How To Get Into Hunting | The Ultimate Beginners Guide
“Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the forest and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person,” said the famous bow hunter Fred Bear. In the modern day where most people live in the concrete jungles of sprawling metropolitan areas, the attraction of hunting is growing for the reason that Bear cited – it gives people a chance to immerse themselves in the outdoors. For such a person who longs to know how to get into hunting, there are some important steps to follow.
Gain Hunting Education
There are several ways a person new to hunting can become educated about the sport.
Contact State Conservation Organizations
Hunting once simply consisted of a pioneer stepping out of his cabin with a loaded musket and taking aim at game for the evening’s supper. Today, it is much more involved, with hunting being regulated by each state with governmental agencies tasked with conserving natural resources. This change began in the late 1800s as sportsmen watched wildlife decrease drastically from wasteful types of hunting. The famous naturalist Jonathan Muir, known as the “Father of the National Parks,” founded the Sierra Club, which began the modern conservation movement. President Theodore Roosevelt was another leading figure in the beginning days of conservation. He founded the Boone and Crockett Club in 1887. One of the goals of that group is to promote the preservation of large game in the United States through enactment and enforcement of hunting laws.
This has led to the establishment of conservation departments in each state that study, oversee, and educate citizens about hunting. These agencies are an ideal way for a person to learn much about hunting. Some agencies produce monthly magazines that profile various types of hunting in the region. Often, they will conduct short seminars focused on different skills or issues in the sport. They also provide hunter education training for new hunters. Since these are state agencies, the resources they provide are often free or available for a nominal charge.
Enroll in Hunter’s Safety Education
In the early days of state regulation of outdoor sports, individuals wishing to hunt simply had to purchase a license which permitted them to hunt the particular game of the current season. After many tragic accidents involving firearms during the hunting seasons, states began to require beginning hunters to undergo a hunter’s safety education course. The National Rifle Association designed the first course in 1949, and since that time state agencies have followed suit and developed such programs.
These courses generally have two requirements: proficient knowledge of hunter safety and demonstration of skills necessary for safe hunting. After classroom instruction, students often are required to pass a written test about hunter safety and then must attend a skills demonstration class to display their ability to handle a firearm safely. Basic hunting knowledge and proper field “etiquette” is provided, which is very helpful to the novice hunter.
Join a Hunting Group
Another important step toward becoming a hunter is to join a hunting group. Each specific type of hunting has several non-profit groups focused on preserving and expanding its particular sport. The following is a description of some of the largest of these:
This group has 145,000 members in 700 local chapters nationwide. It is focused on preserving upland habitat that is important for pheasants. The annual membership fee is $35.
Boone and Crockett Club
This oldest of the hunting advocacy groups has played an important role in lobbying for national legislation to promote conservation and preserve hunting for the future. Some of its notable victories have been legislation that created the national parks system, the Federal Duck Stamp Act, and the Wildlife Restoration Act. The annual membership fee is $35.
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
This group was established in 1984 to protect the North American elk population and preserve its habitat and the ability of future generations to hunt elk. It has opened up 911,000 acres of land for elk hunting through its efforts. There are 500 chapters with 220,000 members. The annual membership fee is $35.
Quality Deer Management Program
Though smaller than the other groups, these 60,000 members work to promote healthier deer populations with more rewarding hunting experiences. It focuses on including beginning hunters in its group, which makes it a good choice for a novice. The annual membership fee is $35.
This group has 700,000 members and works to protect waterfowl habitat. It has helped to maintain or restore 13.8 million acres of nesting grounds for waterfowl. The annual membership fee is $35. You may also want to look into a good kayak for duck hunting.
Mule Deer Foundation
This group was founded in 1988 after the mule deer and black-tail deer population decreased dramatically due to a severe winter in 1983-84. It focuses on restoring, improving, and protecting mule deer habitat. The annual membership is $35.
National Wild Turkey Federation
This group began in 1973. It promotes conservation efforts focused on wild turkeys that are scientifically based. Though there were only 1.5 million wild turkeys when the group began, today there are 7 million. The annual membership fee is $35.
Safari Club International
This group has 55,000 members in 190 chapters across the world. Its mission is to protect wildlife habitat and promote appreciation of nature and wildlife. It has a strong lobbying strategy, having spent over $140 million the last 18 years to protect hunting rights. The annual membership fee is $65.
This group began in 1978 and is dedicated to protection of hunting rights through sponsoring federal legislation. The membership fee is $35 each year.
National Rifle Association
This is the largest hunting group with almost five million members. It focuses on defending gun rights through lobbying. The membership fee is $30 annually.
Becoming a member of an advocacy group benefits the beginning hunter in many ways. First, it helps the novice investigate a specific type of hunting before investing heavily in the necessary hunting gear. Second, it puts him or her into contact with experienced hunters in that field who can be a great source of information. Finally, it gives the beginner access to cutting-edge information in that particular field of hunting, since most groups employ numerous wildlife biologists to study the specific game animal of the group.
Choose the Correct Firearm
First, the new hunter needs to determine which type of firearm is used for the chosen type of hunting. The following is a description of each of the three basic types of firearms used in hunting:
These rifles shoot a large caliber bullet and are used in hunting larger animals. There is a wide range of sizes, with the smaller caliber centerfire rifles like .270, .30-30, and .243 being used to hunt deer. Rifles that shoot 7mm, .30-06, or larger caliber cartridges are used to hunt elk, caribou, and moose.
