View Full Version : Expensive gear doesn't ensure a successful hunt

January 21, 2006, 11:42 AM

I recently had an interesting experience while hunting with a guy who had never hunted deer or big game.

We agreed to meet early in the morning to hunt deer. After we drove out to the Nebraska boonies, we met at another friend's house before going out into the field.

This guy started showing us the gear he had purchased for the hunt, and he also mentioned how much it cost:

1. Weatherby .460 magnum rifle, I think he said a couple of grand;
2. Leupold VX III scope w/B&C reticle, $600.00;
3. Special hunting camo w/ charcoal lining (can't remember price);
4. Laser range-finder, about $450.00;
5. Image-stablizing binocs, about $600.00; and
6. hand-made hunting knife (can't remember who makes it), about $1,200.00.

Like everyone else, I admired this stuff; the rifle and the knife were especially beautiful. I had to help him load the rifle, because he was having trouble with it. The rounds were HUGE, and it seemed that the rifle only held 2 rounds total; I sure as heck was not going to try to force more ammo in there. I also made sure he understood how the safety worked.

It was a hot day (60 degrees in January is hot for Nebraska), and the deer were bedding down and were not coming out from the timber onto the fields, so we were not going to be able to use the deer stands. Instead, we were going to have to go into the timber and either still hunt, or push the deer.

When we got out of the truck at the edge of the timber, this guy kind of hesitated for a moment, and I realized his problem: In addition to the heavy rifle, extra coat, and the standard stuff most hunters carry (water, a little food, extra ammo), he was looking at having to also carry the binocs and range finder. I told him to leave the rangefinder and binocs in the truck (the timber is too dense to use them anyway). The special jacket also ended up in the truck; it was too hot to wear.

At the end of the day, my plain-jane Remington took one doe. Another guy and his simple Howa took three does. The guy with the expensive gear took nothing; although he had two opportunities to shoot two does, he never took a shot (probably just due to inexperience, and I'm not blaming him for that). But I can't help but wonder whether he was also a little afraid of the .460 magnum's recoil. When we were driving home, he admitted that he had never shot the rifle; the chain store that sold him the rifle, scope, and the rest of the stuff had also mounted and bore-sighted the new scope. They assured him that the bore-sighting "would be close enough."

I'm not trying to slam this guy, because he is a nice guy who I like. The point of this thread is that expensive hunting gear is nice to have, but it won't guarantee a successful hunt. With the exception of the nice scope, most of his gear was unnecessary and just ended up being extra stuff to lug around (or leave in the truck).

January 21, 2006, 01:23 PM
a bit of knowledge and a rifle zero wouldn't go amiss either:)

January 21, 2006, 01:45 PM
My Fenwick rod and Pflueger reel, which is less than $100, can catch the fish just as well as the $1000 setups. I believe in practicality. And you know what? I don't worry about scratching or damaging them. I don't baby my gear (they're meant for fishing dammit!) They're tough and reliable and they get the job done. Hell, you can buy a mosin for about $80.

Art Eatman
January 21, 2006, 01:53 PM
*Snort* You bring up memories from way, way back. Before I ever had a centerfire rifle, I ran my grandfather's woods and pastures with a .22. I don't guess I even knew what a deer season was, back then.

Anyhow, I was sneaking around in the woods one day and heard a rifle go off not far from our back fenceline. I went to see what was going on, and saw a deer on the ground. A fair little buck. And here came Mr. Abercrombie & Fitch, all dressed up in the latest hunting fashion, just like the pictures at Petmecky's gunstore in downtown Austin. Bright. Shiny. Plumb gorgeous.

Mr. A&F leans his rifle against a tree. Carefully. He then pulled out the biggest knife I'd ever seen and went over to the deer. When the point of the knife touched the deer, the deer woke up. Not Dead. Wake-up deer don't lie around. They practice being elsewhere, and rather rapidly. This particular deer did just that. Bye-bye, I'm gone, won't see you later!

Our Nimrod was shocked, and had but one reaction: Go Get His Deer! And off he went as fast as he could, waving his knife and yelling. Memory has it about words like, "Stop!" and that sort of thing, but memory is tricky.

