Yes, buying your hunter outdoor gear is a good idea, but…..
It’s really hard at holiday time for a sportsman. Everyone knows what we like, and they hate giving us gift cards. But there’s few worse things than opening a present and feeling like we have to give that awkward smile that means, “I’ll never actually use this.”
The readers have spoken. This list is a collection of items that JCS readers, and myself, have recommended specifically for this post! Before you search “hunting gear” on Amazon or elsewhere, check out these ideas! They will be used for sure!
I’ve recommended this knife before. It doesn’t leave my packs. Yes, I have more than one. Made in Sweden, Morakniv provides an incredible selection of knife styles and blade varieties.
The Companion is a great knife to have in the woods to field dress large game, in the kitchen butchering, or along the stream edge cleaning even the most delicate fish.
You won’t lose the orange version of this knife in the timber. The poly sheath is super easy to clean, taking away the concern of putting a dirty blade inside. I throw my sheath in the dishwasher after each use. The belt clip is full-proof. I even clip it on my chest pack when I’m wading for trout, and it does not fall off. There is also a small hole drilled in the bottom of the sheath to allow water to drain out. Finally, the knife actually clips into the sheath. I’ve never had one pop loose or fall out.
The blade is carbon steel. I’ve skinned and butchered entire deer without having to touch the blade to a sharpening tool. If you’re a purist, you can hone the edge simply by running it along a whet stone. The scandi edge allows easy sharpening for this. If you use a pre-set tool you can create the “second” bevel and it’s edge holds as well.
You can’t beat the price of this knife. At under $20, even if you destroy it, you won’t be terribly upset.
The biggest challenge with this knife is the carbon steel of the blade. If you do not plan to put a forced patina on the blade, you will need to clean, dry, and oil the blade within only an hour of storing it every time you use it. Otherwise, you will be using sandpaper to remove rust way more than you would like. Over time, the steel will develop a natural patina, but fighting rust along the way will be your primary concern. ($19.45 and up.)
I don’t use a lot of attractant scents when I whitetail hunt. If I do, I place scent locations in shooting lanes to stop a buck that may be passing by. What I always hated was pouring scent on the ground or shooting it from an aerosol can into the air or on a branch. It felt wasteful. I wanted a system that would allow me to re-use real liquid attractant on multiple hunts. Tink’s Scent Bombs provided that.
Scent bombs are constructed of a durable plastic bottle and tight closing lid. On the inside, there is a “wick” attached to a clip that allows it to be hung from small branches. The wick soaks the attractant to the top itself. When you’re finished using it, you simply re-insert the wick and tightly close the lid.
One other thing that always bothered me about using attractants is that I normally always forgot one or more in the woods because I couldn’t find them after dark. Scent bombs have a highly reflective strip around the bottle to help you find them.
Like any liquid attractant, freezing is a reality. One thing I discovered in temperatures below freezing is that the wick and the liquid inside the scent bombs will freeze and prevention from being to use them. I recommend keeping them near a hand warmer, or close t your body in cold temperatures. ($7.51 and up)
I love simple. LEM has made their 5# jerky kit as simple as it comes. Simply cut 5 pounds of whole muscle or ground venison approximately 1/8″ thick. Mix the cure and seasoning in water until dissolved and pour over the meat. Let the meat cure for at least 8 hours and put it in the dehydrator, smoker, or oven at the recommended temperature. Then, let the meat dry to your liking and store. I’m no chef, but it comes out very consistent, and that’s when I know I’ve made a great batch of jerky. ($10.19 and up)
You don’t typically think of synthetic meat bags when you think of midwest whitetail hunting. This year, I decided to take a page from the western hunting playbook. For just a few bucks I was able to purchase 5 game bags made by Allen. In them, I brought two deer home quartered and ready for butchering.
These bags did a number of helpful things. First, they helped keep dirt off the meat after it was removed from the carcass. There was no looking around for a place to lay a quarter. They kept any flies away from the meat. They helped save space in the back of my truck as we hauled all of our gear home. I especially liked that they allowed air to flow through them as I hung them overnight. When I removed the meat from the bags, it was as if it had been hanging on the carcass. There was no meat loss.
Maybe the best part was that these bags are re-usable. Only a few days after I came home, I helped pack a whitetail out of a very steep and snowy ravine for a friend. I had washed the bags and thrown them in my backpack. They were like brand new. We loaded up his deer quarters and made one trip out of that hole.
Contrary to what the package says, I wouldn’t try putting an entire un-skinned whitetail in one of these bags. The weight limit is only around 30 lbs. before you start hearing an eerie tearing noise. Also when washing, be sure to wash these bags very hot. I would even recommend soaking them in hot water, soap, and lemon oil before actually putting them in your washing machine. This will help get the blood and fat out of the fabric.
($10.34 and up)
The scalpel- like Baracuta Skinning knife has been made very popular by the big game hunting community. The replaceable blade design prevents any need for sharpening. It is also helpful for caping large game for the taxidermist. ($43.48)
I’m confident that you really can’t have too many of these. I love being able to hang all my gear and be totally hands free in the stand! It makes for the ability to sit longer and more safely in smaller stand set ups. ($15.53 and up.)
I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t like a heavy wool boot sock. Notice the qualifiers? Heavy, Wool, and Boot. All three are very important. Carhartt has been a go-to brand for me for many years. This sock has a lot going for it. ($13.49)
Years ago, I was laughed at for using a harness. Now, not using a harness is frowned upon by most of the outdoor community. Protect your hunter with this great harness from Muddy Outdoors. ($42.84)
Muck boots have become one of the most important parts of my gear. I’ve used all kinds of brands, but I’ve finally found a comfortable boot that lasts. They are well worth the investment. ($175.14)
Make your hunter happy and successful this season. Happy Holidays!