The holidays are upon us and it’s time to hit the stores and start shopping. Well, perhaps not in-person with COVID-19 coming back strong and forcing us to shop online, but the good news is that there are plenty of great online stores to help complete your shopping list. This Christmas shopping list is for those of you shopping for gifts for hunters in your life… even if that means shopping for yourself!
There is a laundry list of gift ideas for hunters to keep them ready for their next outdoor adventure, including wearables, meat processing items, and guided hunts. To help me stay organized, I use a list/task app to take notes throughout the year of items my husband mentions he wants/needs to improve his hunt, which also happened to help me pull this gift idea list together.
Hunting Gift Promo Codes, Coupons, Deals, and Discounts
This is the time of year companies are sending out Black Friday deals and other holiday promotions to encourage shoppers to purchase at their online store, like this offer on free shipping on orders $50+ at Bass Pro Shops.
Sign up for hunting brand email lists to get the best deals this holiday season delivered right to your inbox.
Also, do a search for promo codes for a particular store or brand to see what is available. Don’t overpay for hunting gear when there are plenty of deals available.
Everyone Knows to Buy a Gun For a Hunter, Right?
I won’t start off this list with guns; in fact, I won’t even add guns to the list. Much like optics (which I do have on the list), guns are hard to buy for someone else because there are very clear preferences towards different features of a gun. Unless someone tells you specifically what they want (or you hear them mention it in passing), leave the gun buying to the hunter that is going to use it.
Alright, if you find a smoking deal on a gun and you really want to get it, your favorite hunter will never be disappointed by the addition of a new gun to their collection. Do your research and ask the right questions to make sure you’re making an informed decision.
Top 10 Gifts for Hunters this Christmas
Without further ado, here’s our top 10 list of the best gifts to get your favorite hunter for Christmas this year.
1. Optics: Binoculars, Range Finders, Scopes
After the gun, the first thing any hunter should start investing in is a good set of optics. You can start off on the low end, but odds are your hunter will find that spending a little more on their optics will be well worth the price and the warranty that comes with them.
Optics include binoculars, range finders, spotting scopes, and gun scopes. It also includes night vision and thermal imaging, but check with your local regulations to see if they’re allowed in your area/state – in Colorado, these are illegal to use on your hunt.
A few of our favorite optic brands include (in no particular order) Nikon, Vortex, Leopold, Swarovski, Leica, and Ziess. I use a Nikon camera for the photography I post on this blog and bought my husband his first pair of nice binoculars as Nikons. When the eyepiece broke off of his binoculars, Nikon didn’t bat an eye on covering their lifetime warranty – they shipped him a new pair of the same style the next day (he had to ship back the broken pair, but they shipped the new pair before even receiving the broken pair). With service like that, my heart will always be with Nikon.
For my birthday last year, my husband bought me Vortex binoculars, which also have an AMAZING lifetime warranty (seriously, check out the video to hear stories from other Vortex optics owners and you’ll see why so many people stick with Vortex). I’ve been very impressed with those binoculars.
We have Leopold scopes and swear by their lifetime warranty and quality optics too. I suppose the biggest takeaway here is to make sure your optics are covered by a good warranty. Don’t take advantage of the warranty by using it lackadaisically, but do use it when needed. Optics are expensive, but worth the money when you have a company that stands behind their products.
A word of caution, optics can be hard to buy for other people because often times the person using the optical gear needs to look through the glass themselves. We found this out after I gifted my husband with a spotting scope that ended up making him dizzy and gave him headaches after viewing through the glass. I don’t have an issue with that particular scope and use it, but for his next spotting scope, he’ll definitely be involved in the purchase.
After that experience, we were told by a fellow hunter that the curve of the glass can often times cause dizziness and headache issues and is the reason why the hunter needs to pick his own optics. Good advice to keep in mind.
2. Hunting Pack
“Buy a nice pack. Don’t go cheap.” That is what my husband shouted at me as I asked for his help in pulling this list together. He went on to say, “We got my Eberlestock pack 5 years ago, and look how well it has held up after packing out dozens of animals.”
He’s right, we spent the money on a nice pack that carries all of his gear and is big enough to pack out meat, hides, and mounts. A pack with a frame is best for big game like elk and mountain goats. In our family, we have Eberlestock packs, but that’s not to say that other packs aren’t good, it’s just where we started when we began investing in better hunting gear.
I started off hunting with a black Camelback that I used for hiking and foraging for years before I started hunting, but I soon found out that a larger pack was needed when hunting.
Solid back and shoulder support, a gun carrier, supply organization, and a water system are essential in any hunting pack. A frame and straps are a back-saver for hiking out big game. A rain cover is a perk for rainy and snowy days.
