Finding the best gifts for bowhunters in 2018 might seem hard at first — after all, bowhunting fanatics have much of the gear they need. That’s not game over, though: Bowhunters wear out their archery gear, which means your best bowhunting gift can be a replacement or even an outright archery gear upgrade.
Best Bowhunting Gift Ideas: Our Guide
We take pride in our gift guide for bowhunters and archery hunting enthusiasts because we not only recommend a particular can’t-go-wrong bowhunting gift, we also tell you why our choices are cool gifts for bowhunters. Because there are several types of bowhunters, not all archery gifts are the right fit. Eastern bowhunters who hunt whitetail deer in dense woods need different kinds of bowhunting gear than hunters who go after elk or mule deer in the wide-open ranges of the West. But don’t worry — if one of our best bowhunting gift picks is better suited to one kind of bowhunting over another, we’ll point that out.
Tips for Choosing Bowhunting Gifts
Some types of archery gear are particularly hard to buy for bowhunters. Case in point? A new compound bow. It’s really hard to find the right bow for a bowhunter because there are so many variables in draw length, draw weight, and type of bow. Plus, there are a lot of personal variables involved.
What about arrows? You need to know the spine of arrow your hunter needs, and that’s tough to figure out without a direct question. Release aids are similarly personal. Consequently, our guide to the best bowhunting gifts focuses on archery accessories like quivers, rests and sights — especially accessories that are clearly upgrades.
An even safer bet, though, revolves around the kinds of hunting gear bowhunters need, like a great rangefinder or a binocular chest harness or camo rain gear. If you get really stuck, get a lightweight first-aid kit and then add-in a clotting sponge as a stocking stuffer. Why? Broadheads on arrows are incredibly sharp, and accidents do happen.
For more detail, lets dive into our best bowhunting gift recommendations for 2018.
Most archery hunters like to shoot at 3D targets to help prep them for the coming hunting season. A good 3D target helps a bowhunter visualize a hunting moment, which is critical when a real animal steps into shooting range. The Rinehart Woodland Buck has a core that’s constructed of Rinehart’s self-healing foam to help ensure a target that can hold up to many practice shots. Better yet, the vital area is a replaceable locking insert — if your bowhunter does wear it out, it’s easily replaceable. One more thing: The Rinehart Woodland Buck Target is 30″ by 29″ long, so you don’t have to worry — it’s not a full-size deer target that’s hard to store or move around.
If your bowhunters want to work on their own compound bows, the 12-piece Easton Accessory Pro Shop Kit is a great starting point. It includes hex wrenches, d-loop pliers, a bow square, knock tool, arrow puller, bowstring wax, serving thread, d-loop material, and a broadhead wrench. It comes in a zippered case. It’s especially a good bowhunting gift for newer bowhunters.
The Last Chance Archery Handheld Bow Scale is a quick and easy way to check your bow’s draw weight. All you have to do is nock an arrow (for safety) and use the handheld bow scale to draw back your bow — while pointing the arrow in a safe direction. The Last Chance Archery Handheld Bow Scale won’t release the arrow, of course, but it does measure peak draw weight. This is important for tuning, and it’s helpful for bowhunters to know — and keep track off — their draw weight as they change arrows or replace strings.
The great thing about the Cabela’s Elite Stop Crossbow Target is that it’s tough and it just works well. It’s rated to over 400 fps, which means it’s more than capable of stopping arrows from the fastest compound bows available . . . and, of course, crossbow bolts. We smacked it with broadhead after broadhead and the self-healing foam held up remarkably well. Of course, it does the job with field points, too. It makes a great bowhunting gift because it’s versatile, easy to pack to the field or hunting camp, it’s self-standing, and it has a whopping 48 different shooting spots on it. (And it doesn’t hurt that Cabela’s is offering fast and free 2-day shipping on most orders over $50 this holiday season.)
Some of the best archery hunting is in the late afternoon and evening, and a successful hunt often means trying to find an animal in the dark. A blood trailing light is critical for helping bowhunters locate downed animals, especially in rough country with thick cover. The Primos Bloodhunter HD Blood Trailing Light uses 600 lumen CREE XM LEDs with an optical filter that reduces select colors to help amplify the visibility of blood. Incidentally, this specialized flashlight is one of our top gifts for all hunters — not just bowhunters — because most hunters want any edge they can get when tracking in the dark.
