Hunter glassing for elk on a snowy ridgetop

Gifts for hunters

Looking for the perfect gift for the hunter on your holiday list? We’ve asked some ODFW staff, all avid hunters, to share their gift-giving (and gift-getting) ideas.

Lora Baker, archery education coordinator, Salem

Lora is ODFW’s archery education coordinator, facilitating and instilling the passion for archery in those she has the opportunity to meet.

A small statured hunter wears a custom-fit pack
For hunters with a smaller frame, a custom-fit pack can be an expensive, but game-changing, investment.

  • Custom-fit pack and pack frame: "As a short and small-statured female hunter, I’ve had a really hard time finding a pack that fits properly and works well for packing meat out from the field." Paying for a custom-fit pack can be spendy, but worth it if you’re a diminutive hunter determined to get an elk.
  • GPS and/or hunt map app for a phone: It’s easy to get turned around in the thick Coast Range forests. Track your whole hunt (even without cell service) to make sure you know exactly where you are and where you’ve got to go.
  • Knives with replaceable blades: Relatively inexpensive, these knives have surgical sharp, replaceable blades that make processing your game faster and easier. 
  • Hunt tag kit: For those who hunt the Coast Range, these inexpensive tags make it easy to tag your animal. With the advent of electronic or plain paper tagging, some companies have created hunt tag “kits.” These kits have what you need to quickly and clearly tag your harvest even in soggy conditions.
  • Rangefinder: Look for one that has really clear glass, an easy-to-read display (red can be nice) and includes angle compensation for both rifle and archery.

Lora began hunting with friends in her late 20s compelled by an interest in providing fresh organic meat for her freezer. She says getting out in nature is refreshing to her soul and a way to get away from the everyday grind.

Bob Edwards, fish and wildlife technician, The Dalles

Bob is a senior technician at The Dalles Screen Shop.

Antelope hunter wearing some of today's high tech hunting clothes
Technical hunting clothing has come a long way in recent years.

  • Good clothing: “As simple as it sounds, I think clothing has been some of the best improved gear over the years! Having the right clothing keeps me in the field longer and more comfortably during inclement weather, and I’ve been able to have more quality game encounters.”  Bob relies on Merino wool for his socks and base layer, and tops them off with quality weatherproof outerwear.
  • Neck gaiter: Never go out without a neck gaiter, it’s the most useful item in controlling body temperature and doubles as a very useful face covering for close encounter style hunting.
  • Knife with replaceable razor-sharp blades: The orange handled ones are easy to spot when you set them down.
  • Game bags: Useful for pack in trips and day hunts. Look for some that are lightweight, compact, quick-drying and come in various sizes to fit about any situation.
  • Electronic mosquito repellent: Perfect if you’re sitting on a stand where the bugs are biting!

I was raised on a farm in a very small community and immersed into the outdoors as a kid through our families everyday activities. Our family vacations for the vast majority of my childhood revolved around deer and elk hunting trips.

I love every part of a hunt from planning and research, to the adventures and opportunities to explore wild places, to time spent alone to reflect or time with friends and family to catch up, to the time immersed in nature, to the mental and physical test of a successful hunt and the pack out, to the processing and prep of meals.

Jade Keehn, conservation biologist, Roseburg

Jade is a southwest wildlife conservation biologist, supporting management for species that are declining or at risk in southwestern Oregon, species such as great gray owls, pond turtles and coastal martens.

Hunter wearing slim fit shooting earmuffs
These thin profile earmuffs don't interfere with shooting, and muffle loud gun noises while still letting you hear everyday noises.

  • Thin profile electronic earmuffs: “It’s important for me to hear birds ahead of me, and when I’m working with my dog, I want to keep track of his location, especially in thick cover.” A good pair of shooting ear-muffs can cancel loud gunfire noise while allowing other sounds through.
  • Bird dog equipment: A few dog essentials:
    • Leather feel check cord helps with recall training for about $25.
    • Dog first-aid kit is a necessity for every bird dog owner. Select a dog-specific kit to keep in your hunting vest or blind bag.
    • Training bumpers. Consider the dead fowl dummies available from many sporting goods stores.
    • A snood. Your dog may look funny, but snoods keep their ears safe from burrs.

Jade considers herself an “adult-onset hunter” who began bird hunting in her late 20s to reduce her consumption of store-bought meats and to be connected to her food source. Passionate about upland game bird hunting with Finley, her field-line English cocker spaniel, Jade also dabbles in waterfowl and big-game hunting.

Taylor McCroskey, fish biologist, Pendleton

Taylor is the district fish biologist for the Umatilla/Walla Walla basins.

  • Quality gear pack: For the backcountry hunter, look for a pack that will let you keep your meat separated from your other gear.
  • Game bags: Taylor’s criteria are: ultralight, packable, cheap and large enough for a whole elk quarter.
  • Electronic dog receiver and collar: These can be expensive but also a game changer in knowing where your dog is in the field. You’re also able to train, or provide correction, in the field.

Dreaming of hunting elk with a bow since he was a boy, Taylor bought his first bow at 27, began bowhunting deer and went on his first elk hunt at 29. Persistence paid off this year when he successfully harvested an elk after nine years of trying.

Taylor says that while all hunters strive to be successful at harvesting, he is drawn to hunting for those moments and experiences that are far more memorable than the game he takes. He enjoys the difficulty of miles hiked, sitting on top of a mountain staring through optics to locate game, following his bird dog in the field and seeing how its body language changes right before it encounters a bird, listening to elk bugle in the distance on a September morning, and calling off a ridge at first light and having a turkey gobble back at you.  

Hilary Doulos, conservation liaison, The Dalles

As conservation liaison, Hilary works with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Wasco, Sherman and Hood River counties as a partner biologist on wildlife habitat projects on private properties.

Hunter perched on a boulder glassing for elk.
Buy the best binoculars you can afford. You can find acceptable products in a range of price points.

  • The best binoculars you can afford: Hillary recommends binoculars in the 10x42 size. Good quality binoculars help you see animals you wouldn’t otherwise see, particularly during those critical times of low light when most big game is the most active – dawn and dusk.
  • Stocking stuffers: wind checker (a whiff of nano particles to help you see which way the wind is blowing), wool socks and a variety of game calls (elk, deer, turkey, deer, duck and more).

Hilary grew up in New York state a a family of deer hunters. She began hunting herself after moving out west where she found the availability of public land and a mobile hunting style more appealing than the traditional tree stand hunting in New York.

If there's an angler on your gift-giving list, check out Gifts for anglers, v. 2021.

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