You want to get out into the great outdoors and hunt. There are countless topics of conversation you can have with your hunting companions and friends, and the list is seemingly endless. Before long, you’ll be joined by more friends, new and old, begging you to take them hunting. If you’re a new hunter, you’ll need to learn basic hunting essentials before you can fully enjoy the hunt.
What are the top 10 hunting essentials for beginners?
- Hunter’s blaze orange vest and hat
- Waterproof jacket and pants
- Moisture-wicking base layers
- Durable, slip-resistant boots
- GPS and printed maps for navigation
- Water and backup water purification tablets
- Small first aid kit
- Large durable trash bags
- Medium-sized backpack
- Firearm appropriate for the type of hunting
As a hunting beginner, you may be tempted to focus just on firearms and camouflage. Don’t! You can go rifle shopping later, but there are other essentials you will need first. To enjoy your first hunting experiences and minimize risks of injury, start with these hunting essentials. With more experience, you will learn what additional gear you may want for your favorite types of hunting.
1. Hunters Blaze Vest and Hat
Also known as ‘safety orange’ or ‘hunter orange’, hunters blaze is a specific color of orange. Blaze pink can substitute for blaze orange in most states.
Blaze colors help other hunters distinguish you from other animals, so they don’t confuse you with their target and shoot at you. Blaze also helps hunters know if you are near them or in the direction they intend to shoot.
Most states require a minimum amount of blaze to cover your body. Get a blaze vest and hat, and you should be set for most states.
2. Waterproof Jacket and Pants
It is essential that you take care of your personal wellbeing while hunting. A top safety concern for hunters is hypothermia.
Just a little rain or wind can make you cold and disrupt an otherwise successful hunt. Even mild hypothermia can lead to hunting mistakes and further injury.
A waterproof rain jacket and set of pants will keep you comfortable in both wind and rain, so you can continue to focus on your hunt.
3. Moisture-Wicking Base Layers
You will enjoy hunting much more if you are comfortable and are able to manage your body’s temperature through the variety of weather conditions you may encounter.
Wear thin layers of wool or synthetic materials like polypropylene next to your skin. If you are hot and perspiring – or get wet from rain or snow – these layers help keep your skin dry by ‘wicking’ the moisture away from you. Bring additional thermal layers, depending on the season and environment you are hunting in.
4. Durable, Slip-Resistant Boots
Most hunting involves walking or hiking on uneven, rugged terrain.
Ensure you have good footwear that supports and protects your feet and ankles, and gives you solid footing on all types of ground.
You don’t need official ‘hunting boots’ but consider boots that go well above your ankles for extra support and protection.
5. GPS and Printed Maps
Knowing your location, destination, and how to return to your starting point are essential survival skills and a source of enjoyment in hunting.
Carry printed maps of the area you are hunting. Use topographic or specialized hunting maps. Note where your public access points are, as well as private land boundaries.
Use your maps to plan your route, identify where you might find game or scout for animals. Use your maps to track your location. Take notes on your maps as you hunt to reference in finding your way back and for future hunts.
Handheld GPS (global positioning system) units are widely used by hunters. Many GPS units provide maps, including public access points and private land boundaries. GPS units can tell you your location, track your routes, and help you navigate to specific points.
6. Water and Backup Water Purification Tablets
Even mild dehydration can reduce your enjoyment of hunting and lead to mistakes or injury. Water keeps you energized and focused. Collapsable water pouches are great – they compress and make room for all the meat you are going to carry back!
As a backup, carry water purification tablets. These will help you stay hydrated if you run out of water, or get lost or stranded.
7. Small First Aid Kit
Put together a simple kit of first aid supplies. Include a mix of bandage sizes, medical tape and enough bandages to treat a puncture wound.
8. Large Durable Trash Bags
Get two heavy-duty trash bags or plastic lawn-clippings bags. You can use them as a ground cover to protect your game meat when you are processing an animal. They can also provide you with shelter from rain, snow and wind in a survival situation.
9. Medium-sized Backpack
You are going to need a pack to carry these items, plus any extras. Pick a sturdy, medium-sized pack. Avoid anything too bulky, but you will want something big enough to also carry game meat out of the bush. Pack volume is normally measured in liters. Pick something in the 40-50 liters range.
10. A Firearm Appropriate for the Type of Hunting
Okay, you can focus on firearms now! You are going to need a gun specific to the type of hunting you want to get started in:
- If you are bird hunting, you will need some type of shotgun.
- Deer and small game hunting in most areas require small caliber rifles, or shotguns with slugs in some areas.
- Big game hunting in western states may require larger caliber rifles for long-range shots.
Research what kind of gun and ammunition you will need for the type of hunting you want to start with.
Ideally, borrow guns for your first few hunts, so you can get a chance to try out the different styles of actions (bolt, break-away, lever) available.