Hunting is an age old tradition in the US that is often practised and taught through generations. It serves as a way to get fresh food that isn’t treated before it reaches your plate and it can be a great experience even if you’re just getting started. However, hunters new and old know that going in blind isn’t the path to success. So, it’s worth taking a closer look at what you need to know before venturing out into the countryside.
Before getting into what a hunter needs and some strategies that might work, let’s first take a look at what hunters offer. Hunters, for a multitude of reasons, are strong conservationists.
The National Rifle Association specificallly sites the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 – more commonly known as the Pittman-Robertson Act. This legislation is what established taxation on hunters to help fund conservation efforts. It also brought to attention the poor management that contributed to the population decline in game species at the time.
The NWF estimates that in 2011 alone, taxes raised from hunters raised a collective $748 milllion for the conservation and restoration of fisheries and wildlife. As a hunter, this means that the money you spend on licenses and fees isn’t going nowhere – you’re giving back to the environment that means so much to you.
Of course, there are smaller scale contributions as well. For example, many hunters take the time to contribute to local conservation groups and inform them about the local ecosystem around them and animal habits.
To do all of these things for the environment through hunting, there’s information hunters need to hunt.
First and foremost, a hunter has to consider the laws in their country, state, or locale. There isn’t one set of regulations that encompasses everywhere you go. For instance, the hunting laws from state-to-state in the United States aren’t the same as the regulations set out by the Fish and Game of New Zealand. To hunt safely and legally in your area, it’s absolutely imperative that you do your research.
Once you have a hunting license, the next logical step is to choose the right gear. The initial step to this is to choose what you’re going to hunt with. Is a compound bow up your alley or are you more comfortable with a firearm? Many new hunters find that they have a good hunting time with the tried and true option of a rifle. That being said, not all rifles are the same. It’s important to take the time to look for features that fit you and the job at hand. High caliber rifles, as an example, can be tempting but a caliber too high will potentially lead to a situation that no one wants: an inhumane kill.
Optics are another big factor. In fact, many hunters spend almost as much on optics as they do on their firearms themselves. This is because they need to rely on these to better see game in a variety of conditions.
While it might seem obvious, it’s critical to point out that new hunters need to know how to expertly handle their rifle before coming anywhere near a hunting trip. Inexperience can spell trouble for both animal and man. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to familiarize yourself with your firearm safely. The best source is to check out local instruction and safety classes. A big part of this isn’t just knowing the book work, though. You need to feel comfortable in your knowledge and with what you’re doing.
If you’re using secondary equipment like a tree stand, it’s imperative that you learn the ins and outs of them too. Just in case, it’s important to bring a well-stocked first-aid kit in case anything goes awry.
Another thing to do before your hunt is to scout. This will give you a lay of the land as well as an idea of where game gathers or what paths it takes. A big part of this, once again, comes back to research. To find your game, you need to be intimately aware of their habits. On the hunting outing itself, it’s a good idea to note landmarks that will keep you centered or spots you can mark on a hiking GPS.
Maybe most importantly, one of the largest parts of hunting is actually waiting. It takes time for game to come around and even the best hunters aren’t going to find success the minute they step outside. This can be especially challenging to new hunters that are itching to prove themselves. There are a few ways to keep an eye on yourself in this sense, though.
When hunting whitetail deer, to get specific, tromping through the woods is going to trigger them to flee from a predator. A tactic that many use is to quick-step for 10 to 20 yards or so and then time themselves and pause for 5 minutes. This will help break up your steps and cadence as to not immediately trigger a flight response in your game.
At the end of the day, there are a lot of different views on hunting. While some see it as a family tradition or their contribution to conservation, others might see it as an antiquated and unfair game. A true hunter, however, takes what they’re doing seriously, contributes to the environment, and, above all, makes their hunt as humane and fair as possible.
About the guest writer
Josh Montgomery, MMR’s founder, runs Minute Man Review in his spare time and actively documents the Texas secessionists’ movements from his home in Austin, Texas. Since its inception in 2013, Minute Man Review has been covering gear reviews, citizen’s rights, and reporting on what Josh believes to be the crackdown on free speech and activity both in the US and worldwide.