View Full Version : Starting hunting, suggestions

Jeff Thomas
March 2, 1999, 02:27 AM
I'll confess ... my Dad never took me hunting, or taught me to shoot as many of you relate happened in your lives. My uncle took me hunting, but drank more beers than birds shot. Too many hunters I have met are in the 'let's go kill somethin' category. I've known one bird hunter I greatly respected. And, I've 'lurked' in this forum noting the professionalism of TFL's hunters. I've always enjoyed the outdoors, camping and hiking. Just never learned how to hunt.

So, in my fifth decade of life, I want to add this to my skills and experience. My great-granddad gave me a mount of a 'button buck' he took in PA at age 19. I'd like to add one of my own, albeit with a real rack (with apologies to granddad!). In AZ I can imagine hunting deer, elk and Javelina (pig). I'll probably pass on Big Horn for now, and I'll have to think about bear. Birds aren't high on the list right now, but we'll see.

I really don't want to go out on my own - I would prefer to avoid as many stupid mistakes as possible, and I know that learning from an experienced hand is invaluable. And, in my position at my office I'm not likely to meet other folks who are skilled in this area. So, how should I proceed?

It is important to me that I do this right, score clean kills, abide by the game reg's and hopefully find success in the hunt. I'm certainly willing to be patient, but I don't want to just stagger around out there, looking for deer / elk in a place no self-respecting deer / elk would ever be found. ;) And, I don't want the guilt of tracking a wounded animal for miles while I'm chastising myself for making such a stupid error. Thanks for your ideas.

March 2, 1999, 11:39 AM
You're started in the right direction. To me the actual shooting is almost anti-climatic. You have to remember that hunters were the original conservationists, long before it became PC to be an eco-terrorist. Just being out in the woods/mountains/desert/? is a natural high for me. Challenging one's self against a superior animal (in it's own environment) can tax those much better than I.
As for starting hunting. Most people start small, such as rabbit or squirrel. I still enjoy rabbit hunting (when I can). Another plus is that the game tastes much better when you've "worked" for it.

Rob Pincus
March 2, 1999, 12:31 PM
WEll, is it possible (ie- within your budget) to go to a hunting lodge? Some of them suck and some of them are rip-offs, but I might be able to point you in the direction of a decent one.

Otherwise, It is going to be hard for you to just "become" a hunter. I was lucky enough to have someone to teach me how to hunt Whitetail. My Dad was never a hunter and I spent years trodding through the woods trying to kill a deer before I found someone who knew what he was doing and cared to pass it on.

There are books on the subject and several videos. You can learn enough not to look foolish through reading and watching, but I really think you'll need to get around some hunters to be make any leaps in the right direction.


March 2, 1999, 01:10 PM
My brother took me hunting back when I was 13 and no book or video could replace that experience. Having said that though, some of the latest how-to videos and books are quite good. Some of Bass Pro Shops videos come to mind.

I started with small game. Chasing squirrels all day will teach you much about the woods and the wildlife that inhabits it.

Welcome to the Fraternity of the first true conservationists. (and be prepared to defend it)

Jeff Thomas
March 2, 1999, 03:35 PM
Thanks. I purchased an old, used book about hunting various critters, and it is certainly helpful. Haven't tried the video route yet for hunting, but I have enjoyed / appreciated Gunsite's for 'tactical' purposes. Contender, I'll check on the Bass Pro Shop series (any URL / site that you know of?).

Been hunting rabbits lately, with an air rifle, from the comfort of my family room! We had herds of 'em, and the back yard lawn looked more like a Cocoa Puff truck accident. ;) My wife is thankful for fewer bunnies (eating all of her plants up), but now she has taken to calling me the 'One Minute Hunter'! ;) No respect. All kidding aside, actually this did serve as a refresher for sighting in a scope, proper breath control, and in a very minor way, stalking. Of course, when you're hunting from the family room, 'stalking' includes not munching on potato chips while setting up a shot. ;)

Rob, a hunting lodge might be a good way to go. What is the experience like, what is the range in cost, and can you suggest any in Arizona? Any URL's / sites you would recommend?

Thanks again.

March 3, 1999, 12:35 AM

I knew a guy once that the only way he could hit a deer was to drag a car door in the woods with him so he could shoot through the window.


[This message has been edited by Contender (edited March 03, 1999).]

