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Old April 24, 2013, 11:21 PM   #1
dakota.potts
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Thinking about hunting, never have

I'm 17 and I've never hunted in my life. I've always eaten mass produced meat and once in a blue moon ate a fish I caught.

For the longest time I was against it personally. I didn't care if other people did but I never considered it an option for me. I didn't think it would be something I would be able to do. I still am not sure if it's for me. I have a sort of sensitive empathy for things especially regarding death and I regard animals to be more intelligent and maybe (who knows for sure?) more "aware" than fish.

That said, I've come to the conclusion that any animal I eat is going to be killed one way or another. Feed house conditions are deplorable and I really feel like taking a single animal from a thriving population is more ethical than raising a whole population for feed like that.

I guess the bottom line for me is that I think I could feel much better knowing that I took responsibility for the animal that I killed.

I would really like to use every part of the animal. My girlfriend's a hobby taxidermist but rarely gets supplies (she's a vegetarian and has fairly strict standards about where she gets them) so I have no compunctions about the skins and bones going to good use. I've had awesome venison sausage that I assume used all the meat of the animal (assuming this isn't just a cliche about sausage) but I honestly don't know the first thing about dressing or cleaning or even where I would go to get the meat taken care of. I don't know what would happen with things like the brain, eyes etc. that you wouldn't normally think of. Is there a way that's typically used for these?

I'm in Florida so I think I'd be looking at deer, hogs, and maybe something like turkey (wild turkey run around in peoples' yards here) but again I don't know.

It would really be a long journey before I even took my first step but it's something I've been debating for about 2 months. I haven't decided if I will or won't pursue it but I thought I could get some good insight here. I don't have any resources. Nobody in my family hunts and several members of my family might go so far as to think it animal cruelty (we're all animal lovers by nature but that means different things to everybody). I think this would restrict me to doing it when I turned 18. I do have a friend who hunts hog every once in a while, but the funny thing is I don't typically like pork and I would not want to kill an animal and end up not using the meat because I won't eat it. Does the meat taste different than something store bought? And another related question, do others have similar feelings toward animals and have any experience taking their first animal and the mental state associated with it?

I'm sure these are a lot of stupid questions for people who are familiar but this is a whole new realm for me and whether I decide to ultimately do it or not I want to be able to know I made an informed decision
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Old April 25, 2013, 12:00 AM   #2
NimrodBill
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Hey Dakota, you are right to question weather you want to hunt or not. it is not for everyone, and in anything of great value comes much thought.
I come from a very long line of hunting tradition. There is not a single get together with almost all of my relatives that does not have male and female members discussing past, present, or future hunts. That being said, hunting is embraced by my family and friends. Anything you want to do is easier and requires less conflict if it is supported by your piers.
I agree with you about the "circle of life" concept that things are going to die with or without you. That is true. I would suggest you talk with the friend that goes hog hunting. See how and why he or she does it. What is the attitude and safety of the group. Just like any activity, one bad apple....
If you get in with the right people, with honorable intentions, with diciplines towards safety, one shot kills, striving to do better, not highly competitive but team supportive you will be well on your way to enjoying what could be for you, as it is for me, one of the best things life has to offer. As far as the meat goes, I am sure if you handle and process it correctly you will enjoy it very much. And as taste is a subjective thing, if you dont, your friends will.
Good luck.
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Old April 25, 2013, 03:22 AM   #3
alex0535
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Your questions are not stupid, its good that you are asking about it. I feel the same things about going out and harvesting meat is all around more ethical than going to the grocery store. You are consuming an animal that lived a free range organic diet without ever knowing cages, if you make sure to take one of a decent age you can be pretty sure it had opportunity to reproduce. If you make a clean shot you know that you harvested the animal as humanely as you could.

You ask about how going out and killing one is going to make you feel. Expect mixed emotions. On one side you will feel excited and accomplished, on the other you will get the feeling of sensitive empathy you are expecting for the deer. I thank the deer for the meat it has provided me, and get on with the job of field dressing and getting it out of the woods. No sense in feeling bad about what just happened, you'll feel better about it when its on your dinner plate.

