Anyone who tells you that good snacks aren’t an important part of hunting is either lying or is some kind of nutrition nut with way better discipline than I have or care to possess. You won’t find many healthy options on my list, which is by design. I get precious few hunting days a year, and I’m not going to spend them eating celery!
Whether I’m going to be out all day or just for a few hours, I don’t head afield without at least a few of these snacks.
1. A Hot Beverage in a Thermos
I pick coffee, with cream and sugar, in a good thermos. Hot chocolate, hot tea, hot broth or whatever other hot drink you like will work, but since I’m up at oh-dark-thirty for this, I want something caffeinated. Use the old-timer’s trick of pouring boiling water into your thermos and then dumping it out right before you fill it with your hot beverage of choice, to kind of “prime the pump” and keep the drink hot for even longer.
2. A Cold Beverage in a Bottle, Not a Can
I have made many a run to the gas station the night before a hunt to make sure I had a bottle—not a can, which makes too much noise in the woods—of Diet Dr Pepper or, in my younger days, Mountain Dew. It keeps me caffeinated after the coffee runs out and the day has maybe warmed up a bit. A bottle of water is a good idea, too, both for drinking and for rinsing off bloody hands after field-dressing.
3. A Turkey Sandwich
If I’m going to be out all day, I pack a sandwich. My favorite for hunting purposes is turkey with mayo on cheap white bread. Little protein, little fat, little carbs, little of everything.
4. Deer Jerky
Probably the king of all hunting snacks, jerky or venison meat sticks are always welcome in a blind. They’re tasty and jerky takes forever to gnaw at, so it won’t disappear too quickly. If you’re duck hunting, bring extra, because your fellow blind mates will be asking to share. Beef jerky from the store will work in a pinch but is definitely inferior just on principle. Venison summer sausage serves the same purpose as jerky, but you have to be careful it doesn’t get smushed in your pack.
5. Snickers Bar
Eat it early because once it freezes in your pack, it’ll break your teeth. But man, a Snickers Bar hits different (better) in the woods.
6. Mini Pretzels
Mini is the key word here—I want to be able to fit the whole pretzel in my mouth before I crunch down on it, to keep things quiet. I generally avoid potato chips in the woods for this reason (plus they’re greasy). Combos, popcorn and cheese balls fill this role well, too, if you prefer. Whatever you do, don’t bring the snack in its original packaging, which is almost certainly crinkly and loud. I repackage my pretzels in zip-top bags to bring into the woods.
7. Peanuts, Almonds or Cashews
Hey, we’re kind of in healthy territory now, right? When I don’t know how long I’ll be staying out, a shot of fat and protein from some nuts (or legumes, if you want to get technical about peanuts) can keep me going and will even substitute for lunch in a pinch. Although they’re my favorites, I avoid pistachios unless they’re already shelled, because who wants to deal with prying those shells apart while you’re wearing gloves?
8. Chips Ahoy
You want another sweet treat? Snack cakes are delicious but fragile, so you run the risk of squishing them in your pack. I stick with harder options like Oreos or Chips Ahoy. Homemade cookies are good, but avoid brownies, which fall apart when you try to eat them (at least the good ones do) and Rice Krispie treats, which get super hard in cold weather. Again, I repackage my cookies into zip-top bags that are quiet and easy to open in the field.
9. Hard-Boiled Eggs
I absolutely hate hard-boiled eggs, but this is on the list for those of you who like them and who are looking for a low-carb, high-protein snack. Eggs are basically nature’s perfect food, and in cold weather, they’ll keep all day in a little hard-sided container to keep them from getting smushed.
10. An Apple
I can at least feel good about my daily nutrition if I eat fruit on stand, and an apple is the ideal choice. It needs no container like berries do, you don’t have to peel it like you would a banana or an orange, and everyone loves apples—including wildlife. You can drop the core from your stand without feeling like you’re littering. They’re portable and delicious, and they’re even better when cold, so buy your favorite variety (I’m an Ambrosia girl myself, but my daughter prefers Honeycrisp) and stock up for hunting season.