10 Things Every Hunter Needs.
By Richard Mann
You could fill a tractor-trailer with all the tools hunters think they need. But after a lifetime spent hunting all over the world, here are ten I trust. The success of your hunt and — in some cases — even your life could depend on them.
LEFT: These are my two-year-old ThermaCELL heated inserts. They look a little worn but still work like brand new…
RIGHT: ThermaCELL is now offering a new version of their heated insoles with a removable/rechargeable
battery. Both the old and new versions are remote controlled.
1. Warm Feet
When hunting in cold weather, your success will depend on your ability to remain outside. Lots of hunters hunt on their feet and any good insulated boot will keep your feet warm when walking. The cold creeps in when you’re sitting still. I’ve tried all the high-dollar boot and sock combinations, but when the temperatures drop below freezing I’ve found them all wanting.
Not necessarily a gadget guy, I was skeptical when I received a pair of ThermaCELL heated insoles to test. However, I did my due diligence, charged them up, and waited for a particularly cold day during deer season. Placed in the bottom of my Muck boots, those little gems kept my feet cozy. I thought I’d get adventurous and turn the remote control up to High. In about 10 minutes my feet were on fire. I’ve used them for two years without complaint and now even my wife won’t go hunting without them.
$135 – $175 www.thermacell.com
If you are looking for the absolute in wet weather gear, look no further than Arc’teryx.
Made for mountain climbers, this stuff is rugged and lightweight.
At a mere 11 ounces this Arc’teryx Alpha jacket is a must for any hunting pack. It could
save your hunt and your life. If you want full body wet weather protection, add a pair of
Arc’teryx Alpha pants to your pack.
2. Protection From The Elements
Two years ago I headed to Newfoundland for a moose hunt. It rained non-stop for the first four days. Some of my associates had expensive raingear with a soft, fleece-like outer lining. Not only did they get wet, they struggled to dry their gear every night. Not me.
A few years back I was gifted a suit of Arc’teryx Alpha raingear. This stuff is expensive. So expensive in fact, you’d think winning the lottery or too much Jack Daniels would be a precursor to buying it. But you get what you pay for and, next to staying in camp, there’s no better way to stay dry. A much-appreciated feature is how little this suit weighs. It was designed for mountain climbers. Together, the jacket and pants weigh only 23 oz.
$259 (pants) $275 (jacket)
Ballistol has been around for almost 100 years for a simple reason; it works. For protecting
your steel, wood and leather gear this one lubricant will do it all.
Some folks say Ballistol has a bad odor. Deer seem to like it.
3. Gun & Gear Care
One lubricant to take care of all your needs seems impossible. And, it is. However, one juicy substance comes close. Invented for the German Army during WWI, Ballistol is a magical mixture that cleans, lubricates, and protects metal surfaces. It’s also great for conditioning leather and protecting wood. Unbelievably, this stuff can even be used for treating minor cuts and scrapes on your body.
It has a noxious smell some find offensive (I like to think it smells like you know what you’re doing). I wondered how deer and other critters might react to its smell, so I hung one of the handy Ballistol wipes by a string in front of a trail camera. In two days I had a dozen different deer stick their nose in it. It’s must-have stuff. And after hunting season you can mix the liquid form with water and use it to wash your nasty hunting truck.
$27 (24 wipes) www.ballistol.com
Most Timney triggers can be end-user installed in less than 30 minutes, even by
folks who are not mechanically inclined.
Timney triggers waiting to be shipped. They won’t wait long; hunters are finally realizing
that in order to make a good shot, they need a good trigger.
4. The Go-Switch
Hunting is about a lot of things but more than anything else, it’s all about the shot. One of the best things you can do to ensure you can make the shot is to make sure you have a good trigger. What’s a good trigger? One with no take-up, no creep, a crisp break and imperceptible overtravel. How do you get all this? You can go to a gunsmith or you can order a Timney.
Timney offers replacement triggers for most all modern and even many near-antique sporting rifles. And most Timney triggers can be installed in less than 30 minutes. In fact, their Mossberg trigger has a single screw and even mechanically challenged folks can install it in about five minutes. Anytime I’m considering the purchase of a new rifle, one of the first things I find out is if Timney makes a trigger for it.
$119.95 (Mossberg) www.timneytriggers.com
Nothing like a one-hand knife when you only have one hand free. Spyderco has been
making folders that open with one hand for a long time.
5. A One-Handed Knife
There are all kinds of knives and like most outdoorsmen I have too many. Lets face it, you need an everyday carry knife, a skinning knife, a caping knife, a utility knife and a big knife (you probably don’t need a really big knife, but really big knives are just cool). One knife I always have with me is a Spyderco. Usually it’s my Brad Southard assisted-opening model. Spyderco has an endless array of shaving-sharp folders to choose from, and because of their big, signature hole in the blade, they can all be opened with one hand.