Do you plan to do the processing yourself or have someone do it for you? As far as deer is concerned, if you do not have someone to help you and teach you I would suggest taking it somewhere and asking to watch because you want to learn how to do it. Youtube can teach you how to field dress it, be very careful to avoid puncturing the digestive track as it will instantly make your job much more difficult. Shot placement plays a big part in how easy or hard it will be to field dress a deer. Hit the liver? Bloody mess. Hit one in the gut, I hope you have a strong stomach. Shot right through the heart, managing to not cut into digestive track and your job will be cleaner and easier on your stomach. Not too big on most organ meat myself, but the heart and liver will be there if not too torn up by the shot. Both of them are edible.

Some other things to know about deer meat, it is very low fat, low cholesterol. It taste different than cow, it is tasty just different. Deer from different places taste different because of varying diet. The fat that is there does nothing positive for the meat. A little extra effort to clean it off before freezing will make your life easier and the meat tastier. It is very easy to overcook whitetail because of the low fat content. A little bit of bacon or bacon grease never hurts it. The best cut is the backstraps as it has hardly any tendon we like to slice ours up into 1/2inch steaks, soak them in buttermilk for an hour or so. Toss them into some flour and seasoning and fry them up in peanut oil. If you have never had anything other than venison sausage this is the first thing I suggest you try, maybe feed some to your non hunting relatives as "country fried steak" because it might change their mind on wanting to go hunting.

The main meat that you want from the deer will be the hindquarters, backstraps, and the shoulders. The ribs are more trouble than they are worth, never really heard of many people eating them. Dog treat maybe. There is also a small amount of meat on the inside of the ribcage running along the spine. We cut off the legs above the the joints, there is so much tendon in the back legs in that part that it is what we use to hang the deer from while skinning. Once the organs, shoulders, hindquarters, and backstraps are removed there really isn't a lot left. Skin, ribcage, spine, 4 lopped off legs, and the head. You could chop the head off and give it to your taxidermist girlfriend. If you have a dog or know somebody that likes to give their dog a natural diet it would probably love to gnaw on some leg and rib bones.As far as venison sausage is concerned, you are likely not eating just deer but a mixture of ground deer with pork shoulder or pork fat. A lesser amount of fat is also useful for making venison burger which is very tasty. The last deer venison burger I had was ground venison and bacon and it was very good.

Talk to your friend that hunt's hogs about hunting. I bet he is a deer hunter when they are in season. Hogs being a nuisance animal they can be taken year round. A nice young hog would be a good introduction to hunting, field dressing, skinning, and the process of butchering. A young ones will be tastier, more tender and easier to manage through the whole process. If you don't like pork, you know someone that does.

Last edited by alex0535; April 25, 2013 at 03:43 AM.
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Old April 25, 2013, 09:29 AM   #4
Art Eatman
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Even if you don't shoot, being outdoors and watching critters is worthwhile. My opinion, anyhow. I know I've always been happier when meddling around "in the boonies" than on city sidewalks.

A hunter is a do-it-yourself sort of person, just as is a gardener. Food from a grocery merely means that somebody else did the scut work. Where's any personal pride in that?

As far as using the meat, sure. But after the eating meat is put in the freezer, the deal with the rest of the carcass is that buzzards and coyotes gotta eat, too. Hunting or fishing: Everything gets used by somebody or by some other critter.
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Old April 25, 2013, 10:07 AM   #5
deepcreek
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Many people see hunting as just killing animals but it is really a lot more. Most hunters know much more about the animals, their lives and habitats they hunt then 99% of the population.

I would read up on the areas you can hunt in then go there out of season and look for animals study where they eat sleep and drink.
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Old April 25, 2013, 10:38 AM   #6
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You could sit at the breakfast table and read the sports page and memorize it day after day. Then discuss what you've read here and there through-out the day with your friends in second guessing the coaches and players. While perhaps dressed in those expensive snappy looking sports clothes your closet is filled with. Those who have chosen to take that route have to know their "Never a Participant. Just another Observer."__like so many others around them who have chosen that same venue.

