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Old January 19, 2014, 02:02 PM   #1
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Newbie questions

Hello, I'm interested in trying out hunting and had some questions. (Also a suggestion: a sticky with a newbie FAQ might be a good idea).

My wife and I are starting the process of adopting a teenage boy out of foster care. We haven't been matched yet but I'd assume that he has not had many positive male role models in his life, and I thought hunting would be a good way to spend some quality time together. Most boys like guns and the outdoors and learning to shoot and hunt safely could be a very positive experience.

The thing is I don't know much about hunting. I'm looking for some newbie advice. What's a good animal to hunt in Southern New England? I'm not adverse to traveling out to western Massachusetts or upstate New York for a weekend or possibly even into upstate Maine or New Hampshire.

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Old January 19, 2014, 02:39 PM   #2
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First, check your state's DNR or Fish & Game website, and sign up for a Hunter Safety Course. States vary, but it will probably be a prerequisite for a hunting license. They teach a lot more than gun safety, and most instructors are happy to help new hunters. What to hunt? Of course, deer are everywhere. Turkeys, too. Grouse, squirrels, rabbits, and at least when I lived in CT, you could find some decent duck hunting. Lot's of choices. Not everyone will agree with this, but most areas have "shooting preserves" that, for a fee, will release pheasants, quail, etc, and send you out with a guide and some bird dogs. I've only done that once, but I'd do it again. Good luck!
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Old January 19, 2014, 02:44 PM   #3
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Please make sure that you and the boy are capable of killing.
Hunting is easy, killing is not, or shouldn't be.

My son thought he wanted to hunt with me but after careful thought he decided that he didn't really want to kill. He had no problem helping me dress and eat critters but he couldn't get into the killing part.

We spent many many hours at the range shooting all types of firearms but the only thing he ever killed was a tweety bird and that bothered him so badly he never hunted.

I wish you luck in this endeavor. Don't take this step lightly.

Deciding to procure one's own meat is a lifestyle changing event.
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Old January 19, 2014, 06:35 PM   #4
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Please make sure that you and the boy are capable of killing.
Hunting is easy, killing is not, or shouldn't be.
Agree. At this point, with so many variables, I might opt for hiking and camping first.
"He who laughs last, laughs dead." Homer Simpson
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Old January 19, 2014, 06:55 PM   #5
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Try the camping thing first. Think of fun things to do at camp, like bbq big honkin steaks, chips n dip, pop, jerky, dvd an other kid things. Then maybe a walk the steak off thing but don't call it a hike an keep it short. Take him target shooting on off day when big guns are not around and plink an see how he might like the big guns. Watch a you-tube on skinning a rabbit or something and see how he does. Over time you will get the idea. Remember, he is wired differently than you so respect that. Since you are asking, you have that respect thing already in gear. Good start, keep it up.
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Old January 19, 2014, 07:06 PM   #6
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Very good advice k4swb,

Hunting is not for everyone.

Our family has hunted for years for generations.

My brother's come down to hunt all the time. The one brother has a son that came with him when he was about 8 yrs old. He and my brother had talked about hunting many times prior to coming here and the boy had been shooting since he was about 6yrs old. He is very knowledgeable about wildlife for his age and loves to eat all wild game. In all appearance, he seemed as though he was going to be a natural hunter.

Well, he told his dad he wanted to come here to deer hunt our shotgun season. Brother brought him down the night before opening day and they spent the night. The boy seemed very excited with all the 'day before opening day' hype. The next morning, well before daylight as we were getting ready to go out, the boy suddenly started not feeling well. Complaining of an upset stomach. He ended up staying at the house with my wife. When we came back in for lunch, my wife got me off to the side and said(per her conversation with the boy) she thought he really didn't want to see a deer shot let alone try and shoot one himself.

That afternoon, I told my brother what the wife had said and he was unsure of how to talk to him about it. My suggestion to him was to tell the boy that it was okay if he did not want to actually go out on the hunt but if he just wanted to come down and hang out with the guys that that was cool also.

Later on, this nephew brought up to me that he felt bad about not wanting to hunt. I explained to him that hunting neither makes you more or less of a man and assured him that he had nothing to feel badly about. Some people like baseball, some football, some messing with cars or computers... etc., etc.

That same nephew finally went out squirrel hunting with my brother a couple years later and although he didn't want to shoot a squirrel had a great time tromping around in the woods with his dad.

He does love to fish though.

