Hunting is an increasingly popular pastime for the whole family. With growing numbers of women taking up the sport, the opportunity to create special memories with the whole family in the outdoors is better now than ever before. (“questions | Free PLR Article Directory”) And whether you are an experienced hunter, have been on a couple of duck or deer hunts or are just getting started, there are plenty of questions that need answering along the way.
Most of these are questions you end up musing over for a long time and never bother asking anyone. “These folks have been here before and asking what the draw weight of a bow for hunting elk is will mark you out as an inexperienced dullard.” (“List PLR Content Directory Oklahoma: Introduction to hunting”) But fear not – there are no stupid questions, and the best way to learn about hunting is to experience it. In the pages that follow, we will aim to give you a useful outline of the information you need to get started on your first hunt or a dream adventure for big game.
The key to success in many areas of life is proper preparation. Hunting is an excellent example of this. Regardless of your experience level, being prepared for the hunt will give you a distinct edge over other hunters in the area and can make all the difference between success and failure.
Of course, if you have planned your hunt to the nth degree, there is still every chance you will not bring home a kill. The most important thing to understand is that hunting is much more than running around the wilderness slaughtering animals. It is an experience – one that generations of hunters around the world have learned, taught, and shared with their friends and family across time. And the benefits everyone takes away from that experience vary just as much as the people who hunt.
There is plenty of wildlife out there, as anyone who is ever set foot into the less built-up areas of the world knows. And across North America, you can bet that plenty of people are making plans to hunt at least one thing in their local area in the coming seasons. Commonly hunted animals include the deer and elk, while more exotic species like bear, prong horn and sheep are also hunted in some areas.
If four-legged prey is not your style, there is plenty on offer in the skies as well. Many bird hunters make their start on ducks and then move on to larger wetland birds, like the goose or move to upland bird hunting in pursuit of pheasant, grouse, or quail. Other bird hunters see ducks as the ultimate hunt experience and see little reason to diversify.
There are many keys to a successful hunt, and the first of these is choosing something you will enjoy hunting. If you like camping and spending time in the mountains or woods, then deer, elk or even big game might be what is right for you. If you would rather do hunt in a more limited timeframe, and like the water, then a duck or goose hunt is more likely to match your style and preference.
You will need to consider your physical aptitude for pursuing some game – animals renown for living at higher elevations can present unique challenges for hunters who are not in the best possible shape. That is not to say you need to be superman to hunt, it is important to consider all the variables when choosing your target.
What can be hunted, when you can hunt it, how you can hunt it and where you can hunt it are variables controlled by regional fish and wildlife departments. And even if you think you know what is allowed, the best option is to consult your local fish and wildlife department for an updated copy of the regulations in your area. Many states make the guidelines for hunting available online, which makes researching the regulations for game you are interested in hunting in any given area easy as pie
Choosing The Right Weapons
Once you are familiar with the regulations and decide on the game pursuit that is right for you, you will need to be sure you have the right weapon.
For some folks, this is simply a matter of checking the family gun cabinet to see what is lying around. For others, choosing a weapon is a completely new endeavor that must be carefully considered to get the best results.
First, you will have to decide whether you are going to hunt with a gun or a bow. Some game is best hunted with a gun, easily. But other game can be had with reasonable success using either weapon.
It is important to consider whether a bow is right for you – it requires a different sort of fitness and determination than gun hunting. If you have never used a bow, there are several training courses, books, and DVDs available to help you learn the craft of bow hunting.
Many of the options for bow hunters come down to personal preferences developed over time.
So, if you are just starting out investigate clubs in the local area that offers a ‘get to know the bow’ type course that you can take. This will help you get familiar with the ins and outs of bow operation before you are faced with a shop counter or catalog packed with hundreds of bows that you’ve no idea how to evaluate.
Once you are familiar with bow operation, choosing a new long, composite or recurve bow will be easy, and you will be able to readily determine which accessories you will need to make the most of your bow during a hunt.
Similarly, you can take training in firing all manner of firearms through local gun clubs and other organizations. Whatever weapon you opt to hunt with, the important thing is that you must be able to use it accurately.
Far better you go into the woods with an old .270 Winchester you have used thousands of times before and maintained religiously than with a new, state-of-the-art rifle you have only fired twice. This is not the last time we will tell you that practice makes perfect, or as near to perfect as you can get in the hunting arena.
Whatever your weapon, mastering it is another essential key to becoming a well-experienced hunter. Knowing your weapon is about practice – and not just on the range. You will need to practice aiming and firing, of course. But several people overlook the importance of routine maintenance and practicing weapon repairs.
When you are in the field, if something goes wrong will you be able to fix your weapon, or will your day be ruined?
