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Old June 29, 2007, 09:26 AM   #1
Join Date: May 22, 2007
Location: Riverside, CA
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New to Hunting - Any Suggestions?

I am 50 and only go turned on to firearms about 2 years ago. Bought my first rifle Jan 2006, shotgun Jan 2007 and handgun Apr 2007

I am going on my first hunting trip in Novemeber in Craig Colorado for mule deer. We will use the spot and stalk technique. I am going with a great group of guys a few that are long time hunters. In spite of that, are there any suggestions? I am a little concerned about the field dressing aspect of the hunt.
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Old June 29, 2007, 10:39 AM   #2
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Good for you.
I am going with a great group of guys a few that are long time hunters
This will be a huge help.
Concerned about field dressing you say? Not as bad as you may think. Just pretend its a big trout Plus the guys you are going with, at least one of them will probably want to show off his field dressing skills in front of the new guy. You will probably have all the help you need and more. There are also some good deer dressing instructions in various books and online. I have seen them with pictures.
Good luck to you.
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Old June 29, 2007, 10:39 AM   #3
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Never too late to learn, welcome to the addiction of hunting!!

I got started late (late 20's) and never had been taught by my dad, so had probably the same learning curve you are looking at.

Field dressing is not rocket science, but, in my opinion isn't something you can learn by watching a video or reading either.

My learning went video/reading, "helping" (holding a leg while watching closely) and having it explained, doing it with guidance, then solo. The guy I hunt with makes it look super easy, but has been doing it forever. I am not fast, but get the job done.

If you are hunting with a partner (experienced) and want to get the extra practice, offer to do his. After I had "graduated" and wanted more practice, I did all 4 taken by our camp one year. We had radio check-ins every hour, so when someone got one down, I went to them. I don't think anyone would turn down someone (trusted enough to hunt with) who offered to dress thier deer.

I guess the only other suggestion is watch/help as many different people as you can do the process. I think everyone has thier own little twist/trick/secret for some of the more difficult tasks.

Good hunting!!
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Old June 29, 2007, 11:23 AM   #4
Art Eatman
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Ever done any hiking in high country? Lots of lowlanders get up there and run into serious health problems. Heart attacks are a major item for those not in good physical condition. "There ain't any air in the air, up there."

Get. In. Shape. Or, stay in shape and improve your wind as much as you can.

I started in with centerfire rifles in 1950, taking up loading for a .30-'06. So, I'm sorta biased. Anyhow, I'd use a 180-grain bullet, sighted in for two inches high at 100 yards. That puts you six inches low at 300 yards.

Lightweight binoculars. I'd use something like 8x30.

My 2ยข,

You're from BATFE? Come right in! I use all your fine products!
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Old June 29, 2007, 12:28 PM   #5
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+1 to everything Art said.

Get in the best possible shape you can before you go or you will be up there in altitude. Stick close to the guys that have hunted the area before and been successful. Good quality glass is a must for searching for deer. Get as much practice as possible shooting from as many positions as you can.

Bring plenty of water, topographical map, and a small survival kit in case you don't make it off the mountain before dark.
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Old June 29, 2007, 09:50 PM   #6
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are there any suggestions?
Have fun and drink some scotch around the fire!

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Old June 29, 2007, 10:31 PM   #7
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I am a little concerned about the field dressing aspect of the hunt
Butchering critters is always going to be a little nasty, but it's not so bad. Have somebody who knows how to do it show you the technique. You don't want to do any cutting until somebody gives you some pointers or you may ruin some meat.
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Old June 29, 2007, 11:52 PM   #8
Charles S
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Welcome to the sport. I love hunting, the scenery, the solitude, the companionship, the comraderey, the firearms, the food, the camping...well you get the picture.

Great advice and mine will mirror some you have already received.

Practice, first from the bench to get sighted in and build confidence, then from field positions. I would recommend no less than 100 rounds (in small amounts) before you go.

Get in shape, absolutly essential.

Pick a good set of boots, break them in and get comfortable with them. Quality socks at least two pairs per day are important also.

