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Old June 28, 2014, 11:45 AM   #1
ezmiraldo
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What books can you recommend for beginners to learn about hunting deer and bear

Hi folks!

I'm trying to learn as much as I can about hunting deer and black bear before my first hunt sometime next year. Can you recommend any high-quality resources that touch on these topics?:
* strategies for stalking and locating the critters
* shot placement
* discussion of various shooting positions when hunting
* discussion of hunting-specific shooting techniques (and how they differ from target shooting)
* skinning/processing the meat after the critter is down
* cooking tips
* dangers associated with eating wild animal meat

It would be great to find one volume that covers all these topics for deer and another volume for bear - but I realize it might be impossible. So, please suggest some of your favorite books that touch on one or more of the above topics. Thanks in advance!
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Old June 28, 2014, 12:24 PM   #2
Wyosmith
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You will hunt a bit differently for Nevada Mule Deer than you will for White-tails in New York.

Shot placement, various shooting positions when hunting, discussion of specific shooting techniques, skinning, processing the meat after the critter is down and cooking tips will all be the same no matter where you are or what sub-species of deer you hunt.

Dangers associated with eating wild animal meat is also a regional problem.

So you should tell us where you will be hunting first.

As far as "Shooting positions" go, I have found that the basic positions you would learn in NRA high power shooting or Marine Boot camp are the ones you will use hunting.

There are a lot of "tactical positions" that can be learned, but all of them are body positions that are recommended (by some) to give an enemy a smaller target to shoot back at. Deer don't shoot back.

So always use the best position you can when hunting, or if you can, use what you can to rest your weapon. Hunting for game is not a test of your ability to shoot a group. It's a honored tradition that should always give the cleanest kill we can to our quarry.
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Old June 28, 2014, 12:38 PM   #3
ezmiraldo
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Wyosmith,

Thanks for your advice! I'll be hunting primarily in southwest: Arizona and New Mexico, for sure, and perhaps Colorado and Texas.
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Old June 28, 2014, 01:45 PM   #4
HuntingLikeABadHabit
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My recommendation is find a local cafe about hunting season this year and sit down at the bar and just listen. When you hear a group of men begin to talk about hunting then politely introduce yourself and explain to them that you are new to the sport and would love to get hooked up with a group that could show you the way. I grew up in a family that deer hunts like its a religion, so I learned as I grew up all of the things that you are asking. When I got to be about 16 however, I wanted to bear hunt. I did the same as you, I began to read and research... a lot. What helped the most with any new game that I have pursued though, is finding a group of hunters and latching onto some coat tails. Most hunters are more than willing to pass on knowledge and wisdom for the sake of preserving/expanding our beloved sport. Until then,there are a ton of articles and youtube videos that will assist you on your quest. Google and read and google and read....
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Old June 29, 2014, 10:41 AM   #5
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I'll try to answer your questions one at a time the best I can.

* strategies for stalking and locating the critters
Locating high traffic areas for deer isn't that hard, assuming you have a healthy deer population. Just check for tracks that look like two almonds next to each other. You can also look for scrapes and rubs. Rubs are when bark is removed on the lower regions of a tree due to a buck rubbing his antlers against the tree. The bigger the tree they rub, the bigger the deer. Scrapes can be a little harder to spot, but if you know what you're looking for I'm sure you'll find several. Look for areas on the ground where the leaves have been kicked around and it looks like something has been scratching at the ground. More often than not, bucks will urinate in these scrapes so putting another buck's urine in a scrape is a good way to bring in an alpha-male who's looking for a fight.

Next, you'll need to decide whether you will be stalking, driving, or waiting patiently in a tree stand/blind (assuming all of these are legal where you're located). Stalking deer or hunting on the move is quite difficult. You have to be very careful about where, when, and how often you step. Driving deer isn't quite as challenging in terms of spotting deer, but you'll have to perform well under pressure and be able to pull off quick shots. Shotguns are usually favored for deer drives for this reason. I like to sit in a stand/blind overlooking a high traffic trail, but to each his own.

