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Old October 24, 2007, 01:04 PM   #1
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Rookie Hunter Mistakes

I've been hunting for a couple of years, but I would like to ask the more experienced hunters for lessons they have learned over time. What common beginner mistakes have you made or seen others make that you can point out?
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Old October 24, 2007, 01:28 PM   #2
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I've been hunting for more than a couple of years, but I still consider myself a rookie. Anyway....

1. Not sighting in the gun before opening day.

2. Not being familiar with how the gun works (loading, safety, etc)

3. Taking too much gear with you. You don't need a bunch of calls, rangefinders, etc.

4. Wearing regular earplugs while hunting.

5. Not bringing snacks/water with you.

6. Not bringing warm clothing.

7. Moving too much, especially hands.

8. Shifting from spot to spot in an endless quest to find the "perfect" spot.

P.S. My list is based on my own mistakes, except for Nos. 2 & 4.
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Old October 24, 2007, 01:54 PM   #3
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Huge +1 to #8 on Fremmer's list. Everytime you get settled in, you will see a spot that looks a little better - maybe can see a little further or the sun would be better (either more sun if you are cold, or less if you are hot), or a million other reasons.

Hardest thing for me, and it still is, is keeping really focused on everything around me. I have started taking more frequent breaks so when I am hunting, I am focused. At the mid-point of a long hike, I will often grad a quick cat-nap to refresh.
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Old October 24, 2007, 01:57 PM   #4
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Wearing white while hunting whitetails

Wearing Black, Red, White, or Blue while turkey hunting

Bring gun, forget ammo

too much coffee (or tea) and you really gotta go just as that prize game animal wanders into view
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Old October 24, 2007, 03:48 PM   #5
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Last night on Jim Zumbo Outdoors, on the Outdoor Channel, Mr. Zumbo showed up for a mulie hunt, and had a rifle in .300 RUM, and ammo for a .338 RUM. He couldn't hunt - they had to go back to town to get ammo. He's not exactly a rookie.

I am a rookie still, but I'd say:

-Moving too fast through the woods (slow down - take a step or 3, wait, take a step, wait - I do this from once I get about 125 yards from my intended hunting spot, to the hunting spot). You want to get in and out of that hunting spot very quietly and inconspicuously. You also want to approach the hunting spot in such a way that the wind won't be directed from you to where you think the deer are (bedded or feeding). I've got deer on the brain, since that's what I'm doing this weekend, so all my answers are leaning toward deer hunting.

-Yeah, moving too much. I'm guilty of this - I think I must be the "itchiest" person who ever lived - always scratching my face, head, body.... but I try to move my hand up sloooooowly, then back down sloooowly after scratching.

-Not using the wind in your favor. Walking downwind (with the wind in your back) just ain't gonna work, so don't even try to hunt while walking with the wind. I'll walk fast with the wind, since you're gonna be scented anyway, but then when I turn and walk into the wind, I start going slowly.

-Not having warm enough clothes for the morning - this includes tying boots too tight and other warmth-related items. In the early and mid-season, you also need a backpack so that you can shed layers and carry back the outer layers of clothing once it warms up after 10 or 11 am - or else you will sweat a lot.
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Old October 24, 2007, 04:19 PM   #6
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Some of these have already been mentioned, but I would like to elaborate on a few things...

1. Spend the extra money to get quality warm gear. For years, I would buy a pair of insulated boots at Wal-Mart, and then the next year I would be buying another pair. Same thing with jackets, etc... I recently purchased a nice pair of hunting boots (from Cabela's) and they have been great. The most frustrating thing in the world is to be sitting in your stand/blind and be freezing to death.

2. Bring everything you NEED, not every cool hunting tool you bought off TV last year. The first year I went hunting, I had a backpack full of everything you could imagine. I also had a big duty belt on with every holster/tool for deer hunting you could imagine as well. I was too loud and I was very uncomfortable. Now, I carry just what I need in a little camo pack that I can slide in my pocket. It makes you much more versitale and you can concentrate on your hunt.

3. Be VERY familiar with your gun. Like Fremmer said, you should have your gun sighted in a be able to unload/load in a flash. You should also be able to do this quietly in case you miss and the animal is standing there wondering what just happened. It happened to a buddy of mine. He had shot at a nice buck and missed because he was so nervous. The deer just stood there and looked around wondering what just happened. He was so excited that he cycled the bolt without taking into consideration the noise he was making. It was that noise that scared the deer off, not the gunshot.

4. Be sure of your animal before you shoot it... (What do I mean?... Let me explain...) I know we have all been there, you're looking down the scope at the animal you are about to shoot and you're thinking in the back of your mind, do I really want to shoot this one or should I wait for a bigger one. - Concentrate on your shot if you are going to shoot, do it. If you have doubts, let it walk. Don't shoot at the deer and miss or wound the deer because your mind wasn't clear or say "I could always shoot it, and if I miss I wasn't supposed to shoot that deer. Clear your mind of everything when you are making your shot and put your excitement aside; you will feel great about yourself and your hunt when you track your animal and you have been patient and done everything right.

5. Be patient. After you shoot a deer, don't jump up and take off trying to find the animal. Give it time to lay down and pass away peacefully. 2 reasons... 1. The animal will not try to keep running as it will if it hears you coming and will not be stressed any more than it already is (which can cause the meat to have a really strong game taste - cleaner the kill, the less gamey a deer taste.) 2. I think it is only sportsman like to let the animal die in peace without you trying to track it down. (Plus it makes for a lot shorter time tracking the animal)

6. Turn your safety ON after you take your last shot. There is not a worst feeling in the world than tracking down your world class buck only to find you have been walking around with the safety OFF and a round in the chamber. It takes some of the glory out of that special day.