Optics are essential, good (as good as you can afford) compact binoculars are a must, I really like the 8X32. As good a rifle scope as you can afford.

A good pack that has the ability to comfortably pack what you need. Load it wear it adjust your load, take out what you don't have to have.

A good first aid kit.

A quality knife. Most people think large for hunting, but in reality a 4 inch blade is as big as you need and my two favorites have great steel, good handles a quality sheath and are no more than 3.5 inches in length.

Most importantly take your frinds out to dinner and pick their brains, look at their gear, what works for them. Their gear may not work for you but I guarantee you can learn from their load out.

Good luck. As for field dressing, pick up a good book, read about how to do it, then when the time comes dive in with a friend who can help guide and teach you. It really is not hard, it just takes a little time to learn.
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." -- George Orwell
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Old June 30, 2007, 12:41 AM   #9
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First thing to do is go buy your lefthanded smokechanger, right now. After a long day of hunting, you will want to sit around the campfire and swap stories about the day's hunt. The problem is, the smoke from the camp fire keeps blowing in your face. If you have a smoke changer, it will re-direct the smoke away from you. I think Cabela's sells them...

Art is right about being in shape. If you do feel chest pains or have trouble breathing, you may be having a heart attack. Immediately bend over and grab your ankles. It won't sop the heart attack but it will be easier to load you on a horse if you die...
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Old June 30, 2007, 01:33 AM   #10
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One more thing about field dressing.

This may be obvious but, make sure your knife is razor shape before you head out. You wouldn't believe how much easier it is to gut a deer with a razor sharp knife as compared to a 'sharp' knife.
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Old June 30, 2007, 08:59 AM   #11
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+1 On the sharp knife.

One other thing that no one has mentioned here, that I use especially if there is no water near by. Surgical gloves!

You can buy a box at just about any local drug store. No more blood under the nails and hard scrubbing. Also a lot more sanitary. Just take them off and throw them away (make sure you pack them out). Then wallah, clean hands.

Am I the only one that uses these?
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Old June 30, 2007, 09:18 AM   #12
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I'll second some other field dressing suggestions here.

Definitely have someone who knows how to do it coach you. Have them stand over your shoulder and give you step by step instructions. Carry a sharp knife with a blade no more than 4-5 inches in length. Sharp is what matters, not size. Size just makes it unwieldy.

Rubber gloves are a great idea. I like those kits that have the shoulder length plastic gloves that you rubber band around your upper arms. you then put a pair of latex gloves over the top of them. Gives you good grip and control while keeping both your hands and arms blood free. If I dress one without them I have blood to the elbows.
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Old July 2, 2007, 11:20 AM   #13
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It may be over-kill, but I usually have 2 sharp 4" knives, one with a gut hook, with me - plus my pocket small old-timer for the delicate operation...
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Old July 2, 2007, 12:33 PM   #14
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I am usually the camp butcher and have field dressed many a critter. If your going with a group that has hunting experience, just let it be known and ask for some help ahead of time. Maybe agree to wash a few extra camp dishes or something for the help of someone with experience to do your field dressing for the first time.
From my past experiences, there has been many a time when I wish the hunter had just waited for me to do the work than spattering the gut contents all over inside. And, should your kill be something you want to mount, the taxidermist will thank you.
Just my .02 on field dressing- but like they said, be in shape to begin with!
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Old July 2, 2007, 03:40 PM   #15
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I like a 2 1/2 inch knife for the guttin' part. A small knife is much easier to get to the windpipe, and easier when trimming the connective tissue. I use a larger knife for butchering.

PS, don't buy that BS about drinkin' the blood (but do eat the liver if that floats yer boat.) Go slow and try not to pop anything with contents.
la plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu'il n'existe pas!
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Old July 2, 2007, 07:23 PM   #16
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+++ on the short knife. Not only is a long,heavy knife more of a pain to carry in the field, it doesn't do you any good when cleaning.

