Hunting is more than a pastime; it’s a challenging sport that demands diverse abilities and devotion. If you’re considering getting started hunting as an adult, you should know that it’s not something you can learn on the weekend. To become a successful hunter, you must have patience, tenacity, and many hours of practice.
Before going on your first hunting expedition, you should practice your marksmanship, acquire basic survival techniques, and improve your navigation skills. To boost your chances of success, you’ll also need to become acquainted with several hunting strategies.
Whether seasoned or novice, hunting is a fascinating and fulfilling pastime that provides an unrivaled connection to the outdoors. Anyone can become a competent hunter if they have the appropriate mentality and are ready to put in the time and effort.
Essential Hunting Skills
Going out on your first official hunt can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Thankfully, before you can legally start hunting game, there are a few classes you need to attend and skills to acquire first.
While all this learning may be disheartening, you will be hunting wild game, and it’s essential to avoid potentially dangerous mistakes as new hunters.
Growing up without prior gun experience might be intimidating, but anybody can become a competent and responsible hunter with suitable materials and supervision. Enrolling in a firearms training course taught by a professional is an excellent method to get the necessary skills and confidence.
These classes are a fantastic way to learn the essentials of gun safety, handling, and marksmanship in a safe and supportive setting. Investing in firearms training is a wise and beneficial investment for anybody interested in hunting as a pastime or sport.
Make sure your practice nearly resembles what you’ll encounter in the field as you can. That entails practicing from field locations when using a rifle (after your rifle is zeroed, of course). Consider joining a sports clays, skeet league, or perhaps a wing shooting workshop if you want to get into bird hunting. You’ll be able to meet other shooters while honing your abilities.
Practice, Practice, and Practice Some More
Patience and persistence are essential hunting characteristics. Finding a legal buck might take weeks or even months, and it’s critical to maximize your prospects by being well-prepared. Putting in the time and effort to train target practice with your firearm ahead of time is crucial for hunting success.
Practicing marksmanship and becoming familiar with hunting strategies boosts your chances of success when hunting. Being well-prepared can help you avoid missing the first deer when it emerges. Make sure you’re ready for the big moment by practicing ahead.
It’s also worth noting that if you find a hunting buddy or mentor and do something dangerous with a firearm, good luck convincing them to continue hunting with you. Before worrying about becoming a better hunter, you must first become proficient with a gun and enroll in hunter safety classes.
Hunter Safety Course
Sign up for a hunter safety course once you’ve completed firearm training. Not only is this essential to get a hunting license, but it will also educate you on deer hunting etiquette and assist in further ingraining safe hunting behaviors.
After completing your safety course, you are ready to acquire your license. You will likely need to obtain a tag for hunting big game.
It is worth noting the significance of proper etiquette regarding land conservation. Many groups are continually attempting to take away the property set aside for outdoor enthusiasts.
Give them no ammunition for their efforts. Pick up your rubbish, don’t harm roads, and leave the forests in the same condition you found. If you pack it in, you must also pack it out.
Best Game to Hunt for Beginners
The strategies presented in this article are geared towards hunting deer, although many concepts apply to hunting any wild game.
While it may be tempting to leap right into hunting big game, there are certain benefits to pursuing small game animals for new hunters that should be considered.
- They’re widespread and may be found in various hunting places, so beginners won’t have to go far to find them.
- Because they move slowly and are not as violent as other wild games, novices will not be chased or attacked.
- Deer are a medium-sized game, they are not overly tough to track and hunt, but they still present a decent challenge for newcomers.
- As a popular game species, there is a wealth of knowledge and resources on how to hunt them efficiently.
- Finally, deer hunting is an excellent method to learn about hunting skills, safety, animal behavior, and the responsibility of hunting a wild animal.
Your Guiding Light (Mentor/Teacher)
There is no getting past the need for a hunter education course. Learning to hunt is equivalent to learning to drive from a driver’s education manual. The only way to improve is to practice under supervision. Mentoring programs and other hunters can help with that.