The benefits of hunting. Being a little independent. A real participant in a sport where you alone make decisions right or wrong that control the outcome of this sport you freely chose. Over time you will notice little things going on in your daily movements that many others just take for granted. Because you've honed your senses to do so. While hunting you learn to think ahead and plan your moves like a chess game. You get better and better at the game each and every time you experience a hunt. Your constantly trying to out wit your quarry in >their environment. In the end you alone make a harden decision to take life or give on going life to one of GOD's creatures. And there lies the ultimate challenge in the Sport of hunting and fishing.

Well young man are you up too joining the Brotherhood or go on being a procrastinator? It's your call.

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Old April 25, 2013, 12:42 PM   #7
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Dakota, a great first step would be to sign up for a hunter safety course. In terms of shooting skills, what's covered will be pretty basic, but it will include a lot of other info that's specific to hunting. You'll have a chance to meet others who are interested in hunting, and the instructor may be able to put you in touch with experienced hunters who would be willing to "mentor" you on some actual hunts. Hunter safety courses are free. The FWC also has a Youth Hunting Program, where experienced hunters act as mentors -- anyone 12 to 17 years old is eligible, but you'd need a parent to come along, and they're not free, from what I can see.
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Old April 25, 2013, 09:21 PM   #8
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Shoot with a camera

Dakota. You don't have to carry a rifle to "hunt". You can always take a camera. I have hunted for years but shoot more and more with a camera, and those photos/videos preserve the memories far better and longer than my memory! And photos are a lot lighter to carry out than meat.

Believe me it takes as much skill to get good pictures as it does to hunt to kill - you have to stalk that much closer unless you want to carry a super megazoom lens around with you.

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Old April 25, 2013, 10:06 PM   #9
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First let me say, Dakota, that you write exceptionally well, especially for seventeen. That's becoming a sad rarity among your contemporaries.

I'm no longer able to hunt due to age and health problems, but did it for most of my life till recent years. I had a habit when I killed an animal, one I borrowed from Native American culture: thanking the animal. Thanking it for the food it would provide me--I wouldn't kill anything I wouldn't eat--and for the pleasure of the hunt and the beauty of the animal itself.

I'm not formally religious, but it gives me pleasure to think of everything having a spirit--animals, birds, plants, water, wind, even some politicians and an occasional lobbyist. And to me it follows logically that I'm part of something vast and wonderful, under one Great Spirit. Unscientific, yes, and unfashionable, but it gives me a sense of harmony. Made my hunting a lot richer experience, too. It's not necessary that it make sense to anyone but me.

You'll find your own way to your answers about whether hunting is for you. Either way you'll profit from the search.

Good luck, and keep up your writing.
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Old May 3, 2013, 12:38 PM   #10
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WARNING: It all starts fairly innocently. You go to the woods, and you enjoy it. That turns into buying a rifle to hunt with. That turns into having to buy closets full of hunting clothes, and different rifles, which turns into costly trips to the range to practice. Buying earplugs, targets, ammunition by the cases, gasoline for the truck, having to buy the ATV for hauling out game. Before long your hooked, and you can't escape, and there are no re-hab centers for this condition. It's like chasing the wild painted up city women, once you start, you just can't quit.

Think long and hard about creating this habit before jumping off into it because it's a hard habit to break once you get the bug.

All kidding aside, follow what others have said, and learn the right way to start with, and you'll find that Mother Nature is one of the best friends you will ever find. I've been hunting and fishing for close to 60 years, and have always loved every minute of time spent.
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Old May 3, 2013, 12:44 PM   #11
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I'm a sometime hunter, used to do it a lot more than I do now. However, despite a down slope in my actual time hunting, I still consider myself first and foremost a conservation minded fellow.

I feel that all good hunters, good ones mind you, do more to help nature and the enviroment than most enviormental activists.

To me, there is nothing more satisfying than lounging around in my duck blind long after sun up and just enjoying the outdoors. That is why I donate to Ducks Unlimited, to conserve those wetlands that I enjoy so much.

I feel that hunting helps greatly increase a person's appreciation for the outdoors.

I take pride in calling myself a sportsman.

