What is your oldest piece of hunting gear?
Hunting equipment is constantly evolving in the 21st century. Companies are making more effective camo patterns, treestands, trail cameras, better rifle scopes, and field dressing knives. It seems gear branded as the next biggest thing is released every hunting season.
But sometimes, you can’t beat a classic. Many of you will probably agree with me; great hunting gear never becomes obsolete.
This is the story of my oldest piece of hunting gear, and hopefully it drums up a few other examples of classic hunting items from you. There are some things that simply never go out of style when you’re pursuing wild game, and they’re awfully special.
My oldest piece of gear
When I started to really think about it, it dawned on me that I don’t really have any gear that is on the extreme end of what I’d call old. My dad and uncle are deer hunters, but my grandfather on my dad’s side was not. I quickly realized the oldest hunting piece of gear I owned was probably my grandfather’s Marlin Model 60 .22 rifle.
He owned more than one, but I don’t have the other, likely older Model 60 anymore.
After doing a little research online regarding the serial number, it seems the rifle is only around 20 years old, which surprised me. It’s funny to me because my grandfather was never into any sort of game hunting, not even small game.
Although he did used to joke to my brother and I that he once killed a deer at long range with a slingshot. “I shot it right between the eyes!” he would say. I don’t think I believed him even then, but it’s hilarious looking back on it.
While my grandfather didn’t do any hunting for big game animals, he did think he was a farmer. That is to say, he owned a farm that he didn’t actually do any real farming on. I think he just liked the idea of saying he owned one. But I know he likely used the rifle for taking out the countless woodchucks that were always on the property.
I’m primarily into deer hunting myself, so I haven’t really used the Model 60 much in a capacity beyond target shooting or taking care of a few pest squirrels and raccoons. Still, I’m glad I have this very American rifle. It’s a straight shooter that is fun to use and it reminds me of my grandpa every time I pick it up.
Most hunters in North America likely have an old firearm like I do. Although mine isn’t terribly old, you likely know someone who owns one much older. I ran across the awesome video above, in which a guy takes his grandfather’s 114-year-old Winchester Model 1892 chambered in 25-20 Royer out on a successful deer hunt. How cool is that?
There is something special about using an older firearm successfully in the field. It doesn’t matter if it’s an old rifle or simply an old shotgun you took out turkey hunting. It’s even better if you can use that old gear in the company of family.
We loved this video below where Lake Fork Guy and his dad took a couple of vintage Remington Model 11 shotguns out for a dove hunt.
The Model 11 is based off the Browning A5, another complete classic shotgun. Odds are you or someone you know has a vintage A5 that has been passed down a few generations.
Vintage archery gear
Bowhunting has changed a lot over the years, and bows have gotten lighter, quieter, and faster over time. Still, you’ll find a small but dedicated group of hunters on the internet that still love vintage bows, especially when comes to vintage compounds from the 80s and 90s.
These bows might not be as accurate or as fast as their modern counterparts, but fokls appreciate how they paved the way for bowhunting to become what it is today: a modern-day multi-million dollar industry where there is practically no limit on the type of game you can harvest.
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The Hilbre #broadhead was, I believe, the first to employ a synthetic ferrule. In production for many years it would evolve through several variations, all retaining the nylon ferrules. This ad is from #1955. #Vintage #archery #archers_arcana #vintagearchery #vintagebowhunting
As I combed the internet, I found all sorts of great vintage archery stuff. Sometimes the prices were included. If only we could go to Cabela’s and get a dozen broadheads for $4.50 today!
I also stumbled across a bunch of ads for gear pioneered by the late, great Fred Bear. If you own a vintage Fred Bear bow, you own a piece of bowhunting history.
Vintage hunting clothing
Some of you likely still own some older hunting jackets from the 80s and 90s. That was back when camo patterns were still relatively simple.
Remember the classic Army-style green, tan, and brown splotch patterns back before “sticks and leaves” became all the rage?
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Let’s throw it back to 1949 with Alice O'Brien's massive non-typical muley on this #throwbackthursday !! The caption reads “Lady Nimrod – Alice O’Brien, 5515 Cottage, used just one bullet from a .32 Winchester to drop this big buck 20 miles south of Bly midway in the now-past season. The horn spread measured 39 1/2”, with 13 points on one side, 11 on the other.” Photo credit: @booneandcrockettclub __________________________________________________ #throwbackoutdoors #throwbackthursday #vintagehuntingphotos #oldhuntingphotos #monstermuley #booneandcrockettclub #muledeerhunting #muledeerhunting1949 #girlshunttoo #muledeercountry
Of course, some older hunters might scoff even at that. Go back even further to when plaid was the hunting jacket of choice. Generations of hunters went into the woods wearing this style without even a second thought.
You only need to look at a hugely successful hunting family like the Benoits to know big bucks don’t care what you’re wearing out in the woods. Especially once you have them on the ground.
Old hunting knives
The market is absolutely saturated with the latest in hunting knives, and there are some nice ones out there with specialty edges for skinning and opening up the chest cavities of game animals with surgical precision.
In fact, today’s knives make it easier than ever to dress and prep your harvested animals.
But there’s something you’ve just got to respect about old-school hunting knives. There wasn’t anything fancy about them. The hardcore trappers of the early American frontier likely used the same knife on squirrels that they did on grizzly bears.
Older hunting knives are usually built out of higher-quality steel and they’re made to last. You can’t really say the same about all the blades made today, which is a shame. If you’ve got an old-school hunting knife passed down for generations, hold onto it. Those old knives are likely better than anything you can get in a store today.
Calls and decoys
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Researching these old decoys has been a fun process. Much thanks to a good friend who helped us ! They are now displayed out in our shop and available to purchase . #vintageduckdecoy #manitobaantiques #shoplocalsteinbach #ducksunlimitedcanada #vintageduckdecoys #vintagecanadiana
Humans have been trying to trick big game with calls for hundreds of years. While there are plenty of fancy new calls hitting the hunting stores every season, I’ve also gone through many a grunt call and bleat can simply because they don’t make this stuff very durable anymore. It wasn’t the same back in the day.
One interesting thing about vintage calls and decoys is they absolutely skyrocket in value after a while, especially when we’re talking about turkey or waterfowl stuff.
I’m not kidding. The remarkable craftsmanship and artistry of old calls and decoys is probably what drives serious collectors to pay ridiculous prices. For instance, in 2012, a collector paid over $90,000 for ONE vintage duck call.
If you have a drawer full of old duck calls and decoys your grandfather left to you, it might be worth taking a second glance at them. You never know what valuable things may be in there.
What’s the oldest piece of gear you own?
Taking the time to go through your hunting gear to see what’s in there can be a fun trip down memory lane, just as I found out. Who knows? You may even find some gear that works better than the modern stuff you’re currently using. They knew how to build stuff to last back then.
Even if our gear has no real monetary value, we just love keeping this stuff around because of all the great memories they hold.