Rob Pincus
March 3, 1999, 12:44 AM
Most of your hunting videos are going to document hunts, rather than teach hunting techniques. You might try to watch some of TNN's hunting shows over the weekend and/or some of the shows on the Outdoor Life channel. I believe that some of the regional Fox Sports Networks are also running hunting programs now.
The C-band satellites are full of hunting shows of varying quality.

I have to put in a plug for Realtree hunting videos.. they are not so much instructional as they are inspirational:


Hunter Specialties put out some great videos too.
I'm going to be on a video shoot with Primos Calls early next month for Turkey Hunting, maybe I can wrestle some info from them on a good instructional video.

Also, look for some videos by Drury Productions, they are good people with a wonderful product.

March 3, 1999, 04:13 PM

My suggestion is to initially concentrate your efforts on one game animal, like deer. I recently had to retake a Hunter Safety course so that I could hunt out of state. Even though a great deal of the information was ridiculous, I was left with the feeling that a hunting novice could glean a great deal from one of these courses. Next, go spend time in the woods where you will be able to hunt in the fall. This will provide you with great scouting information as well as the lay of the land, daily wind directions and the like. You will also see which environmental settings are best for your chosen game. Look for trails to and from feeding, watering, and bedding areas. Soon you will start to unravel the lives of your intended quarry. I can not stress enough how important it is to be in the woods and be aware of your surroundings. There is also a great deal of published literature on hunting methods...look in your local library. Even if the book you want is not there, most libraries have inter-library loan programs. This will save you money on purchasing books and videos and allow for more gas money to get to the woods and scout. Good luck, and happy hunting.

Byron Quick
March 4, 1999, 11:04 AM

If you can get to Georgia during the week next deer season-I'll take you hunting. (I work weekends) My cousins and I have a cabin on a hundred acres owned by a great aunt. Totally surrounded by one of the largest hunting preserves in eastern Georgia (my great aunt wouldn't lease them her land :)) So basically, we are hunting a quality managed herd for free. I can't guarantee you a deer but I can guarantee a good time. Spectre spent two weeks hunting with me this past year and we did not see a single deer. It was too hot and the deer were not moving during the day. I got a nice buck a few weeks later. The other day, to add insult to injury, I found a huge antler dropped right in the middle of the food plot I hunted over for most of the season. Next year this buck should be a very, very nice 10 point.

Jeff Thomas
March 5, 1999, 01:16 AM
Spartacus, thank you kindly for the offer. What part of Georgia is this in? And, what are the dates for your next deer season? Would adding a 15 year old boy be over the top?

I don't need any guarantees, and this would be a great opportunity. I suppose I could break free for a few days if I can convince my wife! I'd probably have to fund her shopping trip / hunt for something in GA!

[This message has been edited by Jeff Thomas (edited March 05, 1999).]

Byron Quick
March 5, 1999, 11:17 AM
Jeff, I don't know the exact dates yet but it will be from around 10/20 to Jan 10. I think it is usually from the third Saturday in October until the second Sunday in January. The boy will need to take a hunter safey course acceptable to our DNR. I will get the info to contact them for you.

It is located in eastern central Georgia about ten miles from South Carolina. 40 miles south of Augusta. Look at an atlas, find Waynesboro 30 miles south of Augusta, then find Alexander 10 miles south of Waynesboro (this will take a pretty good atlas!) 5 miles due east from Alexander.

Dennis Glover
March 5, 1999, 06:09 PM
It sounds as though you and I are close to the same age. I have had the opportunity to live the same area of my state all my life. I don't hunt deer. However I do hunt Mr. Bob White. This is a type of hunting that I haven't seen anything about on the pages of TFL. Anyway I would be more than happy to give you help on hunting game birds.

First of all there are still alot of places to hunt for game birds no matter what all of the weekend shows on TV say about there not being quail in the South like there use to be.

To be successful at hunting any game you have to do your home work and don't be afraid to knock on doors. Getting permission to hunt private land is a must for hunting. No one is going to call and ask you to come and hunt their property. The time to ask people to hunt is not on opening day and you show up in their front yard with a pack of dogs and your buddies. If your going to hunt and you don't want to hunt by yourself, get permission to hunt a few places first. Then find someone with the same interest in hunting that has some experience. They will have places to hunt but they probably won't take you to thier places at first. You will have to show them you have some places to go that they may not be able to go.
I'm getting a little long on words. Try what I've said and see how you do. I have more thoughts I can share.