* shot placement

Any shot to the vitals will do, but you have to make an ethical decision about which vitals you're going for. I've seen kill shots in the neck, head, and shoulder. However, a headshot can be VERY risky because you could end up shooting a deer's nose off and do nothing more than maim them for life. I only take shots at the heart/lungs behind the front shoulder and that's what most ethical hunters will suggest as well. If you're going for this vital spot, aim about 8 inches high of where the front leg meets the body. You can find exactly where the vitals are located with a quick google search, though.

* discussion of various shooting positions when hunting

In most cases you'll just be throwing your rifle up and taking whatever position you can manage because you don't get much time to set up your shot. I've never taken too much consideration for how I hold my rifle or what position I'm in, just aim, steady yourself, and take the shot. When I'm hunting from the ground I'm usually sitting, but I have taken prone and standing shots with no issues. Again, just practice shooting laying down, sitting down, and standing up. See which ones you feel most comfortable with and go from there. If you can't consistently put your shot inside of a 3" circle with whatever position you're shooting from, I wouldn't suggest hunting from that position for fear of inaccuracy affecting your killshot.

* discussion of hunting-specific shooting techniques (and how they differ from target shooting)

I grew up target shooting since I was about 6 years old. I didn't start hunting until my early teens and honestly I think that being comfortable punching paper helped me with the confidence I needed to pull off a good hunting shot. As far as positions, I think they're all the same. If you can hit a piece of paper in the right spot, you can hit a deer in the right spot. It is a little more challenging finding the "bullseye" when you don't have a grid showing you where it is, so make sure you're very familiar with where the vital spot is on an animal. I know several people I grew up with who are terrible target shooters and in turn are terrible hunters. There is no excuse for this! You should not be out in the woods aiming your rifle at an animal when you're not comfortable hitting bullseyes on a paper target. Period. Get to where a 3" group makes you feel disappointed in your shooting and you're probably ready to hunt. If you're ecstatic to see a 3" group when you're target shooting, you're not ready to hunt. I'm sorry if that offends anyone but it's true.

* skinning/processing the meat after the critter is down

This is something you'll need videos to explain. Try going to YouTube and searching for videos on how to field dress, skin, and harvest meat from a deer (or whatever animal you're interested in hunting). With the case of deer, it is most common to field dress the animal while you're still in the field, hence the term "field dressing". Field dressing consists of removing the entrails (intestines, stomach, bladder, etc.) but leaving the skin/fur on the animal. When you get home, that's when you'll remove the skin and harvest the meat. There are a million and one ways to get your meat off the deer, so again, just watch some videos and find one that works for you.

* cooking tips

Never over-cook! Most wild animals are lean (with the exception of bear and a few others) so your meat is already going to be tougher than beef or other fatty meats like pork. Marinating is your friend, especially when you get the infamous "gamey" tasting deer. Keep in mind that deer will taste more gamey during the rut (mating season, especially in males) and when they're adrenaline gets pumped up. If a deer has been shot at already that day, he's probably going to be on guard. Similarly, deer that are taken in deer drives or that run for a long distance before dying will taste more gamey as well. Just some things to keep in mind when you're thinking about bullet/caliber selection.

* dangers associated with eating wild animal meat

This is going to be regional thing. Of course we've all heard of the dreaded "blue-tongue" but you'll need to see which diseases are common in your area and find the symptoms so that you know what to look for when you're harvesting a deer. If you see any signs of tainted meat, do not eat it! It's better to waste a tag and throw the meat to the coyotes/foxes/blackbirds than end up in the hospital or worse. I wouldn't try to over-cook the meat to get rid of contaminants because then you'll still end up with meat that's inedible because it's got the texture of a steel-toed boot.

