Spring Cleaning: Hunting Gear Edition

Spring has sprung, the grass is greening, and it’s time for a bit of seasonal gear cleaning and care.

Even if you’re not hunting spring turkey seasons, the arrival of spring marks the ideal time to take inventory, assess your upcoming gear needs, and give your current equipment a little well-earned TLC. It’s tempting at the end of fall seasons to simply chuck your gear into the garage—it’s cold out, you’re tired, and it gets dark mighty early. But while that might seem like a good strategy in November, when you next reach for your hunting gear, you’re going to wish you’d taken a bit more care.

So, welcome spring. And spring cleaning. We’re big believers in preparation and planning, and that includes making sure our gear is ready for what lies ahead. Here are a few things to consider as part of your spring-cleaning regimen:


Print a gear checklist detailing all the items you should have in your kit. Then physically run through your gear, checking off each piece as you go. You might be surprised to find what’s missing—it’s easy to forget you loaned that knife to a friend, or you used the last of the alcohol swabs in our medical kit last fall. Take stock and see what you’ve got.

Man organizing hunting gear and calls.

Replace / Restock

What’s worn out or needs to be replaced? Maybe the rain fly on your tent was leaking a bit last season—time to reproof it. Your inflatable sleeping pad became somewhat less inflated in camp last season… guess what? Now is the time to find and repair the pinhole. Your stock of energy gels and bars expired over the winter or the medications in your medical kit expired. Time to restock.

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Even with the best of care, gear wears out. It’s a good thing; wear and tear means you’re using it. Assess each item in your kit and see what might need a little maintenance or a simple repair. Spring also marks the ideal time to restock your kit—don’t wait until the last minute and find the piece of gear you need is out of stock and backordered indefinitely. Restock while it’s on your mind; you’ll be glad you did when the season comes around.


Clothing and Boots

You might have stowed your gear carefully last season, clean and ready to go. For the rest of us who didn’t, now is the time. Check the seams, waterproofing, and hardware on your camping gear. Launder any remnants of last season out of your camo (and consider using a scentless wash while doing so). Retreat your rain gear if needed—the old “10 minutes in the shower test” is a great way to see if it’s still waterproof. Take a meditative moment (or put on your favorite movie… your call) to deep-treat leather hunting boots with a beeswax-based leather balm. 


Hopefully your firearms were cleaned after their last use, and were carefully stowed for the season. If not, do so now. Double-check to ensure all pieces are in working order, properly oiled, and ready to go for coming seasons. We dug further into rifle, shotgun, bow, and other gear care in this Top Tactics blog post.


Consider waxing bow strings and assess the overall condition of your bow. Apply oil or powdered graphite on squeaky cams, check the limbs and frame to ensure there are no signs of delamination, and tighten screws and bolts if needed. Check your arrows for cracks or splits, and ensure the nocks are in good condition.

Hunter sharpening knife in the field.


Just in case you didn’t at the end of the season, take a few minutes to assess your knives. Clean the blade but also the grip / butt (this means digging the embedded dirt out, too). Sharpen the blades and ensure they’re clean, dry, and ready to go. If you have a knife with a replaceable blade, this is a good time to add a few of those extra blades to your kit in anticipation of the busy season to come.


Optics care is often overlooked, but incredibly important. Show your binoculars, rangefinders, and other gear some love with a thorough cleaning and polish of the lenses. (We like Zeiss optics wipes and anti-fog spray for ease.) Swab down the bodies with a damp cloth then dry thoroughly, and store in a dry box with desiccants (silica packs) to prevent moisture build-up.

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Tree Stands / Blinds

Lay out your tree stand parts and ensure everything’s in working order. Consider replacing nuts, bolts, and even brackets with the new season, and ensure safety equipment shows no sign of fraying or wear. For pop-up blinds, hopefully you properly dried them before storage. Set them out and assess for any mold growth or mustiness (a good spring airing never hurt anything). 


Once gear is inventoried, cleaned, and sorted, it’s time to reorganize. Consider sorting gear into boxes (large Tupperware tubs work well) by season or species; whatever system works best for your hunting needs. A “core kit” can go into one tub, containing items that transition from one hunting season to the next, while species / season-specific items (decoys, calls, etc.) can go into labeled boxes. Find a system that works for you and stick with it. 

And when it comes to labeling your boxes, don’t just scribble with permanent marker right on the plastic. Lay down a strip of duct tape and write on that—then when you change the tub contents, you can just throw on a new label.

Hunter organizing the back of his truck with bow, cooler, and other gear.

Transition Your Truck

We all keep some of our gear in our trucks. In fact, we wrote a blog about 10 items to keep in your truck for hunting season. Spring is the time to clean out your rig and remove the cold-weather items (that extra sleeping bag, for example), then add in summer-specific pieces. Stow your winter gear, assess what might need to be replaced or was depleted in the winter months, and bring on the warm-weather gear. (Need some inspiration? You can see some of Team onX’s vehicle kit favorites in this blog.) 

Whether you’re preparing for spring seasons or simply dusting off your trail running shoes and hitting the trails in anticipation of autumn seasons, spring is a tactical time to show your gear a little love and ensure you’re prepped for what lies ahead. Block out an afternoon one of these weekends and dig through your equipment—it’s a task that will pay dividends in the months to come.


Jess McGlothlin

Before taking the role of onX Communications Writer, Jess McGlothlin worked as a freelance photographer and writer in the outdoor and fly-fishing industries. While on assignment in the past few years she’s learned how to throw spears at coconuts in French Polynesia, dodge saltwater crocodiles in Cuba, stand-up paddleboard down Peruvian Amazon tributaries and eat all manner of unidentifiable food.