Getting started hunting is anything but cheap. Expensive gear is sometimes necessary, but will never make or break you as a hunter. I’m a young man myself and I never had the latest and greatest growing up. Everything I started with was hand-me-downs and what not, and even today I go afield with pretty much the bare minimum. It’s not about having the latest and greatest, it’s about being out there and using woodsmanship to best the animals you pursue. With that being said, here’s a rundown on gear, from bows to boots, on what you’ll consider having afield with you when you begin hunting this fall.
The right bow for you depends all on yourself. Every bow on the market right now will be efficient enough to kill the big game animals of North America, especially whitetail deer. The key is not to get caught up in which company is better, or which bow looks nicer. Go for the bow that feels right to you, no matter what the price. You don’t need a thousand dollar setup to be successful. Arrows and broadheads are the same way, experiment with what you like. I use a cheaper arrow with a mechanical broadhead. I kill just as many deer as my friends do with a different arrow and fixed blade broadhead. It all works.
Guns, of course, are a lot the same as bows. Everyone seems to have a personal preference. Guns, however, are a little different in the sense that you would use a different caliber for different types of game, in different types of terrain. The biggest factor with any gear in hunting is comfort. All the gear you have is to give you more comfort in the woods. For deer hunting the biggest key is shooting a caliber that you are comfortable enough to shoot accurately. .243, 30-30, .270, .308, and 30.06 are all good starts on great deer guns. There will be more on guns in another article.
Outerwear, believe it or not, is one of the lesser important pieces of gear we need going afield. We use it mostly just for the camo pattern on it. There’s no one camo pattern that works better than another, and breaking up your outline with several different camo patterns is a good idea also, but there are certain companies products who hold up better than others. I myself stitched plenty of holes in my hunting pants over the years. You get what you pay for I guess. You will need a hat, gloves, and a facemask, or face paint. All of this is meant to break up your outline but depending on the time of year you are hunting will depend on what you want to use. I have ditched my gloves before, and I’ve Some companies also have scent capturing clothing. I don’t know if I can tell you they work better than none. All I can tell you is that there’s no way around having to play the wind while hunting.
Under layers are the most important clothing you have while hunting. They are the difference between a comfortable day in the woods, and a miserable day in the woods. If there is one thing to spend money on on this list it’s under layers. Many different companies make different thermals. It’s important to stay away from cotton. Cotton is very warm while dry, but holds no warmth when it gets wet. Even in sub- freezing temperatures you may perspire walking in to your stand; the slightest bit of sweat makes all the difference. Lean more toward wool and polyester. Another under layer I like to use first before I put anything else on is any moisture wicking fabric such as polyester with spandex or nylon combined in it. The same goes for socks as well.
Rubber boots take the cake as being the most popular in the hunting world these days and for good reason. They’re water proof, a good pair is scent free (as long as you take care of them) and they come in different grades of insulation. In my personal opinion though, no matter how much insulation they offer I find rubber boots to be very cold in the northern winters I’m used to hunting. On the contrary, leather boots I find to be warmer in the winter, but breathable enough for me to wear in the warmer weather. The downside is that leather take on smells easier, which means you need to take extra care of them, but that doesn’t always mean disaster if you’re hunting in urban and suburban America.
You will need some sort of bag to hold all the extras you bring. You don’t have to break the bank on a bag. The smaller the better but make sure it has enough room to carry a knife, flashlights, a spare under layer, water and a few other small items you may need in the woods. More on what to put in a backpack in the next article gear preparation.
I listed treestands as plural because I have multiple in the woods myself. Depending on the ground you hunt (private or state/federal) will depend on what type of treestand you want to use. The key when getting started though is to be mobile. If I had one treestand to get started with it would be a climbing treestand. Climbing treestands come in different shapes, sizes and weights. Whichever you find most comfortable and lightest, go with. Climbers are perfect for getting started because they allow you to change spots every time you plan to hunt. Remember if you are hunting from a treestand I advise you to always have on a safety harness. If you do not want to buy one most every tree stand has a full body harness with it when you buy that.
Ground blinds, like treestands, all have their time and place. They are a good tool for certain situations and allow you to be mobile. For myself, I mostly bow hunt out of treestands, and gun hunt out of ground blinds. More on the benefits of both in later articles.
You will need a good knife. I prefer a smaller fixed blade knife and keep it extremely sharp. A flashlight or two is a must as well. I go for the smallest, brightest flashlight I can find. If I do happen to harvest an animal I usually abandon my position and go get more flashlights in the time I’m waiting before taking up the trail. Binoculars are always an option but I never opted for them myself. Where I hunt in the northeast there’s not many places it would be a necessity for me to have them. Of course bow hunting I wouldn’t shoot any farther than about 45 yards. This leads me to my next item, a rangefinder. I have never used one for bow hunting. I rarely use one for gun hunting. I simply practice and practice at pre-set ranges to make myself know instinctually what range I’m shooting as I draw back. It’s better in the long run trust me. For more on gear you can check out The Urban Deer Complex book.