Are high end hunting base layers like Sitka, First Lite, Smartwool, and Icebreaker worth paying big money for? What makes expensive base layers better? These are big questions that deserve honest answers from someone who is not selling base layers. So, on this podcast episode I tackle these questions to provide the pros, cons, and recommendations on how to realistically budget for base layers. 

There are several significant performance areas that base layers compete in.

  1. Warmth – This is how warm a particular layer can keep you. Different thicknesses of material can achieve almost any desired warmth level from something paper thin to something as thick as a parka. Yes, some materials are warmer than others but you can achieve almost any warmth level you want with enough material.
  2. Warmth When Wet – This is how warm a layer stays even when soaking wet. Many cheap warm layers begin to suck the heat out of you when they get wet, their materials are not insulating once moisture hits them. A good layer keeps you warm even when it gets wet.
  3. Thermal Regulation – This is a layer’s ability to keep you warm when it’s cold but not overheat when it’s hot. Certain materials like merino wool do a great job with this, while certain cheap synthetic base layers become your enemy as temperatures fluctuate throughout a hunt.
  4. Drying Speed – This is how fast a layer dries. People often talk about moisture wicking which is one half hype and one half highly complex science. I lump that into how fast a layer can dry and keep you dry. This makes a huge difference when it comes to keeping you warm and comfortable through changing conditions.
  5. Comfort Of Material – This is how the fabric feels on your skin, how it breathes, stretches, and causes or protects from chaffing and other issues. Comfort matters a lot, so long as other areas are in good shape.
  6. Cut & Fit – This has to do with how the garment is designed, is made to move, walk, climb, run, etc. If the layer is cut and fit for hunting, it will give you full range of motion, not bind up around your joints. And it will be tight enough for good articulation but loose enough for comfort and warmth.
  7. Odor Control – This is how well or how long a base layer can resist stinking. Some fabrics are naturally odor resistant, like wool, and others are treated in a variety of ways to make them odor resistant. Cheap base layers will more quickly develop perma-stink, an unfortunate condition where the layer pretty much always smells bad within a few minutes of putting it on and warming it up to body temperature.
  8. Durability – No base layers last forever, but they should last for a while at least. This has to do with how they resist wearing out from use, as well as snags, washing, and other gear rubbing against them. Thicker layers tend to last longer but there are numerous technologies being used now to improve durability across fabric types. A good set of base layers should last many hunting seasons. 

Listen to the full podcast episode to hear about how expensive base layers are better and if they are worth paying high prices for. 


Every year millions of people are excited to go duck hunting. However about 86% of hunters do not wear hearing protection. How dangerous is this? What are the risks? What really happens to your ears, hearing, brain, and future when you do this? To answer these questions and more, I have invited. Dr. Bill Dickenson, a lifelong duck hunter, doctor of audiology, and founder of the company Tetra Hearing to give us some expert insight. 

Tetra Hearing Free 2-Year Service Plan. Just add this Service Plan to your cart and use this code at checkout: NEWHUNTERSGUIDE

Every time you fire a shotgun without hearing protection you blast your ears with volume that drastically exceeds the limits of what is safe. Many people experience some ringing in their ears or other short term hearing effects that fade away. They assume that because they do not notice any permanent damage that they are ok, and they continue on. What they do not realize is twofold.

#1 The next shot they take could be the one that causes major permanent hearing loss. Or the next shot someone next to them takes, especially when it comes to shooting at flying birds that can cause the muzzle to move closer to your hunting partner’s ears.  You may be one shot away from major issues.

#2 The other thing is that every shot you take could be costing you an imperceptible amount of hearing loss. After one or two shots you may not notice anything. But after many hunts and many seasons, the cumulative effect of those shots adds up and people realize, often unexpectedly years later, that they have a major problem.

Couple both of these scenarios with the fact that waterfowl hunting is the most punishing form of hunting on your ears and your risks multiply. The average waterfowl hunter, in my experience, hits a bird with about 1/3 of their shots or less. So, to fill a six-bird limit, they will likely shoot 20 shells. These are often magnum shells, and often used with a ported choke tube that increases volume levels behind and beside the muzzle.

Then consider waterfowl hunting is a team sport, so if you have 3 people in your hunting party, you may have 60 shots fired within inches of your ears in one day. That is more abuse to your ears in one day than many hunters will experience in a lifetime of turkey hunting or deer hunting.

Simple hearing loss however is not the full extent of the problem. Often times people experience constant ringing in their ears, pain, static, and other damage that lasts for life. These effects are correlated with higher suicide rates, depression, and self-isolation. And then moderate untreated hearing loss in mid-life may impact your risk of Altheimer’s and dementia by as much as 900%. 

