Off-Season Hunting Apparel Care and Storage

Hunter using oz chamber rolling bag

The work and preparation that goes into hunting and consistently fooling mature whitetail bucks never stops. But for those who have a real passion for deer hunting, it isn’t considered work.

Common off-season preparation includes land improvement, planning and planting food plots, maintaining and adding mineral sites, and running game cameras throughout the year. Other tasks involve the storage and maintenance of gear. For those maintaining a scent-control regimen, this includes caring for and storing hunting garments properly throughout the off-season.

Winter can be long, so one of the things I do indoors at this time of year is to take stock of all the hunting garments I used throughout the prior hunting season, give them the care they need, and then store them away properly so they’ll be ready to go for next season. Emphasis on properly; it’s not as easy as throwing them in a bag and tossing them in the garage or piling them up in a closet. Now is the time to do the job right.

PROPER PREP

When prepping clothing to store for the off-season, I like to do some of the same steps that I do to get them ready to hunt. Tackling these tasks now will save time later.

The previous season’s burrs are the last thing you’ll want to see on your hunting clothes when you break them out of storage next season, so Inspect each garment carefully and remove them.

I wear ScentLok Carboy Alloy garments for scent control, and ScentLok recommends that you only wash their clothing “for blood or mud”. The reason for this is that regular, repeated washing of your ScentLok clothing can weaken the seams and stitching that holds the activated carbon and zeolite material in-between the fabrics over time. That said, I wash everything at the end of the season and everything always holds up fine. I wash all my clothes, including base layers, early, mid, and late-season garments, facemask, gloves, hats, and beanies in a scent-control product like ScentLok 4X Laundry Detergent. Next, be sure to completely dry clothing and accessories before storing them. Any moisture remaining in your clothing during storage can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which isn’t good.

SAFE AND SANITARY STORAGE

After washing and drying all clothing and accessories, it’s time to fold each item neatly before storage. I use two or three of the ScentLok OZ Rolling Chamber & OZ500 combos for off-season storage.

These gear bags are the same ones I use during hunting season. In addition to the ability to cycle odor-destroying ozone inside, they also have built-in carbon adsorbers that gather and collect any odors that may develop during storage. The generously sized Rolling Chamber’s durable construction works excellent to keep odors out and is durable enough to keep in storage for a few months until ready to use. They also protect from other off-season threats, including mice, bugs, and spiders.

In one Chamber, I place my folded base layers, then continue with early season and mid-season gear, including various pants, shirts, and jackets. I then store all my late season/cold-weather gear in a separate Chamber. By separating garments, I can keep everything well organized and ready for when the next season begins. I put all accessories such as gloves, facemasks, beanies, caps, and headcovers –  along with my hunting boots and pack – all in one final OZ Chamber. By keeping these items separate from the hunting garments, I am less likely to lose or misplace smaller accessories and stay more organized.

One of the best features of the ScentLok OZ Rolling Chamber is the ability to run cycles of ozone throughout the chamber with the included OZ500 generator. The patent-pending internal piping system called OZInject technology distributes ozone evenly throughout the bag to attack and destroy odors and bacteria on any clothing or gear. I love this feature when storing my clothing for the offseason. Every month or so, I run a 10-15-minute cycle of ozone through each bag to keep everything clean and fresh until it is time for the next hunting season.

PARTING WORDS

Whatever happens to poorly stored clothes in the offseason will affect the hunter’s preparedness when hunting season arrives, whether it’s having to remove nasty odors through additional washing, looking for lost items, repairing damage from rodents, or even replacing clothing completely. I look forward to my time in the field and don’t want to sidetrack all my other important pre-season preparation by getting bogged down in dealing with nasty and unorganized clothing. That’s why I put time and care into the process during the wintertime.

It’s true that the work never stops for serious deer hunters, but I don’t consider being well prepared for hunting season work… even when that means washing, drying, folding, and storing laundry.

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