Guide for Beginner Hunters
Hunting might be a sport but it’s no game! As a beginner in this field, safety should be your number one priority. There’s plenty to learn before you take your firearm and stroll into the woods.
Our beginner’s guide with five easy-to-follow tips will provide you with everything you need to know before you embark on your very first hunting adventure.
Here’s a quick look at the tips that we’ll cover:
1. Get familiar with your firearm and types of ammo
2. Wear the right clothes
3. Pack the right gear
4. Learn basic hunting strategies
5. Master the art of tracking
Ready? Let’s step into the wilderness!
- Get Familiar with Your Firearm and Types of Ammo
The most common firearms for hunting are the rifle and shotgun. Whichever one you choose, a shooting range is the best place to get acclimated.
Practice your stance, breathing, trigger control, and accuracy. The more time you spend at a gun range, the more confident you’ll feel when handling your firearm.
The world of ammunition can be a very confusing and overwhelming place for a beginner hunter. We’ll explain what types of ammo work best for hunting small, medium, and big game, depending on your firearm of choice.
The small game category includes animals that weigh between 2 and 12 pounds, such as rabbits, squirrels and badgers. These animals are typically hunted from a 100-yard range or less.
You will need smaller caliber cartridges to avoid excessive meat damage when hunting small game. The best ammo for this purpose includes:
- 17 HMR ammo
- 17 Mach 2
- 22 WMR
- 222 Rem.
- 223 Rem.
In the medium game category are animals that weigh between 50 and 350 pounds, such as deer, antelope, impalas and feral hogs.
A bullet used for medium game hunting needs to offer sufficient penetration force, great expansion, and a retention of 80% of its original weight. The two cartridges that are most popular amongst medium game hunters are .243 Win. and .35 Rem.
The large game category includes animals that weigh 500 pounds or more, such as elk, moose and black bears.
Big game animals are hard to kill and often require taking more than one shot to bring them to the ground. This is why you will need large caliber bullets such as .308 as they can cause deep penetration, great expansion, and high striking energy.
The gauge of your shotgun will determine the caliber of your cartridges. For example, if you own a 12-gauge shotgun, you can only use 12-gauge shells. That being said, shotgun ammo is also divided according to the pellet size inside the shells:
- Birdshot – best for small game
- Buckshot – best for medium game
- Slug – best for large game
While birdshot and buckshot shells are filled with small balls or pellets that scatter upon firing, a slug fires a single massive projectile that can stop a bear with a single shot.
2. Wear the Right Clothes
Wearing the right clothing is an essential part of staying dry, warm and comfortable when hunting.
Think water-resistant clothing and shoes, gloves, hand warmers – always check the weather forecast beforehand to ensure you’re dressed appropriately for the hunt.
Camouflage clothes will help you blend into the environment, however, hunting laws require you to wear blaze orange so that your fellow hunters can easily spot you and not mistake you for prey.
3. Pack the Right Gear
While you want to pack as light as possible so you can move swiftly through the terrain, there are some items that you must bring for your safety and a better chance of a successful hunt. These items include:
- Compass and GPS
- Water bottle
- Decoys and game calls
- Scent eliminators
- Scent attractors
- Portable saw
- Survival knife
- First aid kit
It’s also a good idea to bring some meals and snacks for restoring energy and a spare set of clothes in case you get wet.
4. Learn Basic Hunting Strategies
Basic hunting strategies will help you move quietly and sneak up to your prey close enough for a killer shot. Here are the three main tactics to follow:
- Move slowly – you don’t want to scare the animal with a sudden movement or noise, so if you are waiting for the perfect opportunity to shoot your prey, make sure that any movement you make is as slow and as quiet as possible.
- Stop at the sound of noise – if you step on a twig accidentally, stay still for a moment as a deer or other animal might stare in the direction of the noise. If you remain quiet, they might go back to whatever they were doing and not run away.
- Find clear shooting lanes – determinewhat shooting positions you can take and in what directions, so that you’ll know when the animal is just at the right spot for that killer shot.
5. Master the Art of Tracking
When you are following the blood trail of a wounded animal, move quietly and make sure you mark every blood trail.
If the blood trail begins to fade, look for tiny blood spots and expand your search to the sides of trees and other areas nearby.
Be cautious of “instant drop.” If you shoot an animal and it drops instantly, it is usually because the animal is in a temporary state of shock and it will take off running as soon as you come near it. If this happens to you, stay put, wait for the animal to get up, and take the follow-up shot.
Hunting is an age-old activity that arose from necessity but it remains imprinted in our DNA to this day. As Charles Dickens wrote: “There is a passion for hunting, something deeply implanted in the human beast.”
We hope our article provided you with a good starting point for your very first hunting adventure and helped you be better prepared for what will lie before you.
Good luck in the hunt!