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Old February 15, 2006, 01:32 PM   #1
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The cost efficient hunter

Seems like a lot of "new to hunting" people have been dropping by with questions about aquiring the gear to hunt. The prices have been slowly marching north and the cost to use the land has been rocketing north.

I'd imagine not many people here are rich, but I'm sure some are comfortable. For those who are in the middle of trying to get comfortable, I have a few suggestions.


Dedicate money to the scope first if you are shooting in low light. If you are electing to use forgo the telescopic sites, a peep site is hard to beat; and IMO money well spent. Cost 30% gear budget (for telecopic)

A super accurate rifle is rarely important in the field. Super duper maggies are not needed for most hunting. Anything from 243 - 30'06 will do the trick with a minmium of recoil (and possible flinch.) Millitary Surplus are a cheap way to get into hunting, but scope mounting is often difficult. Pawn shops are another place to find a good deal. Don't buy the first deal you find unless your research indicated it's a great deal. DO NOT show up opening day without knowing the point of impact. Bore sighting alone is not adequate. If you have a 22lr rifle it is an unbeatable training tool and should be shot from any angle you are likely to encounter in the field. Same for the centerfire rifle, but it is expensive and redundant to constantly train with. A good sling can provide support for a shot. A trigger job is useful and usually money well spent. Cost 30% gear budget

Stillness is paramount in the field. Camo is often overpriced. Surplus BDUs are an inexpensive option. A head net is great for taking the shine off face skin. "Duck/barn boots" will keep your scent in the rubber and warmth inside. They are often inexpensive compared to many other hunting boots. If you are walking alot (stalk hunt) then snake boots or leather hunting boots may be worth the extra money. Don't forget gloves (I like the mittens that fold over with gloves inside, fingertipless) Cost 5-10% gear budget

Binoculars are something that I can't go without. Do not use the rifle scope to "scout". Cheap optics can give you a headache and fail to provide high resolution. Buy the best you can afford, but there are some budget designs that won't break the bank. Cost 10 - 20% gear budget

Calls, scents, ect.... Not worth it to me, but I know others who think it works for them. If that buys them a little extra awareness then it may be worth it to them. Cost 0 - 5% of gear budget

Hunting is about awareness to me. Enjoy the fruits of the land and beauty of the creatures that inhabit it. Be safe at ALL times. Watch the wind and reactions of other animals. Be patient and still. When your heart beats uncontrolable, take a deep breath; let half out and reassess your shot. Repeat as needed to calm down. (Know the cost of processing or taxidermy prior to going afield if that is the route you plan to take.) Manage the what you can and remove preditors if they threaten land management (JMO).

Hunting is expensive, but not unaffordable by most.

I don't hunt public land as I have access to family owned land. I don't feel I have the liberty to comment on that aspect. Perhaps someone else will.
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Old February 15, 2006, 03:22 PM   #2
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I would like to add scouting the hunting area and just go out before hunting starts to get a feel for the area, also practice movement and observation skills in an area you will not be hunting in. A little time spent before the hunt can save time and money.
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Old February 15, 2006, 03:53 PM   #3
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That's a good point. In addition to knowing the lay of the land and animal movement it also allows one to think about the wind and how to approach a hot spot. Could you imagine doing that all in the dark in a place you have never seen?

(and don't pee near your stand -- unless you can seal it in a bottle.)
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Old February 15, 2006, 04:26 PM   #4
Wild Bill Bucks
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I don't hunt a lot of public land either because we have a group lease, but I used to years ago.
It is most important to decide what area you want to hunt, and get familiar with it months before season.
You can look for sign if you want to, but you will have to bear in mind that the patterns will change before season.

About the week-end before season, you should have where you want to hunt established,and have scouted out any trails that give you access .
NOW is the time to look for tracks, TIRE TRACKS. Look to see how many people have been to your area, so you will have some idea of what you are getting into opening morning. Most guys won't scout any week-end except the week-end before season for a place to hunt, so picking up their trail isn't to hard, and will make a big difference in how YOUR hunt will go.

Last year I hunted public land, I got out about an hour before light and was in my stand, and really excited about the opening morning. When the sun came up, it looked like the woods was on fire, with all the orange around me.
Just lucky the deer didn't move or someone would probably have gotten shot.