Finding Your Hunting Mentor
Start with deer hunters, you know. This might be a friend, family member, coworker, or neighbor. You might be able to ask them to take you hunting, depending on your connection with them. Take it slow if you don’t know them as well.
Inquire about the areas where you most need assistance, such as locating a reputable gun store or purchasing the appropriate hunting license. Work your way up to inviting them to participate in a practical activity. Perhaps you need assistance choosing your first hunting gun or planning your first trip to the range.
You should eventually get to know one another well enough to request to join someone on a hunt. Even better, your new mentor may invite you to join them. Remember not to slack off when you discover someone who will assist you. Never forget that this hunter is teaching you to hunt as a favor and that it takes time away from their ventures.
Ask them to join you on your hunts and give you advice without a doubt, but also take the initiative. If they bring you to the range once, go back the next time on your own. Go check out any public lands they suggest if they do. You shouldn’t depend on them to be there for you forever or to go hunting with you every time you want to.
Community Support and Learn-to-Hunt Programs
If the hunter you hoped might help seems uncommitted, it’s okay. Someone else out there will be delighted to assist you, whether or not you already know them.
Courses on how to hunt might be helpful here. Your state’s game department or a nonprofit devoted to wildlife protection frequently hosts these live hunter education sessions. Search for programs by state or by the species of animal you wish to learn to hunt.
Contact the R3 coordinator in your state if you would like to speak with a real person who can provide you with personalized guidance. They are skilled and trained to assist you in the beginning.
Many learn-to-hunt courses sell out quickly, so if you’re having problems enrolling, don’t give up. Consider going over top hunting tips to gather information.
Meanwhile, make an effort to connect with others in the hunting community. Don’t be afraid to ask around for information and attend hunting events. These are fantastic methods to meet local men and women who can give you the assistance you need and perhaps even take you hunting.
Navigating Hunting Seasons and Laws
Several restrictions limit how what, and when you can hunt, as you surely noticed in hunter education. To make matters even more complicated, there are two sets of hunting rules: laws and ethics.
It may be allowed, for example, to shoot deer with a firearm you haven’t practiced with. However, this does not imply that you should. You owe it to the hunting community and the animals you hunt to respect your state’s rules and to hunt fairly.
Violations of game laws can result in fines, revocation of hunting licenses, or worse. Simply learning and adhering to your state’s rules is the most straightforward way to prevent getting into trouble.
Begin by visiting the website of your state’s gaming agency. Season dates, general hunting laws, and species-specific requirements may all be found there. A hunting license can also be purchased there.
Hunting Season Dates
Your state’s game department releases dates when you can hunt for a particular species each year. For instance, squirrel seasons are often relatively simple, starting in the summer or early fall and continuing until late winter.
Deer and other large game hunting seasons are more complicated and frequently begin in the early fall and extend until December or even later.
Season dates are often divided by method of take, such as rifle or shotgun season, muzzleloader season, and bow season. However, there may be some overlap. The most common hunting seasons for rifles are those, and those are the periods when you’ll see the most people in the woods.
Hunting is a year-round activity. Many bear seasons open in May and June, and you may frequently kill unwanted species like feral pigs at any time of year. The spring snow goose season starts in February, the spring turkey season lasts from March to May, and many more seasons are available in some other months.
State and local regulations governing hunting vary, and beginner hunters must get familiar with the specific rules in the area they plan to hunt. However, all hunters must have a valid hunting license; additional licenses may be required for particular game species or hunting methods.
It’s also important to keep in mind that certain game species have designated hunting seasons and that doing so outside of specific times is forbidden.
Beginner hunters should be aware of and follow the rules of ethical hunting. This entails being mindful of and respecting the habitat of the prey being pursued, as well as being careful only to kill animals that are nearby and able to be harvested humanely.
Hunting on privately owned property needs permission from the owners, and hunting is prohibited because the government protects it. Hunters should also be informed of and practice appropriate gun safety.
To guarantee that they are by the law and have a safe and ethical hunting experience, novice hunters should make it a point to educate themselves on all applicable hunting legislation and ethical standards before stepping out into the field.
