Martin Fox's Gear List
Early Season Archery Mule Deer

Early Season Archery Mule Deer Gear List

Mule deer hunting has long been a passion of mine - specifically, early season archery velvet mule deer. I love the warm weather, summer coats on bucks and of course, velvet. I love early mornings on glassing points and hot summer evenings, even though you may not see what you are looking for. With this type of hunt comes its own set of challenges - heat, sweat, long days, little sleep, etc. But, it is something I look forward to every year, because in the end, these are the things you endure to chase velvet mule deer with a bow.

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This type of hunting requires specific technical gear. There can be giant temperature swings, unpredictable monsoonal weather, hours behind glass, and hikes that generate large amounts of sweat. The gear required is versatile and high-performing given the variety of conditions you'll encounter. You need gear that can keep you warm, but also moisture wicking for sweat. You need gear to withstand multiple days of abuse without needing a washing machine. You need gear to keep you dry, but highly breathable. You need gear you can trust, period. 

My early season archery mule deer gear list will help guide your decisions when planning your hunt. Hopefully my trial-and-error experience will be useful as you plan and execute your next adventure. Below are my go-to pieces of gear and their applications during early season hunting. 

Base Layers 

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XKG Merino 260 Zip Off Bottom - Some may wonder if 260 merino blend is too warm for early season bowhunting, and the answer is, no. I love this piece of gear because of the convenience of the zip off construction. You can take these bottoms on and off without ditching your boots making you quick and mobile.

    XKG Elevation Short Sleeve - Believe it or not, I use this piece more when colder weather is present on a hunt. I use it to keep scent and sweat off my outer layer hoodies and jackets.

    *NEW in 2022* XKG Elevation Hoodie - This piece will be a staple in my gear bag for years to come. The ultimate base layer for sun protection, moisture wicking, scent control and breathability. Hours glassing in the sun can be draining, this piece will save you from that.

    XKG Merino 150 ¼ Zip - Merino can be a great piece for scent control. If I know it will be a strenuous hunt with sweating, this piece will be in my gear bag. New this year is XK7 in merino!


    Pants

    XKG Ridge Pant - This pant is extremely versatile. It’s the perfect pant for early season hunts without the need for a base layer bottom. The 4-way stretch, no snag fabric is forgiving with awkward movements when stalking a buck. If temperatures drop, pair this pant with the XKG Merino 150 or 260 bottom and you can hunt comfortably. (Field tip - although not aesthetically pleasing, use the front zipper to dump heat when hiking, it really works!)

    XKG Sonora Pant - If camo isn’t a must, this pant is extremely comfortable for early season hunting - it's the lightest XKG pant we offer at just 11 ounces. With straight leg tapered design, it allows you to move comfortably from one ridge to the next.

    XKG Transition Down Pant - I know this is an early season gear list, but sometimes during cool mornings when the wind is blowing, its nice to pack a “heat blanket”. That’s the kind of comfort you get form these pants.

    Hoodies & Jackets

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    XKG Covert Hoodie - This hoodie is extremely quiet, making it great for bowhunting. It is also warm which is perfect for cool mornings and evenings in the high country. I wear this almost anytime I need an extra layer. 

      XKG Pinnacle Jacket - This jacket is slightly warmer than the XKG Covert Hoodie, but is also a full zip fleece which can be convenient. It is also extremely quiet. I believe the Covert and Pinnacle can be interchangeable depending on which features you prefer. I will usually pack both in my gear bag.

      XKG Transition Flex Jacket - This is my favorite piece in the XKG Line. It has a quiet outer shell. Enough insulation to keep you warm if there are unforeseen drops in temperature. It is also a great wind blocker. I love the sleek hood design and pocket configuration.

      XKG Transition Down Jacket - When weight is a factor, I will swap the Transition Flex out and take this jacket. It has amazing warmth to weight ratio. It’s a great wind blocker. Because it stuffs into its pocket, it is very packable. Pair the jacket with the pant and it is great sleeping insulation for added warmth.


      Accessories

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      XKG Beanie - I love having a beanie in my pack for glassing mornings and evenings, especially if its windy. The high pile fleece in this beanie makes it the most comfortable beanie you’ll ever own. (Field tip - these beanies do run a little big so make sure you pick size accordingly)

        XKG Lightweight Gloves - These lightweight gloves are just enough to keep your hands warm. They work great for sunny days to keep your hands out of the sun when glassing or hiking with trekking poles.
          King’s Game Bags - These bags are come in a regular size which is perfect for deer. They can also be reusable if you take care of them and wash after use.

          XKG Insulated Gloves - Keeping my hands warm (especially when glassing) is a important. These gloves are incredibly lightweight at 4.7 ounces, packable, and waterproof. I love having this glove in my pack if I know the temperatures will be cooler in the mornings and evenings.

          XKG Windstorm Rain Gear - I try and have the jacket with me all the time. You never know when afternoon thunderstorms will roll in. It also doubles as a great windbreaker.

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