And as previously mentioned, you don't have to be hunting to enjoy the woods.
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Old May 3, 2013, 12:58 PM   #12
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I would have no problem hunting for food if I had to, but as at this time I can go to the shop for meat I don't have to hunt so I don't. I would rather watch creatures live than shoot them . PS That wasn't always the case my conscience got to me.
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Old May 3, 2013, 02:40 PM   #13
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Dakota,
your arguments for hunting are quite right and your objections are also well noted. however the thinking that all hunters don't cringe at having to take the life of an animal is pretty much a myth. we all have a respect for the game that we take, or at least we all should. for me there is nothing worse than shooting an animal and tracking it only to find it still alive when I get there. I use that to help force myself to take better shots and make cleaner kills than before.

however wild game is quite a bit different from farm raised. there is more gristle, more tendons, less fat and even less meat. you will be lucky to get 100 pounds of meat off a 200 pound monster deer. wild turkeys have little of use besides the breasts, the legs and thighs are edible if you boil them but they are really tough otherwise. on a deer, you have the tenderloins that rarely get over a pound or so each, the four quarters(legs) and the backstraps, little else is of use and usually goes towards dog food at our house so the thought of getting the pound and a half of meat off the rib cage and turning it into sausage is probably not going go too well. larger game like elk have more meat on the neck and that can be used for sausage and jerky but little else besides what can be done to deer although you can get quite a bit of meat off an elk, even a young cow. the best argument for it is that the meat from these animals is much healthier for you than farm breed food. less fat, no artificial growth hormones, and you even get exorcise retrieving it.

the best thing for you to do is take a hunters safety/education course, most states require it for anyone 12 and up anyway. during the intermissions and breaks it would be wise to talk to the instructors, the volunteers that have been hunting for years and know the area, the game, and how they like to cook it. then finally you need to think about what game you intend to go after and what kind of gun you'll be using a small 22 caliber rifle for buffalo is ill suited while a 338 lapua is a little bit overkill for a deer and in ruin a great deal of the meat. the best tool for the job can mean the difference between no meat at all and several gourmet meals.
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Old May 5, 2013, 01:05 AM   #14
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I sort of know how you feel, I grew up on a beef cattle farm and always had a soft spot in my heart for the calves. You would think that growing up on a farm I wouldn't be effected by killing an animal very much, but it did effect me a little. But as I grew a little older I realized that it was just the natural order of things, and as you stated anything that I ate was something that had given its life. I have only been deer hunting once in my life, and I was 15. I thought that I would be fine, and I was, but after processing the deer with my grandpa that feeling of knowing that I took the life of the animal crept back in a little bit. At that point I made a promise to myself that I would not let the meat go to waste, because it would be irresponsible to do so. Since then I have not felt bad about harvesting an animal for food because I know that I am being a good steward of the resources.

To me wild animals do have a different taste. I don't know if you have ever had any, but they taste more like grass fed beef than corn fed beef. If you are unsure that you will like the taste of a wild animal think about going after something smaller like rabbit or squirrel. Just recently I have discovered rabbit hunting. I enjoyed it more than deer hunting because I was able to walk around instead of sitting in a deer stand. I felt like I as more in touch with the outdoors because I was able to move around more. I also really like rabbit stew. An added benefit of hunting smaller game is in the event that you do not like the taste of wild game, you wont be stuck with a freezer full of meat. I think that it may be a better way for you to get your feet wet in hunting. As a plus there is not as expensive of a "entry cost" because no camo is needed, and you can use a .22lr if you have one.

Also if you are concerned that going hunting will make others see you as an animal hater or that you don't care about animals, just remember this. I like hunting and I am working towards becoming a vet. What is important is that you respect the animal's life and do not waste the meat.
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Old May 5, 2013, 01:17 AM   #15
dakota.potts
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Funny this thread came back up.

I was talking to my mom and my dad the other day. My dad enjoys fishing. He also grew up with his grandpa spending every day on a boat, in an RV, camping, fishing, etc. He joined a local search and rescue team and went out on several training exercises where he would be out 2 or 3 days with only the food he could catch.

I asked him the other day if he would be interested in hunting and he said straight up that he would have no interest in hunting even for food.

He did say, however, that if I had an interest in learning to take and prepare my own food, that is something he would be interested in teaching me.

My mom's also always thinking about EOTWAWKI type scenarios (not sure why but it is what it is) and thinks we should know how to be self-sufficient (which I ultimately agree with).

