Choosing Gear

Top Notch Outfitters Gear Reccomendations

Finding the Right Gear for your Hunting Trip


Arguably the most important piece of equipment for an elk hunter is a good pair of binoculars. An elk hunter will, at some point during his hunt, need to locate or check out an elk; sometimes a hunter can spend hours at a time looking for or looking at elk. The last elk hunt that I guided this year was a late season elk hunt; the elk in this area tend to go to higher and rougher country. My hunter and I spent hours “glassing” a ridge that for the first half hour had no elk on it, but after looking for a while the bulls started to show up. The point is, if we had not spent the time glassing with good binoculars we would not have seen those bulls and he would not have killed his bull elk on the second day of the hunt.

Where you buy your gear isn’t as important as having good quality gear for any hunting experience. In the Northwestern part of the country, many people shop at large retailers such as Cabella’s while others start at REI in larger cities. It doesn’t matter where you get your gear, but being completely prepared should be the higher priority. When hunting outdoors, time and weather are your biggest enemies. You can be outdoors for hours in the same position which can really dampen your hunting enthusiasm. I have known of some amateur hunters who get frustrated too easily because they haven’t equipped themselves to be outdoors for a long time. Think about it from a camping perspective; if you go camping, you’re gonna be in a tent for a while, so you might want a good tent to keep the elements out of the tent. You also want a good sleeping bag to make sure you are as comfortable as possible during your camping time. Hunting is no different! You should make sure that you have taken various situations into account to make sure you are setup for being outdoors for so long.

Often we wish that we could have perfect weather every time we go hunting, but that is not always the case. There’s nothing like a rainy cold day to ruin a hunting trip. Be sure to pack a range of clothes for the initial trip so you’re covered regardless of the weather.

Choosing Equipment

Good boots and clothing that is appropriate for the time of year you are hunting is always important. If you can’t get to the elk because your feet hurt, or if you have blisters because your boots do not fit, you are done with your elk hunt before you ever leave camp. It is the same for clothing. Even though it is easier in the sense that hunters can layer for warmth, if they do not bring along enough clothing options with them on their elk hunt they will be unable to stay out hunting for long.As for your hunting equipment – including a bow, muzzleloader, or rifle – I think most are comparable for elk hunting, with no major difference or problem among the options. It is adding the little things to your bow or rifle that can make a difference. For example, it does not matter how good your rifle is if you put a $50 scope on it that moves out of adjustment every time you set it down while on a hunt. While this does not mean that a hunter needs to have only the top-of-the-line elk hunting equipment, it does mean that low-end hunting equipment will probably deliver low-quality results.

Want to read more about the unforgettable experiences Brian’s clients have had? Click here.

Bow Hunting Versus Rifle Hunting

One thing I do feel strongly about is the use of expandable broadheads on elk hunts. I know all the arguments about how well they fly and that they have been used on lots of other types of big game and that they do great. After years of seeing them not work on elk, however, I have come to find that I do not like them and do not want hunters using them in my camps. I had a hunter this last year who did not feel confident in his fixed blade broadhead so I agreed to let him hunt with expandables just to ease his mind and help him feel confident in his equipment. To make a long story short he shot a bull quartering away at 45 yards entering behind the rib cage and that arrow did not penetrate more than 20 inches when a fixed blade I think would have blown clear through that bull. After the shot the hunter said to me, “I have to admit that arrow did not penetrate the way it should have.” We watched the bull elk run off about two hundred yards and eventually die an hour later, and with very little blood loss. I do want to say that the way the bull was quartering the hunter made a good shot but it was the lack of penetration that made this hunting situation less then desirable. Ultimately, I recommend a cut-on-contact broadhead, but most fixed bladed broadheads will work just fine for elk hunting.Bullets are an important part of your rifle or muzzleloader elk hunt, so you will definitely want something that will fly well and hold together. There are many types of bullets out there, and you may have a favorite, but here are a few that I like. For rifle hunting, Winchester XP3, Swift A frame, Hornady GMX. For muzzleloaders Thompson/Center bonded shock wave, and Hornady SST-ML, Barnes Tipped MZ. These are some that have done well on elk in the past so you might want to try a few rounds to see how well they shoot for you.

Feel free to email Brian and ask him more about your equipment at topnotchoutfitters@gmail.com

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