[This message has been edited by Dennis Glover (edited March 05, 1999).]

Byron Quick
March 10, 1999, 05:33 AM

Glad you have quail to hunt. In eastern central Georgia the only quail to hunt are released birds. Just a few days ago I saw a covey run across the road. I hit one (damn).
Since none of the covey tried to fly, I assume it was a pen raised covey. In the past five years, I have seen one bobwhite (down in the swamp!) where I deer hunt. When I was a kid you could walk over that hundred acres and flush two or three coveys in an hour if not more. What happened? I've heard fire ants, new farming techniques, and ag chemicals. The dove population is good, though.

Byron Quick
March 10, 1999, 05:53 AM
Jeff, this is the site for the Georgia DNR Hunting Regulations. They have phone numbers and other info up http://www.ganet.org/dnr/wild/

Dennis Glover
March 10, 1999, 01:19 PM
I've heard stories ablut fire ants destroying good quail country. Up here we haven't had that problem to deal with. The biggest problem most people have hunting quail is not having places to hunt and then not having dogs that know how to handle wild birds. To many people break dogs on pen raised birds and the dogs think they can stick their noses up the birds butt. Then many of the dogs range too wide and you don't know if they are running birds up or what.
The TWRA has been trying a few things on public land around here but not near enough. They seem to be more geared to turkey and deer management. They saying around here by the bird hunters is TWRA love to manage turkey and deer because all they have to do is ride up and down the road and little else.

Byron Quick
April 7, 1999, 09:23 AM
update on the quail. I spotted a covey on the roadside a couple of days ago while driving through a hunting preserve. I think they were pen raised birds, though. They didn't even fly as I drove by. I have spotted another single on the property I hunt. I'm thinking of releasing some birds there to see if they can get established.

Art Eatman
April 7, 1999, 10:30 PM
Far Aints. Around Thomasville, Georgia, and in parts of east central Texas, there are so many fire ant mounds! Incredible! They do in songbirds, insects, ground birds like quail...Even do in baby deer by eating their eyes...

April 11, 1999, 03:28 PM
You're still a youngster yet. I'm 52 and still hitting the woods and mountains in North Carolina each season. My husband is 49 and has been hunting here since he was 7 years old. If you can't find an experienced hunter in your area see if you can find a hunting club locally. The National Wild Turkey Federation has chapters in just about every US state. It would be a good place to find an experienced hunter.
If that doesn't work email me and I can line you up with something affordable around the southwestern NC or southeastern TN area.
[email protected]


Jeff Thomas
April 12, 1999, 01:40 AM
bearcat, thanks for the kind words and suggestions. I'm out Arizona way, so NC and TN sound interesting but expensive. Actually, the more classes I take and the more I practice at the ranges, I find I'm meeting some fine folks. Looks like one or two of them just might want to go hunting this year. And, I'm also joining some AZ organizations, so that is helping as well.

'Course, Spartacus has also been kind enough to offer his guidance, so I may be looking him up this Fall.

Regards from AZ.

April 12, 1999, 05:24 AM
I too had to learn to hunt in Arizona and Southern California without any older family members to help. At that time (ugh, about 30 years ago), it was possible to hire local guides. A couple of my teenage friends and I would ask in a local sporting goods store, get a recommendation, and hire the guy for a day or two. The guide would usually be a local guy who knew the area and would take you to a spot where he had seen game lately. Not only was that a pretty good way to get a shot at some game, most of the guides we hired were really terrific guys who were more than happy to share info on how to look for deer sign, how deer lived, how and when to take the shot, etc. I live in the Southeast now, and it's harder to find just-plain guide services (although it looks like "bearcat" has a pretty good one at http://www.angelfire.com/tn/farner/index.html), maybe because there's not as much public land in the Southeast as there was out west. Anyway, hope that helps.

Art Eatman
April 12, 1999, 10:06 AM
Jeff: Decades back, my father commented that a deer practices being a deer, 365 days a year. He has an advantage over a fella, who practices being a deer-hunter some 4 or 5 days a year.

In other words, you must get out and go critter-watching. That will do more than all the videos ever filmed.

