By Patrick Galvan, Storage.com

The way you store your hunting gear and equipment between seasons can surprisingly determine the success (or lack thereof) of your next hunting trip—between scoring the big buck and going home empty-handed.

Sometimes, hunters go an entire hunting weekend without seeing any wildlife. Why? A number of possibilities exist, but it’s probably because their clothes smell of human sweat and other contaminants.

When storing your hunting gear, it’s important that you put the same effort into proper storage as you do trip preparation. You can’t just throw clothes and gear into a garage or closet at home and call it a day until your next hunting trip. You need somewhere that can keep your gear and equipment in good shape for your outings. Have you ever thought about using a self storage unit for this?

One of the major advantages of using self storage is climate control. “[It] prevents extreme spikes in temperature that could result in damage to your items,” says Al Gardes, Director of Operatives for Elmwood Self Storage in Harahan, La.

With this storage technology, storage renters can set and monitor the temperature and humidity inside their unit. It’s especially helpful when storing delicate items like photos and electronics, but it can be just as important when storing hunting equipment.

Extremely hot temperatures and high humidity can have an adverse effect on your equipment. The seams of your boots can come unglued, the latex reeds of your hunting calls can warp, equipment with screens or wires can crack and stop working, and, of course, the human smell in your hunting clothes can be strengthened. For all of these reasons, you need climate-controlled storage when storing your hunting gear.

A good temperature and humidity level for your hunting gear would be somewhere around room temperature (about 70°F). In other words, if you can walk into the unit and be comfortable, your gear will be in good condition.

But just getting a climate-controlled storage unit isn’t the only step you can take to protect your gear. Cleaning it before moving it into a storage unit, as well as keeping certain items apart, also helps.

The Value of Cleaning Your Hunting Gear Before Storage

After the excitement of planting feed lots, walking through the woods, setting up stands, and lining up your first shot of the season, it’s easy to forget that gear needs special attention as soon as the hunt is over.

In particular, camo gear must be cleaned after each trip, as it will be coated with dirt, blood from the kill, and your own sweat. The latter is important to eliminate, as it carries your scent. Many game animals, deer especially, have a powerful sense of smell and will instinctively flee upon picking up the scent of a human being.

Do not treat your camo gear as you would regular clothing, though. According to Clay White, Director of Marketing for Drake Waterfowl Systems in Olive Branch, Miss., “You don’t have to machine-wash your clothing. Simply wipe off any muddy areas with a wet cloth and hang to dry.”

If you do use a machine washer, use a scent-free detergent, as detergent used for washing regular clothing is equipped with perfumes (which will alert the animals to an unfamiliar scent) and UV brighteners (which will cause your camo gear to brighten and wreck your disguise). For similar reasons, don’t machine-dry your clothes with fabric softener sheets. The artificial scents may seem lovely to you, but it’ll alert animals to your presence. Also, don’t forget that blood tends to attract pests like rodents and insects, which will chew holes in your clothing and produce an annoying infestation in your storage unit.

Cleaning the remaining gear (boots, firearms, tents, electronics, etc.) is easy. Simply wipe them down, and remove any mud or debris before storage.

When you go to store your gear, consider keeping your clothes in a plastic storage tub with elements of the animals’s environment. Place an ample amount of branches from shrubbery, cedar chips, or pine needles and stuff them in with the gear to imbue everything with a natural scent.

Why You Should Separate Hunting Gear from Equipment in Storage

Because of the different oils and lubricants used with mechanical equipment, you should consider separating your camo gear from your tools when placing them in storage.

“Since a big game hunter needs to be conscious of scent control, it’s a good idea to keep your clothing away from other hunting gear to minimize foreign odors,” explains White.

Once you have properly cleaned them, store items of a similar physical nature (such as clothing, backpacks, tents, hats, and gloves) together in a plastic tub or scent-free bag. This will shield them from the odors of anything else you store in your unit.

White also points out that separating clothing from equipment isn’t as important when storing waterfowl hunting gear because blocking scent isn’t vital for hunting that category of game. He advises, however, to be careful when storing items in the same bag or storage tub since metal objects could corrode or puncture clothing.

Hunting trips may only last a weekend, but what happens during the months in between can make a difference in the results of your hunt. By using climate-controlled self storage and properly cleaning and storing your gear, you’ll improve your chances of bringing in a good haul the next time you go hunting.