Thanks for the words and advice everybody here. I'd love to hear more experiences though as it will be kind of a big thing for me
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Old May 5, 2013, 06:29 AM   #16
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You're questions aren't stupid. I did the opposite of you, hunted since I could and don't anymore. My Dad taught me to not shoot anything I wasn't going to eat. He used to say it's a sin. Since I got married I stopped hunting. My wife is against killing any animal. I feel we would have to be in it together for it to be fruitful. I wouldn't shoot a deer, slaughter a raised pig or steer, for just me. Would be wasteful and sinful. You're right to ponder these questions. Either decision you make will be the right one for you. All that said, I won't give up the shooting sports for NOTHING! I lOVE 'EM!
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Old May 5, 2013, 07:31 AM   #17
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Quote:
As a plus there is not as expensive of a "entry cost" because no camo is needed, and you can use a .22lr if you have one.
You don't need all that crap. I wear jeans, t shirt, a light jacket and that damned orange vest . You don't need all the scents and scent neutralizers, special non smelling soap, calls, rattles and whatever. All you need is a rifle, a couple of cartridges and to get out in the woods and learn your quarry's habits.
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Old May 5, 2013, 09:43 AM   #18
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Does the meat taste different than something store bought? And another related question, do others have similar feelings toward animals and have any experience taking their first animal and the mental state associated with it?
Yes, it's real. Like God intended it. It's different than store-bought meat and many of us revel in it.

I'm mainly a deer hunter and I always feel a connection with the animals I take. Elation, thankfulness, a little sorrow sometimes. It's all part of the circle of life.
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Old May 5, 2013, 10:37 AM   #19
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There's a lot to know about hunting.
Not only getting the game, but making it edible.
I've had wild game that was really bad and also really good.
Knowing how to make it into food is an important part.

For starters, how about finding some competent folks to go with.
But leave the gun at home.
Then witness the process of the hunt and what comes after, up close and personal.
It's a good way to learn without worrying about screwing up.
The experience should make it clear whether it's for you or not.

If you do photography, bring a camera and exchange the pictures for some of the meat to sample.
Don't scare away the game and you'll probably be welcome back for the real thing, if you want.
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Old May 5, 2013, 02:37 PM   #20
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A hunter can only hunt if there is a surplus of game over and above a viable population. It's a harvest of surplus which if not taken would lead to more animals than the carrying capacity of the habitat would allow.

A non-hunter or anti-hunter can be thrilled at seeing one of the last remaining number of a vanishing species.

So--and it should thus be quite obvious--the hunter has a much stronger vested interest in the good of a species. Maintenance of a viable population is the primary goal--or there would be nothing to hunt.
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Old May 5, 2013, 09:34 PM   #21
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Most hunters are conservationists, versus environmentalists. Some people don't understand the distinction.

I definitely suggest you take a hunter safety class and you will get to meet others of similar interest. You may also run into people at the range who are members of clubs or have land where you might hunt. These people are a resource.

My suggestion is that you take the hunter safety class and begin to read about hunting. You can learn a lot about deer behavior simply by spending time in the outdoors. Hopefully you will find someone who will help mentor you a bit and get you started. Getting started is the hardest part.

Finding a place to hunt can also be an effort. I would start with the FL fish & game WMA's (wildlife management areas) and start there unless you run into someone who will take you out and help show you the ropes. It's a bit daunting at first.

In TN, many of the WMAs are black powder, shotgun, or archery only. A permit is required and they will usually have a quota of permits that they will issue. So find out when it is the proper time to apply and apply at several different WMAs. This may affect what firearm you might choose to start out with. Black powder rifles tend to cost less than regular centerfire rifles.