You can never go wrong with getting a knife for any outdoor enthusiast. The go-to knife most people think of is a nice buck knife (great sale on buck knives right now, by the way), but there are so many other types of knives you can shop for!
My husband’s favorite knife in the field and while processing has been the Havalon Piranta knife with replaceable blades. Those replaceable blades ensure the knife is always sharp when it needs to be. We keep a Havalon knife in each of our vehicles and each of our hunting packs. These little knives make for great stocking stuffers.
For field dressing, a complete knife set that includes a caping knife, gut-hook skinner, bone saw, and spreader is great to have on hand. Not all of those blades are essential to carry on the hunt, but the person you gift the set to can easily decide what is and what isn’t essential to carry.
When it comes to processing meat, we have multiple knives we use to get the job done, including filet knives, boning knives, chef knives, and pairing knives. We have multiple boning knives since there are usually more than just one of us working to process the meat.
With cooking, I prefer a Santuko knife with a Granton edge. I started with Wusthof knives, but the metal is hard to keep sharp… and we tried multiple different ways to get the edge back. Last Christmas my husband bought a Japanese Santoku blade with a Granton edge and built the knife handle out of a deer antler he had. The knife is much easier to keep a sharp edge and it fits perfectly in my hand – a great gift idea for any hunter in your life.
When I’m cooking at camp, I LOVE the A.G. Russell folding cook’s knife II. I may not be a chef, but I like to play like one with all of these fancy knives, especially while out at hunting camp. This particular knife was made after Alton Brown himself requested handle scales be added. He got what he wanted and out came a knife that is just as perfect in the kitchen as it is at hunting camp. Yes, you should add this knife to your Christmas list, you won’t regret it.
Knives are much like guns and optics, everyone is going to have their preference. I worked in the restaurant industry selling restaurant equipment to chefs and restauranteurs for a few years. Each person that bought a knife would have a story of why they prefer one knife over another. It’s the feel of the knife in your hand. It’s the weight it gives as slicing and dicing. It’s the ease or difficulty of sharpening the edge – and maintaining the edge. Knives are a thing of beauty, and when taken care of can last quite a while. Seeing a price tag of over $100 for a knife shouldn’t scare you away, but should make you appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship that is involved in building the knife.
Oh, and looking into knife sharpeners. There are hundreds of different types, some that are great for the field and some that are great for the kitchen. My husband got me this one last year and it even worked to bring the edge back on my hard to sharpen knives.
This is a HUGE category and can help you fit gifts under the tree and in stockings. From warm-weather hunting to cold-weather hunting, there are so many clothing items and patterns a hunter can be gifted with. Take cues from your hunter on the things they may want added to their already growing supply of hunting clothes.
My husband was out fishing in the cold the other day without gloves. As he hopped in his truck, he called me and said, “Babe, I really need some cold-weather fishing gloves, my hands are frozen!” We live in Colorado and go through a pair of gloves every year, but there are particular gloves for different things your hunter or fisherman does.
- A thin set of driving gloves are great for – you guessed it – driving and wiping snow away from a vehicle.
- There are thin, waterproof fishing gloves that I’ll end up getting my husband so he can fish while keeping his hands warm.
- Thick gloves are great for keeping your hands warm, but they’re not usable when shooting.
Kuiu has a glove buying guide that is perfect for finding the best glove type. If you buy from Kuiu, use this link to get $50 off your order.
Socks are always great gift ideas, especially the Red Head socks from Bass Pro with a lifetime warranty. They are thick and warm, and if they get holes in them, just return them to Bass Pro for a new pair. These are the only winter socks I buy for my family.
Base layers are another winner. For cold-weather hunting, base layers are a hunter’s best friend. There’s a wide price range for base layers. We started out with cheap base layers and have upgraded overtime to the moisture-wicking type that helps sweat escape while keeping you warm. I don’t have a favorite here, really, I just buy what is on sale. Costco has the 32 Degrees brand and I stocked up on those last Christmas.
There are all kinds of jackets, bibs, and rain gear too, and each of these has different camo patterns. If you’ve noticed your hunter collecting a particular pattern, stick with that pattern. If you don’t know what pattern they prefer, just keep your receipt so they can exchange the item if it is not the pattern they like.
I’m separating this one out from clothing because it deserves special attention. When your hunter is out hiking mountains and rocky terrain, shoes are an essential part of their arsenal.
We started out with cheap hiking boots but soon discovered that only leads to blisters and aching feet. Eventually, we upgraded to Scarpa hiking boots and love those for hiking mountains any day of the year. They help protect ankles from rolling and have held up to our hunting treks. I use my Scarpa hiking boots for hunting and, besides a few bloodstains, they still look great. I have a pair of SHE snake boots I got a few years back that are camouflaged and I thought would be perfect for hunting, but after just one hunting trip they got retired to camp only boots. I also have winter boots for snow, but I wouldn’t use those for winter hunting. I usually stick with the Scarpa boots and use gaiters (another stocking stuffer idea) to keep the snow out. If I’m worried about my feet getting cold, I pack foot warmers to put in the bottom of the boots.