*Note: Stock will probably get low on these — also try Cabela’s.
The Plano Parallel Limb Hard Bow Case is a can’t-go-wrong bowhunting gift because it’s easily adjustable to fit just about any compound hunting bow. Plus, it’s deep enough that you can leave many quivers attached to the bow when stored in the case. That’s very handy. So how is the Plano Parallel Limb Hard Bow Case adjustable? You can move the two support pillars around inside the case so that they will avoid the bow’s limbs, string, quiver, sight and any cords connected to a fall-away release. Other cases that don’t have adjustable pillars might not fit your bowhunter’s bow. This case is super adjustable. It’s strong enough to handle the back of a pickup or a UTV — but it’s not strong enough for airline travel. If you need a case that can take the abuse of airline baggage handlers, try the SKB I-Series Double Bow Case, which is big enough to handle a bow with quiver attached or two separate parallel-limb compound bows.
Knowing the exact distance to a deer, elk or turkey is critical to bowhunters because their arrow flight paths differ so much at different distances. Get it wrong, and your hunter will miss. Enter a good rangefinder. We like the Nikon Arrow ID 3000 Rangefinder because it has Nikon’s popular Incline/Decline (ID) ranging technology that gives your bowhunter an angle-compensated distance. What’s this mean? The rangefinder helps your bowhunter compensate for differences in the effect of gravity when they are shooting from a tree stand down or if they’re in steep country shooting up or down hills. For an interesting upgrade, the Nikon Arrow ID 7000 VR Rangefinder has a Vibration Reduction (VR) feature that helps aging bowhunters with less steady hands . . . or any bowhunter who is dealing with a massive surge of adrenaline. If your bowhunter is also clumsy, go with the also excellent Vortex Ranger 1300 Rangefinder. Why? If your hunter drops and breaks it, Vortex will fix or replace it via the company’s unlimited lifetime warranty. Hard to beat that.
Short stabilizers help reduce some vibration in a compound bow. Longer stabilizers help reduce bow torque and increase pin stability, but they’re long and ungainly when you’re out hunting in the forest. The Crossroad Archery Crossover 1233 Telescopic Stabilizer brings the best of both worlds: You can reduce the length of the stabilizer for shooting from a blind or tree stand but you can extend it to help provide stability for long shots. If your bowhunter wants to practice launching arrows well past 60 yards, a longer stabilizer can help increase effectiveness — and confidence. The Crossroad Archery Crossover 1233 Telescopic Stabilizer blends a vibration-reducing carbon body with adjustable weights at the end. It has a universal thread, so it should fit most any compound bow that has a built-in threaded stabilizer hole (and most do). Other stabilizers are great, but this one is something special. In our mind, it’s a can’t-go-wrong bowhunting gift.
There are a variety of quick stabilizer disconnect systems available, and most of then work pretty well. The B-Stinger Quick Disconnect lets your bowhunter quickly and easily attach and remove their stabilizer. The main body of the disconnect bolts onto your stabilizer attachment point on your bow. A cylinder then screws onto the end of your stabilizer. By fitting the end of the cylinder into the main body of disconnect system, you can tighten and loose the stabilizer with just a couple turns — instead of many many turns without the quick disconnect. For bowhunters who use stabilizers over 6 inches or so, this little luxury is awesome and makes putting a bow away into a case very fast. For a super upgrade, go with the B-Stinger Elite Side Bar Quick Disconnect — it has an additional side angle disconnect that will let a bowhunter add weight to the side opposite of an attached quiver. This would be for bow hunters looking to fine-tune their accuracy and push their distance shots farther out.
