Oct 212012

Hunters have an obsession with gear. Granted, there’s certain equipment that will increase a hunter’s odds in the field. There’s also continual product development and clever marketing by the likes of Primos, Mossy Oak, H.S. Strut, and other manufacturers. They come out with the next big thing, and we hunters just have to have it. I’m as guilty as anyone else. When in doubt, just throw money at the problem!

New Bowhunter on a Budget

But consider this [hypothetical] situation. A teenager who’s never hunted before has just inherited a compound bow and a few arrows. He wants to go deer hunting, and hopes to get a real shot at a decent buck this season. The amount of gear he could buy is overwhelming. But he’s on a limited budget of $200. How would you tell him to spend that money to increase his chances of success?

I’m running a contest here on In Search of Whitetails to outfit this new bowhunter for success. The challenge: choose the best set of starting gear that $200 can buy on Amazon for hunting whitetails in the Midwest. The winner (chosen by me) gets this:

Winchester Hunting Knife

Gerber hunting knife with wood handle, 3.6″ stainless steel Winchester blade

A brand new Gerber hunting knife with Winchester blade shipped to you. This is actually one of the items in my “entry” below. A very nice knife.

How to Enter

Entering this contest is easy. Go to Amazon. Pick out the gear that you’d recommend for our hypothetical bowhunter (I just added everything to the cart to help me keep track) for $200 or less. Don’t worry about shipping or tax. Then, post your entry, either as a comment or by e-mailing it to me at whitetails (at) eruditesys.com.

For each thing you choose, tell me:

  1. The name of the item and description.
  2. Why you’d recommend it (just a sentence or two).
  3. The price on Amazon, approximately. To make sure we play fair.

Item #2 is probably the most important as far as how you’ll be judged.

Rules of the Contest

Because this is a contest there are a few ground rules:

  1. The deadline for entries is 11:59 p.m. Central time, November 2, 2012. 
  2. One entry per person, please. And make sure you include a valid e-mail address so that I can contact you.
  3. Everything on your list should be available on Amazon. This is so I can fact-check, and so other hunters can go buy what you recommend.
  4. The subtotal must be under $200. You can ignore shipping or tax, as long as the shipping is reasonable (e.g. not $14 for a $6 item). I understand that Amazon prices fluctuate, so I won’t be too harsh with this as long as your total is close to the max. But don’t abuse the leeway!
  5. The winner must have a shipping address in the U.S. or Canada so that I can reasonably ship them the prize. If you live in a county to which it’s illegal to ship knives, we’ll work something out.

You can assume that our bowhunter already has a working compound bow with sight pins, half a dozen arrows. As for the other things he needs, I don’t think there are any wrong answers. I want your opinions here based on your experience. Creativity counts: if you spent the first $50 on a broadhead target with the argument that the most important element of success is being a dead shot with the bow and arrow, no complaints. My own entry, to give you an idea of my perspective, is below. But most of you probably are better bowhunters than me, so I want your input! The more angles on this problem, the better.

In case it matters, we’ll assume that this hunter is hunting on public land, in semi-dense mature hardwood forests in the Midwest, anytime from now until the end of bow season. Arm him well! And although we’re ignoring the very relevant fact that this kid has a lot to learn, we’ll assume he can study up on the basics.

My Entry: Starting Gear for A New Bowhunter

I chose the price point for this contest because $200 can probably provide a good starting point, but it can’t buy everything. You’ll have to choose what’s most important. There’s not a lot of room for big-ticket items like digital game cameras and laser rangefinders, even though we all love them. Contest entries don’t have to include thumbnails and links as I do, a simple list with the information outlined above is enough. The goal is to share the gear that you find most important, so us other hunters can find it if we’d like to.

