dakota.potts, clearly you've put a lot of thought into whether or not you want to hunt. That's a good thing. The questions that you ask are certainly not stupid questions. Hunting raises many more issues than just gear and tactics. There are also ethics and legalities to consider.
Here are my two big ethical considerations:
1) I make a clean kill. The ideal situation is that the animal dies immediately. If that does not happen, I put the animal out of its misery as soon as possible.
2) I eat what I kill. While I might make an exception to this rule for nuisance animals, I do not care to trophy hunt. There's even a program (at least in Arkansas) called Hunters for the Hungry. If you kill more than you can eat, you can donate it to Hunters for the Hungry. Various businesses donate their time to processing game for the homeless and impoverished. (It's actually a pretty cool program, IMO.) If you go hog hunting, but don't want to eat the meat, perhaps you could donate it to a similar program in your area?
I strongly support the idea of a Hunter Education Course. It may even be required by law that you take one in your state. It is in Arkansas. After that, the easiest way to try your hand is to find another hunter, and just ask if you can tag along. Ask what you need for the trip (what kind of gun, license, etc.), and be a good guest.
Originally Posted by Scottish Highlander
Come to Scotland and I'll take you out and show you how to get on your belly and crawl through the mud with your face in it till your 50 yards away from a red deer stag.
Oooh, ooh! Take me! Take me!