by Naomi K. Shapiro
To become a hunter, you don't necessarily need to spend a lot. If you're for instance a single-game (deer or turkey are examples) hunter, it won't cost you that much to outfit yourself, BUT, if you want to hunt everything, then it can run into lots and lots of money. There are all the licenses you'll need. There are the different regs that have to be met. Then there is a wealth of different equipment for different hunting - -ducks, geese, turkey, deer, varmints, grouse, bear, pheasant, coyotes - -the list is endless. And don't kid yourself- - every type of game requires at least some modification in the equipment you'll need. Decoys, ammo, firearms, bows, arrows, scopes, clothing, gear, and on and on and on. There's no limit- -and don't think there is. Every time a hunter believes s/he's fully outfitted, there's something else they discover they "really need." It's never ending, and that isn't a put down. We all do it.
Most people gradually get into the equipment they need in steps. Some start as kids, or a bit older, and build up what they need as they go along. This type of approach won't "break the bank," and pretty soon, at least the basic equipment is obtained.
Guide Phil Schweik who has been hunting since he was a kid, says that as an example, if you need equipment to deer hunt, you can outfit yourself pretty-well for under $300 – and don't laugh, he is serious when he says that. Phil works for a major outdoor outfitter, and needs to watch his dollars just as most of us have to do. The first thing Phil suggests is to look for a good used deer rifle. You can get them from almost all outdoor outfitters and gun shops - -who test, and insure their quality and safety - -or at a gun show, or maybe a private party. Every year, lots of folks decide that their hunting days are over – age, physical ability, other things that they want to do - -lots of reasons; and usually just before deer season, you'll see a ton of ads for used deer rifles. And the nice thing is that you can get a nice used rifle, anywhere from a $100 to around $200 – and yes, I know – there are used rifles that go into the thousands, but a nice conditioned .270, 7mm mag, .30/.30, or .30-06 will do you just fine. Add on a piece of needed clothing, ammo, an ancillary this-or-that, your license, and you're good to go - -at $300 or less.
Notice in our "bargain basement shop-a-thon," I didn't mention scopes. That's because it's tough to find a used scope that'll fit your particular needs. They're all different, and "no one size fits all." Phil Schweik says that a scope is really a personal thing, and pretty much needs to be "fit" to the particular firearm it's going to be used with. Phil suggests that you start out using open sights, and then when you have the cash, buy a new scope, that fits your rifle and your needs. Phil says the variety of models and costs is almost beyond description. His best advice is that you take your rifle, and go into an outdoor outfitter or gun shop, and have them make suggestions about what you'll need for your particular firearm and your own physical needs, as well. Costs of course will vary all over the map – and don't buy more than you need.
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