There is no shortage of companies trying to convince deer hunters that they will take more deer if they buy something. The marketing is so overt and overwhelming that you could easily think you can spend your way to success in the woods. The truth is, there are precious few things you can buy that will make any difference in the number of deer you take. On this podcast episode I help you sort through the tide of marketing so you can make informed purchase decisions.
You can break down most deer hunting gear into three main categories, needs, comforts, and novelties.
There are very few true needs for the whitetail deer hunter. I consider a need to be anything you must have to optimize your chances of success for your hunting setup. If you are hunting in a tree, you need a tree stand. If you are hunting in archery season, you need clothing that provides some level of concealment to get in close, etc. What you do not need is a $500 tree stand or a $1,000 set of super high end camouflage gear. Needs are basic boxes that need checked to hunt a certain way, and it is a short list of boxes. A $100 tree stand fills the role of a need, a $500 tree stand is merely adding comfort, it may be nice but it will not help you take more deer.
Many companies try to market comforts as needs. And it is no wonder why, they want you to feel compelled to buy their stuff. But if you recognize comforts what for they truly are, you will make much better decisions. Comforts do not really help you take more deer, they simply make hunting more comfortable. In some rare cases they can help you take more deer by virtue of enabling you to keep hunting under conditions that would have sent you home otherwise. This is worthy of mention.
Often a full set of Sitka Gear is just going to make the hunt more comfortable and ergonomic, except when extreme cold, wind, or rain would send you home and insulated GORTEX lets you stay a few more hours and get a shot at a nice buck. So in some instances, comforts can make a difference in the field. Most of the time the $2,000 rifle cannot do anything more than the $400 rifle, but it is more ergonomic and fun to shoot. However sometimes the cheap rifle scope fogs up when you need it and the high performance one does not. So, every now and then spending the money matters, but often it just makes hunting a little nicer.
Novelties include just about everything else from things that have some value to thing that are complete gimmicks. On the market there are endless calls, scents, scent blockers, scent killers, scent proof clothing, special knives, special drag ropes, special bait, special laundry detergent, and much more. These are things that sometimes may help, sometimes they do nothing, and sometimes they hurt. Yes, it can be helpful sometimes to have grunt call, but usually it makes no difference. No, you should not wash your gear in scented detergent, but to spend double on hunting laundry detergent that is the same as the regular stuff minus the added scent is a product of sheer marketing.
No matter the gear in question, always remember the marketing will paint it in the best light possible. You have to realistically evaluate everything with a healthy dose of skepticism. Look at the functional role a piece of gear will play and critically evaluate why you think it might somehow enable you to take more deer.
Listen to this podcast episode to hear much, much more.