Several veteran hunters recommend taking along a spare, or backup, weapon for those just in case moments – but being able to repair and maintain your chosen weapon is just as important. One ultimate point of consideration is taking the right weapon on the right hunt.
This is not about having the right brand of gun or the right logo on your arrow heads, it is about making sure you have brought the right tool to do the job. You would not try to change a light bulb with a screwdriver – and similarly, you shouldn’t go hunting grouse with a .30-06 unless you’re just interested in watching feathers fly up into the air and then delicately drifting back toward the earth.
If that is the display you were after, it would be far simpler for you to stay at home and sink a few rounds into some old pillows. Assuming you are hunting for something other than a bizarre form of personal amusement, you will need to do a little research and decide what the best weapon for your hunt will be. Again, this is a point where asking fellow hunters through bulletin boards and community networks can prove invaluable.
Essential Hunting Supplies
There are a few things you need to remember to bring along for any successful hunt. Sure, there are plenty of hard-core pack hunters out there who go alone into the woods for a week with nothing more than they can fit into a mid-sized pack frame. And yes, these guys get results.
However, what they pack is the same as what we are recommending you load up for your own hunting party – just an ultra-light, streamlined version.
First things first, pack your weapon. Pack the right ammo and bring an extra box. Also, bring your gun cleaning kit or bow maintenance bag so you can go to sleep at night knowing your weapon is ready to go at first light. As mentioned, if you can, bring along a spare weapon just in case. While you are at it, include a strap or sling that makes carrying the weapon easier.
And, because you do not want to worry about your weapon or ammo going missing while you sleep or being involved in a hunt-related accident, bring along a suitable storage case for keeping the weapon in while you are sleeping. The days when hunters thought it was ok to just throw the guns in the back of the pickup are long gone – what is more, several areas and hunt organizers have regulations that prohibit this sort of behavior. It puts you and your hunt friends at risk, making it both irresponsible and dangerous.
In addition to the weapon, you will want to bring something to help you see what you are hunting – a good pair of binoculars or a solid fog-free scope is highly recommended. If you can manage, bring both. When choosing a scope, consider the lens size and magnification power. A 4×40 scope, for example has a magnification power of four and an objective lens size of 40 – the larger the first number, the closer the object will appear to you, the larger the second, the brighter your image.
Look for a scope that offers an element of eye relief, meaning you can use it without holding it right up to your eye, to avoid self-inflicted eyestrain. Binoculars should be set up ready for use – this means practicing with them before you take them into the field. Similarly, you will want to be sure to pack sunglasses and any prescription glasses you need, as well.
Get a map of the area if you do not have one already. You can find all sorts of maps on the internet, but sometimes the traditional, accordion-fold variety are simply better for detail and ease of use. Studying a topographical map of the area can help you find little-known hidey holes and low-lying openings where games are more likely to hide during the high-pressure days of the early season. You can always cut the map down and laminate the two sections you are going to be using to refer to them in the field. Which brings us to another piece of indispensable gear – a good compass.
Today’s gadget-oriented society might make you believe a GPS is all you need. And, in fairness to those folks, a reliable GPS is great. The thing you must consider, particularly when hunting in dense, mountainous, or unfamiliar areas is: where will you be if the batteries are flat? No one knows. That is precisely why we recommend you still bring a compass and a map of some sort. The old technologies are often best.
Another key area some hunters overlook is what happens ‘after the shot’ – it is important to prepare for victory if you intend to succeed. This means bringing along the things you need to properly care for, and field dress the game you claim while hunting. For birds, this amounts to a sharp knife, some meat bags, and a cooler. For larger game, you will need a pair of sharp hatchets, a small saw, a sharp knife, a sharpening stone, and suitable bags for storing the meat.
You might want to consider bringing a hanging kit to help you in your effort to gut, quarter and otherwise prepare the animal for transport. There are brief details later in this guide of what you will need to do with these tools – for more specific information, you will want to consult your fellow hunters, read a book, and ask your butcher for any preferences they have regarding the handling of your animal.
Hunters who go into the field with all they need for each phase of the hunt do better, it is as simple as that. Prepared hunters get better results, have fewer accidents, enjoy their time on the hunt more and are always keen to learn how they can perform better the next time. The old saying, prior planning prevents inferior performance, is definitely true when it comes to the hunt – and we make no apologies for reminding you that being prepared is the key to success.
So, prepare for your hunt in every conceivable way.
First, know the habits of the game you are hunting. If you are hunting quail for the first time, talk to people who have hunted it before. Ask them for tips, and more importantly, evaluate the advice you are given against your own research – some people like to talk the talk, but that does not mean they can walk the walk. It is important to know that the advice you are given checks out in the field.
