Peer Review: How To Hunt
June 24, 2019 How to Guides, Dove, Duck, Quail, Turkey, Whitetail Deer, Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin, Bow, Muzzleloader, Rifles, Shotguns
We need as many new hunters as we can get, and to put it simply, this is how you get started.
As veteran hunters, we are always looking for the next, greatest tip ever to help us find the success that we really want. We stay tuned in to our own personal hunting community—the friends and family that we grew up with—and keep each other apprised of the newest and latest gear, conditions, and even locations for new hunting land.
As lifelong hunters, we don’t so much think about how to hunt as we do plan it and carry it out, but we should, so for those of you that have been hunting for many years and may see much herein that is old news, take it and share it with someone new to our passion. So many of us were brought up around the outdoors so that hunting and fishing were the norm, that we just see it as basic and the reality of what we do and love. But what about those who have always wanted to try, but never really had someone to show them?
For those folks with the inclination, we need to come together as the hunting community and help them gather the information they need to make good decisions about research, planning, gear, licensing, preparation, practice, and maybe most importantly a hunting location.
It may be as simple as deciding which species it is that you want to hunt, or what firearm or bow you wish to use, but it really comes down to research, preparation, and practice. Once that you have decided what it is that you are going to target the game is on, and since deer hunting is probably the most popular of all the species, we’ll use that as the main example.
Since most or all of the 50 U.S. states have some kind of public hunting land (even Hawaii) you can rest assured that you will be able to target at least some form of indigenous species wherever you live. The key is to pick one out and learn everything that you can about it, like for instance deer.
Many folks have started right out with deer hunting—considered a big game animal—because it was a family favorite. Even at that, most of us started out hunting small game like rabbits, squirrels, pheasants, or ducks. In that case you will still need to find out as much as you can about the individual species if you want to have the best chance at success once you are in the field and chasing them.
Knowing which species is your desired target now will allow you to choose which implement to use to take it that will give you the best chance or even create the most enjoyable method. For a beginner, using a bow to target pheasants, for instance, would be like trying a flyrod to catch a shark- you can do it, and it’s been done, but the chance of success is quite small and it generally remains a method for someone with great experience.
Generally speaking the venerable 12-gauge shotgun is the all-around and most common firearm used to take everything from ducks and pheasants to turkeys and deer. Bow and arrow hunting for whitetail deer is usually a more advanced way of hunting them, but many kids do it now as a rule rather than an exception, showing you that anyone can do it with the right system, a good trainer, and a good amount of practice.
Centerfire or high-powered rifles are much the same in that they need to be used with great caution, usually by starting out on a firing range with a proper instructor. These high-powered firearms give the hunter a further reach—out to hundreds of yards—along with the ability to take larger, more aggressive game.
Whatever the case, don’t be afraid to quiz friends or family that are hunters: there are no dumb questions. One of their first responses will be to lead you to your state’s DNR, INR, or DEC website or information booklets so that you can review the state’s license policy and consider your local game laws.
These same websites and information booklets will now lead you to your local hunter safety course instructors and the classes that they run to make all ages of prospective hunters better informed, and, of course, safer in the woods. Most states even make it a requirement to have a course certificate to even obtain a legal license to hunt.
Many states, including Ohio, New York, California, and Texas now offer online safety certifications for prospective new hunters, but it’s our suggestion that you attend one in person to get the maximum effect. In fact, some states require both. The bottom line is that even the most veteran hunters continue throughout their hunting lives to maintain an abject form of hunting safety at all times, and expect their hunting companions to do the same.
Part of your preparation will need to come in the form of choosing what approach or tactic you will employ. Most deer hunters choose to hang portable tree stands in trees, use tree climbing stands, or even build homemade tree stands. Many deer hunting enthusiasts also employ ground blinds, which can be very useful and effective—especially for those adverse to heights—but they are much more prone to safety issues. For instance, ground hunting for deer during the open firearms season is inherently more dangerous due to the possibility of rifle rounds, deer slugs, or even muzzleloader rounds passing too close, especially knowing that these types of ammunition are very powerful.
