title

gear
If there is one hunter that carries the most do-dads and whats-its around with him, it’s the varmint hunter.

In this section we will review some of the equipment and gear you might take with you on a hunt. Each has it’s own pros and cons, but each has its place in the equipment closet of the varmint hunter.

The equipment listed is more suited for the bobcat or coyote hunter, as prairie dogs and ground squirrels are usually found in open farm fields with reasonable vehicle access.

Please remember that this equipment list is not written in stone as a 'must have', but it will give you an idea of some of the things that can really make your varmint hunting trip much more enjoyable.

You will also notice that I have not listed a firearm in this list. This is due to the fact that the gun you use is entirely up to you and different people have different opinions on the subject. We will be putting a page together that will give you more information on the various calibers that are more 'well suited' to varminting.

Backpacks and fanny packs
First off you should have something, besides your pockets, to carry all of this equipment in. I would highly recommend either a small backpack or a fanny-type pack.

The backpack will usually allow you to carry more stuff with it not getting in the way, but the backpacks usually require you to pretty much drop everything and remove the pack for access to your gear.

Fanny packs will cut down on the amount of gear you can carry, it makes up for that in ease of access and not having to remove it like you would a backpack. Fanny packs being smaller are easier to ‘pad’ up to keep the gear inside from making noise while you are walking into and from your stands.

Clothing and Camouflage
One thing to remember when you are varminting is you want to be comfortable!
Sitting still for half an hour to an hour is not very easy if you are cold, wet or sitting on a sharp rock. When I first started to varmint hunt I didn’t wear much camouflage. Usually it was a pair of jeans and a woodlands camouflage shirt. There are hunters out there that do not use any camouflage at all. More power to them, I prefer to get as many aces up my sleeve as I can. In the last year or so I have really taken a liking to a Ghillie type camouflage, designed right here at the UVA. It really breaks up your ‘human’ outline and you can apply cover scent right to the suit itself and after you are done you simply bag it up and stick it in a corner until next time. Wearing the Ghillie camouflage makes you blend right into the surrounding ground cover, the small pieces of natural fiber blow and move in the slightest wind, just as normal plants do. The bulk of the ghillie will also allow you to get away with a little more movement then you normally would be able to in plain cloth camouflage, allowing for slight movements to grab a call, sight in on a target or scan the area.

Shooting Sticks or bipod
If there is one thing I really, really, REALLY hate to forget to take along with me, it’s my shooting sticks. You don’t need anything fancy or special in the way of shooting sticks. The main uses for them is to just steady the rifle while you are aiming at the potential target, and holding your rifle or shotgun while you are calling or sitting in wait. I use a simple set that are made up of 1x1 pieces of wood, cut to a length of about three feet and held together by a stove bolt and a wing nut. The entire set is painted in a dull mottled camouflage pattern and has small pieces of leather glued to the top to protect your stock and a small piece of metal that is used as a clip to attach them to your belt. I got the idea from Varmint Al at www.varmintal.com. You might want to check his site out also, he is an avid varmint hunter and has some really great information on that and many more subjects. The ‘Bi-Fur-Pods’ also have so many uses that it would almost take another entire page to tout the benefits of using the ‘Bi-Fur-Pods’ instead of the commercial sets, and if you do accidentally leave them out in the field somewhere (heaven forbid!), you are only out a few bucks, instead of the fifty or sixty dollars the sets of high end bipods cost.

A commercial bipod would work on in some situations, but almost all of them seem to fall short in some way or another to the homemade shooting sticks. In the end I would say make up a set of them for yourself, and customize them to work in the areas you are going to hunt.

Sitting Pad
Another piece of equipment that has is very useful is some sort of a pad to use to sit on. There are a few variations out there, I would recommend one that has straps to either fasten it around your waist or over your shoulder. They really help to take your concentration away from that sharp rock that’s poking you in the posterior and keep it out in the area ahead of you looking for your quarry. Also make sure that it is waterproof and is easily washable.

Calls
Here is what could be considered the ‘meat and gravy’ of the varmint hunter, his calls. In the past few years there seems to be quite a few more varmint calls out on the market. Personal preference and the area you plan to hunt will decide on what types of calls you will use. There are two main ‘types’ of varmint calls. Electronic and ‘hand’ calls.

Hand calls

As the name implies these are usually held in the hand and use the lungs of the varminter to power them. There are dozens of styles available out there, from expensive hand carved ones in exotic woods to inexpensive ones made of plastic. The major benefit of the hand calls is the way you can change the sounds, pitch and duration of the call to suit your needs in the situation you are currently in. Another benefit is weight, most of the hand calls only weigh a couple ounces and are easily carried in either a pocket, fanny pack or on a lanyard. There are also diaphram calls, very similiar to the ones Turkey or Elk hunters use. If you can master the use of a diaphram call You will get the benefits of not having movement like the electronic calls with an even lighter package then the normal hand calls.
Another very handy call is what is refered to as a 'squeaker call' it is a usually a small rubber bubble with a small squeaker in one end. With the squeaker you can try to coax that varmint that has hung up just out of range in close enough for a shot, or use a preset code of squeaks to communicate with your hunting partner.

Electronic calls

These are the electronic versions of the hand calls. Most are battery powered and use either a cassette tape or CD with the sounds recorded on it. One major benefit of the electronic call is that it gets the actual sound of the speaker away from the shooter and they usually require a lot less movement to operate. The major drawback of the electronic calls is the weight. Two or three pounds may not sound heavy on the box, but add all the other gear you are carrying and it all adds up pretty quick.

I have seen a few that were rabbit shaped, radio-controlled setups that looked ok and sounded semi-ok, but it looked like you would be limited to the few variations of built in calls on a unit like this.

 

Cover and Attractant Scents
This area of equipment can be as complicated or simple as you want to make it. Cover scents come in dozens of scents from sage to skunk. Most people will carry at least some type of either cover scent or scent blocker to keep the prey from getting into a position downwind from the hunter or caller and catching their scent and making for the next county.

Decoys
Recently a couple companies have started to produce soft foam decoys for predator hunters. They are light, and roll up for easy transport to and from your stands. One company makes two versions of a rabbit and a fawn decoy. The main reasons to use a decoy are to get the attention of the prey away from you and to have something in the area that could be making the distress sounds that the prey hears.

Other useful equipment
There are some other things, and their uses, that you can add to the list of equipment to take along such as the following...
A very sharp knife - the sharper the knife the easier job you will have skinning
Length of rope or a dog choke chain - if there are trees in the area you can use the rope or chain to tie the carcass in a tree for easier skinning.
Latex or rubber medical-type gloves - keeps the blood, guts and other stuff off of you while you are skinning an animal.
Binoculars - obvious
Canteen - obvious
Large garbage bags - for holding the individual pelts after skinning
GPS unit - pretty handy for getting back to the truck after wandering in the hills or forest for a while.
Flea and Tick killer spray or powder - Use a blast or two into the garbage bag with the pelt to kill lil critters.