I own a staggering amount of gear that I don’t use. I have lost count of the number of hiking boots and backpacks in my possession, and while I love to collect knives, the number of unused blades in my collection argues against ever acquiring another.
My wife would define me as a hoarder, but it’s more—and less—than that. I have too much gear because one of the traits that defines me as a hunter is the “you-never-know” syndrome. I got a new rain jacket because you never know when I might need a packable set. I got a Gore-Tex jacket because you never know when I’ll need my outerwear to breathe.
Then there’s the sheer variety of gear that an all-season hunter requires. I need one pair of boots for early season archery and another for cold-weather bird hunting. I try not to abuse this line to my wife, but I can justify almost all the gear in my closet by passing it through the you-never-know filter.
Over the years, I’ve done a decent job of passing my gear on to those who have needed it more than I. I’ve outfitted my kids in camo, guns, and optics, and I’ve given a fair amount of my gear to my kids’ friends and my own friends. But I have a lot more to give away, and I’m guessing that many of you are in the same surplus-gear situation.
You are reading this because you have more than a passing interest in becoming a mentor to a new hunter. You are ready to share your knowledge and experiences. I encourage you to extend your charity to your gear.
The duty-specific gear that hunters use may seem basic to many of us. But to a beginning hunter, gear requirements can be intimidating, and an effective barrier to participation. An accurate rifle. The right camouflage. A serviceable binocular. A hard-wearing backpack. Field-worthy outerwear. If you add up the retail cost of even a basic kit, you’re talking about an outlay of well over $1,000, and maybe double that amount.
You can help lower barriers by bequeathing some of that gear that’s hanging in your closet. Don’t fret about giving your best stuff. But—and I’m channeling my wife’s voice here—if you haven’t used a piece of gear for three seasons, it’s likely that you don’t need it as much as someone else does.
So give it away. Your handout will be a valuable hand up for a beginner. It’s a safe bet that every time your apprentice uses that bequest, they’ll think of you. And that’s a pretty good way to extend your influence even when you’re not in the field with the happy recipient of your gear.