Updated Sep 7, 2022 5:25 PM
Finding the right gifts for hunters is no easy task. In fact, most dedicated hunters probably already have all the equipment they need. This doesn’t mean they don’t want more gear, because hunters always want more gear. You just need to find the equipment they can’t go into the field without.
That’s no easy task, especially if you don’t hunt yourself. But you can’t go wrong if you know what questions to ask. Consider what type of game they hunt, where and when they hunt, and how many days they spend in the woods. These factors contribute to what kind of gear they bring into the field. To help save you some time and ensure your gift doesn’t end up in the corner of the garage, I put together this list of gift ideas. I even broke it down from general gift ideas to pursuit-specific equipment for the hunting-obsessed. No matter what they chase in the fall, these are the best gifts for hunters.
What to Consider When Buying Hunting Gifts
When it comes to gear, hunters are picky. We like to have certain things for specific hunts, and once we find what works, we rarely deviate from it. Consider the following to make sure the next gift you give makes it into your hunter’s pack.
What type of game are they hunting? This should be the first question you ask when looking to buy a hunting gift. Although there is some overlap, hunting gear usually differs from one pursuit to the next. Duck hunters need waders, decoys, and a blind bag. Upland hunters need blaze orange, field pants, and boots. Big game hunting even differs based on species and location. Before you begin your search, determine what type of hunting they do and focus on that niche.
Location and Time of Year
Hunting conditions vary all across the country. This means that a duck hunter in Maine will use different clothing than a duck hunter in Texas. Think about where and when they hunt. Do they venture out into sub-zero temperatures? Are they hiking mountains to find elk? Do they require layering systems throughout the season? These questions help you consider seasonality and what conditions the gear needs to perform in.
Durability and Use
Quality hunting gear should last season after season. I am a believer in investing in quality gear for the long haul. This might mean spending a little more upfront, but if hunting is something the person is serious about, then quality gear is worth it. I want equipment that can take a beating and continue to perform like brand new. I look for clothing with Gore-Tex and Wind-Stopper technology, lifetime warranties, and top-notch materials. Hunting gear gets put through the wringer, and if you buy something that can’t withstand the elements, it won’t last very long.
There are a few pieces of gear that I can’t recommend enough, and the Yeti panga duffel falls into that category. I’ve written about this bag more than once, and I am happy to do it again. The truly waterproof design will make sure all of your gear and clothes stay dry. I unintentionally tested this out when I left my panga outside my tent during a rain storm in Southern Idaho on a hunt. Everything stayed bone dry. It was as authentic as a gear test can get. The panga comes in three sizes, and the new tan color is easy on the eyes.
I recently moved to Colorado and this fall will be my first season in the Rockies. The steep mountains have proven to be tough on my body this summer, and I needed to get in shape before elk season. Mtntough Fitness Lab offers western hunters the ability to train year-round with specific programs for preseason prep, in-season training, and postseason strengthening. I started with the 80-day backcountry hunter preseason prep training. Although I wish I had been more disciplined with the program, it still helped me improve my endurance in preparation for the season. The step-by-step instructions and videos are extremely helpful in keeping you on track during the workout. Hunting subscription services usually come in the form of dropping pins on maps, but Mtntough fitness is something that every hunter can benefit from.
Best Spotting Scope: Maven CS.1
Backcountry hunts require good optics and the Maven CS.1A combines excellent glass with a lightweight construction at a reasonable price. The CS.1 is built with extra-low dispersion ED Glass to offer a clear image and features a 15-45x magnification range with a 65mm objective lens for long-range performance. I’ve been using this spotter over the last two months to find game and prepare for hunting season. My Maven B.6 binos help me locate animals first before I switch to the CS.1 to dial in for a better view. It is built from a lightweight magnesium and aluminum frame, making it easy to pack and carry in the field. The CS.1 fits perfectly into the front pocket of my Stone Glacier Sky 5900 and mounts easily on my Sirui T-024SK Tripod. The CS.1 retails for $800, but considering the quality of this spotting scope, it’s a good value. Plus, the Maven lifetime warranty ensures you’ll always have a spotter season after season.
A big game hunting knife needs to be strong, sharp, durable, and lightweight. The new Benchmade 15600OR Raghorn has all those qualities, plus a hi-vis orange cerakote finish on the blade. When I took this knife out of the box, I held it up to a piece of paper, and without applying any pressure, the Raghorn cut it like butter. This knife is sharp! The lightweight design makes this the ideal backcountry big game hunting knife. It will be in my pack for every one of my hunts this fall, and you can pick one up when it releases in late October.
Safety is first. That’s always been my motto. Hunting can take us to some pretty awesome places, but they’re often remote and dangerous. The Garmin 66i is a handheld GPS and satellite communicator with an interactive SOS feature available 24/7. My favorite feature is the satellite communicator because I can let my friends and family know I am safe in the backcountry. The 66i comes with preloaded messages for quick transmission, or you can type out longer-form messages. Users will have to pay for a monthly subscription service that ranges from $10/month to $50/month. You can learn more about the plans and features on the Garmin website.
