If you are new to hunting, you are most likely overwhelmed at the prospect of starting out. Between choosing your target animals and obtaining the proper equipment and licenses necessary to legitimately hunt, the amount of information needed to start this exciting and life-altering venture is vast.
Rest assured, with some simple decisions made and some education with respect to tools and licenses that are required, you’ll be on a wonderful journey of reconnecting to the land and learning a valuable and enjoyable life skill. Let’s dive into Hunting 101: What You Need To Know To Get Started:
Tip #1: Decide What Type Of Hunting You Want To Do
Decisions, decisions…..there are many types of hunting that you may choose from. You might want to start with small game, fish, and birds. If you are on the more adventurous side, you might want to pursue large game. The area in which you live and the types of game that are accessible to you will also dictate what your choice may be. You’ll have to decide if your choice of game requires a rifle or crossbow hunting; this will have an impact on the type of equipment that you choose to purchase as you begin your hunting journey. Start small, and branch out with additional types of hunting and other animals once you have become comfortable with your first choices.
Tip #2: Obtain The Proper Licenses
For each type of game that you are considering hunting for, you’ll need the appropriate license to do so. In addition, most states require a hunter safety card, which can be obtained upon completion of a hunter safety certification course. This type of course will cover the basics of hunting, important safety tips to follow, and the type of equipment that will be most helpful in aiding you. Thanks to the convenience of the internet, much of this training can be completed online in the comfort of your own home. Take advantage of this important step in your hunting journey; you want to make sure you are starting off right.
Tip #3: Partner Up With More Experienced Hunters
There is no substitute for proper instruction from those who have gone before you. Experienced hunters have knowledge of hunting and fishing laws, as well as firsthand knowledge of where to go to find game. Finding hunting partners that you can begin with to gain valuable experience will be an asset to you as you branch off on your own.
Tip #4: Familiarize Yourself With State And Local Laws
Finding the proper land to hunt on is almost as challenging as the hunt itself. Check with local chamber of commerce offices and county offices to determine where it is permitted; many of these institutions have detailed maps that outline where hunting land is located. Follow all laws and ordinances to the best of your ability to reduce the possibility of fines and legal issues. A general rule of thumb to follow is, if you don’t know if the land you are considering is accessible, ask.
Tip #5: Wear And Carry The Proper Equipment
Since hunter education became mandatory in order to receive a hunting license, injuries and deaths attributed to hunting accidents have decreased by over 70 percent. In order to stay safe when hunting, observe the following spoken (and unspoken) rules for safety:
- Wear regulation, brightly colored clothing. Hunter orange is a standard color for safety and visibility.
- Know how to operate your hunting equipment; know the range of your gun or crossbow.
- Always identify your target before firing.
- Never shoot at a sound or movement. Assume it is another hunter unless you can see the animal.
- Be aware of your surroundings and on the defensive at all times.
- Make sure all equipment is properly maintained and in good working condition.
- When using camouflage blinds, make sure other hunters know that you are in the area.
- If you are involved in an incident or accident, report it to local law authorities immediately.
- Always carry or properly dispose of animals that are hunted.
Observing these guidelines for safety and accountability will ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable hunting experience.
Tip #6: Know What To Do With Your Kill
With experience comes valuable knowledge; perhaps the most nerve-wracking part of hunting for a novice is knowing what to do with your kill. Depending on the time of year and your environment, the rules will differ somewhat, but there is generally a process to follow when trying to preserve your game. After you have brought your animal in from the field, you will have a finite amount of time to skin the animal, remove the innards, and cut it in such a way that you can begin to cool the meat to a temperature that prohibits bacterial growth. Much of this knowledge is out there in books, videos, and online; familiarize yourself with some of these processes before you go out, and by all means, take an experienced game dresser with you on your first few trips so you can learn as you go. There are laws that prohibit leaving dead animals on hunting property; you’ll have to know what to do with your kill in order to maintain honorary status as a hunter. Remember that even the most experienced hunter once had the privilege of a first kill as well; be patient with yourself as you go, and enjoy the process of learning to live off the land once more as you appreciate what nature’s bounty has provided us.
Hunting is a valuable life skill; one that takes patience, courage, and stamina to develop. It is not for the faint of heart—commit to learning the process and grow as you humbly seek the knowledge and wisdom that our forefathers mastered. You’ll create a legacy that you can leave your own children as you become a master hunter yourself.