When I first got into hunting I didn’t have a boyfriend or husband to encourage me and help me out. I had to figure it out on my own. Eventually I made some friends and I listened to their advice and stories, I even had a hunter boyfriend later on who actually knew less than me about hunting, if it’s even possible (and that’s all I’m going to say about that ⊗)
This post is not for the hunters, it’s for those (guys or gals) who want to start but don’t know where and how. I wish I had this information when I started.
Step 1: before you do anything check your state’s laws about owning a firearm and make sure there is nothing in your background to prevent you from it (otherwise this whole point is moot). You do not need to do this if you are thinking about only archery hunting.
Step 2. Check to see what you need to do to get a hunting license and get on it right away. In California it has 2 parts: 1. you take an 8 hour class or (you can do it online on your own time) and 2. you do a 4 hour follow up class which includes a final exam and the issuing of your Hunter Education Completion card. Where I live (Central California) you need to give this whole process 2-3 months. The online classes are not a problem, but the follow up classes are held once or twice a month and are usually filled more than a month ahead of time. So register now, even if it’s 2-3 months from now. Some areas may be worse or better. These classes are really worth it. You will learn about hunting rules, etiquette, outdoor conservation, different types of firearms and archery, survival skills, etc. I learned a lot.
Step 3. Purchase your hunting license. In California it runs from July 1st through June 30th. There is no prorate and you may purchase it at any sporting goods store.
Step 4. Educate yourself:
- What do you want to hunt? Small game? Big game? Birds? You will need different caliber rifles so start looking into it.
- Check out the rules and regulations and seasons for your game. Every state is different. For example in some states you have a spring bear and a fall bear season, in California it is only in the fall. In some states you can hunt bear with dogs, in California it is now outlawed, in some states baiting an animal is allowed, in others it is not, etc. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. You will get into a lot of trouble if you do not follow the law and this can include confiscating your firearm, substantial fees, suspension or revocation of your hunting license, even jail times. It won’t matter that you didn’t know, or did it on purpose, you will be a poacher. These regulations are there for a reason. Hunting is not about viciously killing animals. It is about conserving the species population, to make sure there will be no surplus (in that case those animals would just starve and die anyways) but also that the population is not reduced to much.
Step 5. Purchase your firearm or bow and arrow if you haven’t already. Do your research to make sure you do have something good to rely on and this doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune. If your rifle is scoped, make sure you get a good scope (don’t make the same mistake I did when I first started. I had an excellent rifle with a crappy scope. So even though I’ve seen many wild hogs running 3-400 yards away and I was shooting at them, not one was hit. I still think about those days and this was August 2016) Your gun is only as good as your rifle. Invest in one good set of binoculars – again they don’t need to cost 100s of dollars.
Step 6. Purchase all the permits and tags you need. Some are easily bought at a sporting goods store, others you need to buy as soon as possible before they are all bought and for others there is a lottery system. Check the deadlines.
Step 7. Make sure you are comfortable with your firearm. Take it to the shooting range and practice, practice, practice. When the time comes, you will have that one shot to make and it will have to be on point. This also goes for archery. It is easier to find places to practice archery, you can buy a “cube” target (about 1 foot x 1 foot x 1foot cube stuffed with soft material), and you can place it outside or hang it from a tree to practice. This can be in your backyard or during an outdoor trip. Make sure yu do not shoot arrows into live trees. Use your target. Arrows are short range, (unlike bullets) but still make sure you know what’s behind your target and it’s not people or private property
Step 8. Spend as much time outdoor as you can. Learn how to camoflage yourself and blend into your environment. Learn how to be there and not be seen, heard or smelled (as much as possible). Learn about the habitats of the animals. A couple of months before season opens (deer or bear for example) hunters go and scout. They spend time in the outdoor finding places where their game is living and trying to figure out where they will be. When season is open, it’s on!
Step 9. Continue to learn. Read anything you can. Talk to other hunters and listen. After people saw that I wasn’t just some chick who wanted to dress in camo and look cute, I had met a lot of hunter friends. They loved to tell their stories and I was there to listen. In these stories there was wisdom, experience and knowledge I couldn’t have found reading any website. So I learned a lot.
Obviously these steps don’t need to be in order, but you should / need to take all of them. Good luck !