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Finding the best gifts for hunters is no easy task. In fact, most dedicated hunters probably already have all the equipment they need. That doesn’t mean they don’t want more gear, because hunters always want more gear. You just need to find the equipment they can’t go into the field without.
If you don’t hunt yourself, it can be difficult to know what gear is useful for hunters. But you can’t go wrong if you ask these questions: What do they hunt for? Where and when do they hunt? How many days do they spend in the field? These factors contribute to what kind of gear they bring into the field. To help save you some time and ensure your hunting gifts don’t end up in the corner of the garage, we’ve put together this list of hunting gifts. No matter what they chase—from whitetails to waterfowl—these are the best gifts for hunters in 2023.
Best Gifts for Hunters
There are a few pieces of gear that I can’t recommend enough, and the Yeti panga duffel falls into that category. I’ve written about this bag more than once, and I am happy to do it again. The truly waterproof design will make sure all of your gear and clothes stay dry. I unintentionally tested this out when I left my panga outside my tent during a rain storm in Southern Idaho on a hunt. Everything stayed bone dry. It was as authentic as a gear test can get. The panga comes in three sizes, and the new tan color is easy on the eyes.
Backcountry hunts require good optics and the Maven CS.1A combines excellent glass with a lightweight construction at a reasonable price. The CS.1 is built with extra-low dispersion ED Glass to offer a clear image and features a 15-45x magnification range with a 65mm objective lens for long-range performance. I’ve been using this spotter over the last two months to find game and prepare for hunting season. My Maven B.6 binos help me locate animals first before I switch to the CS.1 to dial in for a better view. It is built from a lightweight magnesium and aluminum frame, making it easy to pack and carry in the field. The CS.1 fits perfectly into the front pocket of my Stone Glacier Sky 5900 and mounts easily on my Sirui T-024SK Tripod. The CS.1 retails for $800, but considering the quality of this spotting scope, it’s a good value. Plus, the Maven lifetime warranty ensures you’ll always have a spotter season after season.
When in doubt, a good bottle of spirits makes for a hard-to-beat holiday gift—and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better spirit than Pendleton Directors’ Reserve Whisky. I speak from experience: A friend sent me a bottle of this stuff last Christmas, and I enjoyed it all winter long. (Well, most of the winter. It didn’t last the entire season.) This delicious and smoooooth whisky has notes of oak, cinnamon, and pecan. Pendleton recommends sipping it neat, but I prefer it with one large ice cube. Either way, you can’t go wrong. What matters most is that you enjoy it with family and friends—ideally while telling hunting and fishing stories around a fire. —Colin Kearns
Whether you’re putting up a trail camera or clearing overgrowth around your tree stand, a good pair of work boots is a necessity. And Ariat makes some of the best ranch boots and Western work boots we’ve ever tested. The Hybrid Rancher is a standout thanks to its waterproof construction and well-cushioned insole. They’re tough, rugged, and, most importantly, comfortable right out of the box—no break-in period required. Plus, they’re incredibly well-made, so they’ll last for a long time with frequent use and wear, no matter what you throw at them.
No list of the best gifts for hunters would be complete without a big game hunting knife, which needs to be strong, sharp, durable, and lightweight. The new Benchmade 15600OR Raghorn has all those qualities, plus a hi-vis orange cerakote finish on the blade. When I took this knife out of the box, I held it up to a piece of paper, and without applying any pressure, the Raghorn cut it like butter. This knife is sharp! The lightweight design makes this the ideal backcountry big game hunting knife. It will be in my pack for every one of my hunts this fall, and you can pick one up when it releases in late October.
Safety is first. That’s always been my motto. Hunting can take us to some pretty awesome places, but they’re often remote and dangerous. The Garmin 66i is a handheld GPS and satellite communicator with an interactive SOS feature available 24/7. My favorite feature is the satellite communicator because I can let my friends and family know I am safe in the backcountry. The 66i comes with preloaded messages for quick transmission, or you can type out longer-form messages. Users will have to pay for a monthly subscription service that ranges from $10/month to $50/month. You can learn more about the plans and features on the Garmin website.
The Longbow sleeping pad came with me on every backcountry hunt this fall. It is lightweight, durable, and warm—everything you need for long backcountry hunts. It includes a micro-adjustable valve that makes it easy to inflate and deflate your pad for optimal comfortability. The packed weight of the Longbow is only 1 pound, 5 ounces, and it won’t take up much room. It has an R-value of 4.8, which means this pad can handle cold last-season conditions. Tailored for serious hunters, the Longbow Alpine sleeping pad is a must-have for backcountry hunts.
The Apex Mossy Oak Shadow Habitat Blend hits hard. These stacked nontoxic shells feature a blend of 1-1/16oz #3 steel over 1/4oz #8 TSS. The included tungsten super shot increases pattern density and crushes birds. I’ve been hunting with these loads this fall and am extremely impressed with how hard they hit. Birds just seem to fold, and my cripple percentage has gone way down since shooting this blend. Hunters can buy a box of Apex Mossy Oak Shadow Habitat Blend for $55 or a 250-round case for $490. And if you’re looking for a cheaper, high-quality steel load, I recommend Apex S3-Steel.