Our favorite quiver is undeniably the TightSpot 5-Arrow Quiver. It is astoundingly well engineered, and it’s built in the USA. For starters, the TightSpot Quiver has an ingenious mounting system — you can mount the TightSpot quiver much closer to the side of your compound bow than you can with most other quivers. This gets more weight closer to the center of your bow, which reduces torque. In addition, you can fine-tune the position of the quiver to get better balance out of your particular bow. But wait, there’s a lot more: The quiver uses carbon fiber rods, so it’s lightweight and strong, plus the construction helps reduce vibration on the shot. The TightSpot grippers that hold each arrow are particularly special: Over the last few years, more and more bowhunters have started using smaller diameter arrows. In fact, there are multiple diameters of arrows that your bowhunter could be using — or could change to next year. Most standard quivers have arrow grippers that are one size and they can start to wear out and loosen. The TightSpot Quiver has individually adjustable arrow grippers, which let you tighten the grippers to fit your arrows. This means you’re far less likely to lose an arrow with a very sharp broadhead out of your quiver as you’re walking through brush in the woods — and yes, that’s happened to us, but only before the TightSpot. Better yet, TightSpot offers an IronClad guarantee — if the TightSpot quiver breaks on the original owner for any reason, TightSpot will repair or replace it at no cost. TightSpot also makes a 7-arrow version and 3-arrow version — you can get all three versions at BlackOvis with free shipping — but the 5-arrow version is right for most bowhunters.
Once a hunter starts hunting with a binocular chest pack, which is basically a bino harness with a built-in case, there’s no going back. You might think that a chest pack could interfere with the drawing of a bow, but they do not. Even the large Alaska Guide Creations Classic HBS with M.A.X. pocket (pictured) doesn’t get in the way of a shot. More to the point, it keeps your binoculars handy, and the more you use your binoculars, the more likely it is that you’re going to spot an animal. For most bowhunters, a chest pack that includes a pocket for a rangefinder is the way to go. We also like side pockets for stowing wind checker and other odds and ends. The AGC Classic will hold up to 12×50 binos, but the slightly smaller AGC Kodiak C.U.B. with M.A.X. Pocket that holds 10×42 binos is the best all-around size for the vast majority of bow hunters. BlackOvis stocks the AGC line and offers free shipping.
Because bowhunters so often hike into tree stands and ground blinds before dawn — and don’t leave until it’s dark — a good headlamp is must-have archery hunting gear. The best headlamps for hunting have red, green, or blue light that can protect a hunter’s night vision and not spook animals. The Black Diamond Storm might be the best overall and leads our guide to the best hunting headlamps, but we find ourselves reaching for the Petzl Tactikka +RGB Headlamp a little more often because it has a clean beam of light and it’s easier to use. The sweet camo option doesn’t hurt, too. If it’s still sold out at Cabela’s, try Moosejaw, which offers free 2-day shipping on most orders over $49.
The Cabela’s Bow Carrier Sling not only lets your bowhunter carry a bow over their shoulder, which is handy on the way to a blind or tree stand in the dark, it helps protect a compound bow’s strings, cables and cams. We use a bow sling to protect our bow strings and cams when we have a longer hike into a hunting spot, especially when that hike is over rough, brushy terrain. The Cabela’s Bow Carrier Sling uses neoprene for excellent padding. The shoulder strap is removable, and the sling adjusts to fit most compound hunting bows.
We are huge fans of the Last Chance Archery PACK-N-GO Portable Bow Press. To create the PACK-N-GO, Last Chance Archery modified the design of its popular EZ Green Press so it would break down into a rectangle just 3-inches thick. See those pins in the photo? They let the main bar fold over inline with the base. It’s easy to stow in a car or pickup. The PACK-N-GO comes in a padded case that includes pockets for the patented finger system that provides pressure on the ends of a compound bow to safely press it. So why is the PACK-N-GO Portable Bow Press an awesome gift for bowhunters? The press will let bowhunters press their own bow to install peep sights and tune their compound bow. Better yet, a bowhunter could take the PACK-N-GO with them to hunting camp (we did) when they’re far away from professional archery shops. If something goes wrong with their gear in the field, they’ll have a chance to fix it without ruining their hunt. So cool.
The HME Products Hard Surface Practice Hanger works both inside and outdoors on the shooting range, making it a versatile archery gift. So why is it such a great gift for bowhunters? When your bowhunter is practicing outside, he or she has to put their bow down to pull their arrows from the target. You can set your bow on the ground, but you’re introducing dirt, grass and debris to the bow. That’s not terrible on it’s own because we’re talking about hunting bows, but bows on the ground are easily stepped on. That’s very bad. A practice hanger lets your bowhunter safely hang the bow. An added bonus to the durable powder-coated HME Hard Surface Practice Hanger is the two Archer’s Arrow Caddys that hold up to 6 arrows each.
