Yeti

What should I buy next?

KMWJR

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Dec 30, 2015
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Orem, UT
OK, here is the background.

I live in Utah and will most likely not draw out on GS Dear or LE Elk, so I will be hunting on my own adventure style OTC bull elk tag in the Unitas. I have some hunting gear already, but really wanting to prioritize my next purchases.

Here is what I have:
Ruger American in 308 topped with a nikon 3X9 (entry level price point scope)
Full set of Kings Camo XKG gear.
A good day pack (tenzing)
Havalon knife
$50 bunshnell binos
Columbia $80 boots
I have all camping supplies that I need for now
A reliable truck (nothing fancy but gets me where I need to go)

What I don't have:
Quality game bags
A pack to haul meat out
bipods or shooting sticks (I know some guys love them and some don't)
a GPS or onXhunnting map
Rang finder
High end cooler
spotting scope


Should I upgrade some of what I have already (binos, scope, etc??) Or should I finish buy a "minimum" set of equipment before I worry about upgrading what I have?

love you hear your thoughts!
 

JohnCushman

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Nov 27, 2009
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South East Colorado
A good portion of the decision is going to be based on what sort of budget you're looking at. What do you have for cold weather gear or rain gear? Will your boots hold up to a good amount of hiking in the mountains without blisters? In my opinion, you can live without a spotter and a fancy cooler. Coleman extremes will do just fine as far as coolers go and you can get them at walmart. I use my old rucksack from the Army for meat packouts and you can get them for like $30 at an Army surplus store. I would definitely get a GPS and chip and a good mid priced rangefinder. You don't have to spend thousands of dollars on hunting gear to get started. Yes, there's the school of thought to buy once and be done, but to start out, (in my opinion) get what you can afford and upgrade later and keep the old stuff as backups once you figure out your hunting style and needs.
 

Sawtooth

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Jan 14, 2012
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Idaho
If you plan on hunting elk and you don't have horses, my next purchase would be a good pack to pack the meat out.
 

speedgoatstunna

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Oct 7, 2009
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If I were in your shoes, I would look at upgrading your binos, you cant kill what you cant see. Look around for a used external pack frame, as that will do wonders for your body packing out meat. Game bags can be as cheap or spendy as you want. Most importantly, go out and kill a bull and take notes on what worked for you and what didn't. That will let you know what you need better than anything!
 

NoWiser

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Feb 12, 2013
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Minnesota
I'd put my boney into boots and optics. I'm not familiar with that area, but if there is a lot of private land either the GPS with an OnX chip or the app for your phone would be right up there on my list. Everything else would get put on the back burner for now.

Just get the cheap Alaskan game bags. Some of mine are ready for their 4th hunting trip and are still in great shape. They wash up very well.

Last on my list would be the spotter, expensive cooler, and bipod. A cheap Cabelas Alaskan pack frame or Kelty Cache Hauler would do the trick for packing out meat.

This is just my opinion. I look forward to seeing what others have to say.
 

Speeddmn

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Aug 1, 2013
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Helena, MT/ Opheim, MT
Ive hunted the Unitas since 2010 and the weather can be different every year. Also unless you get lucky and get to kill an elk close to the roads you will need something on your back to support the load.

Get a quality frame pack and ditch the day bag.
Get a GPS, don't even need the onXmaps if you only use it in the Uniatas. It helps you get to where you made the kill and back to camp.
Range finder should be on that short list also, granted it is usually so thick 100 yards is a long ways there.
Game bags go hand in hand with any hunting that would require you to haul the meat out in a pack, get them!
Bipod is useless weight, shooting sticks are half if not 1/4 the weight and more versatile. If you have to stand to make the shot, trees are close by, if you have time to set up and lay prone, use your pack, if your kneeling, then use the sticks....
Spotting scope is useless there, well pretty much, extra weight that is not necessary. Remember during rifle season, most the elk move down low and deep cover...
Cooler, the temps will be cooler, use the shade, town isn't that far away if you need to get more ice.
 
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MinnesotaHunter

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I would probably look at your boots (much of your enjoyment of the hunt will hinge on these), binos (you don't need to go crazy, but getting into the 300-400 range will make a world of difference, and pack (no need to go crazy here, just something you can haul meat in. An ALICE pack or an external frame pack of craigslist will be fine).

You don't need to go top of the line, but these things seem like they are the most critical to success.
 

justdada

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Colorado
Comfortable boots make or break you. Plus layering clothes, and managing the layers to keep you warm and dry. GPS will keep you out of trouble and a rangefinder will keep you on target IF you've spent enough time at the range.
If I could do it all over again I would spend the money upfront on good gear and avoid the basement full of gear I've had to replace. I was starting to think I was done hauling meat on my back till I picked up a stone glacier solo... That being said, I packed with a Kelty external frame on more hunts than I can remember, or maybe its just the pain I don't want to remember.
 

Frenchy

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Bozeman, MT
My first thought was to recommend prioritizing a range finder, but then I saw the other comment about binos. That for sure should be an item to upgrade. Binos are the single most used item I use year in and year out. You don't need to break the bank either, but an upgrade would do wonders.

Next I'd put rangefinder. The GPS units are nice but not necessary unless you are hunting private/public boundries. I use my phone way more than my GPS, as the phone apps let me have sattelite images of the area that are more useful than the basic topos.

I'd skip the high end cooler, and spotter for now. The Havalons are nice, but I like having a sturdy fixed blade knife in my pack as well.

I've gone alot of years with a basic garage sale external frame pack for my meat pack. Its amazing what you can strap to a basic frame pack with some chord and a few bungee chords. I have since picked up a used Cabelas Alaska frame pack that works well. Quality game bags are nice, but Pillow cases have worked for alot of people for a long time.
 