----------------------------------------------------------

I hope this information has been helpful and good luck on your hunting endeavors! If you're successful be sure to post a picture. And just remember, doe meat is almost always better than buck meat so if you're hunting for meat, I'd suggest going for them and not worry about waiting to see a big buck walk out because there's a good chance that he won't and you've just missed your chance to take a nice doe. If you're simply trophy hunting, be prepared to have many disappointing hunts. In the case that you do bag a super buck, just remember, it's probably a once in a lifetime event and you shouldn't expect those results again or you'll come out of the woods ****** off every time. My suggestion, don't be afraid to shoot at big-bodied does and you'll most likely have a good season with a freezer full of meat.
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Old June 29, 2014, 11:06 AM   #6
ezmiraldo
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thanks a lot, mardanlin! you make it sound easy . i've never hunted before in my life, and really want to approach this hobby carefully. you advice helps a lot! i'm currently working on my shot placement, and meanwhile want to educate myself on all other important aspects as well. unfortunately, my lifestyle and social circle excludes contact with experienced hunters (or any firearms enthusiasts, for that matter) - so any advice on this forum is much appreciated!!

i've already read this book. and definately plan to read this and this one. and maybe this one, too. any experience with any of them?
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Old June 29, 2014, 11:11 AM   #7
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HuntingLikeABadHabit, i see what you mean. i'll try to seek out advice from local hunters, but first I want to read up on the topic so I don't come across as a total dolt. you right - getting local expert advice would probably be ideal.
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Old June 29, 2014, 05:04 PM   #8
Art Eatman
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The more time you can spend out in the boonies, the better. Sitting and watching from some position overlooking "sorta-open" terrain from just before daylight to maybe an hour after sunup is good. Same for the last hour of sunlight on into dusk.

Learn to walk quietly and not be rhythmic. Critters don't march and generally don't go in a straight line from Point A to Point B.
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Old June 29, 2014, 07:41 PM   #9
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Where do you live at? There are lots of hunters on this forum and others who don't mind taking a novice along to show them the ropes. You might just be shadowing them and not carrying a rifle, but seeing how it's done first hand is an invaluable experience if you want to take up hunting.

If your shooting needs work go ahead and start hitting the range now so that when the season opens up you're ready to get in the woods.
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Old June 29, 2014, 08:59 PM   #10
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Re: processing....take a look at this thread

I posted info on several good books here: http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=531608
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Old June 30, 2014, 01:34 PM   #11
ezmiraldo
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thanks guys - great info! i'm on the border of NM & TX - lots of great areas to hunt here.
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Old June 30, 2014, 07:14 PM   #12
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These guys are funny! Ask for a good book recommendation and they write one.

I think a subsctiption to outdoor life or any of the top outdoor magazines will cover most all of your topics.

Farting around in the woods or wherever you will hunt is a good idea though. No substitute for field work!
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Old June 30, 2014, 08:04 PM   #13
Art Eatman
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Sports Afield, Field & Stream and Outdoor Life regularly run "how to" articles about hunting of all kinds, as well as about fishing. Game trails and tracking, habits and patterns, how to look for bedding areas, travel zones and feeding areas.
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Old July 1, 2014, 04:21 AM   #14
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Kudos to Mardanlin for the effort.
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Old July 3, 2014, 06:51 AM   #15
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The best book to teach anyone how to hunt deer is (The Still Hunter) If you can find it. It was first print was way back in the real muzzle loader days around 1900. I have been told that it is still out there. My copy went out to my boys and I don't know where it is at this time. I have never came close to a better reference to get a deer.
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Old July 3, 2014, 08:29 AM   #16
mardanlin
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It looks like a new publisher has started printing The Still Hunter again. Originally published in the 1880's and now available on Amazon. Don't you love technology?

http://www.amazon.com/Still-Hunter-T.../dp/1612037240
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Old July 5, 2014, 10:07 PM   #17
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This is my opinion, and many will disagree, but it doesn't matter how good you are. You can do everything perfect and come home empty handed or simply get out of your truck and find a monster.
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Old July 5, 2014, 11:32 PM   #18
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That's definitely true gunner, but honestly if you're hunting for meat and not horns you'll probably be able to tag out if there's a healthy population in your area and you put in the hours.
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Old July 6, 2014, 09:34 AM   #19
ezmiraldo
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I'm currently reading...

