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The best gear for hunting

THIS IS WHAT I USE

Binoculars

OVERVIEW

I get a lot of questions about what hunting gear I use and recommend. There's a lot of great gear being made specifically for hunting these days, but the gear on this page is what I use personally. I've been an outfitter for about two decades, and I've definitely got gear that I trust.

 

Remember, I’m in the field, hunting, for more than 260 days every year, so my stuff has been real-world tested, and I count on it every day.

If you buy anything through the links on this page, I'll get a small commission, at no additional cost to you. I could get that commission on anything, so that's not why I've picked these items. I've picked them because I use them and I genuinely like them.

If you have any questions about gear, send me a message or give me a call. I love talking about this stuff!

MENU FOR THIS PAGE

There's a lot of good information on this page, so you may want to read the whole thing. But if you're interested in what I've got to say about some specific kind of gear, use this menu to hop to exactly the right spot.

HERE ARE THE BASICS

Core Gear

HUNTING VESTS AND JACKETS

Because I hunt so many different regions of the state and hunt twelve months out of the year, I have a wide variety of hunting vests and jackets. When the weather is cool, or when my physical exertion is going to be high in cold weather, I wear the Pnuma Waypoint Vest. As the weather becomes colder, or when I’m going to be moving less or sitting more, I wear the Pnuma Alpha Vertex Vest or Pnuma Waypoint Jacket. 

 

If you’re going to have colder weather and there’s a chance of light rain, I’ll wear the Pnuma Selkirk Jacket. If it’s really cold, I’ll add layers underneath the Pnuma Palisade Puffy Jacket. This jacket is very warm and great at blocking the wind, but it has a ripstop outer layer so it’s not the quietest jacket and it’s probably not the best jacket to be wearing when you will be hunting in thick, thorny brush that could easily rip the jacket. 

 

The ranches I hunt in Texas and Mexico don’t receive a tremendous amount of rain, but when I do end up hunting in rainy weather I wear the Pnuma 3L Element Proof Rain Jacket and Pnuma 3L Element Proof Rain Pant.

PANTS, OVERALLS, LONG UNDERWEAR

The pants I wear are pretty simple. I know I’m going to be walking through thick brush and getting dirty. Because I’m so hard on pants I just wear the Carhartt Washed Twill Relaxed Fit Work Pant. These pants are rugged enough to withstand all the abuse I dish out but they are inexpensive enough that if they get ripped, or torn (climbing over barbed wired fence can be tough on pants) I’m not out a lot of money. 

 

As it gets colder, but I know I’m going to be walking and moving around, I’ll add the Pnuma Merino Wool Base Layer Pant. This long underwear is ¾ length and has a full zipper down the outside of the leg as well as a quick-release waistband to easily remove without having to take off your pants/boots as it warms up or activity level increases. 

When it gets really cold, or when I’m still hunting and my activity level is going to be low for an extended time in cold weather, I add Carhartt Sandstone Duck Bib Overall/Quilt-Lined. These overalls are very warm and comfortable, as well as being extremely rugged and durable.

HUNTING BACKPACKS

My “office” is the Kuiu Pro Hunting Pack with Platypus-Kuiu Hoser water bladder. This backpack is with me on every hunt, and hunting over 260 days a year it sees a lot of use. It’s large enough to carry all of my gear plus it has the expansion capability to easily handle packing out a big aoudad ram head.

As many days as I spend hunting the high desert of West Texas, the 3L Platypus water bladder is a lifesaver, literally. The high desert of West Texas is very arid and water is your most important commodity when hiking in the desert.  This pack is also very comfortable and can be worn all day without causing any discomfort.

HUNTING SHIRTS

I don’t have a big variety of hunting shirts. When I’m hunting in warm/hot weather I wear the Pnuma Long Sleeve Shooting Shirt or the Pnuma Renegade 1/4 Zip Pullover.  There are a lot of warm/hot sunny days where I hunt in Texas and this long sleeve, tall collar, highly ventilated shirt is the best shirt I’ve found for these conditions. This shirt keeps me protected from the UV rays but still keeps me cool. 

 

I really like wool shirts for cool/cold weather because 'cotton kills'. Once it gets wet, it stays wet for a long time, but wool will keep you warm even when it’s wet.

In cool weather, I wear the Pnuma Merino Wool Base Layer Pullover. As it gets colder, I’ll add another layer with the Pnuma Base Haven 1/4 Zip Pullover and the Pnuma Gunnison Men’s Merino Wool Hoodie. A thicker wool shirt, combined with a wool neck gaiter, really helps keep you warm and keeps the wind out. On really cold days I’ll have a couple of each of the wool shirts on, as well as the neck gaiter, so I can add/subtract layers as the temperature, and activity levels, change throughout the day.

SCOPES AND OPTICS

I can choose to use any accessories, so I’m very particular about what I use. Optics are one of the most important pieces of equipment I carry on a daily basis, so I only carry the best. 