Because bowhunters must get very close in order to make ethical shots, they need every possible edge to help get an elk, deer, turkey or other big game animal in range. One way is with a big game decoy. While a bowhunter is mimicking the sound of say, a cow elk, a bull elk that is coming in to investigate the cow elk calls will be looking for a visual confirmation. An elk decoy helps provide that visual confirmation. Big game decoys aren’t a slam dunk, but every little bit helps as your hunter tries to get into position for the one shot they’ll get most seasons. This year, the Montana Decoy Elk Rump worked perfectly on a 5-point bull, holding his attention just long enough for a shot. Decoys won’t solve everything hunting challenge, but we’re believers and usually carry a packable decoy in our packs just in case. Oh, one more thing — big game decoys should not be used during rifle season when rifle hunters might be attempting long-range shots. They’re best used for bowhunters only, who should never be fooled by a decoy themselves, especially within archery range.
If you’re looking for a great stocking stuffer for a bowhunter, a HEX wrench kit is a great archery gift. Technically, most bowhunters only need one of these, but hey, sometimes you lose one and it’s always nice to keep one in the truck, archery go-bag, or in a hunting pack. The Pine Ridge Archery Archer’s Allen Wrench Set is affordable but built with great quality — it’s sized correctly and doesn’t strip or round off the corners. The nine included sizes fit most bolts on most compound bows.
One of our hunting buddies with teenage boys was able to grunt back and forth with several bucks last year — a cool experience, for sure. The Primos Revolver Deer Call is super simple to use and it lets you dial the nob to select the tone you’re looking for, whether it’s a territorial buck or doe or fawn bleat. Sometimes the grunt is the only thing that will turn a big buck your way — or stop him in his tracks to give you time to take a shot. Better yet, using a deer call is heckuva lot of fun, especially for bowhunters who need deer to come in close for a good, ethical shot.
The new for 2018 Rocky Mountain Wapiti Whacker Bugle Tube is the bugle we most want to try out next year. We’ve had great experiences with other bugle tubes from Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls, but the Wapiti Whacker is perhaps the most versatile and full-featured of all. The Wapiti Whacker includes RMHC’s new V.E.T.T. mouthpiece design, which uses a spring inside the tube to enhance the volume and tone of various elk-calling notes. In addition, RMHC has included an additional, wider mouth piece option for hunters who prefer a wider tube opening when they call. Plus, the Wapiti Whacker has a new rubber coating around the end of the tube, which dampens the non-natural noise you get when you accidentally smack your tube against brush and branches while you’re attempting to sneak through the forest. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a stocking stuffer for a bowhunting elk hunter, add a new elk diaphragm call or two. Most hunters are willing to try new ones to produce new tones, and if you’re hunter is a newbie, they’ll have a call to practice with all winter long.
A bunch of new scent-destroying ozone-producing products have hit the market lately, but not all of them are manufactured to particularly high standards. The bag we can vouch for is the Scent Crusher Ozone Gear Bag. It works. All you have to do is toss in your smelly hunting clothes, run a cycle of ozone through the bag, and boom, your hunting clothes are scent-free and pretty much sterilized, too. This means that only does the ozone break down molecules that smell, the ozone also kills odor-causing bacteria. This also means that you don’t have to wash your expensive hunting camo gear nearly as often. Out at hunting camp, you can plug in the Scent Crusher Ozone Gear Bag into a charging port in your vehicle or any standard outlet. If your bowhunter is hunting elk, whitetail deer, or bear, reducing scent can help make the difference between success and failure. Turkey? Not so much. Of course, the Scent Crusher will still destroy bacteria, which is always handy on day four at hunting camp. If you need one more push in favor of the Scent Crusher Ozone Gear Bag, it refreshes stinky gym shoes, too.