Fundamental Hunting Gear
Hunting equipment is necessary for a successful and safe hunting trip. A hunting rifle or bow, acceptable attire and footwear, a hunting knife, a backpack or hunting pack, and a way to call or attract wildlife are all essential.
You need to know what to bring and why, as it could be the difference between disaster and salvation.
Protect Your Soles (Footwear)
Footwear is one of the most critical pieces of equipment to purchase if you intend to spend any time hiking. By missing this tip, we urge you to avoid hunting for the first time and coming home solely with blisters.
The key here is to select a pair of boots that fit YOUR foot. Spend time trying different brands and sizes at the shop until you find what works best. You want something long-lasting that will not wear out fast, something waterproof, and something with high grip tread.
When it comes to socks, we recommend sticking with high-quality merino wool. At first, it may appear fantastic marketing, but in my experience, merino wool lives up to the promise. Merino wool breathes easily and will keep your feet dry even if they sweat profusely. If your socks become wet, merino wool is a fantastic choice to keep you warm.
Bacteria also have a tough time thriving in wool, so you may wear the socks for longer before they begin to smell. That being said, always bring an extra pair of socks. Changing your socks regularly can keep your feet fresh and healthy. If you need a rag in an emergency, the socks may come in handy.
First Line of Defense (Base Layer)
Layering is an important aspect to remember while preparing for a hunt. The ideal hunting base layers should be constructed of wool or polyester. The benefit of layering is that you may adjust the middle layers of your dress to the weather.
Merino wool is preferred for clothing’s innermost layers. The advantages are similar to those listed above for socks; the material breathes nicely and doesn’t become soaked with your sweat. You can wear the same outfit for a few days without smelling bad.
Second Line of Defense (Middle Layer)
When hunting early season on the west coast, you may not need any mid-layers at all. Fleece or wool is ideal for colder regions because they provide lightweight warmth. To keep warm in chilly weather, wear a down jacket.
Final Line of Defense (Outer Layer)
Your outer shell’s role is to shield you from wind, rain, and snow. This layer should ideally breathe well and be waterproof if you’re hunting in a damp climate. The purpose here is to protect the layers beneath from the outdoors rather than to give a lot of warmth.
Gloves, hats, beanies, gaiters, and balaclavas are examples and will differ based on your hunting conditions. But before you run out and buy one of everything, consider what you want to achieve with that gear.
For example, getting a beanie or balaclava makes no sense if you go hunting in late summer (July-August) when temperatures reach 90 degrees.
Choose something suitable for as many different hunting as you are interested in. When choosing a caliber for your first rifle, choose something widespread, such as .308, .270, .30-06, or .243. A deer caliber with less recoil is an excellent option. Purchase a comfy sling; you’ll be glad you did.
Use the same ammo you used to sight in your rifle. Another item you should get is a case to secure your handgun when traveling.
Guide to Cleaning Your Weapon
Learn how to keep your firearm clean and in excellent condition. Never store your gun in a case for more than a few days. Keep a lightly oiled towel nearby to clean it down after use.
We recommend cleaning it after every 5-10 rounds fired and once after the season’s conclusion to ready it for storage. The fundamental procedure is as follows:
- Check that the gun is not loaded.
- Remove the bolt and clean it with solvent before wiping it clean.
- Clean the bore according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, taking care to only use solvents suggested by the gun maker.
- Run patches through the barrel until they are clean.
- After that, pass an oiled patch through the barrel.
- Finally, apply a light oil to the outside of the action and barrel.
Optics, like boots, are worth spending a bit more money on. The lens cost is directly proportional to the quality of the glass used in its production. Your initial purchase in this category should be a rifle scope. A 3-9x magnification with a 40mm objective (big end diameter) is a relatively popular and flexible setup.
Make sure that the scope mounts you buy fit both your rifle and the tube diameter of your scope. Scope tubes are generally 30mm or 1″ in diameter.