The husband has a couple of pair of muck boots that he uses as his winter boot, but his hiking boots are Alaska GTX Hangwag boots (use promo code FREEMONEY2020 to get $20 when you spend $99). These boots are a bit expensive, but after the recommendation from a dear friend that chatted them up as “the last boot you’ll ever buy him,” I took the leap and got them for Christmas a few years back. My husband is now one of those to sing the praises of these boots as well. I bought him boot conditioner to go with them so he can make sure to keep them in tip-top shape. My husband hunts rough, Rocky Mountain terrain for elk and deer, but also tamer terrain for antelope and bird. With this mix of terrain, he swears these boots are the best he’s ever used. The Alaska GTX is waterproof, which holds up to hiking through snow and rain. The Yukons are more breathable and will save you about $50 if you don’t need waterproof boots.
Boots may be hard to buy because of the different terrain your hunter may be hunting. A great pair of Muck boots could likely be just right for most hunts, as would a favorite pair of regular hiking boots. Chat with your hunter about their boot and shoe needs while out hunting; odds are they’ve already done the research on the next pair of boots they’ve been eyeing.
6. Processing Equipment
For me this category would be higher up on the list because I feel that processing equipment is just as essential as a good knife; but then again, we process all of our own meat. This is another category where cost can start to rise quickly because there is a lot of processing equipment and a wide range of products.
To not get overwhelmed, start small and continue to build out your processing library of equipment on birthdays and during the holidays. Anytime you or your hunter needs a gift, get processing equipment.
Your first meat grinder doesn’t have to be an $800 commercial-grade workhorse, but if you’re processing all of your own meat, you’ll quickly realize why a KitchenAid won’t cut it (I’m pretty sure my KitchenAid started smoking with the first animal we ground up, oops.) Our next grinder was a $130 meat grinder that still works today, 10 years later. Because this one still runs, we haven’t invested in a new one yet, but are very tempted by our buddy’s 1 horsepower grinder that grinds 12 pounds of meat a minute.
Large commercial cutting boards (ours are cutting board is 24”x18’) and deep plastic totes (ours are 15”x20.5”) are easy, cost-effective, and essential tools to making processing so much easier. The big cutting boards take up our countertop space and give more room to cut while maintaining a clean workstation. The plastic totes help carry meat from where the meat is hanging to the place you’ll be cutting and grinding. We have two big totes that we use to help keep different meats separated as we process. I also use the big totes for other things like carrying meals to mom’s house for Thanksgiving dinner or packing them full of food for hunting camp. These tools aren’t that expensive and you’ll thank me later for suggesting them.
A sausage stuffer is great for helping to pack meat into freezer storage bags, but oftentimes the meat grinder can do that too. We like to have a separate sausage stuffer because it’s easier to keep all of the parts cold and maintain a cooler temperature of the meat. We currently have a 5-pound sausage stuffer that is extremely well built and will last us for years to come, but we’re already wishing we would have gone with a 20-pound stuffer.
Other meat packing supplies like bags and ties, dehydrators, vacuum sealers, and smokers like these are always great to slowly start acquiring.
7. GPS and TOPO Maps
If you would have asked me 5 years ago to spend $500+ on a GPS unit, I would have laughed. No way am I spending that much money on something that is going to be in the field with me where I’ll likely lose it, drop it, break it, etc. That was until a fellow friend of mine got lost in the woods while hunting.
Sean was turned around and walked in circles for way too many hours before stumbling into a little town in the middle of the night cold, hungry, and relieved to be out of the woods. He had been lost in the woods for 7 hours with no cell service in an area with tough terrain and deep snow. No one was looking for him because he was hunting and if he had gotten something down, he would have been gutting and quartering the animal to hike it out. It was a tough situation, but lesson learned, he spent $800 on a Garmin Rino GPS unit to ensure he had a map to help him track himself, while also having access to communications no matter where he was – cell service or not.
After Sean told us his story, our close circle of friends all sprung for a new GPS unit. You should consider it too if you hunt in areas you are not familiar with.
If an expensive GPS unit is not in your range, there are alternatives, but the cheaper the price the fewer bells-and-whistles you’ll have. My husband pays for a yearly subscription to onXmaps, which gives him access to public land maps on his phone. The cost is only $30/year (use code THANKS30 for 30% off right now) and is an essential tool when hunting on public lands. The subscription makes for an easy gift for any hunter in your life.
