How to Start Hunting

How to Start Hunting: What to Know Before You Go

Hunting is the oldest sport on earth. People have been hunting animals for food for millions of years. It is one of the most direct connections man can have with nature in a society that seems to move farther and farther from this connection each year.

According to recent statistics, around fifteen million Americans go hunting in an average year. Not all of them are successful, but many do manage to bring home a kill. For every one of them, there is at least an equal number of people sitting at home wondering how to start hunting.

Most people who hunt learned how to do so from a family member who hunts. Many of them began hunting from a very young age. However, if you did not grow up in a family that hunts, you can still learn to participate in this rewarding sport. Read on to learn everything you need to know about hunting basics.

Hunting Philosophy

Before you even go get a hunting license or purchase a gun, you should familiarize yourself with the philosophy of hunting. This is not something the average non-hunter thinks about, but it is crucial that hunters understand it.

Although hunting, by nature, involves killing, most hunters will tell you that killing the animal should not be your primary focus. Many hunters go as far as to view hunting as a spiritual practice. The life of the animal should be respected and revered, and most hunters give thanks for the animal’s sacrifice.

Taking the life of a large mammal is intense. When hunting, you will experience an adrenaline rush, nervousness, and thrill. These are all feelings directly associated with our internal biology and are reminders of a time when humans were forced to hunt to survive.

The time spent sitting still for hours – often in unpleasant conditions – while waiting for an animal to appear helps hunters embrace a deeper understanding of nature and the cycle of life for animals in the wild. Hunters understand the balance of nature, the frustration of failure, and the glory of success more than many other people who never give hunting a try.

How to Start Hunting: Hunter Education & Licensing

Almost every state has a required program that hunters must take in order to receive their hunting license. This is a good first step for anyone who is wondering how to start hunting.

However, these courses don’t really teach individuals how to hunt. Instead, their main focus is safety when hunting. Learning how to stay safe when hunting is crucial, though, so pay attention in class, especially when you are new to the sport. Often, this course can be completed online.

Once you have taken this class, you can get your hunting license. The fees for hunting licenses vary by state and based on the animals for which you plan to hunt. Take time to learn about the correct seasons for different types of animals where you live and in places you’d like to visit.

Choose Your Targets

Different hunters hunt for different things. Some hunters hunt for a variety of different animals while others focus on just one or two. 

If you are just becoming interested in hunting, you are likely thinking about hunting waterfowl like ducks or geese or big game like deer or elk. These targets tend to be the common types that people think about when it comes to hunting.

However, there are many other animals you can hunt as well. Many people hunt small game like rabbits, squirrels, and raccoons. Some hunt animals for their fur like beavers and foxes. Still others focus on game birds like grouses and pheasants.

The type of animal you choose to hunt is really up to you. This choice is often dependent on personal preference, local hunting seasons, and the prevalence of a particular animal in your area. 

Choose Your Weapon

There are two different options for weapons when it comes to hunting. Of course, within each of these two categories there are far more options, but the first decision you need to make is whether you wish to hunt with a rifle or a bow.

Bowhunting is closer to ancient hunting than hunting with a rifle, but it is also a great deal more challenging. Aim and accuracy are vital, and you need to be closer to your target than you need to be with a rifle.

Hunting with a rifle is easier than hunting with a bow. Most hunters prefer hunting with a rifle as hunting is challenging enough as it is without worrying about all the additional factors of bowhunting.

Talk to Others

You are not going to become a successful hunter on your own. You can read books and watch online videos about hunting all day, but when it comes down to it, you are going to have to depend on other people for help if you want to learn how to hunt.

If you have friends who hunt, that’s wonderful. Most of them will be excited to hear that you want to learn and most will be happy to take you along with them so they can teach you what they know.

However, if you are going into this new sport and hobby all on your own, you should consider hiring a guide.

There are hunting guides in every corner of this country and the world. Each and every one of them has a passion for hunting and would love to share that passion with others. With a little effort, you can find one to hire that is experienced in the specific type of hunting you wish to do. These men and women are a wealth of information.

To find a certified guide to help you in the field, the American Outfitter and Guide Association can help. You may only need the help of a guide once or twice, but the learning experience you will have will be well worth whatever the guide you choose charges you.

Happy Hunting

Now that you know how to start hunting, what are you waiting for? Choose an animal to hunt, choose a weapon for hunting, take your safety course, get your license, and get out there!

You will be amazed by how this sport quickly becomes a part of you. It will change your life forever, and soon you will come to fully understand that nothing tastes better than food you killed and brought home yourself. Happy hunting. Good luck!

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