Stashed for the Winter: Caring for Your Hunting Gear

Jan 10, 2019Tips & Advice

After the last day of hunting season, you are likely beat down, wore out and ready to kick your feet up and enjoy the rewards of a hard earned steak. Unfortunately, your expensive gear is likely wet, covered in mud and due for some serious attention and proper storage.

While you might be tempted to stash everything away for the winter, taking your time to go through everything in your hunting kit will prevent damage and ensure it’s ready to go next season.

Bows and Firearms

Moisture is the enemy here. While we tend to be careful with our firearms and bows, it doesn’t take much moisture to cause damage. One season, I shot several ducks and had to catch a plane to Patagonia the following day. I thought my shotgun was dry and stashed it away in the case for several months. Big mistake.  

The gun had a little moisture and it was in poor shape when I returned. I should have taken a few minutes to clean and oil everything before I stowed it away. Always wipe down your bow and firearms. Dry everything out and do a full cleaning and oil job before putting them away in storage. Trust me, it can save a major headache down the road.

Clothing, Boots and Apparel

Quality hunting clothing is not cheap and many hunters only use their gear on hunts. High end camo can last for many seasons when use is limited to the hunting season and proper care is taken to store everything away. Run your clothing through the wash with a detergent that’s safe for technical gear. Nikwax products are a great option.

Make sure everything is bone dry and stored in a safe location. Clothing stored in plastic bags and then in totes with locking lids will keep the scent neutral while protecting your gear against moisture and pests.

Boots are a different story. I typically wear mine through the winter and run them down until it’s time for a new pair. That way, your feet aren’t required to re-adjust to the fit when hunting season arrives.

Store Your Glass

Like firearms, water is the enemy for scopes, rangefinders, binoculars and spotting scopes. Dry it all out, wipe it down and store in padded casing. Keep your glass safe throughout the off-season. My binoculars still live in the truck and see plenty of use during throughout the year anyways. Everything else is stored on a high shelf in a padded case that is clearly labeled.

Pack and Accessories

If you have a backpack or packs exclusively used for hunting, they really don’t need a tote or ultra secure storage system to remain safe. I load my pack with game pags, calls and accessories and hang it indoors on a wall. When it’s hanging off a wall in a dry space, the pack and all contents are plenty safe and are easily accessed when it’s time to organize for the following season.

Written by Zach Lazzari

Zach is an outdoor writer, fly fishing guide and hunting enthusiast. Follow Zach at