View Full Version : Learning to hunt....
July 31, 2001, 01:11 PM
I've had a longtime interest in hunting, but have never done it. My family were not hunters, so I never really had the opportunity growing up. Now, as an adult, with a child on the way, I wish to learn. It's something I want not only for myself, but to be able to pass on to my child as well.
Now the question - without knowing anyone who hunts, how do I go about learning? Are there any organizations that cover the basics? Classes? (I'm in CT, BTW). I know there are "Hunter Safety" courses, which I'd certainly take, but I also need something along the lines of "So, you just shot a deer. Now what do you do with it?"
Thanks in advance for the advice.....
July 31, 2001, 01:58 PM
Laudible goal, Aahzz, & a tall order not knowing if you even shoot firearms/archery yet.
One of the first things you can do without even having a firearm/bow is to start looking at animals, watching what they do, how they act AND to be able to start seeing them even when only a portion of their body is exposed. Most times, animals only present a view of partial body parts; an ear, flick of the tail, parts of their legs, etc. - usually don't see the whole critter as in an outline flash-card. You must be able to see & ID the game before you can ever hope to shoot it.
Being where the critters are sure helps so you have ample opportunity to gain the experience is finding & seeing them.
Learning about their habits & habitats is a good thing - where they go, when & why.
Getting out in the woods, fields allows you to be moreso where they are & see 'em in their natural state.
Learn to "watch" the wind. Deer have excellent sense of smell & may use that more than any other to keep out of harm's way. Critters upwind can't smell you.
Learn how to walk quietly in the woods/fields. It's not just where you step, but how.
If you are not familiar with firearms/Bows, take a safety course. After that, practise to get better & practise some moreto get good.
Ideally, you will luck into someone who can walk you through/do some training - much easier to learn by doing & from someone who knows rather than make all the mistakes to "catch the drift."
Can be done, just takes much longer.
July 31, 2001, 02:03 PM
Thanks for the advice!
I should've added, my firearms familiarity is good, though more with handguns than rifles, I've had experience with both, as well as archery.
July 31, 2001, 07:35 PM
I suggest joining the National Rifle Association, and selecting as your choice of magazines "The American Hunter".
Also, there are multitudes of good tips and worthwhile "how to" articles in "Sports Afield", "Field & Stream" and "Outdoor Life" magazines. The subscriptions are often available through relatively low-cost specials. ("First-timer" post cards are often in the magazines, and will offer 40% to 60% off newstand prices.)
Check your local gun stores or the Web for any hunt clubs. You need not own a gun nor yet be a hunter to join, and you'll learn a lot of the local needs and styles.
Hope this helps,
August 1, 2001, 07:51 AM
'Nother thing - what kind of hunting are you looking to get into?
A dove hunt is way different than quail fer instance.
August 1, 2001, 08:19 AM
Another good point, labgrade...I was thinking deer, for starters.
August 1, 2001, 08:52 AM
Probably, more has been written on hunting deer than for any other game animal. The problem for the novice is that much of the writing is more apropos for other areas than where the novice is likely to hunt. (For instance, few people write about hunting mule deer in desert country--and I live in a desert area.)
The larger problem is that deer don't read books. Any writer who sez deer *will* do something, rather than saying a deer *probably* will do something, is one for whom one's salt-shaker is a necessary assist. The same sort of thing holds true for the pontifications uttered by the members of any local Sittin', Spittin' & Whittlin' Club.
For instance, I've seen big bucks run downhill and downwind--and this is not the *usual* behavior.
And so it goes...
August 1, 2001, 12:49 PM
I wish you luck in your new endeavor!
It would be easier to give you advice if we knew where you were planning on hunting... deer are very different depending on what terrain and climate you are dealing with.
A few bits of advice are universal though - don't ever hunt where "everyone else" hunts! Get topo maps of the area you plan to hunt and then plan (and pre-season scout) a way to get to points furthest from road access. I would bet that the odds of success double for every mile you put between yourself and a road. That opens up other problems - like getting your buck back out , but that is hardly insurmountable because you can always quarter and pack a critter out - the real challenge is getting a deer in the first place and to do that reliably you have to get away from other people.