A friend had a boating accident and fell overboard. His shirts become entangled in the still-rotating prop, disabling his left arm. Luckily he had his Spyderco. While completely underwater he pulled it from his pocket, opened it with one hand and cut himself out of his shirt. He lived or I wouldn’t have had this story to tell.
$419.95 (Southard Folder) www.spyderco.com
A wind bottle is a vital tool that will help you keep track of the way the wind is blowing.
You can make your own or buy one for about $3.99.
6. Reading The Wind
You can invest all the money in the world in scent-blocking clothing, scent-killing sprays and scent-free soap and shampoo, but there is nothing you can do to eliminate all your scent. That’s why real hunters know how to use the wind to their advantage. When the wind is gusting to 10 mph, it’s easy to tell from which direction it is blowing. Slight breezes, however, can be deceptive and even blow in different directions.
A small wind bottle like the Windicator from HS Strut is all you need. Just a squeeze gives you a white cloud that will drift away with the wind, telling you which direction it’s blowing. Here’s a tip: When you run the bottle dry, don’t buy another one, fill it with cornstarch and it will last a lifetime.
Hunters have lots of rifles to choose from but after a while many decide they want the
best. New Ultra Light Arms has been making the lightest, toughest, and best-shooting
bolt action rifles in the world for 30 years.
7. One Rifle
Like I mentioned when I was talking about triggers, it’s all about the shot. So why not buy a rifle with a Timney trigger already installed. Melvin Forbes at New Ultra Light Arms has been building the pinnacle of hunting rifles for 30 years. His little custom shop in West Virginia turns out 5-lb. .308’s that only need to be zeroed once. And they balance like a fine side-by-side.
They are not cheap nor should they be; you can’t expect to acquire the best hunting rifle in the world for what you’d pay for a Remington 700. But you can have it built to shoot any cartridge you want, with a barrel any length you want, and with a stock any color you want. Seventy-one percent of Forbes’ customers own more than one of his rifles. He’ll straight-up tell you to start saving for your second one after you buy your first.
Hunters without a flashlight are, pardon the pun, in the dark. Hunters with two hands
full will still be that way with a traditional flashlight. SureFire’s Minimus headlamp
requires no hands and offers a lithium powered LCD light of between 1 and 100 lumens.
8. “Night Vision”
Humans, at least all of those I’m familiar with, have only two hands. Our hands with our opposable thumbs are what set us apart from the other critters. But since humans can’t see very well in the dark, we invented things called flashlights and if you’re a hunter and don’t have a flashlight in your packet you may end up loosing some valuable gear or yourself.
I have too much other stuff to do with my hands when I’m hunting to try and carry a flashlight. And, while I may not be any smarter than the average bear, I know it’s not wise or practical to try to climb into a treestand while holding one. The SureFire Minimus straps on my head, provides an illumination variation from between 1.0 and 100 lumens, and stores in my pack when the big flashlight in the sky lights up. Buy two of them, so you can give one to your hunting buddy before he steals yours.
Nosler AccuBond bullets are available for all calibers between .243 and .375.
They are also available in loaded ammunition from various manufacturers
9. Good Bullets
A good big-game bullet should adequately balance expansion with penetration. You need expansion to increase tissue damage and you need penetration to reach vital tissues. For years the Nosler Partition has been the bullet by which all others have been judged. The only complaint from some is it sometimes doesn’t deliver match-grade accuracy. In 2003 Nosler solved the problem with the AccuBond.
By bonding a voidless, lead alloy core to a tapered, gilding metal jacket with a proprietary process, and then topping it off with a white polymer tip, Nosler created a bullet that flies like a Ballistic Tip and kills like a Partition. With most rifles, sub-MOA accuracy is not a problem. I’ve used AccuBonds in handloads and in factory ammunition, in calibers from .243 to .358 on game as small as coyotes and as large as eland. They have yet to let me down.
$0.62 to $1.00 per bullet (component) $0.75 to $1.40 per cartridge (factory ammo).
What are you going to carry all your gear to the woods with? You need something comfortable
and weatherproof enough to protect you camera and other expensive equipment. Pelican’s new
packs are unrivaled.
10. Carry It All
Few hunters take to the timber without a pack of some kind. Not only do you need a pack while hunting, you probably need a pack to get you and your gear to where you’re going to hunt. Also, few of us travel without an iPad or tablet of some kind and even fewer without a camera. Pelican has taken their case-making technology and applied it to backpacks. The result is a collection of packs providing dry, impact protection to all of your valuables.
My personal Pelican pack spent three weeks with me in South Africa. My camera and iPad went with me everywhere and so did a multitude of other gear. The same pack spent a week in the rain protecting the same contents on another hunt. Pelican is not just about coolers and gun cases anymore.
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