View Full Version : Not-yet-beginner small game hunting?

July 6, 2009, 12:43 PM
I have a mid-term goal of hunting deer. It's an activity that runs deep in my ancestry, but my father was the first not to do any hunting. My grandfather is unable to teach me now, and I feel like I missed the "normal" way to learn how to hunt.

I'm not concerned about hardware or marksmanship -- it's the field-dressing (and beyond). I watched some videos on Youtube, and I am sure that the field dressing is way beyond me if I were to attempt it by myself.

One of the most interesting bits of advice I've seen was to learn to hunt small game first (e.g., rabbits) to get a basic skill set. It sounds very sensible to me, and I enjoyed the one rabbit stew I've had in my life...

I live in central Illinois, where we seem to have a fantastic abundance of rabbits -- how can I find someone to teach me the ropes? I'm essentially on my own here...


July 6, 2009, 01:24 PM
You did not mention if you'd taken a hunter safety course yet or not. I believe most every state requires this prior to obtaining a hunting license. The courses vary some, but most are at least several hours long and some also with "hands-on" requirement. When you attend your course, look and listen and see if there might be some already experienced hunters there (fathers, brothers, relatives, friends, etc. of other participents) that might have similar interests or live near you. A simple introduction and request for help in securing and area or a buddy to hunt with might just do the trick. Worth a try, anyway.

Your idea of starting out with small game hunting is spot on! There is normally a bit less skill required along with a LOT more game spotted during a typical small game hunt. Both these help anyone gain valuable experience in woodsmanship, wildlife and gun safety in the field.

Good Luck!

July 6, 2009, 02:10 PM
many states offer mentoring through the game and fish departments. not state mentoring but the hook you up with people willing to help

July 6, 2009, 02:10 PM
+1 on starting with small game.

Is there a hunting forum with active members in your area? Most areas with large numbers of hunters have active forums these days. That would be the place to start looking for a mentor. If you have land, you are in an even better position. It is always easier to find a mentor if you have land to take them to.

July 6, 2009, 02:49 PM
Wow, thanks for all the helpful responses already. I am definitely checking out hunter safety classes from the state. I think the rabbit season here is in the Fall, so I'm trying to ramp up on the reading and preparation.

The mentor idea would be great -- Illinois is not the most hunter-friendly state, but that gives me something to look into.

The more I think about it, I'm getting excited about small game hunting. Squirrels don't interest me, but rabbits... hmm... definitely more interest there. My favorite gun is my Henry, and I'm thinking I could make some real use out of it!


July 6, 2009, 03:29 PM
Don't dismiss the squirrels. If you ever want to get into deer hunting, you'll learn far more skill chasing squirrels than you will rabbits. In fact, the only deer hunting skill that is not taught by hunting squirrels is scent control.

July 6, 2009, 03:52 PM
Isn't a desire to eat them sort of a prerequisite? I've never eaten squirrel, but I've read far more people who like rabbit meat than who like squirrel meat.

Maybe you're right, and I should try it at least once...


July 6, 2009, 07:21 PM
Squirrel tastes good and it's easy to skin and clean. I just throw them in stew pots, but you can probably find lots of ways to cook them.

Find a place on state or federal land where you can shoot and start going after the tree rats.
Check all the laws for your state.