Erik's Early-Season Archery Mule Deer Gear List

Erik's Early-Season Archery Mule Deer Gear List - Muley Freak

Archery mule deer season is officially here.

Archery mule deer season is officially here in many states around the West. More than a decade ago Muley Freak founder Erik Van Woerkom began archery hunting early-season mule deer and immediately fell in love. 

He fell for the challenge that is bowhunting mule deer, the variety of habitats to hunt them in, the tranquility of the season - not to mention seeing less hunters out and about.

Every hunt was a learning experience. Every blown stalk, every arrow that flew, and every notched tag was knowledge added to the bowhunting knowledge bank.

Erik quickly learned that when your gear is on point you will hunt longer and hunt more effectively - all of which you will need to gain the upper hand when finding and hunting
odocoileus hemionnus.

Some of you may scoff at certain items on this gear list, but each item has a purpose. For example, why does one need a glassing pad? Great question. Finding a shooter buck can take hours of staring behind your optics. If you are sitting on sharp rocks or otherwise uncomfortable, you will not stay glued behind the glass like you need to when looking for the twitch of an ear, or the sheen of an antler tip. A little extra comfort that a glassing pad provides goes a long way.

Here is an intensive list of what Erik will be packing into the backcountry with links if you want to learn more about his gear list.


Category Item Notes/Specs Where to find it
Clothing Venture Merino 1/2 Zip Hoodie 95% merino wool - 5% spandex | weighs 9 oz
Muley Freak Face Shield 1 oz | UPF 50
Muley Freak Proto Puffy specs coming soon..... coming soon to
Valhalla Pants 92% polyester - 8% Elastane
San Jaun Fingerless gloves wool | 2.3 oz
Lightweight Merino Socks 59% merino wool - 37% nylon - 4% lycra spandex | 2.4 oz
Crispi Altitude Boots 1.4 lbs | 2.5 flex rating (on a 1-5 scale) | non-insulated
Optics Game Changer Bino Harness weighs 9.8 oz (pack itself), 17 oz (full bundle) | no magnets | one-handed operation
Phoneskope fast and easy to use
Aziak Equipment Backcountry Lite TriPod weighs 20.4 oz | has a max height of 45"
Swaroski 10X42 EL Ranges
Swaroski ATX 65 MM
Archery Equipment Mathews Phase 4 33" axil-to-axil | 4.68 lbs | 70 lbs draw weight
Dialed Archery Arxos Site
Mathews Ultrarest MX
Carter 1st Choice Release thumb release
Easton Axis 4mm Long Range Arrows
Sevr 1.5 Mechanical Broadhead 1.5 cutting diameter
Camping Gear Peax Equipment Tipi weighs 2 lbs 5 oz | has 28 square ft of liveable space
Therma Rest Hyperion 20 Degree weighs 1 lbs 4 oz | 900-fill | 72" length for standard size and 78" for the long
Nemo Equipment Sleeping Pad 1 lbs 10 oz
Jetboil Stash 7 oz | .8 liter
Water Bladder weighs 4 oz | capacity of 100 fl oz
Katadyn .6L Microfilter removes protozoa (99.99%) and bacteria (99.9999%) to EPA standards
Peax Equipment Headlamp 2.65 oz | 1000 max lumens
Sea to Summit Spork .45 oz | 7 inches long
Muley Freak UL Trekking Poles coming soon....
Muley Freak TriFold Glassing Pad 5.6 oz | dual density foam | 17"x9"
Dark Energy Charging Banks 5.3 oz | 3.58in L x 2.6in W x 1.06in D
Stone Glacier X-Curve 5900 5 lbs 4 oz | 5,400 cubic inch main bag | 150 lbs load rating
Nutrition Peak Refuel
1st Phorm Meat Sticks 20g protein per stick | 12g fat | 1g of sugar
1st Phorm Level 1 Bars 20g protein per stick | 13g fat | 8g of sugar
1st Phorm Hydration Sticks the packets are small & lightweight
Kill Kit Goat Knives Ibex Mini .63 oz | replaceable blade | 1/4" drive hex cut out
Knife Sharpener
Ovis Sacks Game Bags reusable | deer bag measurements 14.5"x27" | full kit weighs 10 oz
First Aid Israeli Bandage
MISC Klean Freak Wipes
Ibuprofen for swelling, pain, etc...
Tylenol PM for pain and to help you sleep
Lighter 300 lights on one charge
Pyro Putty Fire Starter burns for 8-10 minutes, can act as a waterproofing agent

Game Changer Features

Tri-Fold Glassing Pad Features

Muley Freak UL Trekking Poles


We all have that one thing we can’t go without. An item your hunting buddies look at you side-eyed every time you pull it out of your pack. Sometimes it is a luxury item or even an item of celebration after a harvest.  

What do you take with you on every hunt no matter what?  Are we missing a piece of critical gear in this list?


Listen to Erik & Aaron podcast on their early-season archery gear.




Watch Erik take one of his biggest early-season archery bucks to date in the film below.

1 comment

  • Louie Jensen on

    Love your products can’t wait to see the puffy jacket. I’ll be impatiently waiting.

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