View Full Version : Varmint Hunting - How Does a Guy Get Started ?

Mike H
March 12, 2000, 07:52 AM

For anyone who's seen my posts in the rifle forum, I'm a novice rifleman in southern Pa who is interested in becoming involved in small and large game hunting. The "large" side of the equation is being handled by my wife's uncle who is a long standing deer man, but I'm also interested in doing some varminting which seems to have fewer restrictions and doesn't involve a 3 hour hike through snow just for one shot. So just how do I go about getting started, the Pennsylvania Game commission have been notably unhelpful, I have an e-mail from them that actually says that shooting anything without a permit could be an offence !
So do I need to find a friendly farmer who'll let me use his land or are there public areas set aside for varmint work. Also, do I need any certification to wander around with a rifle, getting arrested is not what I had in mind for my first hunt.

Any advice gratefully received.


A Person Is Smart
But People Are Stupid

Mike H

Art Eatman
March 12, 2000, 09:31 AM
I'm not from Pennsy, so I can't help with some specifics, but I'd bet it's mostly private land--which means landowner permission. That's the courteous thing to do, anyway.

I'd choose a rifle which can shoot a 50-grain bulet at around 2,000 or 2,200 ft/sec--less noise. You may get permission to hunt somewhere, but the noise level of a .223 or a real cartridge like the .22-250 or the .220 Swift can upset the neighbors.

Pennsy has long been known for woodchucks. The .22 Hornet and the .218 Bee were considered the cat's meow for this. (Cat's meow means Good Thing, and was contemporaneous with the Hornet and Bee. Right, Dennis?)

Many states separate their hunting licenses into categories, such as Small Game (cheap) and Large Game (expensive). Regardless, the hunting license is the only way you can put money directly into game management and research--and in some cases, even habitat improvement or public-land hunting opportunities. It's a worthwhile purchase even for an ANTI-hunter!

(For all the noise-levels about government loving and cherishing the environment, wildlife budgets are being cut back in many states.)

Anyway, with your license and written permission from the landowner, no game warden will do more than wish you a nice day. (Well, there are a few wardens who don't think any hunter ought to ever have a nice day...)

Now: Getting landowner permission is sometimes difficult, since there may well have been some fools around before your time. Ask in a rural gun store about woodchucks and coyotes, where they might be found, etc. Then, taking no guns, go knocking on doors. Explain that you know all about the difference between a cow or horse and a woodchuck or coyote. That you understand about not using a fence as a ladder (tears up the fence) and about leaving gates as you found them. Offer to trade out a bit of work around the place in return for permission to hunt.

(Funny. Guys will drive a $30,000 truck with $1,000 guns to a $3,000/yr deer lease, to hunt maybe four or five days. But they won't invest a weekend of "help" in order to be able to hunt year round for varmints on a 10,000-acre ranch.)

So there's a start.

Best luck, Art

March 12, 2000, 11:10 AM
Mike H,

I live in Easton,Pa. It's on the New Jersey border. I just started getting into varmint hunting myself and found it hard to find a place also. I don't think the game commission has any land just for groundhogs but if you can find them (groundhogs) on state land you can hunt them. Your best bet is to find a farm and ask permission to hunt. I'm 23 but only look i'm 15, so a lot of farmers have their doubts about letting me on their land. I got lucky and went deer hunting last year with a friend from work on some private land and the landowner invited us back for some groundhog hunting. The restrictions for grounhog hunting is the same as small game except you have to wear a solid blaze orange cap. Good luck.



Mike H
March 12, 2000, 03:49 PM
Thanks guys,

Ldoll, although we are from different parts of the state I assume that the regulations are the same, so am I right in thinking that a small game licence is required, and also, did you have to complete any type of formal certification such as a hunters safety course.


A Person Is Smart
But People Are Stupid

Mike H

March 12, 2000, 06:44 PM
If you were born after 1949 I beleive then you need to complete a hunter safety course before you will be issued a hunting license. Since it sounds like you've had no real experience hunting before, then it's probably not a bad idea anyway. I think there are still some states that don't require the hunter safety card, but PA probably does. If you ever wanted to hunt in a state that did require one you'd have to complete the course anyway.

Art said something at the end of his post that you really should pay attention to. I know that if someone came out out to my place and helped while I'm putting up hay or building fence, they'd darn sure have a place to hunt. I'm not too interested in these guys that come out from the city the weekend before deer season wanting to know if they and their 8 buddies can hunt on the place. You show up in July when it's 95 and humid as hell, that's a different story. There's always something that needs to be done on the farm. If you can establish a good relationship with one landowner, chances are his neighbors may let you on their place too. Try it out, you may have some new friends out there you just haven't met yet. :)

bullet placement is gun control

Art Eatman
March 14, 2000, 07:45 PM
Ldoll: Whatever gun you use, take it to the range and concentrate on shooting the best possible groups you can get. Several on one target is fairly impressive.

You might get a friend to "autograph" it to show you were seen to do this...And carry the target along to show to a landowner as a sign of how you do indeed know how to shoot...

Regards, Art