Overcoming Hunting Equipment Paralysis

If you’re new to the hunting world, it can be really confusing to gather your first hunting equipment. Store shelves are full of hundreds of different products, all claiming you need them to be successful. After reading a few of those labels, it can feel like you need to collect a whole lot of stuff before you dare enter the woods.

But there’s good news for you. You don’t need all of that stuff when you’re just getting started. Much of it is pure fluff and distraction. There are a few important pieces of hunting equipment you do need, and we’ll talk about those in more detail below so you can get on your way this next season.

What Hunting Equipment Do You Really Need?

There are a few basic categories of hunting equipment that you definitely need to spend some money on to get started. Unless you happen to know a few relatives or friends with some gear you can borrow. They include hunting weapons, clothing, and a few other important accessories. Most other things can be nice to have, may keep you more comfortable, and even might improve your hunting success. But you don’t need them right out of the gates. Let’s dig into the hunting equipment you need.

Hunting Weapons

The type of hunting weapon you use will greatly depend on what type of wild game animal you’re chasing. Your choice basically comes down to firearms or archery equipment. Each one has its own benefits and drawbacks. Read on below to decide which one would work best for your situation.


Firearms (shotguns or rifles) are a bit easier to start using, have a much further shooting range, and are highly accurate with ample practice. The only down side is that they are loud, which can sometimes feel like you’re disrupting the natural flow of the world. It might also feel like it’s an unfair advantage. But at the same time, the goal of any ethical hunter is a quick death to the animal you’re hunting. And firearms can certainly deliver in that department.

Depending on what state you’re hunting in, you may only be permitted to use shotguns when hunting big game. In that case, there are two clear choices that will help you hunt small and big game species alike (e.g., the 12 and 20 gauge shotguns).

If you can use a rifle with a scope, you can take farther shots with high accuracy. Starting with a .243 caliber rifle is a good entry point because it is capable of killing deer very quickly, but can also be used on antelope or other similar-sized animals. Another good option is a .270 or .30-06 caliber rifle.


Archery equipment is a little different. It’s a quiet and intimate way to hunt your prey. After waiting in absolute stealth, you need to make a shot that can often be less than 30 yards away, which can be very intense. It’s a very primal way of hunting that triggers some interesting instincts you don’t realize you still possess. The down side is that it can be hard to get animals within these close distances. Once they’re that close, you need to be ultra-cautious about your movements and sounds. Archery is also more of an art form, which requires a lot of practice to learn it’s subtleties and become proficient.

If you really want to take this route, go to an archery shop. They can measure your body and fit you to a bow that will work for your frame.

Hunting Clothing

Outdoor clothing will make or break your hunt. Without the right options, you can freeze while you’re outside. Let’s break it down into a few different categories.

Base Layers

These are the most important layers, since they will really help keep your body from temperature swings. These articles of clothing include form-fitting long underwear. They should be made of a synthetic material or natural fiber like wool to wick the sweat away from your skin. That way, when you sweat during the walk into the tree stand, your sweat will evaporate instead of freezing on your skin and making you colder.

Insulating Layers

The clothing that goes over the base layers include pants, shirts, sweatshirts, and vests – basically anything that keeps your body insulated. These layers can be added or removed until you reach your ideal body temperature. Wool or synthetic materials are best for these layers, since they keep you insulated even when wet.

Outer Shell

The outermost layer you wear should be water and wind-resistant to protect you from the elements. They should cover your insulating layers to hold your warmth in. This layer is also where camouflage patterns come into play. Depending on what environment you’ll be hunting in, your camo clothing pattern should be slightly different.

Other Hunting Equipment

As far as other hunting accessories, there’s a lot to choose from. You can feel paralyzed at the store when you look at all the gear out there. Luckily, there are only a few things you truly need. They are listed below. Feel free to use something if you’ve got an equivalent at home.

  • Backpack (color that matches environment you’re hunting in)
  • Knife (with a 4 to 6 inch blade)
  • Rope (20 feet should be plenty)
  • Compass, map, matches, tinder (should you get lost)

That’s really about it for the necessities. Will other things you find at the store help you or make you more comfortable? Without a doubt. But it’s more important that you get started right away than wait to accumulate every little invention out there. You can slowly build your hunting equipment collection over time.

As you can see, you don’t need a lot of stuff to get started. But it can still feel like a lot. You’ll probably have more questions as you go along too. If you’re interested in learning more or would like to get customized advice for your specific hunting situation, we’re going to present a hunter education course for new adult hunters with Ryan Lisson of Zero to Hunt. More details coming soon! You can also post your questions in the forum on this site. Just register and post your question to the community for help.

Posted by Ryan Lisson