everything, turn everything inside out, and swipe at the bottom of your bags. You don’t want to find some old piece of gum you left inside a pocket. Oh, and set aside the items which need cleaning.
Wash Everything. Yes, all of it! Being an avid hunter, you know that when you’re going to head to the great outdoors, you don’t want to smell all pretty like your usual laundry detergents. You want to hide your human scents and blend in to the surroundings, even in the way you smell. Can you imagine a deer out there sniffing around and wondering, “Is that…Bounty dryer sheets, I smell? That’s my cue to take off!” Get some scent-minimizing laundry detergent like this or use regular baking soda (one cup per load) to absorb all the scents that sensitive wildlife pick up easily. It’s best to hand-wash your gear, rather than risk it damaging it by your household washing machine. A gentle scrubbing brush should be sufficient to lift stains and the detergent or baking soda will help break up mud, grass, and blood residue as well as get rid of any bacteria. Mystery Ranch suggests washing your backpack in a bathtub or large sink and using hydrogen peroxide to remove tough stains like blood.
Properly clean and dry your footwear. This is also a really good time to re-waterproof your boots. Make sure everything is properly and completely dry before even thinking about putting anything away. The slightest bit of damp now will turn into a gross mess of stinky bacteria by next season if you’re not careful about this. Oh, and pro tip? Remember to include your socks and underwear in that load. The underwear especially, alright?
Inspect your weapons. Make sure everything is all clean and in good working order. Check your bow’s strings and cables for damage, dirt, or debris. Replace any frayed or broken strings. Clean your guns and their safety mechanisms. Check your fishing poles; inspect the lines and lures. Clean and sharpen your knives, too. You know the drill.
Check and organize your accessories. Whatever your weapon or firearm of choice, you’ve probably got accessories that need special care. Things that fall under the categories of grunt calls, scents, optics, game cameras, and all the fun weapon-specific accessories. Make sure all items are cleaned properly. Reeds, tubes and latex diaphragm calls need to be carefully cleaned and sanitized. You can use a 5% mouthwash solution to rinse them in, then let them dry fully. Seal them in a scent-minimizing bag and throw in some food-safe silica gel packets to absorb any moisture build up before storing them at the back of the fridge. (So those silica gel packets do serve a purpose besides confusing us when we open packages!)
Repair and replace. Sweet. Now it’s time to repair anything that’s broken and replace items beyond mending. You want to make sure that all your gear is there, ready, and waiting in working order before you do your final checks. Sort out loose threads and buttons, faulty zippers and fraying hems before you put your stuff away. If your water bottle is leaking, replace it now. Or, maybe you realized your camo gear has faded into whiteness and you stand out like a sore thumb in the forest. End of season is a great time to hit your favorite camo store. You’ll find some great sales at the end of season or off-season sales. Does the first-aid kit need updating or refilling? One thing you don’t want to be short on when you’re using big knives out in the woods is bandages.
The sooner you get these things taken care of, the sooner you can put it all away knowing you’re ready to hit the trail at a moment’s notice. Otherwise, you might end up needing a full week or more to prepare next time you want to go hunting. Save future-you from that hassle.
Remove batteries. We’ve all had the disappointment of finding corroded batteries have ruined our electronics. It sucks, and it’s really expensive to replace some of those items. Best to work with prevention then, and remove all batteries in any item that’s going into storage.
Take special care of fragile items. Some of your gadgets need special care. Think about where you’ll be storing them, and how. Ask yourself:
- Where will you store your gear?
- Would individual containers be best?
- Drawers or cupboards or shelves? Or a combination?
- Will similar items be OK to go in the same box or drawer?
- Is a soft surface or wrap necessary?
- Does it need to withstand vermin?
- Will it be easy to access?
- Are locks necessary?
Organize and label. Seal your clothing in scent-free bags. They are ideal for storing hunting gear and won’t erase your efforts at scent-minimizing laundering. Whichever storage solutions you choose, keep like items together so you know exactly where to find them. For even greater long term ease:
- Label each box, drawer, and shelf with its contents.
- Store small parts separately and multis together.
- Give every item the care it needs.
Store your gear properly now and you’ll find it easier than ever to get out on your next hunting trip. Hell yeah.
