New to hunting? Great, welcome to the complicated minefield of trying to figure out what to buy, where to buy it, how much to spend, what brand and why, which caliber and model, or how many variations of camo patterns are sufficient.
Gone are the days of grabbing a spear, grunting at your hairy partner as you leave the cave wearing nothing but animal skin, and coming back days later with the only chunk of meat you managed to hold onto after a pack of wolves descended on your kill. Now those were the easy days.
Thankfully, hunting can be simple again, without the attacking wolves, and as you will find out in this article there are really only 5 things that new hunters need to buy to get going.
What type of hunter are you?
It’s easy to say go out and buy these 5 things, but if those particular items are not going to help you in your hunting business escapades then what use are they?
Of course, if you want to be a dedicated bow hunter then purchasing a rifle won’t really help and vice versa for those who like to take long-range shots out to 400 yards, a bow and arrow just won’t cut it.
You need to ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the main purpose or goal that I want to get out of hunting? Whether it is for meat, trophies, vermin eradication, and so on.
- What style or technique of hunting do I most enjoy? Bow or rifle, sitting in a blind or choosing spot and stalk, hunting at night or only a few weekends a year.
Once you have gone through the 5 things we suggest, set those items against the above 2 questions and see if they are relevant. We are confident that what we have suggested below will be sufficient regardless of the hunting method.
Good hunting boots
It doesn’t matter if you are sitting in a blind, covering the vast hills of the backcountry or the flat plains of Wyoming, a good pair of hunting boots is essential.
Get yourself a pair of boots that are well-balanced between comfort and support. As a hunter, your best mode of transport and getting around on a hunt is your feet.
Now be careful, not all boots are created equal and just because they all fit on your feet does not mean they fit the purpose. What do we mean? Well, ever notice the difference between a pair of waterfowl boots and a pair of cross-trail boots? One is designed for wading through deep water, and marshes, and is double insulated to keep the warmth in, while the other is designed to let water pass through, provide agility and keep your feet cool while hiking.
A few things to look for specifically in hunting boots:
- Choosing the correct style
- Correct size
- Ankle support
- Waterproof and durability
Bow hunting or rifle, regardless of your weapon of choice there should always be a set of optics close by. I can’t imagine any form of hunting that would be disadvantaged by a pair of quality optics.
Binoculars and spotting scopes are an asset that will help to find game, determine the quality of that animal, evaluate the surrounding terrain, implement a hunting plan, and many more benefits.
Yet optics doesn’t stop with binoculars and spotting scopes, if you are into bow hunting then a handheld range finder is a must and the same can be said for a scope fitted to a rifle for those who prefer a loud bang before bagging their quarry.
When it comes to optics the old saying, “You get what you pay for!” rings true. If you want quality with all the bells and whistles, then you need to be prepared to flash some credit because optics today are not cheap. Talking of cheap, chances are high if you skimp on the price tag and opt for a really low-priced pair of optics, your hunting trip may not be as enjoyable and you would have had better success by looking through the bottom of a glass coke bottle.
Magnification range and objective are two factors to consider when selecting the best optics. Of course, there are different criteria within the optics category when looking at binoculars versus a rifle scope for instance. Focusing on what magnification range and the objective lens is best suited for you, will greatly help in saving you time and effort when sifting through the almost endless list of optics variations out there.
This one may seem blatantly obvious to most, but developments in clothing technology and materials have come a long way. With the majority of hunting happening in the winter months, it means you need to keep warm without sacrificing mobility and comfort.
Comfort during hunting will always be a priority. If you are warm and have mobility and comfort then you can hunt till no end. But if you are cold, with rips and tears all over while being itchy and confined, then to hell with it, you may as well be miserable back home.
To touch on the point made in the section about a good pair of hunting boots, it’s important to understand that differing hunt methods call for differing items of clothing. The duck hunter may dress differently from the weekend Turkey slayer, and the guy that is packing for a 14-day Alaskan caribou hunt will certainly have different requirements to the dude who just managed to sneak into his tower blind 5 minutes before his feeder went off because he had to run back into the house and grab six cold ones.
Match the clothing to the hunting and enjoy your time out there in complete comfort.
First aid kit
Sure, this particular item may not be as flashy or exciting as the others but if we had to be honest it’s in our opinion the most important for a new hunter.
There are some great first aid kits out there that are geared specifically for hunters. With bandages, clotting agents, tourniquets, rehydration packs, heat blankets, disinfectants, and ointments that will directly help a hunter.
Apart from the absolute worst-case scenario of being shot in a hunting accident, below is a quick list of hunting-related accidents that could very well happen to you as a hunter and where first aid would come in handy or possibly even save your life and for these reasons a first aid kit made the list:
- Bear attack or any animal attack
- Falling from a tree stand
- Cutting yourself with a skinning knife
- Broadhead through the hand or foot
- Deep thorn pulled from your foot
- Snake or spider bite
- Heat stroke or hyperthermia
- Food poisoning or drinking contaminated water
Good knife set
The end goal of any hunting trip is getting the animal down but that doesn’t mean the work stops there, in reality, the work has only just begun. Gutting out and skinning an animal is a skill that comes with time and experience. There isn’t a decent hunter alive that hasn’t nicked the bowls of an animal and smelt the sweet sweet smell of gut juice, it’s part of the process and yes your hunting buddies will rip into you about it for the next two seasons.
For the new hunters, skinning an animal correctly will take time and seem like a slow process. If you want to make it slower and even harder then we would suggest using a blunt cheap knife that is not actually designed for skinning and gutting. Now, if you would like to do it correctly and with better efficiency, then be sure to get yourself a decent knife set for your hunting trip.
This is especially true if you plan on skinning out larger animals such as bears, bison, and moose or need to butcher up an elk and pack it out from the deep valleys of the backcountry. Good knives are sharp knives, so take it easy, don’t rush, and remember your first aid kit (see it is important).
Apart from the very obvious in a bow or rifle, the items that a new hunter will need are relatively simple and straightforward. Focus on the basics and necessities then build from there.
As hunters, we are overly spoilt for choice when it comes to equipment, hunting aids, tools, kits, state-of-the-art technology, camo clothing, optics, and more but in reality, the majority of it is not necessary.
Get the 5 items mentioned above, grab your bow or rifle, and head on out there. Spend enough time outdoors and you will learn what additional items become vital and which of those items are just junk.