These are smaller caliber rifles, usually .22 or .17 caliber. They are used to hunt small game, mainly rabbits and squirrels. Since the cartridge is smaller with less powder, the bullet has less power. This is the reason that most states have outlawed hunting bigger game with rimfire rifles.
Shotguns come in a variety of sizes, ranging from the small .410 gauge, to the large .12 gauge. They are used primarily for bird hunting and small game. This is because shotguns have a shorter range than a rifle, but are able to be fired repeatedly at a quick pace. That makes them a good choice for hunting a startled dove or a running rabbit.
Within each one of these categories there is also a wide range of designs, each which operates differently. With such a wide variety of firearms available, it is good if beginners try several different types of firearms before making a purchase. Local gun dealers are a good source of information. They can refer novices to local gun ranges where they can rent firearms. This allows the beginner shooting experience with each style. After a few sessions shooting different firearms, the new hunter can choose the type that fits him or her.
Once a new hunter has found the right firearm, he or she should practice shooting. This involves more than just casually visiting a range and shooting a few cartridges at a target. To develop enough skill to make the eventual first hunting trip as successful as possible, a novice should follow a practice plan that includes the following:
The Right Goal
Experts recommend a goal of placing shots strategically for the game they are hunting. For example, if a person is hunting deer, he/she would try to place shots within a 9” circle at various distances. This is the amount of area that a deer’s vital organs take up when standing broadside to a hunter. Any shot within that area will lead to a good, clean kill.
Shooting Bench Practice
This is how a new hunter should begin building shooting skill—by first shooting from a bench that provides a solid base for the firearm. The novice should begin with the shooting target placed 25 yards away. When the beginner can consistently shoot groups of three shots within the 9” circle, he/she can then set the target at 100 yards down range. Since a bullet fired from a rifle drops as it travels away from the muzzle, the hunter must become familiar with the particular trajectory path of his/her specific firearm. As the novice practices the three-shot groups at 100 yards, he/she will be able to “zero” the firearm’s sights through adjustments. Some hunters adjust their sights high, so that at 100 yards the bullet will hit 3” high when aimed at the bulls-eye. By setting the firearm up this way, the hunter is then able to aim right at the correct spot at an extreme distance of 300 yards. This is the last distance the new https://intern.textbroker.com/a/openorder-write-submit.php?hdl_id=18288762hunter should practice at until he/she can group three shots in the 9” circle.
Field Conditions Practice
Very few hunters shoot game under ideal conditions, with the firearm braced against a steady, solid base. For this reason, a new hunter should not be satisfied with becoming an accurate shot from a shooting bench. After mastering the three-shot groups at various distances, the beginning hunter should try to simulate the field conditions of the first hunt. This means shooting from a variety of positions. It also helps to purchase inexpensive decoy targets and place them at different distances on the range. This is good to do when the range is not busy and will require the permission of the range master. If a hunter has access to private land with proper geography that provides a backstop, it makes it much easy to practice field condition hunting. Some experts even encourage doing some vigorous aerobic exercise for a few minutes before shooting. This will elevate blood pressure and heart rate, mimicking the adrenaline rush many new hunters experience when their game comes into their firearm sights. When the beginning hunter can place three-shot groups within the 9” circle on the decoy targets under field conditions, he/she is well prepared for the first hunt.
Find a Mentor
A new hunter should find a mentor. This may be the most important step a beginner hunter may take for several reasons. First, a mentor has invaluable knowledge of the local hunting area that cannot be gained through a book or the Internet. Second, he/she likely has access to prime hunting grounds which the new hunter might never be able to hunt on his or her own. Finally, having a mentor can make the initial attempts at hunting much more enjoyable and successful.
There are several ways to find a mentor. The following is a list of a few suggestions:
Contact the State Conservation Department
Most state agencies that oversee wildlife and hunting have developed mentor programs for beginning hunters. For example, the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries has an Adult Mentored Hunt program that provides a new hunter with a veteran hunter as a guide.
Check Out Hunting Groups
Most national hunting organizations recognize the value of mentored hunting and provide such experiences. Sometimes these are focused on youth hunter. Others provide beginning adult hunters with mentored hunting experiences. The National Wild Turkey Federation has a JAKES program for youth (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics, and Sportsmanship). This involves a weekend of training followed by actual hunting. Pheasants Forever local chapters sometime sponsor mentored hunts for youth. Over the last 15 years, 60,000 youth have gone on these guided experiences. Becoming an Outdoors Woman is a group dedicated to providing hunting education to women through seminars and three-day programs.
Attend National Hunting and Fishing Day Events
Since 1972, the fourth Saturday of every September has been recognized as National Hunting and Fishing Day. State governments and local groups sponsor events that are often free, focusing on introducing people to outdoor sporting activities. Such events are ideal places to meet local experts and make connections with would-be mentors.
“Hunting, fishing, drawing, and music occupied my every moment. Cares I knew not, and cared naught about them,” said John James Audubon. The freedom from cares that hunting provided this famous naturalist can be found by anyone simply by getting into the world of hunting.