Check around and see if you and a buddy (Don't hunt alone, it's just plain stupid) can find someone with a small piece of property that needs a little work done like building or repairing fences, or roofing, ect. You might find that lease money is not what a lot of small land owners want.
We have a 500 acre lease that yeilds nice Bucks every year and we have the run of the place. All we have to do is keep fences repaired and help the owner at round-up time in the spring, with his cattle.

It beats the hell out of Public area hunting if you can find it.
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Old February 15, 2006, 05:07 PM   #5
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Good Thread, Fish! Concerning beginning deer hunters, I would add:

Dedicate money to the scope first if you are shooting in low light.
You will almost always see deer at or shortly after dawn, or at or shortly after dusk -- during low light.

You can't shoot it if you can't see it. And scope toughness and reliability are also very important. If you want to take a chance on a cheap scope, then so be it (I did it for six years), but expect the unexpected with a cheap scope (fogs up, won't hold zero, reticle breaks, etc.). You don't have to spend $400.00 or more on a top of the line hunting scope (although this is O.K.), but in general, you get what you pay for. Maybe you'll get lucky (like I did), or maybe you won't. And if the scope doesn't work when an animal presents itself, you will almost certainly miss. Buy a good-quality used scope with a transferrable lifetime warranty to save yourself some cash.

A super accurate rifle is rarely important in the field. Super duper maggies are not needed for most hunting.
Right again. Don't worry if your rifle won't shoot sub-moa groups from the bench. A 2" three-shot group is fine practical hunting accuracy. When you are hunting, you won't have the convenience of a nice, stable, bench and a rifle rest; you won't be shooting at a paper target; and you'll probably be all hyped up and excited. Leave the benchrest shooting for the paper punchers.
Buying a used bolt gun in good condition is an excellent way to save money. Buying an expensive make and grade of rifle will not ensure that you get your deer; a Weatherby Mark V is a beautiful, well-made, and expensive gun, but most of the Remingtons, Winchesters, and Savages are very accurate and reliable. Plus, you won't get as upset when you ding/scratch them up in the field.

Avoid the magnum calibers. In general, any rifle that shoots a .270 Win, .308 Win, or a .30-06 will be great.

Stillness is paramount in the field.
Boy is that ever right. The two things will cause deer to avoid you: movement and noise. This is the biggest way that beginners screw up. They stand up, get tired, sit down, move their legs, scratch thier nose, stand back up, move a couple of yards to try and get a better spot, etc. And in that situation, it doesn't matter how good your camo is! Try this: sit down, and lean up against a tree (it also helps if you have some brush around you). DON'T MOVE. If you have to move, move in slow motion without making noise (watch those leaves and branches!). Get used to having a stiff back, sore legs, a runny nose, etc. If you avoid moving (or severely limit it), you'll see a lot more deer. Most deer appear out of nowhere, almost ghost-like; you'll slowly scan from side to side looking, look to one side, and bam: all of the sudden there's a deer standing there, either looking around, or eating a snack. If you have to move (to relieve yourself, drink water, get the bug out of your nose, etc.), do it quietly. Then back to sitting and not moving. Scent is another factor, but (in my opinion) not as important for a beginner as keeping still and quiet.

The best way for a beginner to save money? Find someone who knows how to hunt, and knows good spots for hunting, and hunt with them. This will do more than expensive equipment ever will.
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Old February 16, 2006, 12:42 PM   #6
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Hey WBB, why do you say hunting alone is stupid? I would never venture out until after daylight on a public land - too much risk of some yahoo shootin at the 'movement' under moonlight or no light. Too funny that you saw orange all around you. That would suck. That happened to my buddy once on public land, but it was only one other dude within eyesight when the sun came up, not multiple. Fremmer and Fish are spot on, too about gear. My biggest nemesis while hunting is face itches - be damned if I don't itch somewhere on my head, neck or face about once every 5 minutes. Then I do the slo-mo scratch.
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Old February 16, 2006, 04:23 PM   #7
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First Freedom,

You would totally enjoy the tickling sensation snowfall leaves on your face.

Learn to shoot from either shoulder. If the opportunity presents itself you may need to switch hit.

Hunting is supposed to be fun. Keep it that way.
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Old February 16, 2006, 04:37 PM   #8
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fisherman66...the cost to use the land has been rocketing north....Hunting is expensive, but not unaffordable by most.....I don't hunt public land as I have access to family owned land. I don't feel I have the liberty to comment on that aspect. Perhaps someone else will.
After running all the numbers, real estate may be the most affordable part of hunting because it generates income to pay for itself. Something that can't be said about guns, clothing, or optics. For those with a passion for hunting in the long term, I'd suggest buying your own land. You'll have more control over access and game management. Why spend the next 30-40 years begging permission and dealing with competition for good hunting spots?

