Look, we are Blue Collar hunters. What does that mean to you? It means that we are going to share with you not only the incredible joy of elk hunting, but also how anyone can do it at ALL income levels.

I had been a high school teacher and coach for 30 years, and with all the bills included in raising a family, I did not have the money to have the newest and the best in gear. In fact, it generally meant that after my costs for my tag and license, along with the needs of some diaphragm calls, broadheads, arrows and gas…well there wasn’t much left in the kitty for anything else.

But that’s okay. I didn’t “need” all of that other stuff to be successful. My goal was to put food on the table and I have taken 33 elk in the last 35 years…all on state land. It can be done. 

You, don’t have to have all that other stuff to be successful. As long as you have your bow, arrows, broadheads, your calls and grunt tube…you CAN kill an elk.

Look, let me clearly say that I am not against gear that can make you more comfortable or make life easier when you are out in the woods. I now have some of those very things after years of collecting and paying my dues. What I am just saying is that you don’t “have” to have those things and your lack of funds or certain pieces of equipment does not have to keep you out of the elk woods. 

I can remember it like it was yesterday. I came across another hunter out in the woods one season and after some greetings and a few lies to each other, the hunter glanced at my quiver and said ” a little low on bullets aren’t you?”. At the time, after having bent or dinged some of my arrows on the practice range, all I had left was two arrows to hunt with. My reply was pretty close to the one that my wife gave me when I also hinted to the same shortage situation, “It only takes one”.

Later that day, I arrowed..with one of the two arrows I had…a nice bull at 12 yards. Yep, it only took one.

A lot of questions about the right boot to wear can be found almost daily on elk hunting forums. And though boots are great and a necessity in snow, nice in mud and smart in snake country, I have worn my old pairs of running shoes almost all of my hunting career, both as a guide and when hunting myself. 

Why? Well, lets be honest…as a track coach I had plenty of them. In other words, I made due with what I had. To this day, I hunt in running shoes most days when elk hunting. They are light, quiet and I can put on LOTS of miles and I don’t deal with the blisters that plague guys in boots. In wet weather, I just wear waterproof socks made for cyclists or seal skins. It’s been a killer combo…literally. Another point is that that $300 to $400 dollars spent on boots can buy a lot of bologna!

Another item of constant discussion and speculation is optics. I’m gong to be very short and to the point. Bowhunters, you don’t need to have binos. Rifle hunters, you have to have them. If again you are a bowhunter and you have to choose between a rangefinder or binos, it’s definitely the rangefinder. If you are good at judging distances on the field, you don’t need either.

If you are HORRIBLE at judging distances, then you have two options; 1) Get a rangefinder, or 2)Only shoot at 30 yards or under and no worries. 

Rifle hunters, there are combo optics with rangefinders that will save you money. Vortex makes a great combo in the Fury at half the cost of other optics. But again, do you “have” to have them? Just ask the fathers and grandfathers to all the hunters out there today. Can you hear them laughing too?

I have been hunting elk for 37 years and guiding elk hunters for over 20. I see and hunt with guys of all income levels. The truth of the matter is that no matter who you are, EVERY person has a limit. That the haves and have-nots is a hugely relative line that shifts from inches to miles in each direction according to who you are with. No matter what we currently do have, we ALL want something better. 

The point here is that you don’t have to mortgage your home or sell the family farm and walk around like a Sportsman’s Catalog in order to hunt elk. In fact, most of you that want to hunt elk most likely already have everything you need or pretty close to it. It might take an investment in a weapon and the cost of a license, but some smart yearly savings or a well hinted at birthday or Christmas gift could help. 

Truly, the only things required are you, a weapon and a license. Shoot, you don’t even need transportation if you tag along with a buddy. From there, it’s all relative. 

So, don’t let the gear monster keep you out of the woods. ALL of us have the opportunity to hunt elk!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Carl

    True statements!

  2. David

    Thanks for the story. I’ve been a teacher for 24 years now. Only recently inherited my dad’s 7mm and this year splurged on a bow and some good boots ☺️. Getting back into the sport after so many years and looking at all the gear my buddies have is overwhelming. IT ONLY TAKES ONE! Loved this story.

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