The frugal hunter

Sidney Raper
Hunting Insider Feature Writer

Lots of hunters buy into the hype of the latest fads and the slick advertisements promising effortless hunting.  I have a secret that I am going to share with you.  You don’t have to have the latest dirt smell, UV free, regional camo, electronic gizmo that is being sold.  Think about it for a minute: if we had to have all of that stuff, Daniel Boone and the rest of the frontier crowd would have starved to death.  I would wager that more game has been taken by unbathed men wearing blue jeans and flannel than you could count!

Contrary to the reports from the media, the economy is not chugging along merrily.  A lot of people have to stretch their dollars more and more each day.  You can do that with hunting as well.  If you need a tree stand, shop for a used one.  I have picked one up for the princely sum of $5.  It was an older climber, and it needed work. I rebuilt it and improved it over the original design.  It is safe, reliable and customized.  I have a total of maybe $25 in it as it sits right now.  Considering the price of new climbers, that is a bargain.

Don’t be afraid or ashamed to shop the clearance rack at your favorite retailer or sporting goods store.  Quite often the stores want to clear the shelves for the next season’s stock, and things get marked down insanely low.  I have picked up two black powder rifles that were new in the box for under $30 each.  One even had a scope!  Game calls are great to pick up after the season.  Let’s face it, animals don’t know if you paid a bargain price or full price to try to lure them in – and they don’t care.

Cover scents have always been interesting.  I understand the theory behind them, and get that it can work.  If you need a cover scent, but don’t want to (or can’t) spend a lot of money, get creative.  Rather than spend your hard earned money on a bottle of fox urine (are you sure that's actually what it is?), why not just find something indigenous to the woods you are hunting.  Crush some pine needles and rub them on your clothes.  Let’s face it; a pine tree isn’t going to scare off anything.  Just be careful and don’t rub it on your skin – a rash can take the fun out of a hunt.

Just because something is sold for a particular season doesn’t mean you can’t use it for other seasons.  A few years back, I was looking for a hunting vest to wear during deer season as well as squirrel season.  I came across a turkey vest that was on super clearance.  It has blaze orange ribbons that you can keep inside, or hang outside the vest – covers deer season.  It has a waterproof game pouch – covers squirrel season.  Plus, it has a built in seat cushion (waterproof of course) and back cushion with more pouches than I can reasonably fill with junk.

Think outside the box.  Keep an open mind, and you will find many solutions that you hadn’t considered.  If you need a big ticket item, keep an eye on eBay and Craigslist.  Get the word out to family and friends.  You never know where the next great deal is coming.  Yard sales and flea markets are great for finding some great deals too.  If you find something that will work, but can be better, don’t be afraid to modify it to work for your needs.  A friend has some fantastic box stands on his farm.  They are in great locations, and are well thought out and solidly built.  But the seats get mighty uncomfortable after a couple of hours.  Some discarded bass boat seats and a couple of bar stools will make a great, silent, comfortable upgrade at very little cost.

No, you don’t need to spend a lot to get the job done.  Being frugal and creative will add a new fun dynamic to your hunting experience. 

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