Hunters differ on a lot of aspects of hunting – favorite game, trophies vs. meat, stalking or stand hunting – but one thing we can all agree on is: Geez, can hunting be expensive! Camo, guns, ammo, licenses, packs, knives, scopes, binoculars, boots, dogs, gas, duck stamps, guides – it all adds up quickly.
However, we’re all happy to have paid the price when we’re successful in the end. We all want to get value for our hunting expenditures. “Cheap” and “expensive” are relative terms – depending on how useful your purchase was and how much you love it – so as long as you get what you were expecting, you’re happy.
We asked some of our friends and followers to tell us what gear had given them a lot of value. That’s not to say they’re cheap – some are inexpensive – but rather that you’ll get more than your money’s worth from these products.
Tim Wagner: Federal Fusion Ammo
I began using Federal Fusion ammunition soon after it came out in 2005. I had always used Remington Core-Lokt ammo, but I had a couple of instances when I didn't like its performance on deer. The marketing caught my attention – the lead core is bonded to the copper jacket and it is affordable. And, the performance proved it wasn't just marketing.
Most of my shots on deer passed completely through, and at the time I was using just a .243. When I did manage to dig one out of a deer, it was perfectly mushroomed and intact.
The performance was so good that rather than spend a lot of money on more expensive ammo for a safari to South Africa, I took Federal Fusion for my .30-06. I could afford to practice with it at the range beforehand, too. It performed flawlessly. The skinners brought me bullets from a close-in gemsbok shot and a 220-yard blesbok shot – both, again, had mushroomed perfectly and retained almost all their original weight. My professional hunter, like most PHs, was an advocate for the Swift A-frame bullet. However, that was the first time he had seen the Fusions, and he said he was impressed.
I'm still impressed, and that's why I use the 120-grain Federal Fusions in my .25-06 for whitetails. Most of the common cartridges sell at retailers for between $20-$35 for a 20-round box.
Twitter user @sarahaustin110: Ozonics Scent Eliminator
From the Ozonics website: “Ozonics transforms oxygen molecules into ozone molecules and, with a silent fan, projects them downwind out over your scent zone where these unstable molecules bond with your scent molecules, rendering them unrecognizable to deer and other scent-savvy game.”
Mia Anstine: Leatherman Wave
With advances in technology and production, prices have dropped for many hunting items. With reduced prices, some products have also diminished the quality of their items. One item I've always found to be of excellent quality and come in handy is my multi-tool. I carry the Leatherman® Wave®. It has a screwdriver, pliers, wire cutters, saw and knives. It's my all-around “MacGyver” tool. I've used it to wire broken fences closed so horses can't escape. It's come in handy for replacing light bulbs in a pinch. I even use it to skin, cape and field dress elk. It's a tool that is definitely worth the price.
Will from Will to Hunt: Garmin 64ST
For a long time I've depended on just using my cell phone and simple maps for scouting and recording my hunt locations, but making the switch to a high-quality GPS has immensely improved my hunting. I can quickly mark and pinpoint areas while scouting, and on backpacking hunts I can easily see where I've been and make sure I'm not slipping onto private property.
The Garmin 64ST comes preloaded with all U.S. topographic maps and it's easy to add in additional information like property lines and waypoints. Plus, it's rugged enough to take a beating and powers up and finds my location in no time.
Mitch Strobl: RedHead Hunting Apparel
The RedHead® brand, from Bass Pro Shops, is high-quality gear for a very reasonable price. I can often find the camo, jackets, gloves, hats, etc., for well less than brand name prices, and the performance is as good or better, in my mind.
Overall, the reason I vote for RedHead gear is simple: my main goal is maximizing my dollar without sacrificing performance. I work hard for my money, and I want to make sure the gear that I buy works just as hard for me in the field. With RedHead, I can be confident that I’m getting quality, dependable gear that won’t let me down. It might not be the flashiest gear you can find out there, but it gets the job done, is dependable, and is priced fairly. For example, when I’m waterfowl hunting, I’m able to outfit myself with RedHead apparel and the difference in cost vs. other brands lets me buy the things I need most – more shells! (Yes, I miss a lot … but don’t we all?)
A few examples for waterfowl hunting:
1. Hunting Waders– RedHead's classic neoprene waders provide everything that I need to shoot some ducks, and they are literally half the price of other comparable waders. They are waterproof, insulated, and have all the features that I need without extra bells and whistles. For example: They have a front equipment pocket, built-in shell holder, and loops for my clip-on accessories. I like to be lightweight when I’m in the field, so I don’t need much more than that. I just want to stay dry, warm, and ready for action.
2. Waterfowl Jacket – Like the waders listed above, I like this jacket is because it’s built for the simple hunter. While it has many other practical uses, it’s great for the traveling waterfowl hunter. One week I might be in the cold, icy north, and the next week 1,000 miles south in 70-degree Texas. The versatility found in this jacket makes it worth the money because you essentially get two jackets in one. The removable insulated layer comes out with a few zippers and snaps, and that’s my favorite feature. The hooded outer shell is breathable, yet windproof and waterproof, which is perfect for any waterfowl setup. Plus you have all the other niceties like cargo pockets, hand warmer pockets, magnetic pocket snaps, and elastic wristbands to keep the water out.
3. Decoy gloves – These decoy gloves just work for my two main goals: Keep my hands warm and keep my hands dry. When I’m setting up decoys, I don’t want to worry about my hands getting chilled to the bone before my hunt. I want gloves that accomplish those two goals at a fair price.
Remember: Do your research! When using any product mentioned here (or elsewhere), always review and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and safety recommendations.