Hunting stuff is expensive! But here are seven tools you need that you can suggest your spouse get you as a gift this season that won’t break the bank. They’ll help you maximize your gear and have a better experience hunting. Here they are, priced low to high.
Tripod Mount for Binos $17
Finding game is one of the biggest challenges. Of course, you’ve got binoculars to help, but you’ll find that glassing up game is a thousand times more effective if you use a tripod. Don’t think it’s worth it? Pin a dollar bill to the wall and try to read the serial number with your 10x binos. You shake so much you can’t make it out. But if you stabilize your binos you’ll be able to read it. That translates to the difference between finding a deer and discerning whether it’s a buck or doe in the shade and whether it’s one you want to pursue.
Also, you’ll find more game because using a tripod makes you slow down and look closer. You’ll also be able to see game farther away. Using a tripod with your binos may make it unnecessary to carry a spotting scope.
Most bino manufacturers make a tripod mount and they should cost under $20. They are also pretty much universal. I use the BA-185 tripod mount from Vanguard and it works on all brands I’ve encountered. It pairs well with a lightweight set of sticks, like Vanguard’s Veo tripods. I’ve been using Vanguard tools for years, and I’m an ambassador for them. Use the code Levi20 to get 20% off.
RYO Binocular Harness $25
You can spend a whole lot of money on bino harness, but it seems like the more you spend the bigger the harness becomes. The last thing you need is a big pouch on your chest getting in the way of your bow or gun and making a huge sweat stain.
The RYO bino harness is the perfect solution. It’s simply a high-quality shock cord with unique hardware. It’s thin and doesn’t make you sweat on your chest, back, and shoulders. You’d think the thin cord would dig in, but because it’s elastic it absorbs the weight of your binos with each step and doesn’t feel uncomfortable.
It just goes over your head and shoulders and adjusts almost infinitely for whatever jacket you have on. Its got one squeeze adjuster, not multiple straps around your chest and up and down your neck like most harnesses so it instantly fits over a poofy jacket.
Its got quick detach hardware so you can put your binos on a tripod or hand them to a friend without having to practically disrobe.
I know you’re thinking, “What about my windicator, rangefinder, extra maps, and all the other junk I put in my bino pouch?” It’s all just extra weight in a bad spot that gives you a big sweat patch. Put it someplace else.
I was jealous of my hunting buddy’s RYO harness all last season. The harness is just $25 and comes in four colors. It’s an awesome tool, and you won’t regret it.
Solo Hunter Rifle/Shotgun Cover $32
The Solo Hunter rifle cover is terrific, and it’s just $32-$40. It keeps your bore clear and your gun clean from most dust while hiking or traveling on your ATV. It keeps rain, snow, dirt, leaves, and ants out of the barrel (yes, I’ve had all those things fall in there while hiking).
It’s a high denier fabric with an elastic hem. Put the barrel in first, then pull it over the buttstock. It’s not waterproof, but it keeps the water from running down your barrel. You can still use a sling with the cover on.
It’s called a rifle cover, but it works great for shotguns, too. Actually, Mine even fits over the cams on my bow, though Solo Hunter makes one for bows, too. The one I have fits my 30″ shotgun and my .308 with an 18″ barrel.
You may find a cheaper option from another company, but I’ve enjoyed Solo Hunter’s videos so I didn’t mind paying $5 more for theirs. I use it every hunt.
Renegade X Compression Sacks $35
Alps OutdoorZ has a new stuff sack and I think you probably need at least one. Your sleeping bag probably has a stuff sack, but these sacks are also handy for clothing and other little items in your pack. Two things set the Renegade X sacks apart: They compress, and they’re water-resistant.
Four straps bring the top of the sack closer to the bottom and compress all the stuff inside. Compressing makes the contents smaller so they fit in your pack easier, but it also squeezes out excess air which reduces the weight in your pack.
This sack will keep your gear dry in a rainstorm, which means when you have meat to pack out you can put your stuff on the outside of your pack without worrying that it stays dry. The Renegade X sack won’t keep your gear dry if it is submerged, just from rain and spills.
