The subject of hunting for beginners seems like it should be simple, but it's not. There are things that experienced hunters are still learning when it comes to the hunt and the techniques involved. We all have to start somewhere and there's no shame in that. So, if you're a beginner hunter, read on and hopefully learn a thing or two.
Knowing where to start can be hard. Trying to tell adults who are interested in hunting how to hunt can be hard to someone who has been doing it since he was a child. When I started, all I really had to do was listen to my dad and follow his instructions. So this is a learning process for me too, to put myself where you are as an adult beginner. It's not a bad thing. Getting started hunting is an awesome idea for anyone looking to get into it.
Let me first say that starting out during hunting season is a very bad idea. Just throwing yourself into it can be fine in many things you do in life, but in hunting you really want to set the process going before it's time to get out there and hunt. That way, when you do get out there, you will be educated and pretty familiar with whatever equipment you choose to go with, whether that is rifle or bow. Spend some time beforehand learning how to get good on the gun or bow (or both) and practice every chance you can get.
First Things First
Try and attend a hunter education class. These are usually known as hunter safety courses. This class should help you understand more about the process of hunting and the wildlife out there. It is invaluable as it teaches you about gun safety, which is most important. You will meet other beginner hunters and perhaps form friendships with them (and just maybe gain a hunting buddy in the process). This is a great atmosphere for you to get those first shots in. You can check with your state's local wildlife agency to find a class near you.
Find a Mentor
If you know someone who is a licensed hunter, you could go out with him or her and watch as they go about the process of it. This way you can take it all in without the chance of mishandling equipment or not being ready. The course above is still invaluable, but this is good in addition to the class.
Review Your State's Regulations
Check the state's license requirements to make sure you meet all of them before investing any money into gear and such. Learn when you can hunt and when you can't, find out what kinds of equipment you can use at what time. Different parts of the state may have different or more restrictive regulations.
Before Handling a Gun
Make sure you understand all the rules of basic firearm safety. Even experienced hunters need to read and review these from time to time. Remember that rudimentary safety procedures also apply to bows and other archery equipment. Always be safe with this equipment.
Get Some Practice In
Since you got those first shots in at your safety course, now's the time to go practice at a range. Do not go out and buy your own gun until you know what kind you are most comfortable with and you start doing well at the range. Borrow a gun if you can or rent one from the range. You won't get good unless you practice and then practice some more.
What if I Want to Bow Hunt?
This isn't a slight on anyone, believe me. I started out a newbie too, and I just have to say that from knowing what it's like to use both gun and bow in the hunt that bow hunting is not really for beginners. If you do choose to start this way, practice is even more important as it's a lot more challenging to control bows or crossbows than firearms. It's that extra challenge that draws many hunters to bow hunting, but too many new hunters have headed into the field with too little practice. It takes time to become good in either one, so remember that practice is key.
A Few More Tips for the Beginner
- Learn the area before you hunt. Before hunting season even starts, get familiar with the area you'll be hunting.
- Get you hunting license before heading out into the woods. Not only is it illegal to hunt without one, but that money helps to preserve hunting and wildlife for future beginner hunters.
- Buy the gear you need but don't think you need all the expensive gadgets and expensive guns. Just be sure you have what you need before heading out into the woods.
- Start small with smaller game. This is great for the beginner as there are a lot more opportunities to get in that first successful hunt and it will give you a taste of what hunting is really like before you step into the big leagues. It's better to find out if hunting is not for you after shooting a squirrel or rabbit than by taking down a huge buck.
Above all, learn and practice your woodcraft skills. Learn stealth and navigation in the woods. Learn your weapon. Practice and more practice is what it takes. Be safe and have fun!
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