Bird hunters whose aim it is to chase ducks, pheasants, or grouse find out early on that the use of a dog is fundamentally much more beneficial. Now you will need to add into the mix the cost of an animal, including the obvious training that it will need to be useful in the woods, fields, and swamps. Veteran waterfowl hunters will also tell you that most states (if not all of them) require steel shot loads for duck and goose hunting which is inherently more expensive.
Now will be the time to become familiar and proficient with your firearm or bow of choice. Part of that proficiency will come in the form of knowing what that firearm can do, what ammunition it uses, and how to use it safely. There can be no overestimating the value of a good, professional instructor to help a novice hunter begin his or her search for value and safety.
Bowhunting enthusiasts, especially the veteran ones, understand that they had to begin somewhere. Many were lucky enough to have the backyard to fire their first bow-shots, but most people started off, that’s right, you guessed it, down at the local archery range. The benefit of using these ranges is that they can and will immediately be able to direct you to the correct measure of the bow that you suit you the best. Terms such as draw weight, brace heights, and cams may seem like another language at first, but then your research has just begun.
Don’t let simple things like terminology sway you. Every hunter that has this knowledge already in their memory banks and in fact right down in their soul had to start right where you are: the beginning.
Even the simple 12-gauge shotgun can come with multiple terms and multiple accessories such as single barrel, double barrel, (including side-by-side and over-under) pump action, and semi-automatic (also known as the auto-loader) A quick search of these terms and phrases will lead you to a plethora of information including as many pictures as you want so there can be no mistaking what it is that you are looking for.
My book “The Hunter’s Way” is broken down into four similar sections, so it should come as no surprise the similarities found herein. Now that you’ve gotten yourself this far, you have found your place to hunt. Scouting is a term you may have heard many times when it comes to the hunt so you should be quite familiar with it. Knowing the lay of the land that you plan to hunt can be quite important, to a downright must. Some public hunting areas are rather large and complicated, while others are smaller and less fragmented. Knowing which category your area falls into can make the difference between getting lost and getting your prize out of the woods.
Setting up to hunt an area is one thing, but getting home safely every single time is the most important thing.
While hunting veterans like ourselves did not have access to today’s technology (and we were fine without it) it is still the order of the day to make sure to carry a cell phone or a good model radio into the field with you. Along with these should be a completed check list of items that can carry you through an entire day, or more importantly an entire night! Why? Because you should be prepared for any eventuality when leaving “civilization” to spend time in the woods, including getting lost.
Knowing the weather conditions before you leave is a must, along with knowing weather conditions common to the area that you plan to hunt. It may be sunny and nice when you leave, but what will it be like when you plan to go home? Always dress for the conditions like it will change: you can always take an item of clothing off if you get hot, but you cannot put on an item of clothing on that you do not have if you get cold.
A crucial part of the planning of every hunt: tell friends and family of your plans and where you will be, particularly the landowner if you are hunting on private property.
A big part of the research that you’ve done should have dealt with the possibility of success. You just downed your first deer, now you have to field dress it and get it out of the woods. This is not so much an issue with small game as the pouch in your vest will carry the game, but at this point, you should already know your animal’s anatomy and be ready to use a knife to dress it out. Part of an ethical hunt is knowing that you must make every effort to track and dispatch a wounded animal on sight, as every hunter has had to do since the dawn of hunting.
Safety during the hunt insists that you know exactly what your target is, and what is beyond, or behind it before you take the shot. This also includes the choice not to take shots at quickly moving animals, animals that are too far away, or across roadways.
Until you are proficient at hunting you should stick to going afield with a partner or partners. Safety in numbers has always been an axiom that has defined hunting, but many good, responsible members of the hunting community have been going into the woods and fields by themselves for many years, and doing it quite safely. This can be you with some research and preparation, keeping in mind that age old proverb: you can’t teach experience.
The bottom line is that the hunting community needs you. Every single hunter out there now that calls themselves a long-time hunter started right where you are now. It’s up to us to extend an open hand to these new folks that only want the same chance that we had, but never had someone to show them how.
Until then you can set your sights on land of your own by simply cruising through our website, to your hearts content, at all the possibilities by clicking every state on the map at our home page, check access to premium land leases, maps and tools. If you’re interested, check out our giveaway page to see what might be yours for the taking.