Pelican Flyer • October 03, 2020
Many experienced hunters grew up hunting. They started as kids, taught at a young age. And today, it’s as natural to them as riding a bike. But for adults who have the sudden urge to learn how to hunt, where do you start? Want to know how to get into hunting? Here are some basic steps to take to become a true huntsman or huntswoman.
Pick a game to hunt – at least as a beginner. You can always learn how to hunt different types of game later, but for now, focus on one. There are many types of game and wildlife in the United States you can hunt, from turkeys, deer, elk, boar and all kinds of fowl like ducks and grouse. For practical purposes, choose wildlife in your region so you can get frequent practice, instead of the once-a-year trip to hunt something more “exotic.”
Picking a game is the easy part. Next, you’ll need to be certified through a hunter safety course. When trying to learn how to hunt, you must also learn how to conduct a legal and ethical hunt, abiding by game laws, seasons and restrictions. Once you take/pass the course, you’ll get a hunter’s safety card.
The safety course is also a great place to make friends, some of whom are not total newbies like you! Make connections with the class instructors and game wardens. They’ll know where the local game is in the area.
You can watch all the online hunting tutorials there are on YouTube, but you’ll never learn to hunt without first getting into the field to sharpen your tracking skills. Learn tracking skills in a campground or along trails, away from where hunting is prohibited. You want to learn the animal’s behavior (migration, food sources and tracks) and learn hunting tactics (calling, rattling and stalking). And the best places to do this are in state parks, wildlife refuges and mountain biking clubs, where they come around more frequently, unafraid of being hunted.
Learn some hunting basics first and then, when you feel ready and more confident in the field, load up on hunting gear. And “load up” is a figure of speech. In reality, you want to carry the least amount of gear you possibly can, or you’ll have a heavy load. Unlike many hobbies that suggest starter gear, hunting is quite the opposite. You want to walk into an outdoor store knowing precisely the type of gun and ammo you need. Indeed, is it even a gun or rifle or are you into bow hunting hogs? It’s better to have an idea of what you’re comfortable shooting, both gun and game, so that you can buy quality items and the correct gear.
Ultimately, hunting is not an easy-come, easy-go hobby, so make sure you enjoy it before investing in gear. Since your gun will be the most significant investment, make sure to keep it protected with a gun case and the ammo as well with an ammo case.
Hunting will get more comfortable in time, but the first few outings might be rough. However, with practice comes confidence and an overall better experience. Here are a few ways to get hunting practice as a beginner.
As you get into hunting and meet some more experienced hunter friends, ask if you can join them and shadow them out in the field. Accompanying a seasoned hunter offers invaluable insight. They can teach you tips and tricks of the trade and, probably even more useful, a true huntsman can teach you things to avoid. In return, simply be respectful and avoid spoiling their hunt with newbie mistakes.
Keep learning and studying animal behavior, specifically the animal you plan to hunt. Learning about your quarry, whether it’s deer, hogs or turkey, will make you a more efficient hunter. Study up on their tracks, migration range and even mating rituals. There are countless hunting books available and YouTube hunting enthusiasts who offer all the resources you need.
As you get into hunting, another helpful resource is your local fish and game agency or wildlife advocacy groups. By volunteering your spare time to clean up land and learn habitat management, you can pick up valuable firsthand information about wildlife and game behavior. However, one thing to note here is to be cautious of biased wildlife groups that frown upon hunting and hunters’ rights. To say the situation can get awkward is an understatement.
Hopefully, after reading this article, you better understand what it takes to break into the hunting world. But if you really want to learn how to get into hunting, Pelican offers lots of articles to browse for further resources. Happy hunting!
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