I use 4 implements when cleaning.
1. The first is plain box cutter utility knife. It will always be sharper than your hunting knife and if it gets dull, turn the blade around. If that gets dull, throw that blade away and put in another. I use that for any cutting of the skin that I have to do. On deer, I could use my skinning knife, but on hogs, I'd rather ruin the disposable blade.
2. The bulk of the work is done with an ordinary 2" pocket knife. I do all the skinning with it. It is short enough to really maneuver. It is also good for reaching into the gut cavity and cutting stuff left over from field dressing.
3. To cut through bone, I found by accident that an ordinary coping saw works beautifully. It was handy in my garage and I grabbed it. Worked so good that it is all I use now.
4. For separating large pieces of meat, I use either a Buck with a 5" blade or a commercial fish fillet knife.
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Old July 3, 2007, 11:10 PM   #17
Fat White Boy
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I went on a hog hunt with a group of 10 hunters. We did well and all got a pig. Most of the guys were contractors. after we hung, skinned and cooled the pigs, one of the guys brought out a Sawzall. We quartered all the pigs using the Sawzall. They all fit into smaller coolers. Pretty cool.

Also, a recommendation for your hog meat. I used to cut the meat into chops, hams, steaks, roasts then make the leftover into sausage. The sausage turned out so good that all I save now are the loins and get the rest ground up into sausage. If the hog is lean, I mix some 25%-30% ground beef in with the pork. Damn but that is good eating...
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Old July 4, 2007, 04:53 AM   #18
Death from Afar
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As always Art has some pretty solid advice, and there are some pretty good tips here. I have no idea what the the weather is like where you hunt, but having spent *some* time in the southern alps can suggest A Few other things:

Good sleeping bag. Aside from your boots, this is what you spend your money on. You can get wet. You can get cold. But, with a decent sleeping bag, you wont care.

Boots. Buy a decent pair- and DECENT socks. Wool. And wear them as often as you can before hand in all conditions. I once didnt break in a pair of Meindels before a thar hunt and was in a blistered way by day 2. Having said that, now they are broken in they are the most comfortable boots I have ever owned.

A good pack and day pack. Ensure the pack sits low enough so the weight can sit on your hips, not your shoulders. I have a British Bergen I swapped from a Brit SAS dude and it is an awesome pack. huge kidney belt, and it sits on your hips. Top notch.

A GPS. Cant beat em. But they can still fail , so get a map, and learn how to orintate map to ground, and march on a bearing. It will take all of 5 minutes to do that.

Gutting- I absoltly hate it, and am a bit squeemish about it, so dont feel bad!
"Beware of the Man with one gun...he probably isnt into guns enough to be safe with it".
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Old July 4, 2007, 12:27 PM   #19
Join Date: May 22, 2007
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Thanks all for the great suggestions. You all have been a big help.
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Old July 4, 2007, 01:19 PM   #20
Charles S
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One last thing....most important. Have fun!

Good luck.
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." -- George Orwell
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Old July 8, 2007, 12:44 AM   #21
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It is fun to make sausages from your kill and its the only way I found that being in the US I can make my own lincolnshire style sausages with pork shoulder, pork belly, bread crumbs and sage. Its best if you also grow your own sage. I just can't cope with the polish and german sausage etc that they have in the supermarkets.
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Old July 8, 2007, 05:09 AM   #22
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Get. In. Shape.
+1 This will do more to make your hunt productive and enjoyable than anything in the world.
It's better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it.
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Old July 8, 2007, 07:46 AM   #23
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New to Hunting - Any Suggestions?
Don't shoot the other hunters. There are too many "accidents" where hunters shoot other folks (usually other hunters) because they got excited in glimpsing a potential prey and shot at a sound or movement, or took a shot that they never should have taken that resulted in striking somebody down range.

Since you will be spotting and stalking, it is that much critical that you know exactly where all your hunting buddies are as their positions are not going to remain fixed.

It sounds almost silly, but a person is more likely to be shot by another hunter if that person is hunting with a group of hunters. Deer hunting is apparently a lot more dangerous than bird hunting in this regard.
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Old July 8, 2007, 08:40 AM   #24
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Ok, there is a lot of good general knowledge here.