Learn to do a rock-imitation. Or learn what sort of footwear works around your cactus to protect your feet, but lets you walk quietly. Many of my deer were taken by walking up on them during the middle of the day, from as close as 15 to 20 yards.

Lots of public land in AZ. Take (minimum) a .22 Mag or .223 and a coyote call. No matter how good you get at "varmint calling", you'll never hurt the coyote population.

You have a fair number of javelina. They are easy enough to get close to, and a .357 works quite well.

Or just take a camera and a coyote call. The look on a coyote's face when he learns he's been "had" is priceless!

Learn to read sign, to identify game trails to and from springs or seeps. Start out with the sandy areas around/in washes/arroyos, as the tracking is easier. Find a little seep spring, locate a good "settin' and lookin'" spot cross-wind of the spring, and practice your rock-imitation. You will get some great photographs! Cross-wind, because many critters approach from down-wind.

Critters don't trust their eyes and ears nearly as much as they do their noses. A coyote will almost always circle and approach the caller from down-wind.

Mule deer does and small bucks will run off in most any direction when startled. Big bucks will almost always (there ain't no "always" with deer) take off upwind and/or uphill. If bucky heads downwind or downhill, he'll eventually turn and head up. Cut him off and wait for him to come to you! Mule deer bucks are generally lazy, and lay up just below the downwind crest of a ridge, near a saddle. They can escape through the brush in the saddle, running upwind...Sabes?

Go to a library and browse the Ernest Thompson Seton books. They're about a hundred years old, now, and are focussed on the northeastern US, but there's a wealth of outdoor info in them.

Whether you explore the Superstitions or the Cochise Stronghold area or the foothills of the Mogollons, there's all manner of critters to watch for. Mostly, you just gotta get out there and watch.

Best regards, Art

April 20, 1999, 06:30 PM

It certainly would be nice to see you. The property is nice, and Spartacus makes a hell of a pot of chili!

I advise getting good advice from folks you respect. I see you're well on your way. :)

It sounds like you may live in a relatively rural area. If so, I suggest you take that air rifle and stalk squirrels. You will quickly learn how to "ninja" up on an animal, as well as build up patience. It's great for your targeting, as well. I was happy to discover this past season that I could hit squirrel with Spartacus' Browning Buckmark...[Good thing, 'cuz I only saw the eyes of one deer while headed out to the stand in the wee AM (temperature was a record high for the season). Usually he has to shoo them away, I'm told, picking between the mutants for curiosity's sake, and the moose-sized racks for bragging rights. Hell, I hear there was one deer so big that he was eye level to the tree stand Spartacus was in. Spartacus didn't shoot, 'cuz he had only brought his .50 BMG, and wanted to make a clean kill. When he came back with the old 105, sombitch was gone. He also has some stories I have a hard time believing, so I won't relate them! ;)]

Byron Quick
April 22, 1999, 07:37 AM

I wish that was true about the .50 BMG and the 105. I wish I had a .50 BMG and a 105. Last year with much hunting I only bagged a doe and a 7 point buck. The season before I killed four does and an eight point with much less hunting.

Which stories do you have a hard time believing?

April 22, 1999, 08:52 PM
Jeff, Somewhere in your circle of friends, inlaws, etc. there has to be a hunter "I hope" search for this person and get one invite to join them on a tractor fixing weekend or whatever it takes to get another invite to help clear the roads etc. If you want to you will get to have a place to go and some folks to help you along the way!
Best of luck and good shooting, Hank

Jeff Thomas
April 23, 1999, 02:10 AM
I'm enjoying and appreciating this thread more and more. Lots of great advice. I don't get out hiking and camping like I used to, and learning to hunt properly will be a great opportunity to reacquaint myself with the beauty of the natural world.

Art, I do believe I've actually seen folks at work practicin' their rock-imitating skills! ;) You clearly know AZ. Your 'deer is a deer for 365 days a year' is a pearl of wisdom.

Skip, I just might try the guide route. Hands-on, one-on-one experience and training has always helped me a great deal, especially when getting started.

Spectre and Spartacus, I do hope to get to GA this year - we'll see. Lots can happen between now and then. My company is going through some changes, and it is possible I'll have some extra 'free time' on an unexpected basis. ;) We'll see.

Adios, and regards from AZ

May 16, 1999, 09:16 PM
If ya can stand the cold, come on up to Minnesota, great old time...