I’ve got the medium size Renegade X sack, which goes for $35 on Amazon (Small: $30, Large: $40, XL: $45) My medium sack is plenty large for most things (20″x9″, about 5 liters). It’s a little too big for a sleeping bag only, but stuff coats and clothes in there and it’s perfect. I think using a medium or small would be pretty ideal for packing sleeping bags and clothes that need to stay dry and compressed.
Muzzle Brake $90
The one thing every hunter wants is to make killing shots that drop an animal dead in its tracks every time. A muzzle brake can make you a better rifle shooter which can make you a more deadly hunter.
A muzzle brake uses your cartridge’s exhaust to reduce the recoil you feel and that helps make more precise shots. There are many muzzle brakes out there and their prices are all over the board. I use Unique-ARs’ ROOK Brake, which costs $90. It’s available for both .22 calibers and .30 calibers, and it’s just $90 from Unique-ARs’ website.
Down Jacket & Pants $129, $99
Treestand hunters are probably used to bundling up in really warm clothes since you’re planning to sit still for some time. Spot and stalk hunters could see improved results if they carried insulated pants and coats, as well. Glassing for game is infinitely more effective when you’re not shivering.
When you arrive at a great spot to sit and glass, pull a down jacket and pants out. Lots of hunters bring a puffy jacket, but pants make all the difference. When you’re a truly comfortable temperature you can sit still a lot longer and pick apart hills and bowls much more effectively. Combined with the tripod adapter above, down jacket and pants will help you find that elusive buck on a sagey hillside.
There are many really good down jackets and pants, but I’m amazed at how good the TrueTimber TrueSuede setup is for the price. The jacket is exceptionally comfortable with long arms and thumb-hole cuffs and a long cut in the back so you don’t moon anyone when you bend over–$129. The pants are good, too, and just $99. Best of all, the TrueSuede is actually quiet so you won’t give yourself away with noisy fabric every time you move. Plus, since TrueTimber makes most of the camo gear at Cabela’s, it’ll probably match what you’ve already got. Check out the options at TrueTimber.com.
Spider Holster Backpacker Kit $125
Most of us are carrying cameras to film and photograph our hunts these days, and the Spider Holster Backpacker Kit lets you carry your camera in a place where you can use it. We’ve all carried our cameras for miles in our packs just to end up using them for one picture because it’s too inconvenient to get the camera out. When your camera is handy, though, you’ll end up taking more photos and better photos (which is mostly taking photos at the right time).
I carry my camera either on my shoulder strap or on my belt. The Backpacker kit straps onto your pack’s strap, or you can take the holster part off and attach it to your belt or your pack’s hip belt.
It has a unique ball joint that allows the camera to move with your body as you hike. There are other systems that attach to your pack strap, but they lock the camera down in a static position. The camera becomes much more burdensome, like a lead weight on your strap. The Spider system moves with you and stays out of the way better. It’s easier to draw a bow and climb a rock.
This lets you grab your camera every time there’s something to photograph or film and it actually makes you a better photographer because of it.
The whole Backpacker Kit is $125. I’ve been using it for a decade for all my cameras and I can’t recommend it too much. I’m also an ambassador for Spider; use PHOTOLEVI at checkout for 15% off.
Sous Vide Machine $200
Sous vide cooking is all the rage right now, and for good reason. The machine is a simple electronic wand that heats water and keeps it at a constant temperature while agitating. It makes every cut of your game meat tender and juicy and makes you look like a better cook.
You just seal meat in a plastic bag and leave it in the water bath. The longer you leave it, the more tender it becomes. The toughest cuts of deer and elk become fork tender, and gristle becomes chewable. Just sear it afterward in a hot pan or on the grill and it’s delicious.
You can cook your meat at perfect medium rare temps for hours on end without worrying that it’s getting over cooked. You can also ensure that predator meats like bear, cougar, and coyote are completely cooked through at 165 degrees F to kill germs.
I’ve had one for the last year and I use it at leas once a week. It makes me a better cook, and I think you’ll enjoy it, too. I have the Anova Precision Cooker, and I can heartily recommend it. The price is about $200, but you can find it well under that on sale or in a bundle. You can get it directly from Anova, but I got mine on Amazon.