Again, as k4swb stated, take it slow and kinda feel him out. If he takes to hunting, teach him that hunting is not about killing but rather learning the skills of the woods and enjoying/learning nature and the comradery of the hunt.
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Old January 19, 2014, 07:56 PM   #7
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Since you say that you are not presently a hunter, what is your motivation to get involved with hunting with this young fellow?
There's plenty of things to do with firearms and other weapons that don't involve hunting or killing anything.
Just curious why you picked hunting instead of target shooting, or skeet, or archery, or muzzle loaders, or one of the many other forms of sport shooting.
The choices are nearly endless, so why hunting?
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Last edited by g.willikers; January 19, 2014 at 08:27 PM.
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Old January 19, 2014, 08:23 PM   #8
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I wouldn't even think about taking a firearm into New York nor Massachusetts.
One shot, one kill
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Old January 19, 2014, 09:13 PM   #9
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I would start with shooting and see if it leads to hunting. Outdoors activities can also include trapping, fishing, orienteering, wilderness skills and so on. ALL these work to give a well rounded and experienced outdoorsman. Look at the old Boy Scout manuals from the 40s and 50s to get ideas.
Buying military manuals is a great way to get some education on nearly all outdoor activities, and both the Army and the Marine Corps have special manuals for marksmanship, land navigation Survival and so on.

Add to those some good books about hunting and fishing and you have a world of fun begging you to dive in.

Shooting can be many things.

Even slingshots.

All can lead to hunting.

Have fun with your boy. Make yourself the man that he wants to be with and he’ll not look to those he should not be with.
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Old January 19, 2014, 09:23 PM   #10
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I applaud and thank you and your wife for your willingness to give a child a home. More than anything else I pray that this will be a positive experience for you all I'd probably discuss this with your son. Find out for sure if its something he would be interested in. Since you are inexperienced as a hunter it might be good to get with a local hunting club. That's how I learned to hunt safely.
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Old January 19, 2014, 10:59 PM   #11
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I might suggest waterfowl... that is generally an easier hunt, you just sit in a boat surrounded by decoys and wait for them to come in...
ignore my complete lack of capitalization. I still have no problem correcting your grammar.
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Old January 19, 2014, 11:07 PM   #12
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Squirrel hunting is a good start as well.
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Old January 21, 2014, 08:21 AM   #13
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I also agree with what others have said. Take some camping trips, go fishing, that sort of thing. The important thing is spending time together. Hunting should be an afterthought.

Hunting is easy, killing something especially the first time is not. Practicing shooting is something you can do together. I would suggest a lot of practice, and eventually a hunter safety course if he is into the idea of it. Beyond hunting you need to know how to clean your kill, also not the easiest thing to deal with the first few times.

Squirrel was the first game I hunted, and I did it from a very young age. Fairly easy to dress, and I find them to be very tasty animals. I think that it would be best to introduce him to guns, and let him make up his own mind on whether or not he wants to go out into the woods and go hunting. Maybe go hunting by yourself a few times, bring back some meat and gauge his interest in being part of being part of it. He will probably either be enthusiastic about it or he may want no part in it, the point is that he shouldn't be pressured into it one way or the other.
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Old January 21, 2014, 11:33 AM   #14
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As has been said, check with your state about r Hunter safety requirements. If possible, since you also are not that familiar with hunting and firearms, I suggest a classroom version and not just the online version. Then check with local organizations like NWTF and Duck's Unlimited, Pheasant's Forever, etc. Most have mentoring programs for new hunters. Many states also have special hunts and regs for youth/first time hunters giving them opportunities and seasons when other hunters are not out in the field. As with fishing, young hunters should be exposed to hunting something where there is a high possibility of success at first. Squirrels, rabbits or other game that is relatively plentiful in your area is what you should seek. Also, hunting when the weather is more enjoyable(i.e late spring, early fall as compared to dead of winter) helps to keep the young hunter in the field longer. While I have seen kids have reservations about killing squirrels, rabbits and deer, because they are "cute", I have yet to have any young hunter I've mentored feel bad about shooting a turkey.
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Old January 21, 2014, 11:57 AM   #15
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You are blessed !!!

I also agree with what others have said. Take some camping trips, go fishing, that sort of thing. The important thing is spending time together. Hunting should be an afterthought.
When I read, your post, these thought came to me as well. You are going to have a lot on your plate and like most kids, especially foster kids, he is just going to enjoy "any" time you spend with him. I have no doubt that your family, will be blessed. When and if the interest evolves into shooting sports and hunting, he should take the initiative. ....

Currently, I am a Hunter Safety instructor but I also use to be a Scout Master as well as involved with Big-Brother's program. I also have taught/teaching five grandsons and one granddaughter. Most have taken well to hunting and shooting and one is turning into a Rambo . .....

Squirrel hunting is a good start as well.
It's a great start for more reasons than I have space to list. .....

Be Safe !!!
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Old January 22, 2014, 07:01 PM   #16
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I personally would not take a kid (my own or anyone else's, of either gender) hunting for the first time if I were just a newbie myself. This is just my two cents' worth, as a newbie when it comes to anything else except rabbits.

The advice others have given is sound: develop his bushcraft skills first - hiking and equipment, map and compass work, etc. And your hunting skills. Then and only then combine the two.

If you want to start him around guns, start with range work and basic gun handling (emphasising safety & responsibility), and go from there.

Yes, we've got members here whose kids are seen posing proudly with the deer they shot at age nine or ten - but that's with dads who are experienced hunters and whose child grew up with that father and around those guns from day dot. Not saying you won't get there, but this is a very different kettle of fish.
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