One day this past November, after my husband and I had spent a long, cold day hiking through the snowy woods in a fruitless search for a monster Idaho whitetail buck, we decided to stop for dinner at “Hoots”, a small roadside café at the foot of the mountains. It is a popular spot for the local farmers and ranchers, and during the fall hunting season is always full of deer and elk hunters looking for a hot meal or cup of coffee.

While we stood by near the front counter waiting to be seated, a man who was obviously another hunter walked up to the cashier to pay his bill. He was dressed in worn out jeans and had a hoodie-style sweatshirt under a battered camo coat that would be rejected if he tried to donate it to Goodwill. As he waited for her to run his credit card he turned and looked me up and down and then I heard him mutter “It must be nice to be rich” as he brushed past me heading out the door.

His comment took me completely off guard; “Me, rich?” I thought to myself. “Hardly!” Then it struck me: He had obviously noticed the expensive wool camo I was wearing, and the high quality binoculars that I still wore around my neck, and assumed that only a wealthy person could afford such extravagant hunting gear. Feeling suddenly self-conscious, I turned around to watch the man walk across the parking lot and – to my surprise – climb into the cab of a new model 4×4 pickup with oversize tires, winch, and light-bar on the roof and an ATV filling the truck’s bed. “Huh!” I said to my husband “I guess we know where his priorities are.”

After dinner, as we walked back out into the snowy parking lot and got into our own 10 year old, Plain-Jane pickup with the 2-wheeled, human-powered game cart in the bed, I reflected back on the words of the jealous hunter. Clearly, he had more than enough money to buy himself some good quality hunting clothing and optics, but that wasn’t where his priorities were.

My priorities are in things that actually make me a better hunter, or making my hunting experiences richer, more fun and fulfilling. A fancy new truck with all the whistles-and-bells is nice, but it isn’t going to get me any further up into the mountains than my decade old model. And while it seems like virtually every hunter in my part of the country thinks an ATV is a necessity, the fact is I can access far better hunting areas on foot than anyone who depends on an ATV. Good quality hunting clothing, on the other hand, allows me to hunt longer and in greater comfort and safety than bargain stuff picked up at the local big-box retail store. The same is true of optics: If you can’t see game you can’t shoot it, and you will be amazed at how much more you’ll see when using good quality optics vs. discount brands – not to mention the reduction in eye strain and headaches that low quality optics are notorious for inducing.

As I said, I’m not “rich” by any means. After paying my bills I’m barely able to afford the licenses and tags that I need so I can pursue my favorite hobby. Not having a money tree growing in my backyard means that I have to prioritize my hunting-related expenditures, and bargain hunt for the best deals when I decide to make a purchase. That expensive wool camo I was wearing in the café? Well, I bought the pants used on Ebay a few years back for about 1/3 the price of new. A year later I bought the matching shirt at a similar discount – again from Ebay. And my pricey European binoculars? They were actually gift from my husband. But he bought them used from – you guessed it – Ebay!

My truck, however, didn’t come from Ebay. When my husband and I realized we needed to replace our previous vehicle (a 20 year old Ford Ranger) this past summer, we considered buying a new truck. But we realized that payments on a new truck would cut deeply into our budget and jeopardize our ability to afford out-of-state licenses and tags. So we “prioritized” and visited a local used car dealer instead, where we bought a gently used 10-year old truck, saving enough money on the purchase to not only allow us to hunt in our home state of Washington, but also in neighboring Idaho and then take a week-long trip to hunt whitetails in Nebraska.

Few of us have the means to hunt when and where we want, or to go out and buy clothing, guns, and gear with impunity. I suspect most hunters are like me; regular folks who have to balance their love of the outdoors with the need to be responsible with their income so they can still pay the electric bill and put food on the table. I’m here to tell you that if you have your priorities in order and exercise discipline and creativity with your purchases, you too can have a quality hunting experience with quality hunting equipment – and maybe get envious comments from fellow hunters muttered at you too!

Apr 24, 2013 | Category: Blog | Comments: 1


One comment on “Priorites

  1. Tom Payton

    men Sister ! It all about priorities !

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