Along The Trail 6-18-15

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Editor’s Note: This is a column written by Switzerland County’s David Hewitt. The articles center on all things ‘out doors’, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.

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During the “off season”, a lot of outdoorsmen and women restock their hunting and fishing wares either online or cruising the aisles of the big box sportsman’s stores. I have to admit, I get drawn into shopping the big stores, but for my style of hunting and the fact that I’m sort of a cheapskate, yard sales, second hand shops and flea markets are more my taste…

Most hunters, hikers, campers and fisherman don’t realize the bargains to be had from garage sales and the like, but some of my best gear has been snagged for pennies on the dollar. Sure, it might be slightly used or need a little TLC, but the savings can run into hundreds of dollars and for most of us blue collar hunters, anytime we can save some cash, it’s a good thing because as we all know, nothing about any of the outdoor pursuits is cheap when buying new.

Besides the cost savings of hitting the sales, auctions and flea markets, I get a kick of getting a good deal. Many times, the previous owners are willing to dicker on the price of an item and it all becomes part of the game. The negotiation and haggling become as much a part of the “hunt” as the actual purchase. Even better than cash exchanging hands is when someone is willing to trade for goods. I’ll size up, say the old bow quiver full of arrows and do a quick calculation as to what I think it’s worth, then make my offer to the owner. Is he willing to trade or just interested in greenbacks? Most of the time, especially at a flea market, a trade can be had over a handshake and most of the time, both parties walk away happy. I’m almost embarrassed to say how much of my hunting and camping gear has came as the result of a trade, but for me, it adds enjoyment to my hunting season knowing that I didn’t have to pay and arm and a leg to Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops in order to be successful in the field.

But not only have I saved cash being thrifty with my outdoor items, I’ve managed to pocket a little bit of dough over the years. I’m always on the look out for vintage recurve and longbows. Surprisingly, there is a collectors market for old archery items and a resurgence in anything vintage and antique. I’ve been lucky several times and came across a yard sale bow for $10 or $15 and with a little work, tweak it here and there and some elbow grease, that $10 Ben Pearson or Bear brand recurve has turned into $100 in my wallet. Same goes with vintage fishing gear, old tackle and lures. Plenty of times I’ve picked up old bowhunting and fishing gear, not really needing it, but the deal too good to pass up and always thinking ahead about how I could “flip” it or turn it into cash. If money doesn’t work, I always eye things for their trade value in some future deal…

So, for all my fellow outdoorsmen and tight wads, don’t speed by that yard sale or throw away that auction flyer. It just might be worth your while to check it out, find a deal, save a little cash and maybe make a few bucks to spend in the future on more gear. And besides the thrill of the hunt for bargains, there is some satisfaction in knowing that you’re breathing new life into some old gear that can function for years to come with a little care rather than winding up in a burn barrel or landfill.

– David Hewitt