Hunting is not only an addicting hobby, it’s also an incredibly beneficial life skill. Most people who hunt are in it for the thrill and sport, though there are certainly people who hunt as a way of life.
As a recreational activity, hunting gets people outside and into the wilderness. It’s a great way to be more active and learn a lot about the cycle of life. Of course, even these hunters use the meat from their kills.
If you’re new to the scene, you might not know how to start hunting. After all, where do you go? What weapons do you use?
We’re here to help get you started. Keep reading for a complete guide on hunting for beginners.
Enroll in a Hunter’s Education Course
First, understand that hunting in most states is illegal if you haven’t completed a hunter’s safety course. In some states, these are only required for people under a certain age.
If your state requires a hunter’s education course for all hunters, however, this is where to start your journey. You need to get your hunter’s license to hunt legally. Furthermore, these courses teach you the basics of hunting.
You’ll learn all about gun safety, hunting etiquette, field-dressing your game, wilderness safety, and some basic first-aid. For this reason, even if your state doesn’t require all hunters to take the class, it might prove advantageous to do so.
Decide What Type of Hunting You Want to Do
Once you’ve completed the necessary hunting course, you can start looking into your preferred hunting style. There are several different categories in which we can break this down.
First, what type of game do you want to hunt? Depending on where you’re hunting, there are:
- And more
When you’re first learning how to start hunting, we highly recommend starting with easier game animals, like deer and antelope. Trying to pack out a moose or elk would be an insane challenge for a first-time hunter. Similarly, hunting bears can be dangerous, particularly for beginners.
Secondly, there are different types of weapons you can use to hunt your game. Primarily, hunting rifles and bows.
Firearms are obviously easier to hunt with. They’re more powerful and can be used from greater distances. Bows, on the other hand, require much closer ranges and more skill.
Find a Veteran Hunter to Be Your Mentor
Any hunting for beginners guide suggests working with a mentor. Find a friend, family member, or co-worker who is an experienced hunter. They can show you the ropes and teach you advanced hunting tips and techniques.
These hunters will have valuable insight into the stalking of animals, covering up your scent, the best local hunting grounds, etc. Ask if you can accompany them on one of their hunting trips. This is far more advisable than going out on your own for the first time.
Research the Type of Game You Are Going to Hunt
One of the most important pieces of hunting advice is to know your prey. The more you research, study, and analyze your prey, the more success you’ll have hunting them in the field.
Determine which type of game you’re going to hunt. Then, spend several hours researching their habits. Answer the following questions:
- When are they most active?
- Where can they be found in your area?
- How sensitive are they to sound and scent?
- Is there a scent you can use to mask your human odor?
- Are there any calls you can use to attract them to your location?
- What are their nesting habits?
- Do they have good vision?
- How close can you generally get before you scare them off?
- Is it better to stalk this prey or hide and wait?
The answers to these questions should provide you with ample tips on how to start hunting this type of prey.
Buy an Appropriate Hunting Rifle
To learn how to start hunting effectively and humanely, you need to figure out what types of guns you need. This will be determined by the type of prey you’re hunting. For example, larger game animals, like moose and elk will require larger, heavier, and more powerful calibers, like .308 and 30-06.
Using too small of a caliber for large game animals can result in a failure to bring them down. This is not ideal for several reasons.
First, not getting a quick kill prolongs the animal’s suffering. Second, if you hit and wound an animal, you’re ethically required to track them and finish the kill, which can take hours, if not longer. In some cases, hunters are never able to catch up to the prey they’ve wounded.
Similarly, if you’re hunting small game, like fowl or antelope, using an over-powered rifle will cause too much trauma to the body. This results in obliterated meat or contaminated meat (if the bowels are opened and spread).
Sighting in Your Rifle and Improving Your Accuracy
When learning how to start hunting, buying a gun is only one small aspect of being an effective and responsible hunter. You also need to learn how to fire it accurately in various conditions. This is another important aspect of being an ethical hunter.
Start by sighting in the rifle in a controlled environment, like the local gun range. Sight your rifle in at the distance you will most likely be hunting from. For most big game hunters, sighting the rifle in at 200 yards is adequate.
Then, practice, practice, practice.Practice shooting while standing with a brace (like a tree), kneeling, lying prone, etc. Your opportunity to take down an animal will not present itself in the ideal setting with a chair and table to mount your rifle on.
You can also invest in upgrades for your weapon, like ballistic advantage barrels that can improve accuracy.
Research the Local Hunting Locations
One of the most important hunting tips is to research the area in which you will be hunting before you go there. Study the terrain and the weather patterns. You need to know what type of environment you’re going to be exposed to.
Big game hunting seasons are in the fall and winter. This means being prepared to traverse the area when it will be wet and cold.
Just as importantly, research the area to find out about potential dangers. This includes dangerous wildlife, like bears, mountain lions, wolves, and snakes. However, the area in which you’re hunting might also be prone to flash floods, rock slides, and other natural hazards.
Invest in the Proper Hunting Gear
A crucial aspect of learning how to start hunting includes collecting the proper gear. Of course, this includes your hunting rifle and the appropriate ammunition. However, there are also things like:
- Spotting scopes
- Hunting packs
- All-terrain boots
- Cold weather gear
- First-aid equipment
- Hunting knife and hatchet
- GPS and navigation equipment
- Hunter’s vests or coats (orange)
- And more
Much of the gear you’ll require depends on where you’re hunting. Additionally, remember to always pack food and water, even if you only plan to be out for a few hours. You might get lost or delayed, and you don’t want to be left without food and water.
Learn How to Pack-Out Game
An important piece of hunting advice is to learn how to pack out the game if you succeed in your hunt. Most adult deer weigh between 150 and 300 pounds. Of course, elk and moose are much, much heavier.
Therefore, while hunting, you must keep this step in mind. If you hit your target, you’ll need to haul it back to your truck. This process can take hours of grueling work.
For this reason, some hunters use four-wheelers or horses to ensure they have the means to get the animal where it needs to be. For large game animals, you must learn how to field dress your kill. Then, you can bring it back in segments.
Learn Some Survival Basics
When learning how to start hunting, you should also pick up a few wilderness survival techniques. Subjecting yourself to the might of mother nature can sometimes lead to unintended results. You might get lost, have an accident, or get stuck weathering a storm overnight.
Regardless, you need to learn some simple survival basics, like:
- How to build a fire
- How to build a shelter
- How to stay warm
- How to signal for help
Taking the time to learn these techniques could end up saving your life.
Get Your Tags, Take It Slow, and Be Patient
Finally, you can start applying for your hunting tags. In most places, you apply for a type of raffle to get certain types of tags. If states allowed every hunter to tag as many animals as they wanted, it could create a population problem.
Once you get your tags, you’re ready to get out into the field. Just remember to take it slow and give yourself plenty of time. Many hunters take several days off to commit to each hunting trip.
Lastly, be patient. Animals have an innate survival instinct and will avoid you at all costs. Tagging your prey will take time and patience.
Do You Know How to Start Hunting?
Now that you know how to start hunting, are you ready to get started? Our guide on hunting for beginners is a great place to start. Just remember to hunt legally, ethically, and safely.
And if you’re looking for more lifestyle advice, hobby ideas, or tips on guns, you’re in the right place. Look through some of our other articles before you go to find the information you need to excel in all areas of your life.