- The Top Five Things Whitetail Hunters Buy But Don’t Need: Gear Guide
The Top Five Things Whitetail Hunters Buy But Don’t Need: Gear Guide
Eric Clark | Okayest Hunter
Marketers have gotten good at their jobs over the years, especially with highly sophisticated marketing tools and technology. As a result, as both deer hunters and consumers, we're being pitched hunting products and gear that promise to help us get more opportunities to kill a shooter buck. We've all heard the phrase "game changer" repeatedly. Of course, gear can help you in the deer woods, but some things are entirely unnecessary when it comes to harvesting a whitetail. Here are five things hunters have purchased that they probably don’t need or won’t use.
High-powered rifle scopes
Do you really need a $1,200 deer hunting rifle scope? The answer is probably not, unless you're hunting out west or perhaps in some exotic location like Africa. Here in the midwest, most whitetail hunting is done within 100-200 yards, making a high caliber rifle scope unnecessary. Most hunters would be better off with a less expensive rifle scope that they can easily operate without accidentally trying to find brown in their scope from within a hundred yards with a 10x magnification.
Boujee seat cushions
A lot of gear marketed to deer hunters is designed to make us more comfortable while sitting in a stand or ground blind for hours at a time. But an $80 heated seat cushion or a $600 set of binoculars with image stabilization might get a little too boujee. I'm not here to judge, I'm all for comfort, but there's a line between must have, nice to have, and ridiculous. What would your grandad have to say? More likely than not, you'll be just as comfortable and successful hunting with cheaper gear or finding a stump to sit on or blowdown to lean up against. Besides, carrying a heated seat cushion will likely prohibit your hunting mobility when it comes time to make a stealthful stalk on a shooter buck.
When it comes to hunting clothing, there's a lot of expensive specialized hunting gear on the market, but for us midwest whitetail hunters, you don't need most of it to be successful. I killed a nice public land buck wearing a flannel a few years ago. I ensured the wind was in my favor and I wasn't silhouetted, which was enough to conceal me from the buck's senses.
In most cases, regular old camouflage patterned clothes will work just fine. There's good, and there's good enough. Sometimes it just needs to be good enough. This is especially true if you're just starting out. You might not even know if you enjoy whitetail hunting enough to justify spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on bleeding-edge technical outerwear. I know deer hunters that legitimately hunt and kill monster bucks in blue jeans The same goes for hunting boots - you don't need a $300 pair of insulated hunting boots to keep your feet warm and dry. A good pair of hiking boots and a change of merino wool socks will do the trick.
Speaking of merino wool, it is one of the more expensive underlayer options. However, it has been one of the most practical upgrades I've made to my deer hunting arsenal in years. It's well worth every penny. Merino wool is comfortable, doesn't hold odors like synthetic or cotton, and is an excellent insulator. Merino wool base layers are a great way to stay comfortable and scent-free in the deer woods without breaking the bank on other expensive, high-tech outerwear gear.
Hear me out. I'm mostly talking about winter gloves. I've spent my entire hunting career using cheap knit fleece gloves or hobo mittens with exposed fingertips. Recently I upgraded to the ones that have the smartphone fingertips. I make good use of hand warmers and a hand-warming pouch. This way I can keep my hands warm for those long sits. When I'm out and about, I generally heat up pretty quick and I'm mostly looking to keep my hands lightly protected from prickers and such. Most importantly, whether it's bow hunting or rifle hunting, I like having my trigger available and not matted down by unnecessary layers of insulation that never seem to keep my hands warm.
Deer scent attractants
I'm going there. This one is likely highly subjective, but in my experience, to date, I've had zero success with attractant scents. I may have had negative success. When I've used any of these products, I've either scared deer away, never seen any, or scented up an area with my scent to hang something on a nearby branch. I don't have an opinion on cover scents. I've used the dirt-scented spray in the past or the odor reducers. Personally, at this point, the dirt scent is mostly nostalgic. If you play the wind right to the best of your ability, given the conditions of your hunt, that's your best bet. Cover scents likely won't hurt, but I wouldn't rely on it as the only method.
I do use an ozone bag. However, it's more like my personal washing machine. That way, I don't piss my wife off any more than I already have by disrupting the flow of laundry. Not to mention, I don't typically help with the laundry to begin with, so when my wife sees me washing my hunting clothes, I tend to get the glare.
The bottom line is this: you don't need fancy, expensive gear to kill deer. In most cases, the simpler and more basic your setup is, the better off you'll be. It'll allow you to focus on the tactic and learnings that go into hunting. So save your money and invest in things that will make a difference - like a good hunting rifle or a quality bow and arrows. Get a target block and start practicing more. That'll make a more significant difference than any gadget or gizmo.
What other gear do you think hunters waste their money on? Let us know in the comments below! And be sure to check out our other hunting gear guides for more helpful tips and information.
Happy hunting, and good luck!