Do not be shy about checking out books from the library, making enquiries with online game hunting forums or pitting the opinions of your friends and family against one another – the results could surprise everyone, and a little information goes a long way when it comes to planning a successful hunting adventure.
The next key to planning a successful hunt is knowing the terrain in which you will be hunting. This takes two forms – first, understanding the type of ground you are likely to encounter, and second, physically scouting the territory you are going to be hunting. Researching the habits of the animal you are going to hunt will give you a fair indicator of how the animal behaves, what sort of cover it hides in, where it likes to eat and sleep. You can take that information and apply it to the actual ground you are going to cover.
Visit your hunting ground and get a feel for the areas you will find the animal in question. Seek out areas where you will be able to watch for animals, as well as areas you will be able to hide in and take that perfect shot. If you are unable to visit the area in person, ask people who live nearby what their experience of the land is – granted, they are unlikely to reveal their favorite duck blind, but they might be able to give you pointers that will help make your trip more fruitful.
Pack well – do not overlook the standard items you should include and do not leave things out in the name of saving space. Truth be told, you do not know what you will rely on most until you are in the field and by then, if it is something you have left at home, you are simply out of luck.
Make a survival pack, which does not need to be any larger than a fanny pack and keep it with you always. This should include a space blanket, a bottle of aspirin, a few nutrition bars, two eightounce juice cartons and a packet of water purifying tablets.
In addition to this, be sure you take a properly stocked first aid kit. Refer to the basic Red Cross guide for what should be in a first aid kit, and you cannot go too far wrong. Bear in mind you need enough first aid supplies to tend to more than one wounded person – accidents happen, and so do stupid things. You need to be prepared for both, so stick a mini first aid kit in your vehicle, a full-sized one at base camp and another mini kit in your daypack in addition to your survival pack.
When you are packing for camp, include enough supplies for everyone in your party plus at least one spare of everything. Always bring more food and drink than you will get through in case you end up staying longer than you intended. Pack a box of waterproof matches into any nook or cranny you can find – matches are one thing you cannot do without, and you never realize they are gone until it is too late.
Finally, the most important part of thoughtfully planning your hunt is letting people know where you’re going. This should include: a rough schedule of when you intend to be where and when you will return; a map illustrating where you will be hunting with any areas you know you will explore highlighted; emergency contact numbers; and details of who else is in your party. Leave a copy of your plan with a relative or close family friend, as well as a work colleague.
You should also post a copy of your plan in the appropriate area of the recreational park or forest that you are hunting. The point of this is to give search and rescue teams a fighting chance of finding you if there is an emergency or if you do not return home at the right time. Making a proper hunt plan at the outset of your journey gives them a place to start – without it, they are charging blind into thousands of acres of woodland.
Some beginning hunters opt to engage the services of a hunt operator – this limits the amount of planning and discovery you would usually have to do on your own and offers a solid opportunity for you to get acquainted with a variety of the common aspects involved in successful hunting. These operators are available for groups or individuals, but prices can be high, and it is important to go with a widely-renown operator to get the most of your experience.
Another tip for having a good hunt is making sure you go with like-minded hunters. If you are a beginner, it is ill-advised to go trekking into the brush without someone who has at least a little more experience than you. However, if you go hunting and have not gotten anything in common with the rest of the party you will be awfully bored during the down time. And depending on the weather, there could be a lot of down time.
There are a handful of unwritten rules for hunting, and it would serve you well to know them. For starters, always treat the weapons, wilderness, and wildlife with respect. The majority of rules for a successful hunt are common sense things, such as: carry weapons pointed in the safest possible direction, never toward people; don’t store firearms with chambered rounds overnight; don’t sleep, climb a tree or jump down from a tree stand with a loaded weapon; only take a shot when you’ve got an unobstructed view of your target; and, don’t drink alcohol while pursuing game, don’t drink alcohol around loaded weapons and only consume limited alcoholic drinks following the day’s hunting.
Another important thing that all hunters should remember is that a successful hunt isn’t necessarily going to end with you bagging a trophy. Sure, that is the idea, and it is a great bonus if it happens – but a successful hunt will teach you something more about the game you enjoy pursuing, educate you about the terrain you have covered and hopefully improve your senses and other hunt-related abilities. Hunting is an opportunity for all of us to learn a little, teach a little and appreciate the natural wonder that surrounds us all year long.
And finally, you may have noticed, our greatest belief is that people get the most from their hunt experience if they are properly prepared for it. We are often told to hunt smart rather than hard – and that’s solid advice. By preparing for all aspects of the hunting process, you are less likely to waste time covering terrain you need not have bothered with or straining yourself physically due to inappropriate commitment. So, prepare, pack, and plan your socks off and when the big hunt comes your way, you will be able to enjoy it.
Best Wishes, Coy
See Tomorrow: “Harvesting Your Hunt”
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