So how dangerous is hunting ducks on your hearing? It is one of the most dangerous things you can do to your ears. And the long-term effects of it can be brutal. This is why I implore you to wear hearing protection while hunting waterfowl. About 86% of hunters do not wearing hearing protection of any kind.

It is absolutely critical that you protect your hearing. Cheap ear plugs can do the job for $1. Entry level digital hearing protection devices can enable you to still hear some of the hunt and are often available for the price of a box of tungsten ammo. But by far the best options I have ever seen on the market are those made by Tetra Hearing.

Tetra provides a one size fits most option called their AlphaShield, you can learn more about them in my Tetra AlphaShield Written Review. They also provide a custom fit option for maxiumum comfort and effectivness called their CustomShield. You can read more about those in my Tetra CustomShield Written Review.

Both of these devices compensate for hearing loss and enable you to hear everything going on around you and all the sounds of nature as if you had nothing in your ears at all. They then become instant hearing projection every time you pull the trigger to protect your years and keep you safe.

But perhaps the biggest thing they do is identify and isolated the sounds made by the animals you are hunting and amplify those sounds. This enables you to hear the sounds that ducks and geese make louder and more clearly from further away than you could even with perfect hearing, giving you a distinct advantage in the woods. 

They are rugged and powerful digital devices that fit right inside your ear. They filter out sounds you do not want, like wind noise, and enable you to set them for whatever you are hunting that day, such as waterfowl, turkey, deer, elk, and much more. I have not found anything better on the market.

They are not cheap, but Tetra has been kind enough to provide a discount code to help you save 10% at checkout. Tetra Hearing protection – Get 10% off with the code: NHG2410

In addition to the discount, Tetra’s can be purchased with HSA (Health Savings Account) funds. They have a great warranty, can be repaired if broken, can be used in the rain or in the marsh, and enable you to retain all the joys of hearing the hunt with instant hearing protection and provide you with advantages. to hunt more effectively.

I have been using Tetras for coming up on three years at this point and they are what has enabled me to continue waterfowl hunting without compromising anything. This episode is not sponsored, and I paid for my Tetra CustomShields with my own money. I highly recommend you give them a try. I also did a podcast review: Tetra AlphaShield Review | Critical For All Hunters

I also highly recommend you listen to this podcast episode. It may be the most important podcast you ever listen to because I believe it can illuminate your understanding and empower you to make changes that can redirect the trajectory of your health, family, and future. Dr. Bill provides some of the most outstanding insights into how our ears work and he breaks it down into simple terms that anyone can understand. We share numerous hunting stories as well, it was a lot of fun! 

If you want to hunt ducks, you need to be able to hide. But how can you do that cheap? Are there cost effective approaches to waterfowl hunting blinds, or do you need to spend big money? On this episode I cover four strategies for hiding on the cheap.

Hiding is synonymous with waterfowl hunting. You must have cover if you want birds to voluntarily come into shooting range. And you need to have cover even more if you are trying to sneak up on the ducks.

The hunting industry has answered this fundamental need with a great many expensive contraptions such as A-Fram blinds, lay out blinds, dog blinds, and many more. Generally speaking, these options all work in the right situations. But are there cheaper ways?

Not long ago, none of these hiding options existed. They were nowhere to be found. All hunters built or improvised their own blinds, most often temporary ones, used for just one hunt. Occasionally they had the luxury of using one a couple of times. Setting up a blind was as much of part of the morning routine as putting on your waders or setting out the decoys. But today, much of this has been lost, replaced with expensive alternatives.

In this podcast episode I harken back to the days of waterfowl ingenuity, empowering hunters to hide for little or no budget at all. Some of these options are clear cut, while others are unorthodox, but each one works in the right situation. If you want cheap options for concealment while hunting waterfowl, you need to listen to this short episode.

Spoiler alert, a lot of expensive blinds you can buy save little to no time, are not less work, and do not hide you better than many of the strategies in this episode. There are times when purchased blinds are very helpful, but more often than not, they provide comparable effectiveness with increased complexity.  You do not need that to get started. You can go into the woods tomorrow, and setup a good hide for cheap or free and hunt ducks.

You can save your money for other waterfowl hunting necessities like waders, call, decoys, ammo, shotguns, camo, boots, gloves, sleds, etc. Buying a blind is always something you can do later. But you do not need to do it to get started. In fact, many expert waterfowl hunters never do it all. They hunt every day of their season, year after year, following the simple strategies I detail in this podcast episode.

If you want to buy blinds, great, go for it. But you should also know these simple strategies to help you in uncommon hunting scenarios when purchased hunting blinds are not as effective or you just cannot get them to the spot you are hunting.

