Hunting Gifts for the
Big Game Hunter:

Our Recommendations for Hunting Gear

Hunting gifts are often hard to choose for someone. This page is designed to help family members (even if they're not hunters) come up with Christmas gift ideas for the big game hunter on your list.

There are several pieces of equipment, various gadgets and doo-dads that would make good hunting gifts for most big game hunters. There are some basic things that we “need” (or at least we think we do).

Binoculars, knives (I can never have too many), range finders, camouflage clothing, scent control clothing, spotting scopes… The list goes on and on. We will list some of those that we have found very useful below and add more as we think of it.

In some cases we will link to one of our other pages where we have written reviews of the equipment.

Also, see our updated hunting gear page here.

Recent Articles

  1. Elk Nut (Paul Medel) Elk Communication Products Now Available

    Joe Carter's 2013 Bull 250
    “Elk Nut”, Paul Medel, has studied elk sounds for over 30 years. His products will help you have more “close encounters of the herd kind”. Available with free shipping on this site.

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Elk Hunting Books

We have a review page on elk hunting books. Click here to see the book review page. The off-season, especially winter time, is a great time to spend time reading books about our favorite sport. There is always more to learn about elk hunting and elk hunters find the topic very entertaining. Following is a list of some that we have read (first four) or are on our to-read list. Do a search at for "elk hunting" and these and others will pop up.

• The Elk Hunter
• Elk Hunting Guide: Skills, Gear, and Insight - Tom Airhart
• Elk Camp: Where the Heart of the Hunt is Found
• Elk Talk: Your Guide to Finding Elk, Calling Elk, and Hunting Elk with a Rifle, Bow and Arrow, or Camera
• Elk Tactics: Advanced Strategy for Hunting and Calling Elk
• Elk Hunting Secrets, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
• The Complete Book of Elk Hunting: Tips and Tactics for All Weather and Habitat Conditions - Sam Curtis
• Elk Hunting - Jim Zumbo
• High Pressure Elk Hunting
• Mini Perfect Shot, North America: Whitetail, Mule Deer, Moose, Caribou, Pronghorn, and Elk - Craig Boddington
• Bowhunting Modern Elk - Meitin, Patrick
• Elk: Strategies for the Hunter - Durwood Hollis

Hunting Magazine Subscription

Give the gift that keeps on giving through the entire year, a hunting magazine subscription, like Peterson's Hunting or Peterson's Bow Hunting.

Hunting Bowhunting


Nikon Action Binoculars - Porro Prism

An absolute must for most of us. Here are some bare basics: You have two sets of two decisions to make. Forget “cheap”, they’re never worth buying.

#1. Moderately priced, but reasonably good quality optics. We recommend Nikon binoculars at a very reasonable price and very decent quality. Burris and Leopold are other also good choices.

#2. High priced, excellent quality. You will get very high quality lenses and construction with Zeiss and Swarovski, if you can afford them. We’re not big on Bushnell brand.

The next set of two questions involves factors available for both price ranges.

#1. Compact (reduced field of vision, but lighter) Or:

#2. Full size (full field of vision, but more bulky). Many hunters prefer the compact models to save weight and bulkiness.

The next decision is power. 7, 8, or 10 power are the most useful for big game hunting. 7 power (7X) is most useful for scouring brush and trees up closer, but does OK at distances of several hundred yards. 8X is versatile and a little better for distance scanning while looking for elk or deer on a far away ridge. 10X makes “spot and stalk” hunting from one mountain side to another more feasible, but eye fatigue can result if using them at closer ranges.

I won't get into a discussion of roof versus porro prism construction here.

Laser Range Finders

These measure how far away a target is for accurate aiming. Same recommendations as above against buying “cheap”. Don’t bother with non-laser types. For mid-range quality we again recommend Nikon. The same makers of the highest quality binoculars also make range finders for a much higher price. Power is not as much of an issue.

Nikon  RifleHunter Laser 550 Rangefinder

Maximum distance measured is the variable. For bow hunting, a rating of 400 yards or so is plenty, since most shots are taken under fifty yards. The 400 yard maximum range is hard to actually measure without a big wall or barren hillside to bounce back the signal.