This might not be the first gift idea that comes to mind for duck hunters, but it’s a good one. The loadout box is the perfect accessory for a duck boat. It is fully waterproof and extremely durable—two things waterfowl hunters need their gear to be. I keep my safety equipment, such as flares, tools, first aid kit, extra plugs, and rope, in mine. Everything stays organized, but more importantly, dry from the saltwater of the bay I hunt. I also like the divider and tray that comes with the box. It helps me keep my safety gear organized and still has enough room for extra shells, decoy line, calls, and decoy anchors.
I switched to the Sitka Stratus Pant two years ago and never looked back. This pant is incredibly quiet and surprisingly warm. I’ve worn mine from early October all the way into December. As the season goes on and the cold sets in, I add a merino wool baselayer, and I am perfectly comfortable. I wouldn’t wear these pants for an early September velvet hunt, but once the temperature drops below 60, I can add and subtract layers to remain comfortable. It is one of the most versatile deer hunting pants I’ve ever worn.
Backcountry hunting requires you to live out of your pack for multiple days. This means freeze-dried meals and as little weight as possible. The MSR Windburner stove is perfect for hunters heading into the mountains on extended expeditions. It has a windproof radiant burner that can perform in less-than-ideal conditions with a fast boil rate. I keep mine in my truck drawer system and a few freeze-dried meals in case I ever find myself far away from food. Coming in at under a pound, this is my backcountry hunting stove and what will be with me on my week-long elk hunt.
The game series hats from Duck Camp are some of the most stylish lids I’ve ever worn. The mallard hat is my favorite simply because I love ducks. You can choose from an array of game and fish species to fit whatever your hunter loves to chase. I know this is a hunting gift guide, but my new brown trout hat has quickly become my go-to on the river. The designs are stylish with a vintage look, and they are pretty darn comfortable.
Best Hunting Apparel: Sitka Dakota Hoody
The Sitka Dakota hoody is my favorite piece of hunting clothing that I own. I waterfowl hunt from the first day of October to the last day of January, and I wear this hoody on almost every hunt. It can handle warmer mornings in the early season without making you uncomfortable, and by the time the snow rolls around, it serves as my most important layer. Most mornings, I just wear my Dakota hoody with a t-shirt underneath. It is the most versatile layer I own. I can’t recommend this hoody enough to fellow waterfowls. If you’re only going to buy one piece of duck hunting clothing this year, let it be the Dakota hoody.
How I Made My Picks
Besides being on the gear team here at Field & Stream, I am a waterfowl, upland, and big game hunter. I’ve chased ducks from the Atlantic Ocean in the Northeast to the flooded marshes of Texas. I’ve hunted grouse in Maine and chukar in Idaho. I grew up hunting whitetails, and I’ll be spending this fall in the backcountry of Colorado chasing elk. Through my hunting experiences, I’ve had the opportunity to test and accumulate a lot of gear. I’ve become particular about what equipment I bring with me in the woods, and I am adamant about each piece of gear serving a purpose. Everything I’ve recommended is a piece of gear I own and use. I am confident that the hunter you’re shopping for will also share my opinion on the equipment above.
Q: What do you get a hunter that has everything?
A hunter never has everything. If they claim they do and don’t want anything else—they’re lying. Hunters, by nature, are gear junkies. We accumulate gear and constantly tinker with what we have to make it better and more fit for our pursuits. Yes, some hunters have their gear arsenal dialed, but we are always open to new pieces of equipment that will improve our days in the field. If they claim they have everything, get them a Duck Camp hat. Who doesn’t love an awesome hat?
Q: What to give a novice hunter?
Beginners are just starting, and chances are they don’t have much. Since hunting is such a gear-intensive hobby, there are plenty of gifts you can get them. A good knife like the Benchmade Raghorn is an excellent gift for a beginner. Your first hunting knife is somewhat of an heirloom and something that every hunter remembers. If they already have a knife, get them something tailored to their pursuit. This could mean duck decoys, turkey calls, or a new pack.
Q: How much do gifts for hunters cost?
Hunting gifts range in price, and the cost depends on what you’re buying and the quality of the gear. My advice is to buy something that will last for years to come. Hunting gear needs to be durable, and it isn’t worth skimping out on, especially if it means safety. If the person is serious about hunting, then buy a piece of quality gear. It may be a little heavier on the wallet upfront, but it will be worth it in the long run.
I’ve received numerous hunting gifts that ended up in the land of misfit toys. It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate the gesture, but rather the gear didn’t serve me a purpose. Before you buy your hunter a gift, think about what they hunt, where they hunt, and how often they go. These questions will lead you to pursuit-specific ideas that are much more useful.