Listen to the whole episode to hear the details.

The newest generation of hunting ground blinds are see through, semitransparent fabric that appears to be solid from the outside. Are these blinds any good? Do they live up to the hype? You should try one? Well, I took the plunge and got one.  After hunting out of a TideWe see through blind all last season I am here to report on the results. 

I really did not have high expectations for the quality of see through hunting blinds. But after giving them a try, I am impressed with the durability and quality of the material. They do work, you can see through them. But what really left a good impression on me is that they are a good solid hunting blind by any standard.

I go through a lot of ground blinds; I have used some of the top brands in the industry and none have done much to impress me with durability. I did not expect the see through blind to be more than just some paper thin mesh but I was pleasantly surprised. 

For the price, they are as good or better than any other similarly priced hunting blinds, see through or not. They hold up well to inclement weather, and kept me dry across numerous rainy days, with some days bringing heavy rain. The quality of the doors, windows, zippers, and hubs was all very good.

The see through element is very interesting. It was great to be able to see everything around me that was making noise from floor to ceiling. I could see what was a turkey and what was a sparrow. I could see what was a deer and what was a squirrel. I was able to have more advance warning of what was coming and if I needed to, I could have easily shot right through the transparent wall of the blind to take my game if no better shots presented themselves.

I did still open the windows in order to have a crisp long-range view. While you can see through the blind, it is like looking through mesh. So you can only see so far and so clearly. It is perfectly fine for archery ranges, but it would be hard to identify a deer at 100 yards. But the windows give you all the flexibility you need for perfect vision at a distance while still having the situational awareness you need for hunting just about anything that walks on the ground.

I reached out to TideWe and requested a special discount code for my audience so you can save 18% off even sale prices if you use my code GK18 at checkout on TideWe’s website.

Check out my detailed TideWe See Through Hunting Blind Review.

Listen to this entire podcast episode for all the of the details and information.

As a note, TideWe sent me this blind to do this review. Thanks to them for their support. 

Archery deer hunting is growing but there are a lot of people in the woods with bows who should not be there, YET. They are missing fundamental knowledge or skills to hunt deer effectively and reliably with a vertical bow. On this episode I talk about five crucial areas that every archery hunter needs to know about and develop proficiency in before they begin taking shots at whitetails.

Archey is a very fun, challenging, and rewarding pursuit. Hunting with a vertical bow is appealing for a wide variety of different reasons. And most people can learn to do this effectively. However, too few hunters understand the challenges unique to this style of hunting and go unprepared into the woods only to have problems, failures, and worse.  Often, they should hunt with a rifle or a crossbow until they develop the needed proficiencies for a vertical bow.  

Understanding these five things will save you from a lot of difficulties and disappointments. There is no shame in going into the woods with a different tool if you are not ready or able to do what it takes to hunt properly with a bow. We are talking about an investment in preparation, it has nothing to do with the character or ability of the person. Anyone could prepare if they have the time, energy, and health to do so. And maybe they can and will in the future, but for now they should hunt with the tools they are able to use with greater proficiency.

The first and most obvious of the five reasons you should not hunt with a bow is you do not practice enough. This is about skills and conditioning. Proficiency in archery is a perishable skill. It decays quickly with time. A few weeks can cause you to lose a lot of ground. There is head knowledge and skill you will retain for your lifetime, but conditioning means everything when it comes to being able to reliably hit a target under field conditions.

Ideally you want to learn to shoot, from an instructor or expert of some type. Then you need to practice, a lot, and for a long time. You should start practicing around two months before the season starts. Start practicing 3 days a week and then bump it up to 4 or 5 once you get your initial conditioning. These do not need to be long sessions; 20 minutes can be plenty. But you need to shoot often and throughout the hunting season to stay sharp.

This is not just about being able to hit a target but being able to draw even when stiff and cold, under field conditions, with cold weather gear, in a tree, holding a draw for a long time, fighting off nerves, and finally taking an ethical shot. This is taxing on your body. You must practice a lot to able to do it when it counts. If you are not able to practice enough, you should probably use a crossbow for that season. Crossbows require a much lower level of conditioning. 

The most responsible and wise hunters know their limits and deficiencies and takes the appropriate action to make up for them. Newer hunters especially do not have enough experience to know what they do not know. They have blind spots. We all have blind spots at times, but when we are just getting started, they can be very large blind spots. I can tell you from experience, the best and fastest ways to learn is to practice, study, and learn from the mistakes of others. If you want to hunt with a bow, get one today and start practicing. But wait, even till next season if needed, until you are prepared and can check off all five things mentioned in this episode. 