Black Bear Hunting: Expert Strategies for Success (The Complete Hunter) by Gary Lewis & Lee Van Tassel

... and thoroughly enjoying it!
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Old July 6, 2014, 07:39 PM   #20
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I think around here there's more luck involved than skill. Deer population isn't the greatest. I think there's way too many spot lighters and all year hunters around here. I am a meat hunter though, I am not a rack hunter. I only get to hunt a few days out of the season I try my best when I go. My opinion is this, don't read a book on hunting. Get a gun that is adequate, get the proper license or whatever you need to do it legal, get a fixed knife (a cheapie works fine), and you may want disposable elbow length gloves. Get all of that and go in the woods. Wear orange and be safe. Learn as you go along. You might make mistakes but as long as you're safe and having fun what else matters? I am no master hunter or master of anything but hunting is a pretty simple concept. When you do see the deer, aim for the lungs and heart. No fancy shooting positions required. You may want to try a shooting stick for a rest, they are handy but I always found it to be in the way.
Bear hunting does have extra obvious dangers but bear are more timid than one thinks. I've deer hunted for 12 years now, I'm only 23, but I've only bear hunted once. We went camping in tents for 2 nights. It was an adventure but no bear were shot. Also, be aware of 2 legged predators. Not everyone is honest. The dangers of being murdered are slim but it happens. The bigger danger would be getting robbed, most likely being your vehicle being broken in to. Most crimes are crimes of opportunity. So keep things hidden and I advise to never ever leave your gun in the vehicle any more than need be. Watch out for private property signs as well. I've literally been threatened to be shot because I was around 500 yards from the property and they were yelling about I was too close. So be safe.
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Old July 7, 2014, 12:41 AM   #21
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O'Connor

"Hunting Big Game" by Jack O'Connor is an old classic, and touches aspects of the hunting of most of our big game species. A bit dated, but the concepts and overall info are all still valid.
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Old July 8, 2014, 03:27 PM   #22
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Quote: I'll be hunting primarily in southwest: Arizona and New Mexico, for sure, and perhaps Colorado and Texas.

You can get a lot of area info from your local game warden or fish game person.

I'll address only the shooting aspect of the hunt:

Get a gun you can handle and be honest about it. No sense of trying to be macho about it, you'll be doing yourself and your quarry a disservice.

For years now, I've hunted with (mostly) one rifle:

Winchester Model 70 (in .270) with a 3X9 Burris Scope

I've shot deer (mostly) from the woods of NY/VT, to the desert southwest;

Practice Practice Practice! I can't stress this enough! Since you'll be hunting primarily in the southwest, you're going to have some long shots Being that said, you'll need to know your limitations. If you can only hit targets consistently at 200 yards, then that's your limit - period.

For example - Here are two deer I shot in AZ years ago, one (on the right) I shot at 50 yards. I was climbing up a ridge to get into a classing position when I came across him. I had to shoot off-hand, cause there was no time to get rest. The other one, I shot at 350 yards and I had all the time in world cause he was chasing does (he never knew I was there-until the bullet hit him!)

Why was I able get both of these deer, yup practice-practice-practice!

Finally - Know the anatomy of you quarry, generally in or behind the shoulder has served me well.
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Old July 8, 2014, 04:21 PM   #23
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I'll tell you the same thing I tell every other person that wants to learn how to hunt big-game animals. EVERY skill you need to know to hunt deer except scent control can be learned faster and much cheaper by chasing small game. Squirrels and rabbits are the quarry of choice in most of the country but there may be other opportunities where you live. You'll clearn the skills of listening to the woods, stalking, camoflauge, etc.

In most places, the seasons for small game are longer than deer season and the "entry cost" is much lower. All it takes are a .22 (or shotgun), a license, and a pair of boots to get you out in the woods. You can even do it in the off season without the gun just to get the skills down.
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Old July 10, 2014, 04:54 PM   #24
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I would recommend hunting magazines, and those regional hunting newspapers. You'll get more up to date info that matches current laws and conditions.

I'm not a big fan of hunting videos as learning tools unless you can find some based on regular people doing regular hunting. Most of those are based on canned hunt trophy hunters who don't hunt like normal people looking to have fun and fill their tag.


Also check with your local gun stores as they often have seminars for different game.
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Old July 19, 2014, 08:39 AM   #25
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Successful Deer Hunting - Sam Fadala
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