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VAspeedgoat

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Timberville, VA
I would spend money in this order: binos, boots, gps, rangefinder, scope, pack. I think the binos and boots are interchangeable and the gps is a must for me to feel confident as well as a good map. The scope and pack would both be upgradeable to me but I think you can get a bargain pack to work but you get what you pay for in a scope. However I think the scope is fine for 95% of the time. I would reccomend a rangefinder of some sort. Others will disagree but I have had good luck on ebay. I agree with some others that you may want to save money on the coolers and game bags. I think your outer layers are fine but you may want to spend some money on baselayers. Merino wool is worth every penny. I bought terramar which is about the cheapest stuff I could find but it has been great.

Check out camofire and steep and cheap. Both will have some good sales coming out of the winter as will sierra trading post.
 

MinnesotaHunter

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This is up to you, but if you cared to share your budget for upgrades/new equipment, you might get some better feedback, and best bang for your buck. A lot of guys on here have figured out the places to get good deals, and what equipment gives the best value. If I knew what you were looking to spend, I could probably give you some better advice.

I did the same thing you are doing about 10 years ago. I found that you don't need to spend a bunch of money to get a serviceable set of equipment, and then you can pick a piece or two to upgrade each year.
 

KMWJR

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Dec 30, 2015
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Orem, UT
All very helpful, this is the type of feedback I was looking for! Keep it coming!

@MinnesotaHunter I spent ~$1400 on new blinds for the wife, so I feel save spending about that much on new hunting gear this year.
 
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wllm1313

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Manetheren
I just went through the same thing prioritizing new gear last couple of seasons and had similar starting gear as you. I would look at new binos first, boots second, pack third. Don't waste your money on GPS or a rangefinder they are great to have and you should buy them eventually but they are not essential. You can get paper topo maps with land ownership info and a compass for cheap (practice during the summer with your compass and reading your maps, invaluable skill) and as long as you don't shoot over 250 yards or so you don't need a rangefinder. I zero my rifle at 200 which essentially means I don't have to worry about drop or rise within my shooting ability. I saw bass pro doing a deal on Steiner Predators for $299.
 

Gr8bawana

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Boots are you #1 priortity. If you can't get to where the elk are nothing else matters.
 

elkmagnet

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Hodale, Idaho
Get a packframe then spend the rest of your budget scouting. IMHO nothing replaces knowing the area and just general time in the woods.
 

bobbydean

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New Mexico
Good boots, good rifle, good binos, good pack frame for hauling meat.

After the hunt, evaluate, Upgrade.

Do not go crazy with the dollars until you now what you need.

You get good advice here, I am suggesting basics,

I hunted with basics for 30 years.
 

Ben Lamb

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Cedar, MI
You can make your own shooting sticks w/ a couple of saplings and some para-cord.

A good GPS is worth it's weight in gold, especially if you get a little confused in the Mountains like I do. I'm not as good reading maps as I should be, so I rely on both.

Good optics are critical.Agree w/ upgrading your Binos.

Practice shooting at different ranges away from established shooting ranges. This will help you gauge your distance rather than relying on a range finder.

Consider upgrading your boots as well. Your feet are your most important asset when hunting.

Agree on a used pack. Check Craigslist often.
 

MinnesotaHunter

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You have quite a bit of room for upgrade there.;) If I were in your shoes, this is what I would be thinking.

1. I would spend the money on some really good non-insulated mountain boots. Look at Kenetrek Mountain Extremes, Lowa Tibets, or similar. make sure you try them on and get the right fit. This is going to cost about $400. You will have a much better time when your feet feel good, and they will last for a decade if you take care of them.

2. Pack (see the following link). This is a pretty good meat packing frame and bigger capacity pack if you want to do some overnights. You also have the option of finding a pack that doubles as a daypack and meat hauler; which if you thought you wanted to go towards there are plenty of good options that could be had in the 200-500 range:
http://www.amazon.com/ALPS-OutdoorZ-Commander-Freighter-Inches/dp/B004R7L7YU/ref=sr_1_14?s=outdoor-recreation&ie=UTF8&qid=1453829146&sr=1-14&keywords=alps+mountaineering

3. Binoculars: pretty much everyone on here swears by the Theron binos, and you can get a set for right around $400 that will compete with higher priced models.

This would leave you around 500 left, that I would probably look at your GPS and Rangefinder. If you are comfortable with maps or have a smartphone, you can get the OnXmaps app for your phone. Also, if you are comfortable keeping your shots closer, you can zero your rifle in a way that you can hold pretty much dead on out to 300yds.
 
Joined
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You have quite a bit of room for upgrade there.;) If I were in your shoes, this is what I would be thinking.

2. Pack (see the following link). This is a pretty good meat packing frame and bigger capacity pack if you want to do some overnights. You also have the option of finding a pack that doubles as a daypack and meat hauler; which if you thought you wanted to go towards there are plenty of good options that could be had in the 200-500 range:
http://www.amazon.com/ALPS-OutdoorZ-Commander-Freighter-Inches/dp/B004R7L7YU/ref=sr_1_14?s=outdoor-recreation&ie=UTF8&qid=1453829146&sr=1-14&keywords=alps+mountaineering

I bought this pack, used it once and returned it after hauling duck decoys for a mile or so, I can't imagine hauling an elk out of the mountains with it. I think a used internal frame backpack of the 70-90L variety is a much better option in everyway and the same or less money. You can always put meat in trash bags and put quarters in the main compartment and just hose it out when you are done.
 

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