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Old September 16, 2009, 03:09 PM   #12
Don Gwinn
Staff Emeritus
Join Date: March 9, 2000
Location: Virden, IL
Posts: 5,917
Hoo boy. The best advice you're going to get is this:

Find someone who has experience and who you trust, and ask him/her to help you out. You would benefit most from someone who could walk you through it and preferably at least visit your hunting area with you (where I live, scouting before deer season can often be a good excuse for a squirrel hunt.)

Orange is not optional in most places, and some states require a minimum amount of unbroken, unpatterned, solid orange (like my home state of Illinois.) I have to wear 400 square inches of solid blaze orange plus a solid blaze orange hat, even on private property. I'd be surprised if New Jersey didn't require something similar, but you never know.

If it were me, I wouldn't want to put my trust in buckshot, but that's illegal here anyway. Slugs will give you more range even if you didn't have front and rear sights, and it sounds like you'll have to. My dad and my grandpa both use red-dot sights now, but I still use a fiber-optic front. They all work, but there's no doubt the red-dot takes some distractions out of it. Personally, though, I wouldn't buy a lot of new equipment the first year you try this. I'd get the slug barrel with rifle-style sights. It'll work, and if it does give you trouble you'll know that next time.

The style of hunting makes a difference, too. I hunt in a farmer's timber where we spend most of the day in tree stands, so here's what I bring into the woods:
  • License/FOID/Tags
  • Sharpie for signing tags and taking notes
  • Shotgun and ammo (people do forget sometimes)
  • Knife/small hatchet/rubber gloves for field dressing.
  • Light
  • Rope (usually on my stand already--lets me haul my gun up unloaded for safety, and sometimes needed for dragging out deer)
  • Insulated coveralls, gloves, orange ball cap, orange stocking cap, orange sweatshirt.
  • Crackers, jerky, water.
  • Scent (not horribly important, actually, depending on how hot and sweaty you get hiking in)
  • Phone (there's cell reception where I hunt--YMMV)
  • First aid kit--just bandages, antibiotics, tape, Tylenol, etc.)

Quite honestly, I usually have a book, too, because there are days when I've filled my tags and my companions haven't. If they're in their stands, there's nothing much for me to do, and by that time of day it's pretty comfortable up a tree with a good book.

Plan on leaving your vehicle in time to walk in and be settled in your area at least half an hour before light--an hour is better because there will be inevitable delays. Remember that the best times of day during the rut are often the first hour and last hour of daylight, so don't miss them. And if you've had a long day of nothing, and you're getting tempted to get an early start to the car so you don't have to walk in the dark, I don't recommend it. You can sit (or walk) and see nothing all day, only to find deer moving in the last 15 minutes of legal shooting light.

That reminds me--know when it's legal to shoot in your area. Here there are times when you can see deer (especially with fiber-optic sights/red dots) but it's illegal to shoot because of the light. We check the almanac for the official sunrise and sunset times, since the legal shooting hours are based on those times--NOT what the light looks like where you are.
Don Gwinn: Chicago Gun Rights Examiner
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