Begin with a scope and progress to binoculars as funds allow. After that, you should consider getting a range finder to estimate your shooting distance better. Lastly, a spotting scope won’t be necessary unless you are hunting in large open regions.
Like everything else stated above, this will depend on the hunt. But you will need some form of the pack to carry your stuff. We advise you to acquire a compact daypack for day hunts and a second backpack for lengthier overnight adventures that contains any extra supplies you may need.
You don’t want your daypack to be heavier than it has to be. Take our word for it. The following are some valuable items to keep in your daypack:
- Small first aid kit
Strategies and Techniques For Deer Hunting
Deer hunting may be challenging and rewarding, but success frequently depends on employing the proper methods and strategies.
The following are some crucial tactics and techniques to remember when deer hunting.
Where to Hunt
The first step in organizing your first hunt is determining where you will hunt. Begin by going to your state’s fish and game website. There should be a section describing where, which species, and the time of year you can hunt.
Make sure you have permission to hunt on private property. There is no worse way to spoil a hunt than to get caught on someone else’s property and be fined.
Once you’ve decided where to go hunting, check the locations on Google Maps. Examine the routes to and from the places of interest. Will a four-wheel drive car get you there, or will you require an ATV? Are ATVs permitted in the area? Will you be forced to walk? How far is it? These are all essential questions you should have answered before you set off.
During the hunt, concentrate your search near food, water, and cover to find a deer better. Look for running water or springs. Determine what plants the deer in the region eat and seek locations that have that vegetation.
Another consideration while deciding on a place is the number of other nearby hunters. You could have more luck exploring elsewhere if the region is widely accessible and well-known.
It would be best if you reduced it to a few options by now. The following stage is to scout the place ahead of time, if feasible. The closer you study to the season, the better.
Look for deer footprints, scat, or the animal itself. Make a list of the areas with the highest activity. When hunting season arrives, these are the regions you should prioritize.
The Three Keys to All Hunting Techniques
Now that you’ve decided where to hunt, it’s time to consider your hunting plans and methods. All of the strategies presented here are dependent on three main factors:
- Scent Control
- Sound Control
These three variables will determine your success as a hunter. The basic concept of hunting is to get your weapon within range of your target animal and kill it. The most common mistakes hunters make include spooking animals with their smell, sound, or movement.
Basic scent control tips
Deer have an excellent sense of smell, which they rely on to survive. For this reason, the wind’s direction should always be at the front of your mind. Make every effort to keep downwind of the deer you’re following. If you have the wind at your back when hunting a buck, your bouquet will alert him.
On the day, avoid scented soaps, shampoos, or sunscreen. Avoid using strongly scented bug spray. The idea is to reduce everything that smells strange to deer. Use scent-free sunscreen or insect spray.
Sound control tips
Because deer have acute hearing, you must avoid alerting them to your presence. Ensure all electrical gadgets are turned to silence.
When walking, be mindful of where you tread. Avoid dry leaves and sticks by walking on damp earth and grass whenever possible. Remove your shoes and complete the stalk in your socks if you need to go near an animal.
Wear camouflage that matches your environment. Specific camouflage patterns are best suited to different regions and seasons.
When hunting, consider the speed at which other animals typically move. Most creatures move at a snail’s pace, and you want to keep this pace. Never make rapid, fast movements.
Spot and Stalk Hunting
Spot and stalk hunting is a thrilling hunting style. As the hunter, the basic notion is to explore broad open regions with binoculars and a spotting scope. When you see an animal you wish to pursue, plan your route to a spot within range and ready to shoot. It is not unusual to begin this expedition a mile or more away from the animal.
In general, you should begin in a location where you can see as much as possible. Position yourself, so your outline doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb. You should also assess if you could pursue the animal after seeing it.
This strategy allows you to cover a large area quickly, which boosts your chances, especially if you are unfamiliar with the location. The stalk is the key to success with this strategy. You must arrange your journey carefully so as not to frighten the animal with your movement, sound, or scent.
Still hunting, as the name describes, is a form of hunting where you set up in an area where you believe deer will pass by and wait for them to do so. Because you can’t see as well as with spot and stalk, this strategy is appropriate for locations with more cover and vegetation.