Even if you don't hunt, the cost of the license is a donation to a good cause. I keep that in mind every year.
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Old May 6, 2013, 02:13 AM   #22
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Hi Dakota,

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 . My first memory of going hunting ended very differently to the way I had assumed it would have gone. Basically a long story short I was taken stalking by my dad ( Gamekeeper ) for my first shot at a deer. I'd shot rabbits and ducks etc but nothing like this before. So we headed off and I was very excited with this amazing chance to shoot a red deer stag. I was only 12 at the time and to get behind a 270 with this amazing animal in the scope was some what intimidating....We found a good stag and stalked into him for about and hour and got within 80 yards. I'd shot targets etc to make sure I was good to go. I got into position with a good rest steadied up the rifle and started observing him. He was strutting his stuff with all the ladies up there, big antlers and just magnificent really. My adrenalin was going over time, heart thumping in my chest. When the moment came dad said ok , safety off and when I say put the + just behind his front leg. 1/3rd up and squeeze the trigger. The stag turned perfectly side on and stood still....basically in a nut shell I froze!!! Completely and utterly couldn't do it.... I put the safety back on and said to dad....I cant do it' I'm not ready. He just smiled at me and said well If you aren't happy and can't I'm happy. Better to just slide away and move off back out of sight than make a mess of everything. I thought he would have been upset with me but he respected my decision. Lucky stag

Moral of the story is I was born into this. I thought I'd find it easy because of that but in a way I think just because I have seen a lot of hunting I've also been taught to respect the animals too.

The following year I shot my first stag, 1 shot 1 kill. A good outcome.

I'm now 35 years old and it was a long time ago. Dad is 63 now and I do a lot of the conservation with deer in the winter. last year his very words were "my hearts not in it this year" and he is a seasoned hunter.

You need to learn where to place your bullet for the best chance of a killing shot. Each time you hunt the deer never act the same. You have 2 main killing zones with deer.
1st is the ribs shot. This area is where the heart lungs and all main organs are. The heart is just behind the front leg. 1/3rd up from the belly. The shot in the ribs is catastrophic to the animal and some times they tend to run on a bit which is mainly down to adrenalin. I hit a red deer hind in the heart last autumn and a heart shot is normally quite obvious because the deer's reaction is it tries to run but because there is no pump to pump blood to the muscles it can't.
Lung shot the deer tend to run for a bit.

2nd is a neck shot but I would never advise a beginner to take a neck shot.personally. It is a far better killing zone. If the shot is placed well it is a far quicker death for the animal. Literally it is like flicking a light switch. With a neck shot obviously you sever the neck bone and all communication between the brain and body.

If you can pay for a day to get taken hunting with an expert I'd fully recommend you do that first before buying all the shooting equipment. You'd be far better to spend however much it is on an experienced hunter who can talk you through it and teach you what to look for and show you how to. Its not always about the shot as my story at the start indicated. I didn't pay for that day but if I had I still wouldn't have taken the shot. As someone said previously , a lot can be learnt from picking up a camera and go shoot some animals with it first. Observe there behavior and imagine every time you shoot that camera it was a rifle. When you find your up and personal with the wildlife with the camera swap it with a rifle. The outcome will be some what different at the end of it all though. Good luck with everything and keep us informed of your progress.

Jamie
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Old May 8, 2013, 12:08 PM   #23
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I'm also thinking of going hunting for the first time this year. I've shot a couple of birds with BB guns as a kid and always felt guilty, but I was doing it for "sport", really pointless killing of an animal, and so the guilt was well-founded.

My wife insists that killing a deer would cause me duress, but I am not so sure. I am sure it would be very memorable, but I eat meat all the time and I am increasingly of the opinion that at least for me if I lack the guts to kill a deer I hardly have the right to eat an animal. This is akin to my thoughts that a person ought not to be for the death penalty unless they are capable of pulling the switch themselves.
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Old May 8, 2013, 12:20 PM   #24
johnwilliamson062
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Start with squirrels. They aren't any smarter than fish and once you take what you want any dog will be more than happy to eat what is left.

I'll agree with other posts that camo is over rated along with most of the other gadgets. A tool to take the game and something comfortable to sit on are the most important. You can always still hunt and then the comfortable seat isn't even needed.
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Old May 8, 2013, 12:59 PM   #25
Old_Dog
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Join Date: May 6, 2013
Location: Florida
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Hunting hogs is VERY popular here in Florida. However I do not hunt animals. After hunting humans, hunting animals seems so unfair. Not against hunting and realize that someone has to kill the meat I eat. Just that I do not find it sporting to hunt something that cannot shoot back.
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