Now everything is clean and dry, you’re ready to actually put your gear away. But where to put it? Any clothing items are better off stored inside the house rather than the garage or shed. Storing clothing—even hard-wearing items like hunting and fishing gear—in areas that aren’t temperature controlled causes moisture to collect, which isn’t good for the fabric. Whether you’re putting your things into a sealed box, a drawer, or keeping it all packed in totes ready to go, add some silica gel packs to absorb any moisture in the air and keep that musty smell at bay. Bye-bye, Musty!
As for the rest of your gear, it’s probably best to keep it out in the garage or man-cave. Let’s take a look at eight storage ideas that any hunter will love.
Cabinet storage compartments – Having a cabinet dedicated to your hunting gear might sound extravagant to some, but it actually makes a lot of sense. A great cabinet will have flexible shelving and drawers to accommodate all your gear and key locks to keep your gear secure. Some of this stuff is pricey so you want to make sure it can’t just disappear, especially if you have guns or other hunting gear which needs proper security.
A locking stainless steel cabinet like this looks great in the garage and can hold a whole lot of gear. Inside the house, a stand alone clothes organizer would be ideal to keep your hunting clothes away from your regular clothes. You don’t want them getting contaminated with your daily human scents. You also don’t want your blood-splattered camo pants next to your Sunday church pants (imagine that mix-up). If you don’t have that much space, maybe just take up part of a cupboard with a scent-free tote instead. Don’t just stuff your gear into a Rubbermaid tub in a big, ol’ jumbled ball.
Gladiator walls – Installing gladiator walls or pegboard gear wall panels infinitely increases your storage flexibility. The system is so flexible you can reposition your shelving and storage cabinets as often as you like. This makes it really easy to add new storage as your kit increases. It also removes the issue of larger items fitting into a cabinet as you can just hook them right onto the system in their own place. Gladiator lockable cabinets are solid, well-constructed, and even look pretty stylish. Even the very large cabinets can be elevated off the ground, the only limit is the size of your garage walls! If you want to turn this into a DIY project, some people even make gladiator walls out of wooden pallets.
Overhead racks – Sometimes those bigger items are really better out of direct sight. A simple way to achieve this and still keep your kayaks, fishing rods, or tenting gear handy is to install overhead storage racks. Taking advantage of otherwise wasted overhead space to store the more awkwardly-sized or shaped items is perfect if the ceiling is high enough. You can find overhead storage options to suit whatever it is you’re wanting to store up above—just be careful to stick to weight capacity limits. You don’t want an entire damn kayak to come crashing on your car or head.
Gun lockers and safes – Every responsible gun owner makes certain their guns are locked away safely when not being used. Whether you have pistols, rifles, or airguns, they need to be stored securely. Do you have other secure gun transport already in your truck? Opt for built-in, gun-safe style storage. If not, do you need something portable? Gun carriers like this one with a built-in fingerprint scanner for added security ensure that you’re the only one that can access your weapon. This portable toolbox/gun carrier also doubles up as security when transporting.
Shelving and workspace – Whether you’re on a tight budget or can afford the best of the best for your hunting gear, some simple bookcase style shelving is a must. Wire racks are ideal for holding your totes and boxes, and you can use hangers for bags, vests, ropes, or other stuff that’s easy to hang. You could anchor a fishing rod holder to the side of a wire rack. Or if you prefer a more natural aesthetic, this customizable wooden workbench with storage gives you plenty of workspace and can be made to suit your space.
Labels and see-through bins – We like labeling here. It’s just easy and saves so much time. So much time can be saved wondering what’s in a box if those boxes are see-through or labeled. If it was see-through or clearly labeled, Brad Pitt wouldn’t have to scream, “WHAT’S IN THE BOOOOXXXXX!?!” for five minutes straight in Seven. Clear storage bins save all the hassle of searching through multiple containers to find that one item you desperately need. Little Jimmy’s going on a scouting trip and needs to borrow your flashlight? You can find it in seconds. In-laws want to borrow a camping stove for the weekend? Not a problem. Seriously though, clear storage containers save a LOT of time and hassle, especially when paired with inventory lists. It may feel like a hassle to start with but keeping an up-to-date contents label inside each clear box, facing outwards (or facing down if they’re stored above) gives you at-a-glance confirmation of what’s inside.
