One thing that makes the barrier to entry so high when it comes to hunting is having enough of the right gear. Each species has its own specific requirements, and few of us have $3,000 or $4,000 to drop on a sport that we’re just trying out for the first time. Many people overcome this barrier by being born into a hunting family, so hand-me-downs and borrowables are readily available, and Christmas and birthdays are always hunting-gear heavy. If you’re reading this article, though, you’re probably starting from scratch. If you can afford it, it’s definitely worth paying extra money to get quality stuff, but more likely than not, your best bet is to start cheap and upgrade over time. While it’s possible to hunt with very little equipment, there’s no denying that good tools increase your odds of success and your level of comfort—and as a beginner, you’re going to need all the help you can get. Here are 10 items to get you started.


Of all the gear you need to go hunting, a weapon is the most essential. The shotgun is unquestionably the most versatile choice you can make to give yourself the ability to hunt different species. A 12- or 20-gauge shotgun can hunt everything from birds and squirrels to deer and bear, simply by putting different ammo in the gun.

Camouflage Suit

How you dress for hunting is incredibly important. If you’re going to get close enough to shoot anything with a shotgun, you’re going to need to be able to conceal yourself. If you’re going to be comfortable enough to spend a day outside, you’ll also need to be able to deal with whatever Mother Nature throws at you. I personally own a ridiculous amount of hunting clothing, because each extreme of heat, cold or moisture requires a different garment, and each season and species needs a different pattern to blend with the surroundings—but this is an expensive collection I have taken a lifetime to amass.

If you’re just getting started and trying to stretch your dollar, my recommendation is that you get a lightweight, full-body suit that is one size too big, a face mask, and light shooting gloves in a matching fall woods pattern with brown-dominant color. The light suit and face mask will be cool enough for early-season hunting but large enough to put over winter or waterproof gear you may already own for colder hunts, and light gloves will do remarkably well in your pockets while maintaining dexterity for shooting. A brown-dominant woods pattern is, in my opinion, the most versatile camouflage, because only in heavy snow will that color be mostly eliminated from your surroundings.


Having the right boots is the most important part of hunting comfort, and its importance cannot be overstated. Your feet will be the first thing to get so cold that you can’t stand to sit still anymore, so keeping them warm and dry is paramount. Like the clothing, I also own many different types of boots, but if you can choose only one, get a pair of insulated rubber knee-highs. If you get quality ones that fit you well, they will be comfortable enough for long hikes. With light socks, it’s not a big deal to wear them in warm conditions, and with heavy socks, they can endure intense cold. Being rubber and tall, you’ll be able to wade through snow, mud and even shallow creeks with ease. Just remember to tuck your pants into them when dealing with these obstacles, or you’ll end up with moisture wicking into your socks from your wet pants.


If you’re going to hunt, you need to carry a knife to field-dress game. Get a quality blade with good steel and learn how to keep it sharp. There are a million options out there, but all you need is a 3- to 4-inch folding knife with a locking blade. Anything larger than 4 or 4.5 inches is overkill.


Getting in and out of the woods in the dark is often easier than you’d think without using a flashlight, but the tool is still an absolute necessity in hunting. If you need to find something you dropped on the ground, locate a landmark you’ve lost or follow the blood trail of a deer, having a quality light is essential. Get yourself a high-powered LED light that is lightweight and capable of hands-free use through something like a hat clip. They aren’t cheap, but they are worth every penny when you need them.

Vacuum Sealer

If you’re going to put a ton of time and money into getting your protein the old-fashioned way, it’s worthwhile to invest in a good vacuum sealer if you’re butchering any of it yourself. A well-sealed package that’s void of air will keep meat fresh for years in the freezer. I’ve eaten tenderloins that were four years old and still tasted great. A poorly sealed package or one that has an air pocket will eventually result in freezer burn, though this funky-smelling damage is only on the surface, and not harmful. You can trim it away and have a slightly smaller, perfectly good piece of meat. The better option, though, is to fork over the extra cash to get a quality machine and follow the instructions well.


You need a camo pack to put stuff in. Get a good pack that is water resistant with many pockets, the ability to strap things to the outside, and a waistband for heavy loads. It needs to have lots of room for cargo in the main compartment for things like storing your warm layers while you hike into your spot. You don’t have to break the bank, but don’t get the cheapest thing available, because it will fall apart on you.


A lightweight folding saw can do wonders. They’re small, light, surprisingly effective and pretty inexpensive. Some even come with extendable arms, which is extremely handy. If you’re deer or turkey hunting, you’ll now have the ability to turn an otherwise blocked shot into a shooting lane with surgical precision. If you’re waterfowl hunting, a saw is an invaluable aid when it comes to gathering brush to build a blind. I always have one in my pack.


This one is mostly specific to deer hunting, but given the popularity of whitetail hunting and the advantage that elevation affords a deer hunter, it has to be on the list. There are several different types of treestand, but for someone just starting out, the way to go is probably with a hang-on stand. Hang-on stands require a separate climbing system, but they are portable and can be hung in places where other treestands can’t go. You can set it up in a favorite spot for the whole season, or you can break it down in a few minutes and hunt a different location every time. Get one made of aircraft-grade aluminum rather than steel to cut the weight in half and eliminate rust. They range widely in price, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to get something that will do well. They can often be found on Craigslist at a fraction of retail price if you keep your eyes peeled for them. 


There’s no way around the fact that you need a vehicle to go hunting. Even if public transit would allow you to bring your shotgun along for the ride, it is extremely unlikely they would drop you within walking distance of somewhere you want to hunt at 5 a.m. You also need the ability to transport a lot of gear, and you especially want to be able to keep something like a freshly killed deer outside the cab. It’s not impossible with a sedan, but you’d be doing yourself a favor to get an SUV or a pickup truck. If you’re not working with a pickup, I highly recommend having a trailer hitch installed if you don’t already have one so you can use an exterior cargo carrier for the dirty and bloody stuff.