7. Be prepared to clean your animal after you find it. Nothing worse than leaving your field dressing knife at home. Also, if you plan to have someone else process your game, call ahead and find out how much they charge and when they are open. If you plan to process it yourself, bring everything you need to clean/skin/transport your deer to a cold storage place. Just think ahead.

8. IMPORTANT!!! Take care of your animal after you have found it in a very polite manner. There are already enough people in the world who hate hunters, and we shouldn't fuel their fire by cleaning animals and leaving their guts/hide out in the open for all to see.

Sorry this is so long, but you asked!
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Old October 24, 2007, 04:35 PM   #7
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-Good waterproof boots. I had wet feet on a couple of my first hunts. No fun.
-Water. I have had times when I wish I brought an extra bottle badly.
-snack. Even if you dont plan on eating.
-Deer tag!! I forgot it on a hunt years ago.
-Dont get too excited when you see deer they might not be legal. Check em over. I have seen multiple cases of illegal deer being taken in haste over the years.
-Oh yeah and dont forget to take a dump before you head out. You dont want to scare game away.
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Old October 24, 2007, 05:03 PM   #8
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Or at least take TP and/or baby wipes...
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Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do. -Potter Stewart
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Old October 24, 2007, 07:15 PM   #9
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I climb up first and then haul my gear up with a rope. Always unload the gun before you climb up. Remember to chamber a round when you get settled.

Once you think you can't sit another minute, make a vow to yourself to stick it out another 20 min. Often deer start moving again around lunchtime. Other hunters are walking to their trucks and they push deer around.

Don't give up on a spot, or yourself, if you don't see anything after a few trips. That's why they call it hunting. I've gone whole seasons without seeing a deer in the woods. I also had years where I saw deer on every trip. It happens both ways.
To a much greater extent than most mechanical devices, firearms are terribly unforgiving of any overconfidence, complacency or negligence.
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Old October 24, 2007, 08:42 PM   #10
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A lot of good points here. My tips would be-
* Learn to be still. Movement alerts others to where you are.
* Wear neutral colors and dress in layers.
* Always hunt into the wind.
* Always carry water and a snack.
* Always look carefully when you see movement out of the corner of your eye and can't quite figure out what it was.
* Try not to cover too much ground.
* Plan your route and stick to it, or you may find yourself a long way from home when it gets dark.
* Have good, sturdy, well broken-in boots and wool socks on.
* If you have to move, move slowly and watch all around.
* Carry a sharp knife and some survival supplies (matches, TP, space blanket, etc).
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Old October 24, 2007, 08:46 PM   #11
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Not being calm enough to stick it out in my stand for long periods, have learned that presistance pays
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Old October 24, 2007, 08:46 PM   #12
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Don't ask me how I know this but...

Going with "friends" that don't have the sense that God gave rocks.

An unsafe buddy can ruin a trip real fast.
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Old October 24, 2007, 08:47 PM   #13
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You've gotten a lot of good advice, I think the major bases have been covered, but I want to add three things.
1. Cover scents and scent lock clothes are a great idea. But they do NOT make up for not keeping the wind at your face.
2. When tracking a wounded deer, don't walk on the deers tracks. Get your face down to the ground to look for blood sign, go slow, and mark the blood trail with bits of toilet paper.
3. BE PATIENT! Don't ever be in a hurry, or you will miss whats out there.
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Old October 25, 2007, 12:33 AM   #14
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Leaving the sling on after settling in at the stand and having it catch on something so you get busted by a nice 6 pointer. Darn!
To kill something as great as a duck just to smell the gunpowder is a crime against nature. - Alan Liere
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Old October 25, 2007, 03:23 AM   #15
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Take the sling off your rifle, put it in the car or in your pack in case you need it. Ive lost deer before while taking the rifle off my shoulder when it should have been in my hand...
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Old October 25, 2007, 04:58 AM   #16
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don't waste your money on hunting gimmicks like Scent Lok, Gumoflage, SlingStix and/or any other "miracle" products.
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Old October 25, 2007, 10:17 AM   #17
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I've forgoten ammo, knives, and tags before. I've switched grains of bullets before as well without re-zeroing my rifle. Been caught not paying attention and paid for it by loosing some good animals, while walking to and from where I was hunting. I've definatly taken too much stuff on huntiung trips before, but it takes a couple of times to figure out what you reall need and what you don't.
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Old October 25, 2007, 10:44 AM   #18
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+1 on the sling. That's the very first thing I do when I crawl into my stand, also if I'm going to be still hunting. Spend the money on good quality, comfortable, waterproof boots. I have 4 pairs, one for warmer, drier conditions, one for cold and snow, high rubber boots for water/wet and one heavy pair for very cold, stand hunting. Good rain gear is a must also.

Oh, and when turkey hunting with a pump, always remember to jack a second shell in, just in case it's needed. But that NEVER happened to me.
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Old October 25, 2007, 10:59 AM   #19
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And don't over exert and get sweating going in..or you will be freezing later, not to mention smelly.
To kill something as great as a duck just to smell the gunpowder is a crime against nature. - Alan Liere
Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve. - George Bernard Shaw
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