Still hunting is an excellent strategy for beginners since it requires them to sit still and be patient. By remaining motionless, you reduce the likelihood of the game seeing or hearing you.
Location is the most crucial aspect of still hunting, and you’ll succeed better if you have thoroughly investigated the region and studied deer movement patterns.
Create a channeled passage for deer between a feeding and sleeping location. Try not to disrupt the bedding area; if a deer feels something is wrong with where they sleep, it will leave and find a new site.
Tree stand hunting is hunting from an elevated platform, such as a tree stand, which provides the hunter with a better view position and enhanced camouflage. It is a common way of hunting deer and other large game animals.
This method of deer hunting is quite effective. The main advantage is that it allows you to sit at an elevated position relative to the animal’s range of view.
If you manage scent and sound well, you have a decent chance of getting extremely near to deer. Make sure your stand is not positioned upwind of where the deer will be going. If this is the case, when it comes time to hunt, leave that location for the time being and try another.
If you want to go this way, ensure you understand how to set up your stand correctly. Many individuals have been critically hurt or died after falling out of an improperly secured tree stand. Find a tree to practice on before the season, so you don’t have any problems when it comes time to hunt.
Ground Hunting From a Blind
Ground hunting from a blind involves hunting game animals while concealed in a ground blind – a portable, camo-covered shelter placed on the ground. The blind provides cover and concealment for the hunter, allowing them to get close to the game without being detected.
Ground blinds are created from several materials such as wood, canvas, and camouflage fabric and may be used to hunt various wildlife such as deer, turkey, and waterfowl.
Some ground blinds are elevated on stilts or tripods to give the hunter a better view of the surrounding area. It is crucial to remember that hunting restrictions differ by state and species, so before hunting from a ground blind, verify local laws and secure appropriate permissions.
Still Hunting Without a Blind
Still hunting from a blind is a technique of hunting game while camouflaged in a movable, camouflage-covered shelter constructed on the ground. It gives the hunter shelter and concealment, allowing them to approach the animal without being spotted.
Still, hunting without a blind entails traveling quietly and slowly across an area while seeking game animals. The idea is to move silently and slowly enough that the wildlife does not detect the hunter, allowing for a comparative approach and a shot.
It takes expertise, patience, and understanding of the behaviors and habitat of the game animal. Before going hunting, make sure to verify local rules and secure the appropriate permissions. Hunting restrictions differ depending on the state and species, and thus, it is essential to be informed of them.
Hunting with Man’s Best Friend
Hunting dogs can be a valuable asset for beginner hunters, as they can assist with tracking and retrieving the game. There are several different breeds of hunting dogs, each with unique skills and abilities.
Retrievers, such as the Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever, are known for their ability to retrieve game from water. Pointers, such as the German Shorthaired Pointer and English Pointer, is used to locate and point out game. Hounds like the Beagle and Bloodhound are used for scent tracking.
Beginner hunters should research and select a breed that best meets their hunting needs and preferences. Furthermore, competent hunting dog training and handling are essential for a successful hunting experience. It’s important to remember that hunting dogs need ear protection just like you when hunting.
Processing the Game
The process of cleaning, field dressing, butchering an animal after being hunted is called processing game. This procedure includes removing the animal’s internal organs, skinning it, and cutting it into smaller parts for cooking or storage.
Gutting your first deer might be daunting, but there are several tools accessible on the internet that can lead you through the procedure. There are numerous ways to gut a deer, so try to learn something from everyone’s approach.
Opening the pelvis and sternum with a saw will simplify the two most difficult stages of gutting. When the sternum is not split, hunters frequently injure themselves when reaching up into the chest cavity to sever the windpipe.
Skinning a deer entails removing the animal’s hide from its body. The procedure usually begins with an incision behind the deer’s front legs, then separating the hide from the muscle and fat with a sharp knife.
It is critical not to cut into the meat while skinning the animal. The skinned hide may be used to make garments, carpets, and other products.
