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Besides being a fun outdoor activity, hunting is an excellent way of providing your family with free-range meat. Many people are interested in hunting. But they don’t know how to start.
Similar to skiing and surfing, hunting can seem a challenging activity to take up as an adult. However, there are some simple things you can do to start hunting this year.
Why Does Hunting Seem Challenging as an Adult?
Many people start hunting when they are young and learn everything necessary from their parents and grandparents. To people who grow up in families that don’t hunt, the sport seems strange and complicated.
There’s a lot of technical gear involved, and things like scouting or tracking animals can seem challenging for beginners. Just like many other sports, once you understand the basics, it can be a great activity.
How Can You Start Hunting?
The first thing you will need for hunting is a license. Hunting is a highly regulated activity, and to get your license you need to take an official hunting education course.
Every state in the country has a basic hunter’s education program. You need to take the course before purchasing a hunting license. Although the program teaches important things about gun and hunter safety, it doesn’t dive very deep into hunting itself.
Once you have your license, you’ll need to learn a bit more about the sport before going out on your first rifle hunt. One of the best ways to learn the basics is to contact a friend or family member who hunts and ask them for help. They can start teaching you about basic hunting skills and the different kinds of gear you need.
Many states also offer bowhunter education courses as well, which can be great to familiarize yourself with a different style of hunting. In any case, an official hunter’s education course or asking someone knowledgeable for help should be one of your first steps before hunting alone.
How to Know if You Need Hunter Education
The regulations are different in each state, but a great place to start is the International Hunter Education Association or IHEA. On the website, they have a map of the US, and you can click on your state for specific information on hunter education.
Some states only require a hunter education course if you were born after a specific date. In other states, you can’t purchase the license without the course.
Even if your state doesn’t require you to take the course, it’s still a good idea. The course teaches some important information on safe firearm handling and ethical shot placement.
What You Can Do Without a Hunter License
Something you can do without a license is go hunting with an experienced and licensed friend. You won’t be able to shoot a gun. But you’ll learn a lot about hunting.
A big part of hunting is knowing how to spot and track animals without being noticed. Compared to learning in a classroom, hands-on experience with spotting and tracking is much more valuable.
In some states, you can buy an apprentice hunting license, which allows you to legally hunt an animal under the supervision of a licensed hunter. If you are not entirely sure if you want to take up hunting, this could be a great way to see if you like it.
How to Learn How to Hunt
Once you have your license, you can start diving deeper into the hunting world. When thinking about how to get into hunting, finding a mentor is one of the best ways. If you don’t know anyone in your area who is an experienced hunter, there are ways to find a mentor online.
The National Deer Hunter Association has a series of materials on their website about deer hunting for beginners. You can fill out a survey on their site, and they might be able to pair you with a mentor that can get you started.
Another way to do this is by enrolling in a more comprehensive hunting course. The National Deer Hunter Association has a great program called Field-to-Fork.
It’s primarily geared toward adults who come from non-hunting families or backgrounds. They teach you everything you need to know, and in no time, you’ll be securing your own free-range meat.
If you are looking for a general course on hunting, most states have official learn-to-hunt courses and workshops. For example, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources offers multi-day workshops, seminars, and mentored hunts. There’s also a wide variety of private hunting schools.
Practice Your Shooting
If you are already familiar with guns, this part will be easy for you. Learning to shoot a rifle is an essential part of how to get into hunting.
For someone who has never shot a gun before, handling a rifle can be intimidating. The easiest way is to ask a friend who knows about guns to introduce you to shooting. Start with a gun that has low recoil so you can develop good technique from the beginning.
Look for a local range that offers classes for beginners. Even though you get a bit of shooting instruction in a hunter’s education course, it’s not enough practice. Joining a course at a range can help you get a lot more comfortable with firearms and shooting.
Investigate Different Types of Hunting
In addition to meeting other hunters and joining courses, you should research the different types of hunting. Hunting can have a wide variety of styles, and they can be quite different.
For example, some hunting styles are less active and use treestands and blind covers in forests. This style is prevalent among bow hunters in eastern states. Other hunters like to spot and track prey in big, open landscapes. This style requires more fitness as you will be moving much more to hunt down your target.
Although traditionally, most people hunt with firearms, bow hunting is increasingly popular across the US. Visiting an archery shop and taking a shooting workshop can help you decide what kind of hunting you want to pursue.
Learning Happens in the Field
Hunting has a steep learning curve. But it’s a rewarding and exciting activity. In addition, it’s a useful activity that can provide you and your family with high-quality meat. Don’t get discouraged on your first hunts since it can take a while to kill your first prey.
The most successful hunters spend a lot of time exploring the outdoors and learning about animals and how to track them.