I don't know what ever happened to either the deer or Mr. A&F, but the rifle was still there a few days later. I told my grandfather, he called the neigbor who'd "hosted" the Mighty Hunter, and somebody did something with that rifle. :)

At least it wasn't a .460 Weatherby.

Hey, Fremmer, have somebody load some rounds for that Weatherby with some 35 or 40 grains of 2400. More than enough Oomph!, and a helluva lot less recoil.

Death from Afar
January 22, 2006, 03:04 PM
Great post. Having said all that, this dude needs to be taken aside, given a ,243, a deer anatomy lesson, and some time on the range- just so another shooter is not lost forever.

January 22, 2006, 05:20 PM
You're probably right about that. I didn't want to lecture the guy about the gun because I didn't know him real well, and he was so excited and proud of the rifle. I didn't want to rain on his parade.

I think that the best way to approach this will be to take him and his Weatherby to the range, and have him zero it in and experience the recoil.
Then I'll let him try my .308 a couple of times, and we'll have a little talk about how it is O.K. to have a dedicated Africa gun, but that a less-powerful deer gun would be a lot lighter to carry, and would also be the perfect excuse to buy another rifle. :)

January 22, 2006, 09:51 PM
Funny stuff. Did he sight in that rifle himself? Or was touching one off in the woods gonna be his first experience with it? Chorkle, snort... :)

January 23, 2006, 07:54 AM
The "Big Gun" brigade! So what if you can kill a deer with a 243 or a 308!!?? "My super magnum 1.00 can kill a herd of elephants if they stand next to eachother! " Of course our hero WILL flinch if he fires it so I hope he's stalked in nice and close! No chance of that! The "Big Gun" guys want to be able to stand in Arkansas and bowl over a deer in Missouri!

Time and time you see them in every sporting endeavour. These guys thing that "equipment will always compensate for lack of skill" WRONG. Practise and understanding will render ordinary equipment powerfully effective in the hands of the skilled operator.

The sporting goods shops love 'em though, now if I just had enough for that scoped 88mm gun I'd............

January 23, 2006, 07:55 AM
Looks like you have a project.

It is apparent he has a good heart, the desire to learn and some means to get there. I would not mind helping a guy like that. I think that most of us got started hunting in a family environment, imagine what someone not as fortunate has to go through.

Art Eatman
January 23, 2006, 10:31 AM
I can't help but wonder at the absolute lack of knowledge: How does somebody decide, "I wanna go hunt Bambi!" and make no effort ahead of time to learn anything at all? Not read magazines, not ask friends for any hints, not go just look at guns and gear and talk to other guys hanging around a gunstore?

Heck, just look at guns and ask, "What do most folks around here use for deer hunting?" And then go to another store to see what is a second opinion? Hard to believe a guy just walks in and doesn't even look at other guns' price tags, and ask what those are for. .460s aren't exactly El Cheapos in comparison.

I've never run across a salesman who'd shaft a guy in that manner, not that I don't believe there are a few out there who would. But that salesman sure couldn't say out loud, "Sir, this .460 Weatherby is just the ticket for deer." and not have a horse laugh from anybody within hearing distance. he'd have to whisper, "Sir, this is what you need." and not mention the cartridge. :) Heck, I'd be rolling on the floor, seriously horse-laughing!

Now, I can see a salesman loading the guy up with top of the line stuff, of course. When you have a live one, make some money.

My best advice would be to walk this dude back to the store that put the wood to him, and start over. He needs more help than any one guy can give, sounds like.


January 23, 2006, 11:08 AM
Sorry Fremmer, but...

Where were his friends when he got screwed over?? :mad:

January 23, 2006, 11:47 AM
Ya got me on that one, Pointer. I didn't know about any of this until we met that morning for the hunt.

January 23, 2006, 11:55 AM
I just can't wait to see his....

Mulie gun http://www.accuratereloading.com/577tyr.html

and Elk gun http://www.accuratereloading.com/700ne.html

I kid, I kid....

January 23, 2006, 12:03 PM
"Expensive gear doesn't ensure a successful hunt"

I wish someone had told me this 35 years ago....:) Why after all the high dollar scopes, guns, binocs, boots, and clothing...figured I'd have a World Record deer by now!....(sigh, guess I didn't spend enough money :( )

January 23, 2006, 12:31 PM
To be fair to the store, this guy strikes me as pretty strong-willed. He may have marched in there and told the sales person, "Show me the biggest rifle ya got", and then bought it. I'm not sure what the sales person told him about the rifle.