1 Camo fanny pack Allen Company Nomad 3 Pocket Fanny Pack
Let’s start off with an inexpensive fanny pack in camo, to hold some of the gear below as well as a water bottle. Great for scouting as well.
2 Wood handle knife Gerber/Winchester Wood Handle Fixed Blade with Nylon Sheath
You might recognize this as the contest prize. It’s a beautiful and versatile knife that could even be used for field dressing. I never go into the woods without a sturdy knife, and neither should our new hunter.
3 Bushnell hunting binoculars Bushnell Powerview 8×25 Porro Binocular
A solid, compact pair of hunting binoculars… I know because I own a very similar model. This is the most expensive item in my list, because I think that glassing and scouting are so important for any hunter.
4 Camo face mask Mossy Oak 3/4 Face Mask
The face is something many hunters overlook; a face mask has the added benefit of keeping mosquitoes out of his ears.
5 Realtree camo shirt Rocky Men’s Vitals Long Sleeve T-Shirt
A long sleeve shirt in Realtree pattern will work for our current rather warm weather, and can be the outer layer when the weather turns cooler.
6 Realtree camo pants Realtree Camo 6 pocket Twill Pants
The only Realtree pattern pants I could find; I like that they have 6 pockets including 2 cargos. That and the fanny pack should do it.
7 Primos stretch-fit gloves Primos Stretch-Fit Gloves
I love these thin, lightweight gloves that you can shoot with. Great for early season. They’re thin enough that a mosquito can still bite you, but he’ll have to find you first!
8 Remington shooting glasses for bowhunting Remington T-72 Shooting Glasses (Amber)
Yellow shooting glasses. Good eye protection, and add contrast in the woods (especially when blood trailing).
9 Tinks' Deer Scent Tink’s #4 Fresh Tracks Deer Lure with Boot Pad
I want our new hunter to understand the importance of scent (cover and control) while in the woods. This deer lure is a good place to start.
10 Primos Can Call Primos The Original Can Call
I’m including two calls, this one being the ever-popular estrous fawn bleat and even a monkey could use it.
11 Primos Deer Grunter Primos Hardwood Grunter Call
A call that I recommended in my article on when and how to call deer, this has a nice hardwood construction and has a frequency range from fawn to buck.
12 Portable tree stand Guide Gear Tree Stand
The second-most-expensive item in my list, this is your basic hang-on tree stand to get him above and out of the line of sight of deer.
13 Tree stand step Ameristep Grizzly Tree Step
I’m including 3 screw-in steps to help him reach the stand. Personally, I don’t put my stand higher than 10 feet, and I use climbing sticks, but you get the idea.
3 x $2.94
14 Primos hunting rope Primos Pull-Up Rope
A rope is second only to a knife in my mind for things you need anytime you go into the woods. This one he can use to pull his bow and/or gear up into his stand, and even to help drag out a deer if he’s successful.
15 Allen Bowhunting Broadheads Allen Grizzly Three Blade Broadheads
Let’s tip a few of those arrows with deadly steel: 3-blade, 125 grain broadheads from Allen Co. Once he draws one of these back, for our hypothetical new hunter (as for all of us), it’s between him and the deer.

My grand total according to Amazon was $200.84. Not bad for all of this good stuff.

What are you waiting for?

Go to Amazon now. Put a nice set of gear together and tell us why you chose it. This is your chance to share what you know, and maybe win a free hunting knife in the process. It didn’t take me long and I had a lot of fun with this.

No entries will be wasted! Once this contest has ended, I’ll also summarize and share what we’ve learned from many hunters sharing their expertise.

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Written by Dan Koboldt

  2 Responses to “Contest: Outfitting A New Bowhunter”

  1. We have our first entry!

    Matt Over at Average Hunter wonders what if you had to start over?. His list is a lot like mine, though he’s devoting $40 for a good pair of boots and $10 for something called Scent Assassin. Not a bad list!

  2. Great answer from Modeerhunter on the Missouri Whitetails forums:

    Broadheads, about $30
    Ground blind, about $80
    Now how much patience can you buy with $90?

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