Last week, I wrote about being prepared before deer season. One thing that I haven’t gone into much detail about is what type of gear I use. There’s rarely a conversation involving hunting or fishing that doesn’t include something about what type of equipment we are using, or wish we had. My gear list often changes, depending on the time of the year, and what I am hunting. Some people do better with less gear, some better with more. I like to think that I’m somewhere in the middle based on conversations that I’ve had with other hunters. This week, I wanted to talk about some of the gear that I like to use and their particular function.
I’m somewhat of a gear snob when it comes to what brand of equipment I use. The older I get, the more I enjoy creature comforts. This gets tricky at times for those of us hunting on a budget. If you don’t have an unlimited amount of money to throw at gear, then sooner or later you’re going to have to improvise. Some things, though, are worth spending a little extra to ensure they do the job. One of the things that I won’t hesitate to spend a little extra on is the clothing and boots that I wear.
There’s nothing that can ruin a hunt quicker than being absolutely miserable. If you can’t stay dry, or you’re shaking the entire time, you’re not going to be as zoned in on the hunt. Being able to sit long hours in the stand requires some level of comfort while doing so. Personally, I get cold with the slightest north wind. Under Armour makes a great pant and jacket that should get you through a mild, Mississippi winter. The pants are lightweight and lined with wool for extra warmth. The jacket is also lightweight and wool lined, while at the same time, fitting snug enough through the arms to be able to comfortably shoot a bow. They are both water and wind resistant, as well as quiet. Putting these on over a mid-level baselayer should be sufficient for most of the winter conditions that we experience here. From a price standpoint, the jacket will run you around $180, while the pants are around $120.
Boots are another essential item that I don’t mind splurging on. Once again, I believe it’s a matter of preference depending on what keeps you comfortable. For years I’ve worn a Scentblocker boot for most of my early season hunting. They aren’t insulated and wear more like a tennis shoe than a normal boot. However, they are now discontinued. I’ve enjoyed my insulated Under Armour boots for late season hunts and terrain where I might encounter water. UA now makes a lightweight, early season boot that appears to fit like the old Scentblocker boots. Since I walked my sole clean off of my Scentblocker boots during turkey season, this will likely be the new early season boot that I choose. Again, if your feet hurt, you aren’t going to press yourself to go that extra 300 yards that might put you in a better position to bag your buck. If you can spend a little extra money, this is where you do it.
Next, is our weapon of choice. Choosing the right weapon can be an area that you spend as much, or as little as you want. Obviously, you want something that is going to be functional, but the good thing is there is a wide range of options as far as price. Long before the invention of the compound bow, people were killing big game with homemade archery sets. Bow hunters today can spend as little as $100 on a cheap compound bow and go kill deer. On the flip side, you can spend well over $1,000 on the latest and greatest. I shoot a Mathews Drenalin that was made in 2009. It’s not the latest model by any stretch, but this is one area that I see no need to upgrade at the moment. It still does the job and that’s all that matters to me.
The choice of what rifle to use is a hotly debated topic. Choosing a rifle is another area where the budget conscience hunter can save a dollar. I’m currently shooting a Christensen Mesa .308, but if I had to choose one rifle to hunt with for the rest of my life, I’d go a different route. When I was 10 years old, my dad bought me a used Remington Model 700 chambered in .243 for Christmas. It’s a beautiful rifle with a shiny woodgrain stock. In Mississippi, it’s capable of killing anything you’re going to see. It shoots flat and fast, and it’s as accurate as any rifle that I’ve ever owned. I’ve never even upgraded the scope, which is some kind of terrible Tasco, but I can drive tacks with this rifle. Speaking of optics, having a good pair of binoculars will save you the hassle of raising your rifle all of the time. I use Bushnell Autofocus binoculars that have plenty of eye relief. You’re going to spend a lot of your time looking through these, so get a set that feels comfortable.
The final piece of gear that I’ll talk about this week are knives. I usually take two knives in my pack on any deer hunting trip. I prefer an Outdoor Edge fixed blade with a gut hook for caping out my kill. It’s an inexpensive knife that holds an edge pretty well. I use a Cutco Clip Point knife for skinning. It’s hard to beat a Cutco when it comes to sharpness and durability. Even better, they have a lifetime warranty and will send you a new one if you break it. Always be sure to keep your knives well sharpened. It makes the task at hand much easier, and believe it or not, safer.
No matter whether you have expensive taste, or require the bare minimum, just about anyone can hunt deer affordably. Having the right equipment may make the job easier, but when the time comes to pull the trigger, or let an arrow fly, it’s up to you.
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