Before the 2016 spring turkey season, I had never hunted or owned a single piece of hunting gear. I’ve been to plenty of sporting goods stores, but mostly to buy camping items or Christmas gifts. The fact that two-thirds of the store is devoted purely to hunting can be a little intimidating when you are starting from square, ah, zero.
Here are a few key things to consider when you are gear shopping and don’t know where to start:
Hunters are a highly opinionated group.
Every hunter I asked about camo and equipment had a very firm opinion swaying one way or the other about brands and gear. Generally, there is a good reason for it because hunters swear by the products they use, if they've had a positive experience with them. It's good to get personal testimonies and ask for advice, but don't be afraid to have your own opinion. This year, I've selected to go with Mossy Oak clothing and Avian-X decoys, take it for what it's worth. In the end, it is your hunt, so you need to be comfortable.
Take your time.
Hunting season dates are issued nearly a year in advance, if not more. This means you can take your time when you are shopping for gear. If you have friends or family members that are already geared up to hunt, you can try out their calls, closely inspect the camo they wear, and even go to the range and get a feel for different types and calibers of gun. If you don’t know someone with these resources then…
Reach out to others.
The hunting community is warm and welcoming to those that respect their traditions. I’ve never met a hunter that wasn’t willing to show me the best way to use a box call, how to set up a stand or blind or give me advice on the best shotgun shell to use. The NWTF offers programs and banquets that can help you meet experienced hunters around the country, or you can reach out to individuals running programs and classes offered at sporting goods stores, gun ranges and outdoor clubs in your area.
Being properly outfitted for your first hunt can be the key to your success, and more importantly, it helps build your confidence. Having dependable, comfortable gear you trust helps you focus more on the task at hand while hunting. Harvesting an animal as wily as a turkey requires your full attention, so make sure you take your time and use the resources around you such as your friends, family and organizations like the NWTF, to find the best gear and help you on the road to success.
Check out the gear I chose on my first hunt here: BECOMING A HUNTER—PART 2: GEARING UP.
By: Margaret Persico