It turns out that not much of the hunting gear I used in the east transfers well to the west. One of the biggest holes in my gear arsenal was a reliable pack. The Stone Glacier Sky 5900 is the perfect multi-day pack and has been with me on many preseason trips into the mountains this summer. It will be what I hunt out of this fall during a 5-day elk hunt and my weekend mule deer expeditions. It has enough room to fit my tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, extra layers, food, optics, safety equipment, and other miscellaneous gear. The pack’s weight on a medium Xcurve frame is 5 pounds, 8 ounces, and it has a 150-pound load rating. The 5,400 cubic inches of space in the main compartment is plenty of room for multi-day hunts. The pack and frame distribute weight evenly across my back and make for a comfortable hike.
This might not be the first gift idea that comes to mind for duck hunters, but it’s a good one. The loadout box is the perfect accessory for a duck boat. It is fully waterproof and extremely durable—two things waterfowl hunters need their gear to be. I keep my safety equipment, such as flares, tools, first aid kit, extra plugs, and rope, in mine. Everything stays organized, but more importantly, dry from the saltwater of the bay I hunt. I also like the divider and tray that comes with the box. It helps me keep my safety gear organized and still has enough room for extra shells, decoy line, calls, and decoy anchors.
I switched to the Sitka Stratus Pant two years ago and never looked back. This pant is incredibly quiet and surprisingly warm. I’ve worn mine from early October all the way into December. As the season goes on and the cold sets in, I add a merino wool baselayer, and I am perfectly comfortable. I wouldn’t wear these pants for an early September velvet hunt, but once the temperature drops below 60, I can add and subtract layers to remain comfortable. It is one of the most versatile deer hunting pants I’ve ever worn.
Backcountry hunting requires you to live out of your pack for multiple days. This means freeze-dried meals and as little weight as possible. The MSR Windburner stove is perfect for hunters heading into the mountains on extended expeditions. It has a windproof radiant burner that can perform in less-than-ideal conditions with a fast boil rate. I keep mine in my truck drawer system and a few freeze-dried meals in case I ever find myself far away from food. Coming in at under a pound, this is my backcountry hunting stove and what will be with me on my week-long elk hunt.
The game series hats from Duck Camp are some of the most stylish lids I’ve ever worn. The mallard hat is my favorite simply because I love ducks. You can choose from an array of game and fish species to fit whatever your hunter loves to chase. I know this is a hunting gift guide, but my new brown trout hat has quickly become my go-to on the river. The designs are stylish with a vintage look, and they are pretty darn comfortable.
The Sitka Dakota hoody is my favorite piece of hunting clothing that I own. I waterfowl hunt from the first day of October to the last day of January, and I wear this hoody on almost every hunt. It can handle warmer mornings in the early season without making you uncomfortable, and by the time the snow rolls around, it serves as my most important layer. Most mornings, I just wear my Dakota hoody with a t-shirt underneath. It is the most versatile layer I own. I can’t recommend this hoody enough to fellow waterfowls. If you’re only going to buy one piece of duck hunting clothing this year, let it be the Dakota hoody.
How I Made My Picks
Besides being on the gear team here at Field & Stream, I am an avid waterfowl, upland, and big game hunter. I’ve chased ducks from the Atlantic Ocean in the Northeast to the flooded marshes of Texas. I’ve hunted grouse in Maine and chukar in Idaho. I grew up hunting whitetails, and I’ll be spending this fall in the backcountry of Colorado chasing elk. Through my hunting experiences, I’ve had the opportunity to test and accumulate a lot of gear. I’ve become particular about what equipment I bring with me in the woods, and I am adamant about each piece of gear serving a purpose. Everything I’ve recommended is a piece of gear I own and use. I am confident that the hunter you’re shopping for will also share my opinion on the equipment above.
Q: What do you get a hunter that has everything?
A hunter never has everything. If they claim they do and don’t want anything else—they’re lying. Hunters, by nature, are gear junkies. We accumulate gear and constantly tinker with what we have to make it better and more fit for our pursuits. Yes, some hunters have their gear arsenal dialed, but we are always open to new pieces of equipment that will improve our days in the field. If they claim they have everything, get them a Duck Camp hat. Who doesn’t love an awesome hat?
Q: What to give a novice hunter?
Beginners are just starting, and chances are they don’t have much. Since hunting is such a gear-intensive hobby, there are plenty of gifts you can get them. A good knife like the Benchmade Raghorn is an excellent gift for a beginner. Your first hunting knife is somewhat of an heirloom and something that every hunter remembers. If they already have a knife, get them something tailored to their pursuit. This could mean duck decoys, turkey calls, or a new pack.
Q: How much do gifts for hunters cost?
Hunting gifts range in price, and the cost depends on what you’re buying and the quality of the gear. My advice is to buy something that will last for years to come. Hunting gear needs to be durable, and it isn’t worth skimping out on, especially if it means safety. If the person is serious about hunting, then buy a piece of quality gear. It may be a little heavier on the wallet upfront, but it will be worth it in the long run.
I’ve received numerous hunting gifts that ended up in the land of misfit toys. It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate the gesture, but rather the gear didn’t serve me a purpose. Before you buy your hunter a gift, think about what they hunt, where they hunt, and how often they go. These questions will lead you to pursuit-specific ideas that are much more useful.