In today’s world, the catalogs we receive from various outdoor companies are as thick as the King James Bible. The pages contain tens of thousands of products that claim to be a necessity for success in the field. They include the latest and greatest bows that boast speeds nearing the sound barrier, to clothes that claim you can ignore the wind direction and approach game from upwind.
No doubt, each year, there are millions of dollars spent by hunters looking to improve their chances in the woods. But do all these hyped-up items really make us more efficient at filling our tags?
Here are a few pieces of gear that have truly made me a better hunter and have consistently helped me put meat on my family’s table and antlers in my collection.
Felt Sneakers Work
In most terrain across the West, the ground we must cover to get close to animals is loud. Whether it is gravel or dry, dead sticks and leaves, we must negotiate through it to put ourselves in range of game. If you are an archer the problems are multiplied a hundred times, and most of my blown stalks are due to a slight error in the noise department, alerting my prey to my deadly intentions.
Over the years, I have used all of the various fleece-type over boots that muffle your steps and allow you to stalk or sneak quietly through the woods, but once I tried the Carlton’s Felt Sneakers, I knew I would use this product forever. They are not an over boot. They are more a thick felt sandal that strap to the bottom of your hunting boots or shoes. They attach solidly with a couple of straps and stay in place once on. They do not pick up unwanted burrs and other debris like the fleece types do. They are lightweight and do a phenomenal job at making you as silent as a cat on any ground surface.
Bushnell Rangefinder Is Essential
Another tool I never leave home without is my Bushnell Scout 1000 Rangefinder. This model has a built-in angle compensator that tells you the true horizontal distance to any target. This is necessary for the steep terrain that encompasses most of the West.
The computer is obviously not something you will carry on your person into the field, but having it in the truck or at camp can make your map work quick and easy. By purchasing an inexpensive inverter for you truck’s cigarette lighter, you can turn the socket into an 110v outlet to keep your laptop charged. The inverter also works great for cameras, video equipment, or anything else requiring a charge.
Get A Quality Tripod
Possibly the single most important piece of gear that I carry is a quality tripod. I use it daily to mount my binoculars to while I scour surrounding countryside for game. While slightly cumbersome to pack and a minor weight increase to your backpack, the benefits far out weigh the problems.
Having your glasses perfectly stationary allow you to see the slightest movements of critters, even at extreme distances. When hand-holding optics, it is humanly impossible to hold them without at least some movement. This slight shiver is enough to degrade the effectiveness of even the most expensive foreign glass. Get an adapter, put your binoculars on a tripod, and you will start seeing several times more animals, and at distances you never dreamed possible.
With most of us on a tight budget these days, we need to choose our purchases carefully. Instead of the buying the latest, coolest camo pattern, or a decades supply of scent killer chewing gum, try wearing last year’s camo, keeping the wind right, and save your hard-earned cash for “no frills” products that will help put your freezer and hunting tags to more use.
Discover a fine selection of hunting gear, including some of the product-types mentioned above at Sportsman’s Guide.
Don’t forget to check out Sportsman’s Guide selection of rangefinders afterwards.