Hunters form a diverse community. There are hunters of all genders, ages, shapes, and sizes, and they all have their own idiosyncrasies. One way to learn more about them is to review their hunting gear and assess what type of game they pursue, the places they like to go, and the specific activities they enjoy. Perhaps the most important thing you can really tell by looking at a hunter’s gear is how much they respect the animals they hunt. Those involved in the hunt know that today’s gear can give you an edge and improve your odds of success, as long as you’re applying it correctly to your hunts. But without even talking to a hunter, I feel like I can take a quick inventory of their gear and then predict a lot about them. Here are 15 things I feel confident knowing about someone, based on the type of hunting gear they have.
1. Superstitious things
Most of us love to hunt with a lucky shirt, an heirloom firearm, or some item that belonged to a loved one. It makes us creatures of habit, but whether or not it really brings luck is debatable. No matter, there is still something to say about a person who always carries or uses a specific item while hunting. I keep the tail feathers from the first green-headed mallard I ever got inside my license plate holder and take it with me on every hunt. People who do this may be superstitious, but it probably also means they don’t take hunting more seriously than they should. It’s about having a good time, being a good steward of the land, and appreciating the opportunity.
2. The Turkey King
Turkey hunting is addictive; just ask anyone who does it every year. And while the gear is different from what other hunters going after other types of animals would use, there’s still plenty of it. If they have different types of spring and fall camouflage to choose from, various turkey lures including a motorized version, and a crate full of turkey calls, you’ll know they’re a dedicated gobbler hunter and probably a bit of a hoarder. Our only remaining question is, how can they keep track of everything?
3. The Waterfowl Commander
Sure, calls and camouflage have a lot to do with duck hunting, but we think having a great selection of decoys is a dead giveaway. I’ve personally owned over 100 duck decoys at certain times in my life, which is a paltry drop compared to the 1,000 some hunters use. Particularly if you are in the goose hunting crowd, you know very well that much of lures can and will make a difference. If someone needs a trailer to haul all their waterfowl lures, that really says something. Waterfowl hunters like this one seem to always lean towards the “more is better” option.
These hunters own multiple types of electronic calls and lures, and they probably love hunting so much that they just can’t wait for another deer season once it’s over. Coyotes and other critters need to control their populations, and predator hunters are more than happy to help. In the long run, these hunters are doing the rest of us a favor, so it’s fair to assume they’re generous and kind-hearted beneath their predator-hunting guise.
5. Whoever dies with the most bows wins
Once you go bowhunting, you may never go back. It’s like graduating to a bigger challenge, and many dedicated bow hunters start collecting bows and bow accessories early on. Sometimes this hunter’s basement can look like the local bowhunting shop, and there’s always some tinkering going on. They are a curious type of person and eager to own and master the latest and greatest, even if it means getting a new bow every two years.
6. He cares deeply about his hunting dog.
If your hunting gear includes a first aid kit, tracking collars, food and water, vests, and even head and ear protection dedicated to canines, then it’s fair to assume you’re some kind of bird hunter. The relationship between some hunters and their dogs is very special, and just knowing that they have a soft spot for members of the four-legged family tells you that they are a kind and appreciative person.
7. Very serious deer hunter
Let’s say you have several full-bodied deer lures, an entire rack dedicated to odor removal, and clothes wrapped inside plastic bags until the season starts. I bet you’re an avid deer hunter and probably live somewhere in the Midwest (the most promising deer region in our country). These are the kind of people who like to cover all their bases and leave as little as possible to chance. Setting up and checking trail cameras, hanging and maintaining posts, and then searching weather reports for the right conditions are all part of a serious deer hunter’s mode of operation.
8. Mr. Organization
Such a hunter has to keep everything in its place, including hanging all hunting clothes, stowing boots in a straight line, and religiously labeling bins. They are more prepared than other types of hunters, ready to gather what is needed and go out at a moment’s notice. This is the kind of person who makes lists, has a good memory, and always seems up for anything.
9. Piles everywhere
This is the opposite of Mr. Organization. Someone who leaves their gear piled up in a corner, usually on top of other gear, is the type to lose things easily and can’t always keep track of their belongings. Oh, and the inside of his truck looks like a used hunting store. This is not an instant negative, because disorganized can still mean creative, easygoing, and adaptable. Just give them a checklist before you invite them to the deer forest.
10. Ready for anything
This guy has the latest waterfowl gear, moose hunting gadgets, a full size pronghorn decoy, 15 different turkey calls, tree locks, a predator call system, a squirrel squeaker and a crocodile harpoon to boot. This may seem like an exaggeration, but it’s a good thing. They live by the old saying, “It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.”
11. Honor the past
We all remember our hunting past and can sometimes vicariously relive it through this kind of beloved gear. A hunter who still uses his father’s shotgun, his grandfather’s hunting shirt, or his uncle’s old tree falls into this category. He is a traditionalist who likes to think that he can keep things (such as access to hunting) the way they are if they treat him with respect and don’t take him for granted.
12. Not yet dry
If someone owns spearfishing gear, there are definitely a few things you can say right away. They almost certainly live near the coast and like to be able to see things from a perspective that fewer people enjoy. Hunting underwater is sure to give you a different point of view than your view from the ground! Spearfishing is a great passion, but it’s time to get out of the water and chase some deer, oh my!
13. Pigs on the Brain
This person has at least 10 good hog guns, night vision gear, thermal optics, and subscribes to various YouTube channels for helicopter hog hunting. They are the type that likes a target-rich hunting environment, and might even consider trapping as a means of becoming more productive. Industrious, intelligent, and definitely dedicated, a true hog catcher is someone you can always count on.
14. The primitive is the only way
There is a lot to be discerned about a hunter using a muzzleloader or recurve bow. There may be a hint of “hipster” but that’s because they’re deliberately making things more connected to an era that’s in the past. yes a hunter does your own longbow, then you really have some things to figure out. They are likely to be respectful and honest, and love to dig deep into things to fully understand them.
15. Reading material
If rifles, bows, muzzleloaders, camouflage, calls, and decoys are hunting tools, so are books. If someone’s hunting reading habits are so voracious, it’s safe to say he’s hungry for more. Fill a brain with hunting knowledge and you’ll be letting people know that you’re devoted, educated, and love to collect as much information as possible.
See my book “The Hunter’s Way” by HarperCollins. Be sure to follow my website, or on Facebook and YouTube.