Listen to the entire podcast episode to hear all 5 reasons why you should not hunt with a bow.

Like any tool, there are benefits to upgrading a deer hunting crossbow, but when should you do it and what should you look for? On this episode I give some guidance for when to upgrade a crossbow, what to look for in a new bow, how to make wise budget decisions, and what you realistically will not gain from a new crossbow. 

The right time to upgrade your crossbow often intersects with something going wrong with your current bow or hunting experience. Either you have equipment wear out, failure, or maybe you have a hunting failure that causes you to cast doubt on your bow. Sometimes we get distracted by better bows but usually it is something going wrong that pushes us to make a purchase right away. Be careful in these moments not to jump to conclusions.

Sometimes you can repair a broken bow, sometimes nothing is wrong except your confidence takes a hit and practice may fix that much cheaper than buying a new bow. Be calm, patient, thoughtful, and think about the investment needed to get a bow that is better. Ideally you want a better bow, something with better features that will help you improve your hunting experience. Just replacing a bow may do the job, but you are probably better off with a short-term fix while you look for the right better bow.

A crossbow is a very sophisticated tool that is full of nuances. There are so many things to gain with a better crossbow in terms of comfort, feel, balance, features, ease of use, increased range, and less weight. However, if you have a working crossbow, chances are low that a better one would do much to enable you to take home more deer. A better crossbow makes the hunting experience easier and/or more enjoyable. But it often does not make it more effective.

This puts crossbows into a special category of gear where features have value but in the end they will do little to bring home more deer. That does not mean you shouldn’t upgrade your crossbow. On the contrary, you should simply upgrade with realistic expectations and timing.

I have found the best time to upgrade crossbows is around the end of season sales. You can often get a new crossbow that is very discounted. The trouble is you often cannot find the bow you have your heart set on in this way. It is better to simply follow the sales, look for the biggest discounts on credible brands trying to move last year’s model or clear inventory space and you can sometimes get a bow for as much as 50% off. By doing this you can upgrade a few levels higher in bow quality and function for alot less money.

However, if you have your eyes on one particular bow and you have to have that brand and model, your best bet is to save up your money and wait for even the most modest sale to come along. 

Listen to the full podcast episode to hear alot more about when to upgrade and how to pick a new crossbow.

Every duck hunter makes mistakes, it is unavoidable. But there are some big terrible blunders that are easily avoidable with just a little bit of knowledge. On this episode I discuss three huge blunders and give you the simple insights needed to never make them yourself. 

The definition of a blunder is a stupid or careless mistake. You will not be able to avoid all mistakes, but you can avoid blunders. One of the best ways to learn is from the mistakes and blunders of others. Which is why I share some of the big blunders I’ve watched other duck hunters make. Some of them are a bit funny they are so bad. But each teaches us valuable lessons to become better duck hunters.

Listen to this full podcast episode to hear about the blunders and the lessons learned. 

No matter how well we shoot and how good our ammo, there will still be wounded and crippled ducks that need humanely and quickly put down. This is not a fun subject, but it is something all duck hunters need to be aware of. On this episode I talk about various scenarios of wounded ducks and give three different techniques to quickly dispatch them with minimal suffering.

Shotgun patterns are imperfect and are not capable of instantly killing a duck every time, even at reasonable ranges. Compound this with the fact that hunters are not perfect shots, and you will unfortunately have to deal with wounded ducks on a semi regular basis. This can be minimized with practice, more experience judging distance, and high-quality ammunition. But it will still happen from time to time. So, you must be equipped and prepared to deal with it under field conditions.

Wounded ducks may have varying degrees of mobility. They may be able to swim at full speed, above or below water, they may be able to walk or even run on land. They may be able to partially fly, they may even be stunned and able to full fly once they shake it off. To dispatch a wounded duck, you may very well have to catch it first. This is easiest if you have a hunting dog. If not, you will want to be very mobile and able to give chase readily. 

One of the biggest lessons I have learned when hunting without a dog is to never take my eyes off a downed bird until I have it in hand. Always recover and deal with downed birds immediately. Never wait. You do not know if a bird is dead or not until you recover it. I have had birds belly up on the water that looked as dead as dead can be and 5 minutes later wake up and try to escape. Get your birds and confirm they are dead.

Do not hesitate to take a follow-up shot if a bird falls to the water but is still mobile. Every second will put the duck further away from you and further from ideal range. The longer you wait, the lower the chances will be of you recovering the bird. This often leads to the bird suffering worse and much longer. We need to avoid this as much as possible. 

