How to Start Hunting
There are many reasons to learn to hunt. Hunting supports wildlife conservation efforts, and helps farmers preserve their precious crops. It can increase your self-reliance by putting food on your family’s table. And, of course, there is the simplest reason of them all: hunting is enjoyable!
But getting started with hunting isn’t always easy, especially if you don’t have friends or family to show you the ropes. Learning to shoot a weapon safely takes time, commitment and the right gear.
If you want to know how to start hunting as an adult, you need to spend some time building a strong foundation of skills and knowledge. Here’s how to begin.
Take a Hunter’s Education Course
For most beginner hunters, the first step is to enroll in hunter education classes and take a hunter education exam. Once you pass your exam, you can obtain your hunting license, which you need in order to hunt legally.
Hunter education courses can be online, in-person or a combination of the two. In the class, you’ll learn the rules of firearm safety (i.e., how to store a gun safely in a gun case, treating the gun as if it’s always loaded, etc.), basic shooting skills, ethical hunting techniques and how to start hunting safely, among other things.
Decide What You Want to Hunt
Next, decide what kind of game you want to hunt. Not sure where to begin? Think about your motivation for learning to hunt in the first place.
Do you want to be more self-reliant in case of an emergency? In that case, it’s probably more practical to focus on small game, such as rabbit and turkey.
Prefer to travel to remote areas and go on multi-day trips? Hunting big game such as elk and moose may be more your style. That being said, many big game hunters start out shooting small game.
Once you know what you’re hunting, visit your state’s wildlife website and familiarize yourself with the legal means of taking that game. Study your state’s hunting regulations religiously.
Do Your Research
If you haven’t already been researching like crazy, do it now. Digest as much hunting knowledge as you can by reading articles, listening to podcasts and subscribing to various hunting magazines.
Steven Rinella’s stuff is excellent for beginners and experienced hunters alike. Read his book, The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering and Cooking Wild Game, and start listening to his Meat Eater Podcast.
We also recommend joining your local hunting club. They will provide you with tons of information and helpful tips.
Invest in the Right Equipment
After you become more familiar with hunting and gun safety, it’s time to consider your hunting equipment—namely, what gun you want to buy.
For beginners, a rimfire rifle is a safe bet. The ammunition is cheap and there is a low recoil when firing. It’s also ideal for taking small game, which is what most hunters start out with. You’ll also want to pick up a rifle case to keep your rifle protected.
As far as ammunition goes, you have a choice between lead and non-lead ammo. Many hunters prefer to use non-lead ammo due to concerns over poisoned wildlife and tainted meat.
Unless there is a state ban, the decision is up to you. No matter what ammunition you buy, don’t forget to use an ammo case to transport your ammo safely.
Hone Your Skills
Now, it’s time to put in the work and practice. If you need a safe place to shoot, a local gun range is an excellent place to start. Talk with the range master and let them know it’s your first time. They’ll help set you up for success.
You can also practice some skills at home by taking certain precautions. For instance, you can work on using your gear quickly while holding various shooting positions. The more you practice, the better you’ll be in the field.
Becoming a Better Hunter Takes Time
While learning how to hunt in adulthood can be difficult, it’s far from impossible. Like any hobby or sport, hunting requires a significant amount of time, patience and trial and error. Stick with it and you’ll be addicted soon enough!