DIY sheds – If you don’t already have an outdoor garage or you’re thinking of expanding your work shed, you could totally DIY the job if you have the time, the woodworking skills, and the tools. Otherwise a flatpack DIY shed could be what you’re after. You can even go full-on carpenter and build it from scratch.
DECKED – Ahhh, yes. The best for last. The DECKED drawer system is one of the toughest, most secure truck storage systems available anywhere, and it’s made right here in the US. Custom-made to fit your vehicle, the smooth sliding drawers reach right back to the rear of the truck bed. The system sits just above the wheel wells, at 12” off the true truck bed and acts as a sturdy cover for the drawers beneath. There are ammo cubbies in each corner which can be accessed from above. These cubbies ensure there’s no wasted space behind and in front of the wheel wells. And unlike other truck bed covers, the DECKED drawer system is “Engineered from an American steel frame in-molded to a High Density Polyethylene skin” so it can take a whopping 2000 lb payload while keeping your drawer contents and hunting gear safe. Completely weatherproof, there’s no drilling required at all for installation in most vehicles.
Each drawer takes a 200 lb load and when used together with the DECKED boxes, makes truck organization easy as pie. The important thing here? Each toolbox is lockable, each drawer is separately lockable, and your locked tailgate adds a third layer of locked protection. That’s security, baby! And no one is going to slash the top of this one with a knife. Want to see the experts compare all of these storage options? We asked the smartest people in the world and the data is staggering.
Not enough to convince you? We called in some reinforcements. Here’s some more data from world-leading experts. This is what they had to say about the DECKED option.
Facts are facts, people. We can’t make this stuff up.
Taking the time to properly care for your hunting gear saves you a lot of money in the future. It saves you time and allows you to go when you’re ready, without spending weeks prepping or having to find replacement gear at the last minute. Let’s review a quick roundup of the key benefits of storing your hunting gear the right way.
- Your clothes and equipment will last for years if treated correctly. Consider it the equipment version of car maintenance.
- You’ll always know where everything is, even small or weirdly specific items. Bear repellant spray? Check. Duck calls? Check. Ghillie suit? Wow, you are serious. Check. You’ll be able to find whatever it is you’re after. When you’re ready to go, you’re ready to go. No last-minute rooting around for lost gear.
- You’ll have peace of mind from knowing your weaponry and other fragile items are locked safely away from kids and straight-up weirdos.
- You’ll have quick and easy access to your belongings.
- You’ll be proud of your hunting gear and your hunting gear storage.
Want to see what our ambassadors are doing with their rigs? Here’s some more inspiration for all you hunters out there!
|Ambassadors and Their Rigs|
|Mark Kenyon – Wired To Hunt|
|Steven Rinella – The Meat Eater|
|Ryan (Cal) Callaghan – The Meat Eater|
|Sam Soholt – Public Land Tees|
|Beau Martonik – East Meets West|
|Matt Hardinge – Project Upland|
Getting the most out of (or into) your off-season storage is essential, especially if you don’t have tons of spare space to dedicate to your passion. Here’s some quick and easy tips for all you skimmers out there.
- Store your hunting clothing away from your regular clothes. Seal them in scent-minimizing bags with a silica gel packet and hang in a stand alone closet, preferably in a temperature controlled environment.
- Make sure your garage or shed has plenty of good lighting. If you can’t see properly, you run the risk of thinking an item is fine when in fact it’s far from OK.
- Keep dehumidifiers in rooms where your hunting equipment and clothing is stored. This is to reduce moisture build-up. Use baking soda as a low-cost odor and moisture absorber in your laundry and in dry storage areas.
- Carry out regular safety checks on safety equipment such as fire extinguishers and fire blankets. Check the contents of first-aid kits.
- Lock fragile items and firearms away. Be mindful of local and state laws regarding gun storage.
UNTIL NEXT SEASON
We know you can’t wait to get back out there. But you’ll sleep easier knowing all your hunting gear is safe and waiting for you to make your return. Make sure all your clothing is cleaned, dried, and mended before storing away for next season. Take an equipment inventory and check all your equipment is in working order. Repair or replace any necessary items before you put it into storage for the off-season. Get your garage organization and hunting gear storage sorted now, before you get threatened with a divorce!