Gear We Want vs. Gear We Need

By Paul AnnearJuly 3, 20232 Comments

Here are some items you need this hunting season, and others you can hold off on buying.

Every year we see our favorite hunting brands release their souped-up bows, shiny new trail cameras, and sharp-looking clothing sure to make us look cool on stand. I’m not saying its bad to upgrade equipment every so often, but with the price of nearly everything on the increase, here’s a look at some hunting gear you need for your archery experience, and some fancy toys you need to hold off on buying.

Gear We Want Vs. Gear We Need

Items to Wait on

Buying a New Bow –  Your archery equipment is super important, obviously. Heck, it’s the item that actually helps you kill the deer. Do you really need that new $1,200 bow when the manufacturers release their new models? Probably not. If you’re contemplating a new bow, think of it this way—make yourself shoot at least a few deer with your current bow. 

My rule going forward is that I must shoot one good buck with a bow before purchasing a new one. Granted, if you buy a new bow every year or so, you can sell your old one and not lose that much value from it to put towards the new purchase, but its still costly. Considering hanging on to that current bow.

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Purchasing Land – Here’s a controversial one. I’ve heard it said before, and its true, that the only way to stop the price of land from increasing is to purchase land. However, land is expensive. Like $7,000 an acre expensive in some places. If you can afford it, great! It’s an awesome investment. If you can’t, knock on doors for permission and offer value to landowners in exchange for hunting rights. 

Maybe they need chores done around their land, or they want you to monitor activity via trail cameras. Whatever it is, make your presence on their land valuable. Public land giants exist, but it requires leg work. Do some off-season public land scouting and you may be surprised at what you find.

E-Bikes – They look quiet, easy to use, and just plain fun. Believe me, I want one. But for well over $3,000 I’d rather put my money towards other hunting adventure I haven’t done yet, or just save money. Clear your access routes in the summer and spend more time scouting routes and you’ll find that an E-bike is probably something you can do without.

Shoulder Mounts – Have you heard what shoulder mounts cost lately? It is outrageous. I know the price of taxidermist’s materials have increased, so it’s only expected for them to raise pricing. Believe me, I don’t wish the demise of the local taxidermist, but wow. Some are charging upwards of $800 for a shoulder mount. Unless it’s a special deer, save the money and do a Euro mount. I pay $65 for my shiny white Euro mounts and can handle the rack and take it off the wall as much as I want.

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Optics Overkill – You can spend thousands of dollars on optics, or a few hundred dollars. For basic whitetail hunting, most guys and gals can get away with middle of the road optics. I use a pair of $200 Vortex Diamondback binoculars, and they’re perfect for the whitetail hunting I do. There is no need to spend over $400 on whitetail binos in most cases. Good glass is nice, but not necessarily required to get the job done for forest whitetails.

Fancy Camo – If you haven’t figured it out yet, you pay a premium for trendy camouflage and clothing. I’ll admit, I own base layers from these popular name brand guys, but much of their outer layers are overpriced. I wear a lot of Scentlok clothing and have found them to have great gear that’s just as good, or better, than the big names—and much cheaper.

Off-Season Deer Feeding – Unless you’re feeding deer on a large scale and consistently, save the money and stop buying feed in the off-season. Buying a few bags here and there for inventory purposes won’t hurt, but if you think you’re making a difference in antler growth with $50 worth of feed, you’re wrong.

Gear to Buy Now

Lighted Nocks – I plan to never shoot another whitetail without a lighted nock. They are so helpful in understanding where you hit a deer at impact. Not to mention, they stay lit for up to 18 hours, so if you need to return to the woods in the dark a few hours later, you can easily find your arrow. Plus, quality brands like Lumenok are reliable and inexpensive.

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Quality Socks – It’s easy to cruise past the massive bin at sporting goods stores and buy the 5 pair for $20 deal on hunting socks. I wouldn’t, however. Spend the money and buy quality socks from brands like Scentlok, Vortex, Darn Tough, Swiftwick and SmartWool merino wool or other quality socks. Foot comfort and warmth are everything while on stand.

Quiet Treestand –You spend countless hours scouting, planting food plots, and hanging stands for deer. The last thing you need is a loud stand. Stands like Novix, Summit, and Millenium are rock solid and dead quiet. 

Gear We Want Vs. Gear We Need

A Loud Grunt Call – “I grunted but he just kept walking.” How many times have you heard that from a disgruntled bowhunter? Granted, some deer will walk off and are genuinely not interested in your grunt call. I’d venture to guess in many instances, your grunt call just wasn’t loud enough. I use the Primos Hardwood Grunter for $20, and have found it to be nice and loud.

Cellular Cameras – Yeah, I know. You can hunt perfectly fine without the use of cellular trail cameras, or trail cameras at all for that matter. However, cellular trail cameras have completely changed the game and saved hunters an unbelievable amount of time and money checking SD cards. If you haven’t broken into the cellular trail camera game, you need to.

3 Stealth Cam

Quality Knife – My dad always says, “every hunter needs a quality knife.” I couldn’t agree more. There is nothing worse than trying to field dress a deer or butcher your game with a cheap, dull knife that can’t hold an edge. I use an Old Timer Sharpfinger knife (less than $40) and keep a whetstone block with honing oil handy during the season. Plus, its kind of fun to sit and sharpen a deer knife.

Good Arrows – You don’t need the absolute best arrows for deer hunting, but you ought to make every effort to buy the best arrows you can possibly afford. You want quality shafts that fly straight and are built to take a beating. 

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Base Layers – I know I mentioned fancy brand name clothing isn’t always worth it, but their base layers typically are. Merino wool base layers are comfortable and don’t itch. A good base layer top and bottom are worth every penny for comfort.

Final Thoughts

Consider the purchases you make as you prepare for hunting season. If you’re on a tight budget, think about passing on the bow, and buying the best arrows you can afford. Pass on the high-dollar tech camo, but make sure you have the best boots and socks you can possibly put on your feet. 

When you consider the cost, there’s a big difference in the gear we want versus the gear we need for hunting season. 

Paul Annear
Paul Annear is a freelance writer born and raised in the picturesque region of southwest Wisconsin's Driftless area. He currently resides in northeast Wisconsin. He is a proud father of three, willing mini-van driver, and a former 7' high jumper for the Wisconsin Badgers. 
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