Noticed you said you were hunting in Craig Colorado so I thought I would chime in with some of my own. Especially since you didn't indicate how experienced you are with the area, and with the weather out here.

1) Carry a good canteen. Drink deep in the morning before leaving the camp and make sure its full before you leave. CO has some hellacious weather during the season and it'll go from cool and dry to hot and dry in a heartbeat sometimes.

2) Carry a decent survival kit (including first aid supplies), including 2 different ways to make a fire. Yeah, you'll be hunting with a group, but still bad things happen. YOu could get caught by a sudden cloudy day turned blizzard, and having a way to warm up is a good idea.

3) Good gloves. Like socks I believe these should be wool. Neoprene if you have to go synthetic. Both keep your hands warmish when wet.

4) Wear layers.

5) Take it slow. Especially if you aren't used to the altitude. If you find yourself starting to breathe hard, take a breather. I don't know how many hikers/hunters I've seen that have failed to do that, and ruined what would otherwise be a good trip.

6) If you have it, carry a small handgun and get a small game license. Towards the end of the day, potting a grouse, or a rabbit (when they are in season) goes a long day towards making a long hot, hard day with no deer seen a great day of hunting.

As for field dressing... Well I've got my way of doing it, everyone else has their way. +1 to the "sharp knife". Boots, well if you don't have a pair now, buy one today and start wearing them around the house/in the garage/while doing yardwork. They don't have to be insulated, but if they aren't make sure you can still get them on without being too tight while wearing thick pair of wool socks and a thinner pair of cotton (I like tight thin cotton socks under wook, simply to keep abrasion down).
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Old July 8, 2007, 09:25 AM   #25
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Based on my last experience with a new hunter:

1. You can't buy your way to a successful hunt. Spending thousands of dollars on gear won't help you get a deer. You don't need a range finder, special electronic ear protection, 18 million calls, and/or other gadgets. Most of that stuff will just weigh you down and make noise when you move. Whatever you do, don't brag about how much your uber-special rifle and super scope (and the rest of your gear) cost. Not saying you'll do this, but man....the last newbie we hunted with was driving me crazy with price quotes. And a beat up old Marlin lever gun will take an animal just as well as the super-special Weatherby that cost thousands of dollars.

2. Know your rifle and scope before you hunt. That means actually shoot it before the morning of the hunt. If you ask your friends how the safety works or how to load the gun the morning of the hunt, they'll be really nervous!

2.5. Make SURE that you sight that scope in before the morning of the hunt. I don't care if some "gunsmith" from the chain store where you purchased the rifle and scope told you that bore-sighting will make the rifle "close enough."

3. You have to be quiet and not move. For example, runny nose? Let it run (don't move those hands). Find a good spot near some good cover and sit there, and do your best not to move. Take some long-lasting candy (like Jolly Ranchers) to help keep your throat from getting dry while you sit there.

4. Gore tex is your friend. Waterproof and breathes. Good gloves and good socks/boots are also necessary. Don't try and break in those boots during the hunt, because blisters will result.

5. You are in the mountains, so you'll need a good survival kit, extra jacket, socks, etc. The GPS sounds like a good idea (that's one gadget that's good for a "directionally challenged" person such as myself).

6. Get set up in an area fairly close to a more experienced hunting buddy, so if you do shoot one, he or she can moosey down to your area and help you gut and clean. See if you can find a good spot with a make-shift rest (tree branch, log, etc.) -- see below.

7. If you see one, wait for a good broad-side shot. Trying to hurry a shot will make you miss (ask me how I know ). Use a rest whenever possible. If you miss and the animal runs off, don't move! There may be other animals just out of sight in the same area. Wait for them to show themselves.

That's the best I can do for right now. Good luck, and have fun!

Edited to add: spot and stalk? O.K. Get a good pair of binocs, and follow the lead of the more experienced hunters. Sorry I didn't initially notice that part of your post.
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