Cash and credit seem to be the only medium of payment in our world today where our ancestors used to do quite a bit of commerce with bartering and trading goods and services for what they wanted or needed in times past. There are even reality TV shows on this subject and I am a long-term student of the “Art of the Deal” or trading something you have for something some else wants or needs. I actually started out in the outdoor industry over 10 years ago, when I was just starting to get away from “flat broke” in my financial situation, by selling hunts for a hunting ranch on the side in exchange for a free hog hunt for every 8 hunts I sold. This was certainly a good trade for both the ranch owner and I. I realize that not everyone is that creative or ambitious but most of us have something of value to trade for something we want and people value that. It never hurts to ask or offer your services or something else you have in trade for what you want as long as there is value in what you have for the other person. I heard of many people trading ranch labor for a predator hunting or big game hunting opportunity for instance. Networking is not just a skill used in the business world. Build your own network of those around you who have land or access to hunting property and take care of them accordingly. You might be amazed at what you receive in return.
Affordable Hunting Gear
Many people do all of their shopping for hunting gear at the big box sporting goods or outdoor stores. Even good ol’ Wal-Mart has a pretty good selection of camo clothing and other hunting gear and accessories around and during hunting season. All that being said though, few people I run into in the hunting community ever give a second thought to shopping at an Army/Navy Military Surplus store. Since where I live happens to be rather close to Fort Hood, one of the largest Army bases in the world, there is no shortage of places to explore in this realm. What can you get here? Many stores, especially the one
closest to my home, now sell a variety of very reasonably priced hunting gear and have consignment items from all over the place. For example, I have a variety of military issue water canteens, which are excellent and durable for carrying water in the field, and inexpensive too! As long as you don’t set these canteens too close to a heat source, they will provide years of utility and durability. I have used the ones I have hundreds of times and they look super cool to carry around.
Over the years I have purchased hunting clothing, knives, flashlights, gun accessories, and more at the surplus store for far less than the big box outlets. Usually, since most of these items are built for the use and abuse of active combat in extreme conditions, durability is as good as it gets, if not better than many retail products found at many big box sporting goods stores. If there is a military surplus store near you , check it out! They are full of all kinds of fun stuff!
Branch Out to Online and Mail Order Retailers
Another great savings idea is to shop mail order and internet sporting goods stores. Among these, my favorites are Sportsman’s Guide (www.sportsmansguide.com) as well as Cheaper Than Dirt (www.cheaperthandirt.com). Both have mailing lists you can get on to regularly receive their catalogs and newsletters and they have an extensive online store. For knives and even some cool novelties, one of my favorite companies is BudK (www.budk.com). These guys have quality and value paired up well! I have several Bowie knives I use for hog dog hunting and other tasks for a fraction of the price that many are sold for elsewhere. Some retail for less than $10 with EXCEPTIONAL build quality for that price. If I lose one of knives in the woods on a hog hunt it’s not a huge deal either. Sometimes you do get what you pay for but hang around guys like me for long and you will find both quality, rock-solid durability, and a good price tag all combined!
Hunting does not have to cost a second mortgage on your house or deciding between a hunting lease or your children’s or grandchildren’s college savings plan. To the educated bargain shopper goes the spoils and I save thousands upon thousands of dollars every year because I have found ways to fill the freezer and even put trophies on the wall without spending everything I earn on hunting. I still believe there is no excuse for the very best in quality and durability but price does not always have to be in the way of these two factors.
Regardless of what you pursue, hunting is never the least inexpensive sport you can participate in but I will argue that most other sporting pursuits do not yield near the rewards as hunting can in meat, trophies, memories with family and friends, and much more. You certainly don’t have to spend a ton of money to enjoy many aspects of the hunting lifestyle if you shop smart and build relationships with those around you. I wish you many blessings in the field as always, my friends. May your aim be dead-on target and your freezer be full of meat!