An 800 yard rated range finder will have the same problem at 800 yards. Most people can't accurately shoot out to 400 yards anyway. An 800 yard maximum will consistently get you a good reading of 400 or more yards away.

I use a “440” Nikon for rifle and archery with no problem. There are bells and whistles that you can read about at the retailer sites, but those are the basics.

Hunting Knives

Buck Omni-Hunter? 12 Drop Point Folding Blade Hunting Knife

There are many quality knives on the market. Again, don’t buy cheap knives. Quality names include Boker, Gerber, Kershaw, Ka-bar, Buck, Al-Mar, Spyderco, Benchmade, Cold Steel, Entrek, Lone Wolf and many others.

I am actually married to my two Cutco folding hunting knives. But then, we’ve been going together for a long time. (I met my first one through my human wife.)

There are too many styles and brands to make specific recommendations. Unless you know the hunter wants a skinning style blade, go with a drop point or a clip point. A four inch long blade is a good length for most uses. Gut hooks are not necessary, but they do make gutting easier. They are often added to the opposite side of the knife blade, or as an extra blade. We don’t like serrated edges, as they are hard to sharpen.

Anyone will like a folding type blade. Some people will tolerate the overall length of a non-folding blade and may even prefer it. Not me.


SureFire G2 Nitrolon Flashlight

This is most often an early morning or camp tool, but can become a survival instrument. Quality can become vital. We will recommend one brand as meaningful hunting gifts for lack of space. "Sure-Fire"! You can’t go wrong with a Sure-Fire flashlight. A "Bloodhunter" flashlight is made for tracking a wounded animal after dark.

Hunting Backpacks

There are too many options to discuss here. We’ve bought cheap ones. They sit in the basement. An $80 price tag is the low end of something of quality for backpacks that make good hunting gifts.

A fanny pack will lower the price, but being able to carry survival gear and all the gear needed to field dress an elk or deer, without going back to the truck, requires a back pack. Most good backpacks have hydration systems built in. If a fanny pack is used, a separate hydration pack would be a good addition and make appreciated hunting gifts!

Hydration Systems

See above comments. Camelback is a good brand. Most hunters do not appreciate how much better they would feel if they stayed hydrated.

Digital Cameras

Spend no more than $80-120 for pack cameras as hunting gifts. They are small and take great pictures. You can get one at this price that is rated at 7 – 9 megapixels. No more is needed, unless you want to blow it up real big.

Hunting can be rough on cameras. I just bought one to replace my previous one due to a busted LCD. Maybe I bumped it with my rifle. I’m glad it wasn’t more expensive! With that in mind, a padded, belt-ready pouch and camera make good hunting gifts. If the hunter can’t get to it easily, he may not use it.

GPS Unit

Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx GPS Unit

Garmin is the best choice in our opinion. You don’thave to have the expensive versions. This elk hunter uses an older, lower priced GPS and is served very well with it. A Garmin and a decent topographical mapping software make two great complementary hunting gifts.

Binocular Harness

RedHead Optics Harness System

These keep the binoculars from swinging around. That’s very bothersome! These are inexpensive, but very useful hunting gifts.

Game Cart

Click here to see our complete review.

Bone Saw or Folding Saw

One folding saw for the pack and a full size one for more convenient quartering make great hunting gifts.

Gloves, Mittens and Glove liners

I don’t care how much Thinsulate is in the expensive gloves. I always need hand warmers inside the gloves. I like cheap rag wool gloves and mittens (green, not white or a light color). Add a lightweight liner for more warmth. I have worn all three many times, when it was really cold. If a mitten is used, make sure it has a trigger finger built in.

ASAT or Predator Camouflage

Those are our favorite types. The designs are made more to fool animals than to impress the human eye. The ASAT pattern causes the animal to look past the hunter, rather than to think he is part of a tree or bush. With that said, I have killed many elk and deer while wearing cheap Wal-Mart camo clothing.

Silver Fiber or Other Scent Control Underwear

See complete discussion here.

ASAT Camo has some good scent control clothing. 