The Plano Archery Accessory Box is a super simple, affordable bowhunting gift under $25. It’s not flashy, but wow, is it useful. Bowhunters have a lot of small miscellaneous pieces of specific gear they need to store . . . and then access without scrambling to find it. This handy box has a see-through lid, foam insert compartments and a lift-out accessory tray with 8-16 adjustable compartments. A bowhunter can store broadheads in it, field points, fletches, glue, tools, nocks, peep sights, serving thread, and more.
Many deer hunters, including archery deer hunters, use tree stands to put them in a position to spot and shoot deer as they come through higher-traffic areas. Better yet, a tree stand hunter often has other trees and places they would like to set up a tree stand — but they don’t want to move an existing tree stand that’s already in a pretty good spot. So for bowhunters who hunt from tree stands, an extra stand is very often a great bowhunting gift idea. The X-Stand Treestands The Jayhawk is a pretty sweet and sturdy two-person model ladder stand. Ladder stands tend to blend comfort with stability. One great feature of The Jayhawk are the built-in jaws that clamp to the tree when you’re on the ground setting up the stand. The jaws create a very stable initial setup, which makes it safer to climb up the first time to complete the installation. If you truly only want a single-person stand, try the X-Stand Treestands The Lookout 17′.
One of the leading causes of severe and life-threatening accidents for bowhunters is falling from treestands. All tree stand hunters can fall on the way up and on the way down, but bowhunters are at particular risk because of the space and angles required to draw a bow and make a shot while maintaining their balance. The answer is to use a safety harness, but many hunters haven’t made the investment in the nominal cost to use them — which makes a safety harness a very good gift for a bowhunter who uses treestands. Why can’t you just trust a rope? Once you fall and get entangled, it’s extremely difficult to pull yourself back up — and many hunters, especially when they’re in heavy layers and it’s cold outside, can’t do it. A good harness like the X-1 Bowhunter Treestand Safety Harness safely spreads the weight over multiple body points.
If your bowhunter has aspirations of long-distance shooting, it’s time for a movable “slider” sight that lets your bowhunter dial in the pins for distances ranging out to 100 yards and beyond. To do it, movable/slider sight manufacturers do some serious math for you so you can dial in your pins by moving them up or down so that your arrows will hit at the desired distance. No sight will turn you into a great shot, but starting with an awesome tool helps. The Black Gold Ascent Verdict is one of the best slider pin sights, especially for hunters. Why? Aside from being 100 percent built in the USA out of Belgrade, Montana, Black Gold sights are rugged and dependable. And if you do break one, for any reason, Black Gold will repair or replace it at no additional charge. Still, there is another super cool feature: Black Gold’s patented PhotoChromatic shell, which covers the sight’s fiber optic strands. This shell darkens in bright light (see the purple in the photo) and lightens in less light. The result is that you avoid getting overly bright pins that “starburst” in your vision — yet you also get bright pins in low-light hunting situations. It works surprisingly well. You can go with a single-pin version, but we like the multi-pin 5-pin option because it lets you always have five pins instantly ready at five distances if you have a deer or elk coming in fast.
There are lots of places where a bowhunter could use a ground blind — but probably doesn’t. Most elk hunters don’t use ground blinds simply because they usually have to travel great distances to find elk (but some do). Deer and turkey hunters, on the other hand, can usually find a place to hunt where a ground blind would be perfect. The Primos Double Bull Deluxe Ground Blind uses a hub design that creates sturdy walls and roof. It sets up fast, and the adjustable window opens wide enough to shoot arrows through. The interior is also dark to help hide your hunter in the shadows.
We hunted hard much of September, covering a lot of ground looking for elk. For most of our vehicle trips, we took the YETI Roadie 20 with us. Normally, we’re big fans of packable soft-sided coolers, but the YETI 20 Roadie won us over for its superior durability and fantastic insulating abilities. We let it bounce around in the back of the pickup with miscellaneous (and sometimes poky) gear and tools. When we loaded it up with lunch and cold drinks, we used very little ice, which was often in short supply at hunting camp. The YETI Roadie 20 Cooler performed admirably through it all. Let’s put it this way: If any bowhunter couldn’t figure out how to use and appreciate this cooler, we wouldn’t want to hunt with that bowhunter. Because it’s a splurge sort of item when it comes to most bowhunter’s budgets, it makes a fantastic, surprising gift.