One you have a crippled bird in hand, there are numerous methods for dispatching the duck. In summary they include:

  1. Swatting Loads
  2. Cervical Dislocation.
  3. A Pithing Tool

Listen to this podcast episode to hear the specifics about those techniques and methods to find the one that works best for you.

Here is the visual guide for how to humanely dispatch a downed duck that I mentioned in the episode as well. These are some of the most important skills a waterfowl hunter can take into the field, because treating game with respect and preventing suffering is of the upmost importance.

Always work to judge distance well, to take ethical shots, to pattern test your shotgun, ammo, and choke tube combo, and do not push your limits. The fewer ducks that are crippled the better. but when a bird is wounded you must deal with it quickly. I wish I would have been able to listen to this podcast episode before I started waterfowl hunting. I ran into this issue firsthand and did not know the ideal ways to deal with it, that was not fun. Hopefully you will be better prepared than I was. 


Duck decoys range from $40 to $400 a dozen, and beyond. Are the fancy duck decoys better? If so, by how much? On this episode I talk about the differences between cheap and expensive duck hunting decoys to help you understand how to weigh the pros and cons of each to make informed decisions. 

Keep in mind, for generations hunters carved crude decoys from wood, used painted milk jugs, and improvised their own decoys out of whatever rudimentary materials that could find or create that would float for awhile. And these decoys worked reasonably well. Even the cheapest decoys on the market today are drastically better than what most hunters used throughout waterfowl hunting history. We are a little bit spoiled today with the caliber of simple and low-cost options available. So, are expensive decoys really that much better?

There are three main areas that expensive decoys give you advantages over cheaper decoys. They are detail, durability, and technology.

  1. Detail refers to both the paint job and the life like diversity of different duck positions. Cheaper decoys often all look identical while more expensive ones have a variety of posses that make them appear more lifelike.
  2. Durability is a factor of two different areas. One is making the decoys sink resistant and the other is the durability of the paint and finish. Only one of these is a legitimate point to consider when it comes to cheap vs. expensive decoys.
  3. Technology is a bit more complex. Because ducks can see certain colors and spectrums that people cannot, some decoys are designed to be more visible to ducks in low light but people cannot see those differences with our eyes. Expensive decoys sometimes come setup with this technology.

The big question is how much difference can expensive decoys make in these areas to be worth their price tag? Are $400 decoys really 10x better than $40 decoys? The simple answer is no, of course not. The more you pay, the less you get. It is a system of diminishing returns. However, if you pay more, you do get more. You just do not get a lot more. So the hunter able to pay large sums of money for the best decoys does get better decoys but they are only a little bit better. 

So, is it worth it? Only you can decide that. You need to listen to this entire podcast episode to get all of the information you need to judge the pros and cons of expensive decoys and decide which decoys are best for you to use.

The best weather conditions for buck movement vary as the hunting season goes on. Weather, time of day, and time of season all work together to create ideal situations for whitetails to move. On this episode I focus on the weather and seasonal conditions that promote deer movement. 

Too often deer hunters go into the woods and see nothing. Any good hunt starts with good scouting, and indeed that has been the subject of many of my previous deer hunting episodes. But if you have a good spot and still see nothing, that may very well be a factor of being there on poor weather days that inhibit deer movement. Understanding this little piece of information can completely change the way you hunt and how effective you are in the woods. 

There are three main factors that work together to determine ideal times for buck movement. Time of season, weather conditions, and relative temperature. Think about it, deer live outside, and they like to move and feed under certain conditions. If you can learn the basics of each factor, you can put them together to predict the best hunting days with fairly good accuracy.

Time of Season – Deer movement patterns change as the season goes on. This is affected by how deer relate to the mating season, the change in weather, and change in habitat as soft cover dies with frost and things change as winter approaches.

Weather Conditions – Deer are greatly affected by changing weather conditions. They are no less sensitive to the weather than we are. Understanding how weather effects deer behavior will enable you to predict which weather days are the best for deer hunting. 

Relative Temperature – As fall comes and deer begin to grow in thicker fur, they are much more sensitive to high temperatures. When it is hot, they are much less likely to move until the colder times of day. But when colder days comes, the crisp temperatures can be liberating to big bucks, freeing them from overheating to move around more during daylight. 

The big key to picking the best days to hunt deer are putting these three factors together. Understanding the right time of day based on the part of the season you are in, picking days with the ideal changes in relative temperature, and looking for specific micro weather conditions that best contribute to deer movement. 

You can take deer on any day of the hunting season, at any time of day, and during any weather conditions. But your chances increase dramatically if you pick the best days and conditions. And if your time to hunt is limited, this information can help you pick the best possible days for deer movement.

Listen to the full podcast episode to get all of the information!