8. Ear Protection and Enhancement
Now we’re starting to get into hunting gift ideas that are above and beyond the essentials for getting started with hunting. Ear protection is always essential when at the shooting range and blasting round after round of ammo to sight in your gun, but it’s not necessarily essential when in the field.
What helps, however, are ear protection devices that also offer hearing enhancement. That is, a device that is in the form of over-the-ear muffs or wireless earbuds that work to enhance the sounds around you as you hunt but has the ability to muffle the sound of the gun when you shoot.
The over-the-ear muff type I’ve used in the past reminded me of having mouse ears when you need them because I could hear every snap, crackle, and pop that rustled through the woods (including my own); however, when I took a shot, they switched their performance to protection and muffled the sound of the gun firing. So cool.
I have not tried the wireless earbuds yet, but my husband keeps dropping hints for some Walker wireless earbuds as a Christmas gift so I need to start researching them more. If you have thoughts on these, please let me know in the comments below.
9. Reloading Equipment
If you and your hunter don’t know about reloading ammo yet, start with investing in books, YouTube videos, reloading classes, and researching the benefits of reloading. A few years back my husband started learning from his friend about reloading our ammo.
The thought of shooting homemade ammo terrified me, but I trust that my husband will do all the research possible, ask the right questions, take classes, and do as much hands-on learning as he can before ever trusting me to take a shot with a homemade bullet.
Today, my husband has an entire table and cabinet dedicated to reloading all of our ammunition. He inherited all of the equipment from a local hunter that passed away and made it a point to figure out how to use it all.
I can’t speak to the exact reloading equipment that he uses because I haven’t been involved in the reloading process. If you are interested in learning about reloading (or gifting a hunter with learning to reload), find a fellow hunter that is willing to teach or see if there are classes in your area that are offered to the public.
10. Guided Hunt
The ULTIMATE gift for any hunter in your life is a hunt. The hunt could be a guided hunt or just an adventure in your state in a new area on public land. The former is going to be more expensive; think $5,000+ for a week-long hunt that could or could not include lodging, food, and travel.
Even with a more expensive hunt, the excitement is still there to be had. Do a search for the type of hunt you’re thinking of doing with (or for) your hunter and see what your options are. My husband went on a guys’ only hog hunt down in Oklahoma a few years back that was only $800 for the week. The cost included lodging, dinner, and the chance to hunt two hogs. The price did not include travel, breakfast, or lunch. The lodging wasn’t anything fancy, but all of the guys loved their hunt and walked away with memories and plenty of hog meat. Plus, what a heck of a deal on a week-long hunting adventure!
We looked into a deer hunt in the mid-west that was $3,500/person just to hunt on the land for the week. The price did not include anything else – no travel, no lodging, and no food. That seemed a bit steep to me since I can easily walk out our front door and cross into public land and get a mule deer.
Another hunt we are considering is a mountain lion hunt, which easily starts at $4,000 just for the hunt. Again, that may seem pricey, but if you look into how mountain lions are hunted, you’ll start to find out why this once-in-a-lifetime hunt is well worth the money.
A local hunt on public land could easily cost roughly $1,000, depending on what you’re able to pull off. For example, if we are able to get an over-the-counter tag mid-November a couple of hours from our home, we may know someone in the area and stay with them or just camp in the back of our truck to help save on lodging and food expenses. Or, perhaps, we don’t know anyone in the area and it’s too cold to camp, so we would have to pay for lodging and food, which would add to the final cost of the hunt.
Either way, if you spend money on a hunt you and your hunter will be forever grateful for money well spent. Take a look at your options and see what hunts are available in your area and in other states to see what works best. The husband was just researching an alligator and lobster hunt in Florida. Lawdy, I guess that is where we’ll be spending Christmas.
Find the adventure that’s right for you and your hunter and be sure to come back and share your story with me.
What Gift is Right for Your Hunter this Christmas
I can already see us spending money on a new range finder and ear protection/enhancement this Christmas (and now an alligator and lobster hunt), but I’m sure we’ll throw in some base layer and socks for stocking stuffers too.
We have a hunt right after Christmas for elk with Colorado’s Ranching for Wildlife program, which will give us the opportunity to test out our new gear. Other hunters can take advantage of using their new gear during an upcoming waterfowl hunt, or perhaps your area allows for other types of hunts after Christmas so your hunter doesn’t have to wait until next fall to test our their new gifts.
What did I miss? What are your favorite gifts to give your favorite hunter during the holiday season? Perhaps, it’s just as easy as a bottle of whiskey to toast to an incredible hunting year, (despite the crazy year 2020 has delivered) or maybe a kiss under the mistletoe. Either way, here’s to a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you.
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