What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who has never hunted but wishes to begin learning?
Alexander P. from Trenton, NJ
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Don’t “Google” it. Become a sponge. The only way to learn how to hunt is by taking a hands on approach.Â A firearms class helps even if you plan to bow hunt. You will come out with more respect for what you are about to do. Latch on to a friend or an elder who is a hunter. They will be able to take you out and show you what to look for.Â Take the appropriate steps to get your licenses. Keep your expectations low and your eyes open. Don’t expect to bag yourself a meal the first time or even the first season. Hunting is a learning process. You will fail, you will also succeed. The last piece of advice I can give is: The loudest animals in the forest are usually the smallest.
Educate yourself. We live in a time where information and knowledge is at our fingertips all the time. There are numerous websites, forums, YouTube channels that will help you gain vast amounts of knowledge on all aspects of the hunting process. All of these sources will help answer the vast number of questions you have and maybe answer some that you didnâ€™t even think to ask.
Take your hunter safety course. If you donâ€™t know where to begin this is the first step. Do it in person, if you can. Hands on learning and being able to ask questions will make you much more confident. Also, this is a great way to meet someone who may be in the same boat as you; just starting out into hunting. You can learn and make mistakes together along the way.
Find a mentor if you can. Real world experience will trump everything else in the end. Through online forums, your local fish and game club or a family friend there are many people that would be more than happy to pass on their knowledge to someone who is just getting started. I try to take out anyone who is interested. Just make sure you respect this personâ€™s requests. If they say meet somewhere at a certain time be early.
Lastly, get out there on your own if you have to. It may seem intimidating at first but once you get out there you will start to figure out what works and what doesnâ€™t. Eventually you will have success. My final words to remember: Finding them is the hard part, shooting them is the easy part and dealing with them is the heavy part.
The first thing I would do is find a relative, friend, or coworker that hunts. If you don’t know any hunters then join a rod and gun club and get involved. Don’t be afraid to meet new people.Â Most hunters are more than willing to share information, their experiences and opinions.Â Ask questions and join them at the practice range, on their scouting trips, or hunts, if they don’t mind. Anyone worth spending time with will be happy to introduce a new hunter to our way of life.
I think the best advice I was ever given from my father about hunting is don’t focus on success or failure. Focus on being one with the woods and moving slowly enough and quietly enough to really listen to what is going on around you. I was always told success in the woods should be measured by the fact that you’re there, you got up in the morning and chose to be one with the world. Even if you just took a few steps into the woods and sat down, with little hope in arrowing an animal, you were there and that’s what it’s all about. If you’re lucky enough to harvest an animal, make sure you give the animal the much needed respect that it deserves by taking your time cleaning it and taking all usable parts home. If you’re not used to cooking with wild game look for a recipe in the recipe section of this website.
Be patient. In this lifestyle you must be patient in all aspects. No body becomes a great hunter overnight. You can do all of your research on a location, buy all the gear in the world, watch all the videos, train as hard as you can, but still come up empty handed. The true joy of hunting is in the hunt itself. Obviously, when you come home with meat in your truck it is a much better day, but you must be patient and not expect to harvest and animal on your first time out.
You also must be patient when getting your first harvest. Don’t shoot the first thing you see. Wait and watch the animal. Make sure to take the right shot. It took me several hunts and many miles hiked before I harvested my first animal. I was losing my patience, but the reward was finally overwhelming. Nothing can really compare to that feeling. Hunting is an amazing journey that will take you to places you never may have dreamed of going but, with patience and determination your prize, at the end of the tunnel, will be priceless.
If you can, find a friend or family member to tag along with on trips. I started going along with my uncle and cousins when I was around 7. I started hunting with them when I was 9. The time between was spent observing and learning how and why they hunt, as well as firearm and wilderness safety.
Absolutely the first place to start learning to hunt is to go with a friend, family member, or other mentor.Â You will be able to observe all aspects of hunting and ask questions along the way.Â Learning to hunt through observation is how all hunters have been made for thousands of years.Â Traditionally, sons and daughters go out with their father and other family members.Â However, today there has been a generation or two where hunting was not in the family lifestyle or was avoided by choice.Â So, indoctrination into hunting has to now be more intentional on the part of the soon-to-be hunter.
Along with going with a mentor and observing them and asking questions, there are educational resources you can look into.Â I encourage folks to do their homework when not in the field.Â Handling firearms, hunting, and harvesting wild game is not to be taken lightly.Â Start with the basics of firearms safety and maintenance, wildlife behavior and biology, and the laws and regulations in your area.Â Your state’s wildlife commission is a great resource of information, and I would advise you to start looking there.Â I can speak for North Carolina’s wildlife commission in that they provide a lot of good information to beginning hunters on their website.
If you are looking to begin hunting, I cannot stress the importance of reading. Even now, I try to read every single piece of writing about the very animals that I obsess over yearly, and because of that, I have found more success in the field. Everything from Field and Stream magazine on to various social media accounts, the amount of knowledge being shared is incredible.
In addition to reading, I cannot stress the importance of getting in the outdoors. It takes little-to-no gear to just go out and sit at the base of a tree and watch the world come alive. Understanding deer movements and patterns is important to be successful, and by watching, you can begin to learn. Even just asking experienced outdoorsmen about various questions you may have can provide answers that literature may not provide. Bottom line, if you are lucky enough, maybe you will begin to learn that a firearm or bow is not necessary to enjoy the pure wilderness we at Harvesting Nature are constantly chasing.
Buy some good boots! In all seriousness, you are going to spend a lot of hours on your feet hiking by the end of season. Between all the time spent scouting new areas and glassing for game you are going to be putting some serious miles on your footwear before the actual hunting begins. As the old saying goes, you take care of your feet, your feet will take care of you. Leaky waders, broken laces, blisters, delaminated soles, any little thing that can go wrong with your footwear can turn an enjoyable experience into a miserable one. Let me tell you, nothing is worse than trying to pack out a deer across Wyomingâ€™s back country with near frozen feet because your boots werenâ€™t quite as waterproof as they claimed to be.
No matter what kind or style of hunting you do, your feet are important, whether its hiking in to your favorite blind or stalking that bruiser mulie for 10 miles. You can put down a deer with a cheap military surplus rifle, get by with a cheap pack and any old pair of blue jeans and t-shirt but you canâ€™t get very far when your feet are covered in blisters and your boots give up the ghost.
I believe one of the most important concepts to focus upon while learning to hunt is safety. As a kid, firearm safety was drilled into my head. There are few things worse than a hunting accident. Learning to avoid them could potentially save your life. Second, learn and follow the laws. They are there for a grander purpose. Many are backed up by years and years of conservation research and plans. Third, find someone who will teach you about hunting. Sure, you can go out on you own and tough it out, but what is better than fellowship and tapping into the resources that others may have developed over trial and error? Go into with the notion that you will one day pass you knowledge on to another person.
Getting started hunting for the first time can be intimidating.Â Fortunately, it is easier than you would expect.Â I would first suggest getting your hunting license, which involves an in depth course covering everything from gun safety to hunting ethics and the basic biology of game.Â Next, find someone with hunting experience who can show you the ropes.Â Start by tagging along, without a gun, to learn as much as you can.Â The more comfortable with the surroundings and the general nature of the hunt, the more comfortable and safe you will be when out on your own.
One point of caution: hunting can be highly addictive!Â Consult loved ones and friends prior to involvement of any kind.