It's a good thing somebody invented the ATV; otherwise, I could never get all my gear to the deer stand. Well, the guys in my deer camp don't call me the Gadget Man for nothing. You may recall Gunsmoke episodes where the old traveling salesman would drive his wagon into town with his stock of house wares banging and clanging from the wagon. That's me, except I use a Honda Foreman.

Over the years I have honed down the process of everything I take to a deer stand to a fine art. I devised a list of options depending on the hunting times, conditions or the stand I intend to use.

I will carry more stuff to a covered shooting house than to one of our ladder stands. If I opt for a ground blind, then I vary what I take as I do for morning or afternoon hunts, or changing weather conditions. Maybe it is more science than art.

I love deer hunting stuff, and I like having it all with me just in case I need it. However, the older I get, the less weight I want to tote from the 4-wheeler or the camp house to my hunting stand.

Over time, I learned to pare down the list to a concise number of items. The outcome should be the very best deer camp pack ever.

What must be packed

Packed? In what? First things first. I use three types of backpacks or daypacks. It depends on how many extra creature comforts I want to carry along. One bag is a strap shoulder bag made by French and Son, one is a sling shoulder bag by Bucklick Creek and the other is a classic backpack configuration by Fieldline.

A plethora of pack designs exists, so finding a suitable one is no big deal. Buy durable and waterproof with ease of access.

Think first what items must be taken. My primary list includes ammo or extra loaded clips, binoculars, communications radio and/or cell phone, scents with dispensers, odor killers, buck and doe calls, water bottle, snacks, flashlight(s), a knife and a camp handgun. A safety belt system is carried for tree stands.

Ought to be packed

A secondary list might include a small camera, compass, safety whistle, trail tape, backup gloves, lens cleaning cloth, insect repellent and maybe hunting sunglasses if the direction of the stand dictates it.

Beyond this simple list, the rest is probably not really necessary to conduct a hunt that lasts no more than a half day at the outside.

If you spend an entire day on a hunt from one post, then some extra items should be considered. That might include a more staple lunch, additional hydration and perhaps a field relief bottle. Hopefully the stand has an ample cushion to soften the task of sitting for hours on end waiting for the scant 15-second view of a passing buck.

Niceties and luxuries

I'm all about comfort, so carrying along a few extra items to make the time in the stand more bearable especially on a bad-weather hunt is worth the trouble. If I take an ATV far from camp to remote stands, I carry more stuff. This might include a seat and back cushion, rain gear, spotting scope, long-range lens camera, camp saw, ratchet clippers, rope, a roll of TP and a small med kit.

Many hunters bring a CD player or a book. I find those distracting. I do pack a small note pad and pen to jot down story ideas or other thoughts that always seem to pop into the mind on a hunting stand. I would never take a laptop computer or even a Blackberry. After all the line has to be drawn somewhere.

I will confess, though, if hunting from a covered shooting house on a particularly cold and windy day, I take a couple more items on the ATV. This includes a lightweight Coleman camp heater or a heavier coat. Sometimes this may mean two treks to the stand, but having these items may mean the difference in lasting out a long hunt or giving up to the elements too soon.

For those hunters who carry everything they need for a hunt dangling from their pants belt, more power to them. Those guys I hear on the radio going back to camp by 10 a.m. because they forgot something, froze out or got wet. Backpacks were invented for good reason, and every deer hunter ought to make full and efficient use of one.