5 essentials for every bowhunting trip

When disaster strikes, these items might just save your hunt

To be truly prepared, a bowhunter must be ready to deal with hunt-ending equipment emergencies. Adding these five items to your pack could mean the difference between continuing your hunt and having to make an unscheduled trip to the pro shop.

Allen keys


Everything on your bow starts and ends with Allen keys. The sights, rests, limbs, and quiver—even little things such as the module or draw stop on the cam—are all held in place by bolts. Due to vibration and the constant use of all of these parts, things are sure to become loose sooner or later. A compact set of Allen keys, or even just a few keys in the sizes you need for your equipment, weigh next to nothing, but they’ll help you out when you hear the distinctive rattle of a loose bolt. When you’re hunting, periodically check for loose screws. This doesn’t mean you need retighten every single last one. Just loosely grab your riser and give the limb a smack with the palm of your hand. If any parts are loose, you’ll hear them rattle.

Dental floss


In an emergency, dental floss can be used to fix your bowstring serving, make a temporary d-loop and even replace the cord on your drop-away rest. Waxed floss holds in place the best. When making a d-loop or drop-away cord, it’s best to twist 10 or so separate strands of floss together to make one extra-strong cord. By no means is floss suitable for a permanent fix, but it can at least get you through a couple of shots—and that could mean heading home with a filled tag.

Portable bow press


Dry-firing your bow in the heat of the moment or running a broadhead across your string are common bowhunting mishaps that may require some maintenance work. And for that you’ll need a bow press, which flexes the bows limbs to take tension off the bowstring and cables. Luckily, several manufacturers make portable bow presses, which are quick and easy to use in the field. Just make sure you know how to use it before heading out on your hunt—although a bow press is safe to use, you’ll be dealing with a great amount of pressure. Read the manual, look online for instructional videos or ask an expert at a pro shop to walk you through the process.

Spare bowstring


There are many different ways a bowstring can break during a hunt, so you should always bring along a spare. When you buy a new string, switch it out with the one already on your bow—it’s best to use the old string as your spare, as it will already be stretched. As well, the d-loop, peep, kisser and string silencers will already be in place on it, so there’ll be no additional work if you need to use it in the field.

Spare nocks


Whether you hunt in a treestand or on the ground, it seems that nocks always find a way to catch on something and break. Fortunately, no tools are required to change most modern nocks, so it makes sense to always carry four or five extras in your pack. If you install a new nock and it feels loose, check the arrow shaft for a possible crack. Do this by pushing the nock side to side and listening. If there is a crack, you’ll typically see or hear it as the pressure is applied, letting you know the arrow is done for and should be thrown out.

Contributor Nick Trehearne is prepared for any bow emergency.