A person wanting to take up hunting today must be bewildered as to how to get started, unless they have someone to mentor them. Even then they may be overwhelmed with what to purchase for clothing, accessories, and equipment. Hunters today are marketed for everything from the best socks they should wear to how to best cover up or “eliminate” their odor. New hunters as well as a lot of seasoned hunters fall into what I would call a marketing trap. They are looking for the best or should I say easiest way to solve what they perceive to be an obstacle when hunting. Don’t get me wrong as I’m a capitalist and want see any company prosper and there are a lot of great products on the market that will surely make a hunt more comfortable or enjoyable. I just think a lot of hunters get the idea that there is a product to help them overcome any shortcomings they may have. I believe a lot of the products are a waste of money but, hey if it gives a hunter more confidence it’s their money to spend.

          I have observed this phenomenon develop over the past twenty years of being an outfitter. The first wave of products were calls and in particular, grunt calls were all the rage. Calls have been around for a long time but the grunt call phenomenon exploded. Now there are hundreds of calls to choose from and I Doubt that there are many deer hunters who don’t own at least one. Every company claims they have made their call with just the right tone to bring any buck running in, but the bottom line is any one of them will work in the right circumstances. Don’t think that by buying the latest and greatest grunt call, that you will be sure to kill a buck. Learn where the bucks live and travel and hunt them, using your call when an opportunity arises.

          Right along with all these calls came the scent craze. First it was the cover scents which range from skunk to apple. Then along came the scent neutralizers and some of them claim to be scent eliminators. I personally have always thought that the eliminator claims are crazy and a waste of money. This has been proven out recently in a court case against Scent Loc, for making unrealistic claims about how their clothing works. You simply cannot make your odor undetectable to an animal. These are the things that start a hunter on the path of looking for the easy way out of hunting. I might suggest that instead of send the time and money trying to eliminate your odor, spend the time learning how to hunt with the wind in your favor. Hey, I use a little buck scent on me in hope of tripping up a buck for maybe a split second, but I don’t hunt upwind thinking I won’t be winded. Keep the wind in your favor and you won’t have to worry about trying to eliminate your scent.

          Doe estrous scent is a great way to attract a buck, but I am amazed at how many ways have dreamed up to use it. There’s a bag to drip the doe urine into a scrape that supposedly only drips in the daytime (I never figured out how that would work), and you can even buy deer dropping to go along with your urine! You can buy a heater to warm up the urine or you can buy urine in a can! Believe me; I’ve seen about everything made come through my lodge by hunters thinking they are going to get the edge on a buck. Somebody is always thinking of ways to get our money, and I suppose you can’t blame them as they wouldn’t do it if someone wasn’t giving it to them. I think hunters can spend so much time using this stuff they really don’t have time to hunt.

          When I started hunting in the late sixties, our hunting clothes consisted of wool, flannel, and sweatshirts. The only long underwear I can remember was the cotton waffle type. Now you can get them in every material know to man. This is a good thing as those old cotton ones weren’t much good if you got wet or sweaty. Boots were rubber or leather and there were not many choices. Until I got a pair of Bean boots, I wore a pair of zip up overshoes over my school shoes. Now there is no limit to the choices for hunting footwear. This is great too as now there is no reason to have wet or frozen feet. It used to b that every hunter wore wool outerwear, with the exception of the southerners. If you look at any old hunting photo’s from Maine to Oregon and north to Alaska, all the hunters are wearing wool. Nowadays, there are so many type of clothing in so many different fabrics that you couldn’t try them all in a lifetime. But I guarantee there are some hunters on a mission to try to! All of these clothes are probably great for some form of hunting, but for deer hunting in the north there are any that will compare to wool. Believe me I’ve guided hunters who have worn it all because they saw the ad that claimed the clothes the bought were better or quieter than wool, but none of them were. I used to wonder why all the new clothes were camouflage, but then it dawned on me that every time a new camo pattern comes out the company can sell the same clothes again in a different pattern. Actually that is a brilliant marketing strategy, but it is not going to help a hunter be invisible. You become invisible to animal by keeping in the cover or the edges and moving slowly. You learn not to skylight yourself or sit in the open. That is just basic hunting skills and no amount of camo is going to make up for not having them. I have some camouflage clothing and like it for certain things, but I bought it for the material it was made from not because of the camo pattern. I’ve called it turkeys while wearing blue jeans and I’ve had deer standing feet from me while wearing an orange hat and vest. I did it by picking the right place to be and not moving. I say all that to say that I’m not picking on the camo manufacturer because I think all the new patterns are cool. I think if you look at any particular camo pattern as a fashion statement more than a way to fool a buck than you’ll be further ahead of the game.

          Maybe I’m old fashioned or maybe nostalgic, but I truly think hunting would be far more exciting and interesting if hunters would get back to the basics of hunting. Whatever game you may be after learn about their habits and habitat and go after them using your head. This is the only real advantage God has given us over all his other creatures.