My binoculars are the Swarovski 10×42 EL and my spotting scope is the Swarovski ATS 65 with the 25-50 Wide Angle Eyepiece. I’ve got 2 herniated disks in my neck, so I carry my binoculars in the Kuiu Pro Bino Harness.  This helps disperse the weight of the binoculars and keeps as much weight off of my neck as possible. I don’t have the range-finding binoculars, because they are heavier and the more weight I can keep off of my neck the better. 

I have the 25-50 wide-angle eyepiece because most of my days in the field are very bright and sunny and the mirage is terrible. You can rarely turn the magnification up to max power because of the mirage, so having a little less magnification but a wider field of view is more helpful for my hunts. 

My spotting scope is mounted on a Dolica ZX600B300 Proline 60” Carbon Fiber Tripod with the Jim White Pan Head.  It’s a simple, lightweight combo that works great in the field. 

 

Since I don’t have range finding binoculars, I carry the Leupold RX – 1600i rangefinder. It’s a small, compact range finder that works great and easily fits in the right hip belt pocket on my pack for quick access. 

 

If you’re looking for a great hunting scope, I’d recommend the Nightforce 5-25×56 F1 Scope. It’s a little heavy, but it’s a bulletproof scope and has incredible glass. If Nightforce isn’t within your budget, check out the Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25×56 scope. It’s another great scope with great glass and rugged enough to handle all of my hunts. I use both and they both work great.

All of my scopes are first focal plane so I can use the hack marks on any power. Much like I mentioned with the magnification on the spotting scope and mirage, it’s rare that you’ll be able to turn your scope up to full power on a bright sunny day, so being able to use your hack marks on any power is very helpful.

SOME OTHER THINGS YOU'LL NEED

Accessories

KNIVES

I know there’s a lot of great knives made these days, but several years ago I met a gentleman that completely changed my way of thinking about knives. His name is Ruben Ramos, out of Jal, NM, and he makes the best knives I’ve ever wrapped my hands around. 

 

His custom knives are works of art, and I have several, but to cut down on weight I carry the Ruben Ramos 7” Bones with paracord handle. This knife is very simple and light and holds an edge like no other knife I’ve ever seen/used. 

SUNGLASSES

With it being bright and sunny most days, I never hunt without my Oakley RadarLock Path sunglasses.  I make a living with my eyes, so keeping them protected and minimizing eye strain is a must for me. 

 

I typically use the Black Iridium lens, which only lets in 11% visible light, but when I’m driving the buggy in low light, or at night, I’ll switch to a clear lens. 

SOME BACKUP FOR THE BACK COUNTRY

Because I’m in pretty remote parts of Texas and Mexico, I have Ripcord Travel Insurance year-round.  Travel insurance is very affordable so I highly recommend it to all of my hunters.  You may hurt yourself before your hunt and not be able to make your hunt, and with Ripcord, you won’t lose your deposit or be out much/any money. Plus, if you have an accident and end up injured on your hunt, Ripcord is money well spent to keep from having huge medical bills. 

In this day and age, I know it’s hard to believe that you could go hunting and not have cell service, but it’s very common for me to be in areas with no cell coverage. Keeping safety in mind, I don’t like to be out of communication in case of an emergency, so I always have an Iridium Extreme 9575 Satellite phone with me. This phone also had built-in GPS, so you can give first responders your exact location. 

INSECT REPELLENT

For my hunts in the late spring, summer, and early fall (Axis, Blackbuck, late-season Turkey, early-season Elk, etc) one of the products I’ve found to be extremely important is Sawyer Products Premium Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent.

We spend a lot of time walking/stalking through tall grass and with Sawyer Permethrin I don’t have to worry about getting chiggers or ticks on me.  You spray it on your clothing, and once it dries it’s odorless and colorless.  Chiggers itch so bad that they can really ruin a hunt, but with Sawyer Permethrin you don’t have to worry.  I love this product, and literally never leave home without it! 

FIRST AID KITS

Safety is very important to me and that’s why I always have a Con10gency Consulting Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) with me. I have one in my pack, one in my hunting vehicle, and an even larger, more comprehensive med bag back at camp.  

 

I’m certified in Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) so I’ve been trained to use everything in my IFAK and take continuing education classes to stay up to date on all of the latest life-saving techniques. 

FOOTWEAR

Your choice of footwear can make or break your hunt. If you’re wearing boots that aren’t broken in or don’t fit properly, you severely limit your ability to go on stalks. That limits your shot opportunities, so your footwear is one of the most important pieces of equipment on any hunt.

 

The rocks and terrain out in West Texas are very harsh and unforgiving. I like a stiff-sole boot for walking on rocks with a heavy pack, so I wear the Scarpa R-Evolution trek GTX boots.  

 

Chippewa snake boots have a slick, flat sole with no support around the ankles. This makes them great when hunting in the South Texas brush country, or the Hill Country, but these boots aren’t well suited for walking up/down the mountains in West Texas.