And don't get me wrong here: I like nice things, too. His scope was really nice; that Leupold was a lot clearer than my cheapo-Tasco. I have no problem with hunters buying nice gear. But most of the other stuff was worthless and would have just weighed him down while hunting.

I would note that a couple of times, he did use the rangefinder to tell us how far away a tree was while we were getting in and out of the truck, though. :p

Harley Quinn
January 23, 2006, 12:59 PM
That baby kicks.:eek: I believe he needs to shoot that in a prone position 20 rounds, for a well deserved lesson LOL.


January 23, 2006, 04:26 PM
I told him to leave the rangefinder and binocs in the truck (the timber is too dense to use them anyway).Can't say I agree with that. Good binocs are a good tool to find deer in dense cover. And a nice expensive shoulder harness system is a good way to carry them.

I love to buy expensive equipment. It certainly does not ensure success but will sometimes give you a little edge. I especially don't scimp on optics or boots.

Experience is important but even the most experienced will come out of the woods empty handed sometimes.

Sometimes you just gotta get a little lucky:)

January 23, 2006, 05:07 PM
I know what ya mean, King. But in this time of the year, the ground was solidly covered by about a foot of dead leaves. You'll never see a deer while walking in. You just get set up and wait for your friends to push them in your direction, or you just wait for the woods to settle down, and hope the deer will come back your way; regardless, you'll hear the leaves crunching when a deer walks/runs in your direction long before you actually see it.

Now, when there aren't so many leaves on the ground, or it has rained or snowed, you can sneak around; then I would consider the binocs.

January 23, 2006, 09:38 PM
I think it all depends...you should get stuff that you are comfy with, and that is of good quality that will last with care. And also on your income bracket...but in either case, you should be knowledgeable of what you have and learn to use it well. Sometimes you just need time to offer the experiences, as that is the only real teacher, other times you can learn from talking to others & reading up on things.

January 23, 2006, 10:09 PM
Good point, Scrap. The binocs and rangefinder might have been useful from a Stand. At least you wouldn't have to worry about carrying them around then.

The more I hunt, the less stuff I want to carry around.

January 23, 2006, 10:27 PM
Hmmm. FirstFreedom's mulie gun looks a bit on the small size.

Once the velocity gets to 2400 fps, then the recoil is very severe. And at our maximum of 2581 fps, it is plain painful!
Those pantywaists! It's only 180 ft/lbs of recoil! :D

6. hand-made hunting knife (can't remember who makes it), about $1,200.00
:eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:

I take it that this dude has a lot of disposable income. ~$5000 on gear?

January 23, 2006, 10:36 PM
expensive stuff who needs that my cheap stuff does it just as good it is not the stuff you carry in your pack it is what you carry in your head:D :D :D

Jack O'Conner
January 24, 2006, 10:13 AM
It is very true that one does not need the latest & greatest to be successfull. Just a few years ago, the Illinois record buck (for that year) was toppled with a .410 shotgun slug. This was an enormous whitetail buck that scored high. The young hunter was featured on the website operated by Tree Lounger Tree Stand Co.

I'm certain many experienced hunters would scoff at a .410 for serious deer hunting. Yet the fact remains that a single well placed slug did the job.

I know an oldtimer who dresses his deer and elk with a utility knife, the kind with replaceable blades. Cheap but effective!

CABELA'S stores are loaded with gear for sale. Interesting to look at but most of their stuff is just that-STUFF. One can have a ball with just a few critical items, the rest is just stuff.

January 24, 2006, 05:52 PM
Somehow, "single, well placed slug" says it all.

January 24, 2006, 11:31 PM
I would have really enjoyed watching him shoot that 460 for the first time. Expensive equipment is nice if you can afford it. I wonder why he chose a 460 Weatherby for deer hunting? He planning on an African safari and this deer hunt was a warm up? I would have chuckled about a 375 H&H, but a 460 W... wow.

January 24, 2006, 11:51 PM
Oh yeah. And he also brought a revolver with him. .500 S&W. Brand new, stainless steel, and massive.

Never know when you might need a BUG!

January 25, 2006, 01:27 AM
Did he bring an extra person to tote all that gear?