Western hunting can be intimidating for nonresidents. There is a steep learning curve, especially if you are a DIY kind of individual. Learning different states' draw systems can be akin to learning a foreign language. Maps, units, BLM, and the different gear needed can be overwhelming and difficult to pin-down exactly what you need. As a team member of Hunt Lift Eat, I am here to ease the unknown of your next adventure through my own personal experiences and lessons learned.
I am still relatively new to western hunting, but have a couple trips under my belt. I have been fortunate enough to hunt mule deer twice in Wyoming and antelope once. This is my gear breakdown from my WY deer hunt last year (2021) of what I carried in my pack each day while hunting. However, this is not a complete list of everything in camp- that may be a read for another day. This gear is not the most expensive or highest-end either. If hunting on a budget is your thing, this is a very budget friendly gear list. I'm here to say that you don't need the most expensive gear or matching camo to execute in the field. Let's get into it.
Gun Set up
Rifle- Tikka T3x chambered in .30-06
Ammo- Federal Power-Shok 30-06 Springfield 150 grain
Rifle Scope- Vortex Crossfire II 4-12x50
Bipod- Caldwell M-LOK/KEY MOD XLA Bipod
I absolutely love my Tikka, it has been a fantastic rifle for me in the 30-06. It has taken whitetail in Georgia, axis deer in Hawaii, as well as mule deer and antelope in WY. My vortex scope has also been fantastic. There are many higher end models with more magnification and adjustable turrets and that may be an upgrade in the near future, but the Crossfire II has worked well for me. I'd absolutely recommend getting a 50mm objective lens because it works so much better in low light than anything smaller. My Caldwell bipod is old but it's a classic, tried and true there. Highly recommend.
Base Layers- Badlands Ovis ¼-Zip Crew and Mutton Leggings
Mid Layer- King’s Camo XKG Foundation 150 Merino ¼ Zip
Outer Layer- King’s Camo Guides Choice Storm Fleece Jacket
Pants- King’s Camo XKG Preacher Pant 2.0
Hunt Lift Eat Beanie- Discontinued but check out our blaze hats here.
Gloves- Kombi Traction
These Badlands base layers are great and affordable, and I use them all season here in Georgia. Moving up from base layers, I am a huge King's Camo guy. I love their products and their affordability that fits my budget. I have put their gear through the ringer on public land hunts; blizzards, rain, sleet, deserts in Hawaii- King's Camo is legit and I love it. The Storm Fleece jacket was a lifesaver this trip with all the snow we had every afternoon and the cutting winds in WY. The Preacher Pants have awesome knee pads that were incredibly handy, especially on stalks and with all the cactus everywhere. My leather Kombi gloves are fantastic too- waterproof and tough as shit on rough terrain.
Top- Colombia Mens PHG Rain Jacket/
Bottoms- Colombia Men’s PHG Trophy Rack Silent Rain Pants
I never leave camp without my rain gear- tops and bottoms. They usually go in the bottom of my pack and I promise you will want them when you need them.
Danner- Vital 400g
I love these boots. I run hot and sweat very easily so I went with the 400g insulation. Wet feet are the worst in the back country and without taking care of your feet your hunt can be brutal. These boots have walked all over the aforementioned states including some gnarly terrain in the Big Horn Mountains and have never let me down. There are plenty of tough and field tested, higher end boots out there but these have always worked for me.
Binos- Vortex Crossfire HD 10x50
Range finder- Vortex Impact 1000
Bino harness- Vortex Glasspak Binocular Harness
I will say these optics options are probably close to the minimum you'll need to increase your chances at a successful hunt out west. These have served me well for many, many hunts and well over 100 days in the field last year. I would say a range finder is a MUST, especially for someone coming from the South where we do not shoot more than 100 yards. Judging distance is hard, at least for me, and you don't want a misjudged distance to be the difference between success and failure.
My Vortex binos are great but there have been times when I wish they were the Viper 12x50s although those are more heavy to carry. My only caveat to my optics list would be consider adding a spotting scope and tripod like the Vortex Diamondback line and a SIRUI tripod.
Headlamp- Petzel Tactikka +RGB
Game Bags- Alaska Game Bags
Med Kit- Campmor
Windicator- Dead Downwind Wind Checker
I would say all of these pieces here are pretty necessary. A solid headlamp with a strong red lenses is key. Gaiters are a must have when dealing with snowy/sleet/or dewy conditions. A robust med kit is the piece of gear you hope you never need. I always throw in a couple CAT tourniquets, quick clot, and a sewing kit for deeper cuts.
Skinning/Caping- Knives of Alaska Alpha Wolf D2/Cub Combo Suregrip
Mini Saw- Gerber Vital Pack Saw
Survival- Esse RB3
I swear by this combo of knives here. They are all fantastic and serve different purposes. I have added another to my pack that I always carry- that would be my Stand To Blade Company Loki. That knife is the best quality and most diverse knife I own. Check out their website here.
The Knives of Alaska are excellent at skinning and caping kills. The mini saw is perfect for a tough brisket, and my Esse is the best survival knife on the market. Backed by a lifetime warranty, my Esse always goes with me. I attached a Ferro Rod to the sheath for emergency fire making.
Alps Outdoorz Traverse EPS
There are tons of packs out there, but this Alps hit my budget once again. It is a fantastic and durable pack. Tons of room for gear as well as packing meat after a kill. There is a chamber for a water bladder and a drop down holster for carrying your rifle. I carried this pack for 5 days using it to its fullest capacity, it packed out a quartered mule deer extremely well.
I hope this is helpful to some of y'all. Western DIY hunts can be done on a budget but some gear is better saving for and buying higher quality. Keep in mind that if I had an unlimited budget I'd have a much different gear list here. It's all about balance! Get out there and hunt and hit us with any questions you have about specific gear!
Thanks for reading!
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