You probably won't find anyone willing to just take you along and show you the ropes because hardcore hunters don't want to deal with a newbie. Beware of the weekend yahoo's who hunt as a "buddy thing" and bring six cases of beer along. That's no way to go.
Don't be afraid to hunt alone. Make all the mistakes and learn from them. Things learned from experience will be far more valuable than things learned from reading.
The best advice I can give you is to HAVE FUN. Don't think of it as a competition. Don't think you've "failed" if you don't bag a deer. Get out and watch the squirrels play, admire the scenery, listen to the birds. While you're doing that you are also learning things that will make you a better hunter. Around here, magpies will follow deer and caw at them, down in Michigan bluejays will do the same thing - if you recognize that caw, you know where a deer is. You can't always learn stuff like that from reading, you have to pay attention and figure it out yourself sometimes.
August 1, 2001, 03:22 PM
Aahzz, don't know where you live but in the Empire State all new hunters are required to take a hunter safety course before they can purchase a license. The hunter safety course includes quite a bit of the fundamentals of hunting, as well as putting you in touch with some local instructors who might be able to put you in touch with some local hunters . . .
Also, research local rod and gun clubs. They are full of hunters who are willing to spin yarns.
August 1, 2001, 10:34 PM
I'll assume you will be hunting here in New England. In CT, as in most of Southern New England, you are limited to hunting deer with a bow, shotgun, or black powder rifle. If you plan on coming North, email me and I can hook you up with some great spots for going out with your rifle.
As Legionnaire stated, most hunter safety classes teach you a fair amount of hunting basics. The NH course even teaches you how to field dress a deer. I'm willing to bet the CT course is very similar.
August 2, 2001, 05:43 AM
One question you should ask your self,what are you going to do with the meat?After the kill comes the hard part, and rewarding part preparing and consuming of the meat.A lot of game is WASTED each season because of people not knowing how to take care of it.Be prepared,and enjoy.Goodluck.:)
August 4, 2001, 12:43 AM
Its a real shame that you don't know anyone who could help you get into hunting. If you are SERIOUS about learning to be a hunter, I think it is possible, although you would be better off finding someone to take you and teach you. In my experience and observations, the "real" hunters that I know, have been brought up with hunting as a way of life since they were kids. I'm talking about people who hunt all season, every chance they get, not just on opening weekend. They "work hard" at hunting, not go to the camp to get drunk or just to get away from their wives and go into town to chase women. They take responsible shots, not blast away at anything that moves. They enjoy just being in the outdoors, and the comraderie of people like themselves. They respect the animal which they hunt, even moreso after taking it. I've lost respect for many "great" hunters after they have made that great shot. Some say that is when the fun ends and the work begins; but I don't see it that way. It is all part of the experience for me, and I love it.
Finding someone like this to hook up with will not be easy. Personally I believe it is much easier to find a great friend than a great hunting partner. I have many friends who I would never want to take hunting with me. Its not that I mind teaching anyone who wants to learn.
If you can find someone who will "adopt" you, consider yourself lucky, and listen to him, soak up as much as you can, because you may still be able to become a good hunter, but you can never "catch up " to a person like I am speaking of. You see, it is a lifelong learning experience, and a good hunter never stops learning himself.
If you can't, and will have to do it on your own, it is still possible. Read everything you can get your hands on, ask stupid questions on TFL, there are some great advise givers here, and its free. Remember that every mistake you make will be a learning experience. Make safety your number one priority, because this kind of mistake could end a great pastime, or worse, in the blink of an eye.
August 4, 2001, 12:51 AM
Upon closer inspection, it seems I have restated much of what Keith Rogan has already said.
Great advise Keith! Ha Ha:D
August 4, 2001, 10:33 PM
Hunting is kinda like sex. Reviewing a lot of magazines and videos will give you the general idea, but ya just gotta get out in the field and learn a few things the hard way. Sorry, I couldn' t resist. :)
August 5, 2001, 12:22 AM
Glad you didn't say "get out in the bush." Sorry, I couldn't resist either!
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