Gear is something that will make or break most any hunting situations. A long time ago, I took the stance that I would do whatever possible to ensure my gear would never cost me an animal or a chance at harvesting one. I’m not going to go into specific pieces of gear because that would take me days to break down the importance of individual pieces. However, I will go into a couple different areas including clothing, optics and what you choose to hunt with.
Clothing is surely a piece of gear that will make the difference in whether you’re able to stay out and contend with the elements on hunts from Alaska to California. Like many of the others on here, I don’t think there is any better gear on the market then Sitka Gear. Sitka has come up with a layering system that is tough for others to contend with in terms of quality of gear. The way I look at it is this, if a guy has the luxury of coming back to a camp, house or hotel on their hunting trips, clothing is not nearly as much of an issue compared to the hunters who are staying out and can only pack a limited amount of clothing. Once a person starts hunting from their back, quality of clothing becomes a much bigger deal. Clothing that will dry fast, provide warmth and shelter from the extreme elements, and be tough enough not to be torn to shreds if used for an extended period of time. If you’re not comfortable out there, you won’t stay. Buy the gear that suits your needs and style of hunting; don’t let it cost you opportunities.
This is an easy one, buy the best you can! I’d even say, save another year and buy the next step up. Good optics will save your legs from miles and miles of hiking. You can easily get an accurate idea of what you’re looking at without having to get a lot closer much of the time. They give you more time in the morning and evening to actually see what is there and the quality of what’s there. I bought the Lieca Geovids several years ago thinking it would allow me to carry one less piece of equipment (rangefinder). It did that, however, if you’re archery hunting and right handed you may want to look somewhere else. Very tough to range without putting your bow down to do so. In theory, they were great. In practical archery hunting situations, not so great! I heavily rely on my optics in all hunting situations. My advice would be purchase the best you can.
There are a million great rifles and bows on the market these days. I think people have to really take the time to become intimate with whatever weapon they choose to use. Especially when you start adding different accessories to your bow or rifle! Make sure anything you add (scopes, sights, rests, quivers, lens caps, bipods,etc) to your setup are user friendly and that you’ve taken the time to use them prior to actually hunting with it. Simply changing your release can make a dramatic difference on where your arrow will impact. Be familiar with what you choose to use and believe in it…