Put a couple hunters in a room and, within a few minutes, they are most likely going to start talking about gear. It seems as much as we love to hunt, we love to obsess about gear even more. I used to think that this was a bad thing—that by focusing so much on commercial products, we were eviscerating the spirit from the hunting act.
This was especially true a little over ten years ago when I went through a minimalist stage. I gave up the gun for the long bow. I gave up synthetic clothes for wool, leather and cotton. I gave up face paint for mud, dirt and dust. I gave up cover scents for a more natural diet. And yet, it didn’t stop me from obsessing over my gear.
I obsessed over whether mink strips or beaver strips made better string silencers. I obsessed over whether compressed hemlock or cedar made better arrow shaft. I obsessed over whether fresh cow pies or fresh deer droppings were a better cover scent. I obsessed over the weave and “depth” in my wool shirts to determine which best diffused and absorbed light. Despite my stripped down, primitive gear, I spent no less time focused on how to make it better. And, it was fantastic.
Today, I have embraced modern gear again, partly because I moved from California back to Oregon where it rains most of the year, and partly because I just wanted more gear to obsess over. Hunting is a hobby for me, so I spend a lot more time at home than in the woods. Working on my gear is a way to prolong the hunting experience, and I dare say that it deepens my enjoyment of my time in the field.
Gear is not unto itself an end. However, it is an essential part of the hunting experience whether I’m selecting the lightest gortex jacket, or choosing the perfect obsidian spale for knapping an arrow head. And it’s finally time to put it all to use. Good luck this fall and may your gear live up to your expectations.