Hunting Boots

If being bought as hunting gifts, consider the temperature they will be worn in. We prefer from 800 to 1200 grams of Thinsulate for cold weather hunting, along with Gore-Tex for waterproofness. Gore-Tex, not some other water proof barrier. The other waterproof barriers we have tried just don’t last as long as Gore-Tex.


These keep melting snow or wet grass from soaking pant legs. They don’t have to have Gore-Tex. They keep the lower pant legs dry and water from soaking down into the boots and getting socks wet.

Game Ear Type Hearing Devices

Walker's Game Ear

Unless there is a hearing loss, we haven’t found these useful. They mainly amplify close up sounds. The hunter can hear his own clothing swish and his breathing sounds louder. That’s not helpful. A distant elk bugle or turkey gobble is not amplified appreciably. These might be useful hunting gifts for tree stand hunters, as they might amplify a deer approaching the deer stand.


This tool should be in any hunters pack or pocket, even if someone carries a GPS device. If a GPS battery dies, a compass and topo mapping software (prints maps) might become lifesaving hunting gifts.

Mapping/Topographical Software

There are many good brands. We can recommend Lowrance.


If you know what type of guns are wanted as hunting gifts go for legal gun auctions, new and used. They have archery equipment as well.

Archery Equipment

Bows and arrows are very personal choices and tough hunting gifts to buy for someone, unless they tell you what they want.

Rifle Sling

There is only one rifle sling we recommend. It is the Safari Sling. I don't know why most people still sling their rifle over their shoulders where it takes so much movement to bring it up for a shot. These Safari Slings allow a hunter to carry a rifle at-the-ready very comfortably. They make great unexpected hunting gifts, but they might not be appreciated until they use them for the first time. They are the best kept secret in our opinion!

See them on this page. 

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Go to Forums

Forum Topic Discussions:

How often should I use my cow call?, I am new to the sport of bow hunting elk and my question is how often should I use my cow calls?

295 yard kill with a Kimber Montana 325 WSM, by Don from Dallas: My ELk did not even twitch once. He was dead when he hit the ground.

325 WSM is worth considering, Palmer Lake,CO: I believe that the .325 WSM is the ultimate elk caliber...

30-30 for Elk? : I have a 30 30 with 170 grain round nose bullet. Will this work to shoot an elk ?

(More comments about Best Elk Rifle below)


Unique Elk Talk by Idaho Steve (Hailey, Id ), In the middle of the night, a herd of elk came traveling through the drainage and right past my tent...

Smelly Elk Areas? by Jimmy (New Mexico), I've come across many areas that just stink of elk, literally. I have heard two somewhat contradictory stories...

DIY Gear List Must Have's! by Craig (Florida) "Here are some of the items I use on my DIY hunts in the CO backcountry..."

Elk and Deer Hunting and Mountain Bikes, by Skip Shepherd (Tucson, AZ)~ At 67 I am thinking a lot about investing in a mountain bike to get back into remote areas...

Solo archery hunting -- tips for calling/set up?, by Idaho Steve (Hailey, ID )~ I hunt by myself a lot...I'd love to hear your thoughts on strategic set-ups when solo hunting and calling.

Non- Lead Bullets for Elk?, by Dave, Elk Hunting Tips.Net (Garrison, MT)~ What do you ballistics guys think about the use of non-lead bullets for elk? According to this story...

Rage Broadheads by Chris, buddy gave me a rage practice tip and when I shot it you could not pick out the broadhead from the field points. I was sold...

Recent Submissions:

Finally filled the freezer..., Colorado Rockies~ "I was bummed when I got to the property and no elk, nor any hoof prints in the snow. ...I pulled each of the elk into shade then started gutting..."

Wounded Veteran Elk hunts, by Joshua FL), I am a disabled veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and have always dreamed of hunting elk. I am posting this to see if anyone would know of any elk hunts free to disabled vets....

First Elk with a Bow, by Ryan H. (Colorado), ...Finally after many years of hunting with a bow "I got er did"!

First Elk!, by Tater (Sheridan, Arkansas) I took the advice I received from this website and was successful…I wanted to Thank You and Your Forum and the folks that share on here for the knowledge and information that helped me find an elk I was quite happy with.


Any success in Unit 14?, by: Dave (MI), "I'm planning on doing a DIY in Unit 14 for 2012..."