Hanging deer to age the meat is an excellent way to increase the taste profile. Many old-fashioned hunters age the beef for several days to a week, while others do not.
I discovered that hanging the meat for a few days improves the flavor. If you plan on hanging your meat, immediately gut and skin the animal and keep the flesh cold while it hangs.
Butchering a deer entails dividing the animal’s meat into several cuts for consumption. The procedure begins with the deer being hung, and an incision is made from the neck to the anus.
The internal organs are extracted, and the animal is divided down the spine. The front and hindquarters are then separated, and specific meat cuts like tenderloins, sirloins, shoulder, ham, and backstraps are taken. The meat can be packaged and frozen or used immediately.
This may seem overwhelming initially, but it won’t be easy. Don’t give up; this is all part of the learning process. Every experienced hunter has been there.
What To Avoid
To avoid accidents and injuries, it is essential to take all required safety precautions when you first start hunting. Wearing adequate clothing and equipment, being aware of your surroundings, and adhering to all hunting rules and regulations are all part of this.
Furthermore, engaging in ethical hunting techniques, such as respecting the game being hunted and only taking shots at a reasonable distance, is critical.
A few extra things to keep in mind include the following:
- Don’t overspend on the newest and finest equipment. When starting, hand-me-downs and thrift stores are invaluable resources. After a few travels, you’ll be able to identify where your money will get the best bang for your buck.
- Take no single source of information as truth. Maintain an open mind, eat as much knowledge as possible, and see your hunting IQ grow over time.
- Respect more experienced hunters, and don’t act like a know-it-all.
- Don’t be disheartened. Big game hunting is a difficult task that takes perseverance. Successful, experienced hunters have spent significant time (sometimes since infancy) honing their skills. If you want to learn to be a better hunter, you must endure when your first buck does not come on your first trip.
- Don’t engage in improper hunting ethics. Hunters must do everything possible to protect their rights. Don’t provide ammunition to anti-hunting groups.
- Always remember your safety training.
When hunting as an adult, it’s crucial to remember that hunting is a lifetime sport. One may continue to learn new things every day, so always be willing to pick up new tips and tricks and use the information you can gather to become a better hunter.
Learning how to start hunting requires perseverance, commitment, and a desire to learn new skills. Your start in hunting can be a thrilling journey by paying following the information I’ve provided you.
What is the best resource to find a hunting spot?
The best place to start is your state’s fish and game website. Depending on where you are, you should be able to discover locations to search nearby. When you have a broad place in mind, use Google Maps to investigate the surrounding region.
What is the best beginner gun?
This depends on the animal you plan to start hunting and your geographic location. A Remington 870 is a fantastic option. You can use slugs or bird pellets to hunt deer and birds.
What is the best type of range to practice shooting?
Any training is beneficial, especially when first starting and becoming familiar with weapons. Given that you will be shooting from between 100 and 200 yards almost exclusively, a range outdoors is ideal.
How much will I spend on reg/license/tags?
Expect to pay between $80-$100 for an in-state deer hunting license and tag in most states. State-to-state pricing for out-of-state purchases varies substantially, with some states charging more than $500 to $1,000. This a necessary expense if you wish to get started hunting.
How do I start a career in hunting?
To begin a career in hunting, get the required permits and certifications, gain experience via volunteer work or paid internships, network with other experts in the field, and seek employment openings. Become an expert in a specific type of hunting, such as big game, bird, or outfitting. Continually educate yourself on industry changes in trends and rules.
Can you make a living by hunting?
It is possible to make a livelihood off of hunting. Still, it depends on several variables, including the market for hunted wildlife, the area and hunting one engages in, and the person’s business savviness.
Some professionals, such as hunting guides, outfitters, or consultants, make their living from hunting. Others could manage a hunting-related company, such as one that sells hunting gear or operates hunting lodges or preserves. Hunting for game and selling the meat, skins, or antlers is another way some people make money.
But it’s crucial to remember that earning a living from hunting may be challenging and requires a lot of effort, commitment, and readiness to change with the times.