When it comes to buyer’s remorse, we tend to think of junk. Like paying good money for something that just doesn’t deliver on its marketing promise or maybe breaks right out of the box. Cheap hunting gear, and unfortunately some not-so-cheap hunting gear, is not immune to this frustrating issue.
There’s a sneakier and probably more damaging category of gear that should concern hunters, as well. This includes products that function just fine, but might make you a worse hunter. We often don’t see these coming but end up altering our hunting strategies because of them.
The biggest offender in this category is also one of the most coveted in the whitetail-sphere.
When my dad and I would watch hunting shows on television while I was growing up, we saw an awful lot of small-bodied, big-raked Texas bucks bite the dust. They were almost always munching on corn under a feeder, and almost always shot from a box blind. We honestly couldn’t even understand why someone would want to sit in a little wooden house and then open a window to shoot a deer. It was an alien concept.
Today, box blinds are everywhere. They’ve spread from the Lone Star State to everywhere whitetails roam. They’ve also evolved from homemade wooden structures to pre-fab, high-end blinds that carry hefty price tags.
The dream for a lot of hunters is an elevated box blind over a food plot, and it seems like that’s more achievable these days than ever. This is also a great way to become way worse at hunting deer, even if you still fill some tags.
There is nothing like the gravity of a box blind to draw hunters in, over and over. Add in the fact that there will be trail cameras focused on the area around them, and that blinds generally live in spots with major sight lines, and it’s even more likely they’ll get over-hunted. Box blinds are comfortable and can be very effective, but there’s a catch—you tend to have to rest them for them to work well.
In essence, the default strategy is to mostly always hunt from the box blind, but if you do it right, you’ll also mostly not hunt until the conditions get right. If you think you’d use one just for hunting with the kids, or maybe for all-day sits in bad weather, be careful. Easy setups offer persuasive arguments to hunters, and there’s nothing easier than climbing into a little house on a stand and waiting for deer to walk by.
Modern crossbows are weapons that function like a gun, but produce archery-like results. The problem with this is that hunters with a scoped crossbow (that needs to be shouldered to shoot) often start to hunt like they’re carrying a gun.
This is a great way to become worse at deer hunting. Instead of carrying a mobile setup into the woods to get 17 feet up in a tree, you can just sit on a little camp chair with some camo netting. Instead of waiting until the end of shooting light, you can just sneak around for the last half hour of the day and try to shoot one that way.
A crossbow offers real advantages to someone who plans to bowhunt with it. If you buy one and feel like it’s going to offer you a hybrid hunt between gun season and archery, you’re mostly going to fail.
Camo clothing all pretty much looks the same, but functionality varies a lot. If you only hunt pleasant October afternoons, this might not be an issue. If you hunt all season long, pretty much anywhere whitetails live, you’ll encounter inclement weather. Clothing that doesn’t keep you warm and dry is a liability, full stop.
Discomfort is the enemy of patience, and patience (time on stand) is what kills deer. While most folks can’t spend a couple grand to fully kit out, the right base layers and outer layers can make a huge difference in hunting success and enjoyment. A few pieces designed for the job can make up for a few pieces that are lower quality.
A lot of hunters won’t acknowledge this truth, even when they are headed back to the truck a couple hours into the morning because they are freezing. Poor clothing choices can make you a less-effective hunter, so be careful when you’re at the bargain rack looking for a new jacket. A great deal in the store might be a lost cause in the field.
For more whitetail hunting information, check these articles out: Why You Might Want To Forget About Mature Bucks And Just Hunt, Why Most Whitetail Hunters Never Kill Mature Bucks, and How To Find More Mature Buck Sheds This Winter.