Share Elk Hunting Secrets

Bugle in Herd bulls, by Swiltbank (Az) The key to calling in a herd bull is to get into his bedding grounds and threaten his herd. Start off sounding like…

Best Big Game Rifle?

Best Rifle Caliber?, by Buglemup (Superior, MT), "I've been reading what people have been writing about rifle calibers and here is what 16 years of guiding elk has taught me."

7mm Remington Magnum, by Dean (Helena, MT. USA) I use my Liberty Ruger M77, 7mm Rem. Mag. for antelope, deer, elk... Comment: "What do you guys think about the idea of hunting elk with a 270? I also know a guy who kills elk with a 243."

338 Marlin Express, "Light, fast shooting, hard hitting, manageable recoil, and for a lever gun - very accurate."

Guns I like for Elk, by Mountain Walker (Kootenays east B.C. Canada),"I think the gun you shoot Elk with should be one you shoot a lot with... "

.35 Remington, by Bill Smith " .35 Rem appears to have dropped a medium deer flawlessly, but I now have serious doubts as to its capability to take an elk."

Arizona Elk Hunting

Where to hunt in Az unit 3B?, by Cliffjumper (Tucson, Az) ~ I got a late bull muzzle loader hunt in Arizona unit 3b. Does anyone know how to hunt bulls in the late season?...

First time elk hunter hunting Arizona unit 6A , by Rob Marchio (Omaha, Ne)~ I'm a first time elk hunter hunting Arizona's unit 6A. I'm planning on staying in the Pine Grove campground...

Elk Hunting Colorado

Help needed for 1st DIY Hunt w/Son, by Patrick (Parker, CO), "I was looking for some advice on my 1st DIY hunt for 2014 in CO with my 13 yr old son. I have countless hrs going over stats, topo maps & Google Earth"

Elk Hunting Colorado in 2013, By William (Midland, TX) "I am planning an elk hunt next year in Colorado and I wanted to know if hunting Gunnison National Forest..."

Unit 60 Elk 4th Rifle Season Nov 13-17 Either Sex 2013, By Chester "...Any general advice about the unit would be appreciated!"

Idaho Elk Hunting

Elk Hunting Idaho Unit 8 8A 11, This is my first year seriously trying to track down some elk. Is there anyone that has hunted in any of these units and can give me some friendly advice? Mitchell, Moscow Idaho

Elk Hunting Pocatello by Cameron (Pocatello) Where is the best place to elk hunt around Pocatello, Idaho? I'm a student at ISU and I'm looking for somewhere around here to hunt next season.

How is the elk hunting in unit 30A in Idaho?, by Terry (Richland Center, WI) Has anyone archery elk hunted in unit 30A in Idaho? What can you tell me about the area?

Elk Hunting In Montana

Hunting in Western Montana, by Mike A. (Alabama)

I did not draw a tag for Missouri breaks where I have hunted in the past. Having to start over and try western Montana.

New Mexico Elk Hunting

New Mexico Unit 49, by Silas (Los Alamos, NM)

If anyone has tips on areas to start scouting, I'd really appreciate it.

First Elk Hunt First Elk Hunt, by Big "R" (NM)

I finally got drawn for a late elk hunt in Unit 28, north of Road 506 and south of the boundary line of the Lincoln National Forest...

Elk Hunting Nevada

Cow elk in Nevada's unit 222:

"Any good places known in unit 222?"

Northeast Nevada Early Elk hunt, by John (Carson City,NV)

"Any suggestions on what areas I may see some signs of elk?"

Questions from Novice Hunters

Retired USMC MSgt Needs Advice, by Ken Wing USMCRET (Bealeton, Va)

Big Game Recipes

Popcorn VenisonPopcorn Venison with Maple Syrup?

Elk or Venison Steaks Grilled to Perfection Here's how to turn them into steakhouse steaks!

Spice-Crusted Grilled Venison Roast Recipe This Spice-Crusted, Grilled Venison Roast recipe works great for any red meat roasts, including elk, deer or beef roast...

Corned Elk Recipe You can easily make corned venison and elk, moose or corned beef from these instructions...