By: Brand Ambassador, Lindsey Davis
During the winter, most hunting opportunities are coming to a close with just a few upland and small game seasons remaining. While it may seem like you have ample time before next fall to learn to hunt, there are some essential tasks to take care of to set yourself up for success early in the year. Here are the top 7 tips and resources that helped me learn and develop the most as a hunter in my first few years.
- Hunter’s safety. This is the class you have to take to get your hunting license. It’s a one-time deal, and specifics on the course vary a bit from state to state, but each state has a course run through their division of wildlife. Get this done and out of the way as soon as you can. You need proof of passing this class to apply for licenses and tags, and those deadlines can be as early as December the year before a hunt (9 months lead time!).
- Marksmanship. You’ll learn that there are few aspects of a hunt you can control — the weather, where an animal is going to show up, how far they’ll be, or what your shot angle or position might look like. Being consistent with your bow or rifle is one of the few aspects of hunting you can control. Spend the majority of your training time here, getting familiar with your weapon. If you’re shooting a bow, make sure you practice outside, in the wind, on slopes, and not just at a range. With a rifle, consider the season you’ll be hunting in, wear layers, shoot from a prone position, and not just from the bench at the range. Give yourself as much time as possible (months) if you’re sighting in a new rifle, or mounting a scope so you can focus on accuracy, and distances. If you don’t have enough time to sight in, try and find a rifle you can borrow that is already set up so you can use the time you have to focus on practicing your shot.
- Reading List:
– Modern Huntsman: this is a publication filled with beautiful and inspiring stories on hunting and conservation from all over the world and a diamond in the ruff of hunting media.
– Beyond Fair Chase, by Jim Posowitz: an old classic on hunting ethics that will help you with some of the harder questions hunting brings up.
– A Hunter’s Heart, by David Peterson: essays from varying perspectives on hunting, ethics, and our connections to the land.
– Onx Maps: the best digital mapping tool for accessing public lands, keeping track of yourself, and what you find on a hunt. Also a great tool for pre-planning a hunt and finding possible habitat.
– Huntin’ Fool: this is the best resource for all state application deadlines, and you can sign up for email reminders so you don’t miss any of them. If you become a member, you can call their ‘hunt advisors’ team anytime, and they’ll help you figure out how and where to hunt by walking you through tags, draw odds, and all the rules state by state. Incredible resource for new hunters!
- Tactics: Remi Warren’s podcast, Cutting the Distance, will teach you all about packing for hunting, stalking, rifle tips and specifics, how to shoot your bow, how to glass animals, pack out, etc. No better resource out there to learn the ins and outs of hunting.
- Gear: It has taken me about five years to acquire everything in my kit. Hunting gear is expensive, but you don’t need the best of the best to get out there so don’t let this aspect sideline you. Build slowly, buy used, and borrow what you can along the way. Camofire is a great discount site to help you build up. Don’t worry about having all hunting specific gear initially, just have what you need to be comfortable and proficient outdoors.
- Mentorship: This is perhaps the hardest thing for new hunters to acquire. Do as much as you can to learn from other hunters. Most mentors are responsive to someone putting in the time and effort on their own to learn, so focus on the above, and someone will likely recognize your determination and invite you into their hunting community. Be patient, and to never give away another hunter’s spots if they show them to you!