Hunting land can be part of your financial portfolio and have huge tax advantages. If you can afford to contribute to a 401K...most likely you can afford a small piece of land.

Property shouldn't be viewed only as a "hunting investment", but must financially carry it's own weight with the secondary benefit being hunting.

I am by no means rich, but I do own an urban residence and a 320 acre farm with some of the finest Whitetail hunting in the money for crop ground pays for it. In the long term, land values only continue to rise, adding to your financial portfolio.

Last edited by Rembrandt; February 16, 2006 at 05:39 PM.
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Old February 16, 2006, 05:59 PM   #9
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Just meant you shouldn't go on a trip by yourself.
Last year a guy came in the plant limping and I ask him what happened.
He and his buddy and his wife were out bushy tail hunting, and he stepped onto a (what he thought) was a huge rock. It broke into with him and trapped his lower leg between the peices of rock. He could not pull free from it by himself, so he was glad he had someone within shouting distance to help him.

When he showed me the wound, I was AMAZED. It had gouged out the entire calf muscle from below his knee, almost all the way to his foot. Gruesome looking.
Just meant it is safer to hunt in case something were to happen.
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Old February 16, 2006, 07:38 PM   #10
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Nice. Reminds me of a similar article I read--'A Basic Battery on a Budget' Anyone every read that one?
critters: the other red meat
Live in PA? PA Firearms Owners Association
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Old February 17, 2006, 10:32 PM   #11
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You forgot to mention knives and butchering tools. Plain Chicago kitchen knives work okay. The boner is a fine field dresser and upswept blade model is a great skinner. Make your own cheapy sheaths from ordinary garden hose split in two. A plain hacksaw works okay for sawing through bones. The money you save can be spent on important things like out-of-state hunts.
Fire up the grill! Deer hunting IS NOT catch and release.
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Old February 18, 2006, 12:27 AM   #12
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Our Party Hunts Public Land Up In Manitoba.consisting Of My Dad,wife,(yes I Did Say Wife)daughter And Is About 15
Minutes From My We Do Take Alot Of Drives Out There
To See What And Where Is Out There.the Land Is Community Pastures So Don't Get To Do Any Walking Out There Till The Cattle Are Gone.usually See 10-15 Deer Each Time,some Nice Bucks That Is
Until Hunting Season,and They Aren't Pressured Much Either.there Is Alot Of Land That Is Private And Heavily Bushed So Maybe That Is Where The Deer Are Headed.we Usually Get 30-35 Thousand Hunters Out For The General Rifle Season.sometimes I'm Lucky If I
See 2-4 Other Hunters In A Days Hunt.alot Of Guys Hunt The S/w
And S/e Part Of The Province.
I Like The List You Made Very Good And Practical.
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Old February 18, 2006, 08:31 AM   #13
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WBB, yeah I see your point, and you are exactly right. But I'm a risk taker or kinda dumb, or both, because I hunt alone a lot - I guess I really shouldn't do that, espec. when tree stand hunting. I call my brother when I'm going, and tell him that if I don't call him again by Monday, to come get me cuz that probably means I'm hanging from my harness, or hurt or dead.
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Old February 19, 2006, 02:28 PM   #14
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You forgot to mention knives and butchering tools.
I forgot a lot of things ... I like a good, small, high carbon knife with a drop point and a fair amount of belly; an axe; a bone saw; and a longer filet type knife. Nothing expensive. A Buck 110 or Gerber would be a good inexpensive starter. I'd like to upgrade to a ceramic eventually, but I'm afraid of chipping.

Socks....nothing to be cheap about. Buy good wool or quick wicking synthetic to keep your feet dry.

Free gear (ok, not really gear) ..... Make a lamb bleet to stop a deer cold in it's tracks.

Blinds...make from fallen logs and limbs. Cedar trees can sometimes be trimmed to allow shoots to be make from over the top.

A boat hand wench can make for an inexpensive game pully.

Buy big cutting boards for processing yourself.

Any other cheap or efficient tips? I love the BassMasters tips and hints near the back of the magazine. This tread is starting to take that format.
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