Hunting safety courses are excellent sources of information for not just hunters but all outdoor enthusiasts. They teach you about habitats, animals, different types of terrain, conservation, hunting ethics, and safety. However, even the best courses can’t prepare you for everything you’ll face while hunting. Whether you’re planning to hunt white-tailed deer in Montana or small game in Georgia State, there are some useful tips and tricks that you won’t learn in your hunting safety course.
What You Learn in a Hunting Safety Course
Hunting is a valued part of American culture. While social media has led to hunting being portrayed very negatively of late, real hunters and outdoors enthusiasts know the true importance of wildlife management and how hunters help maintain flourishing ecosystems. There’s more to hunting than collecting trophies. It helps equalize species populations, reduce crop damage, and minimize the likelihood of disease outbreaks.
However, wildlife management isn’t a matter of picking up your rifle and heading into the forest. Hunting is strictly regulated in each state to protect the landscape, animals, and people. To become an official hunter, you must understand all facets of the culture and be willing to learn and demonstrate a capacity for the care and attention that hunting requires.
The first step in becoming a hunter is to take a hunting safety course. This course teaches you about various aspects of hunting, conservation, and how to hunt safely. Taking a hunting safety course is mandatory before acquiring a hunting license. Once you pass your hunting education course, you’ll receive an educational number that allows you to purchase a hunting license in all 50 U.S. states.
Some of the essential teachings of a hunting safety course include the following:
- Gun safety rules
- Hunting regulations and laws
- Hunting ethics
- Habitat conservation
- First aid
- Survival skills
- Shot placement
- Field dressing animals
The Importance of Other Information Sources
You can’t learn everything through reading or studying. With so many types of animals, landscapes, weather conditions, and other variables involved, no two hunts are the same. There are some skills you must learn in the field or from fellow hunters.
What You Won’t Learn in Your Hunting Safety Course
You can earn practical knowledge by spending time with other hunters or shadowing them during a hunt. Gaining practical knowledge is essential for safety and being a successful hunter as it means you understand how things work when you’re in the mountains or forest.
While you may understand in theory how to field dress an animal, it doesn’t mean you’ll effortlessly remove the hide and quarters on your first attempt. However, having an experienced hunter give you knife work tips when dressing a downed deer can help you learn the proper skills. This type of practical knowledge gives you a more in-depth understanding of concepts within the hunting sphere.
Here are a few other important items that are unlikely to crop up in a formal hunting safety course:
Hunting Can be Expensive
For centuries, hunting was an essential part of life. It was the primary source of food for families around the country. As society and agricultural commerce developed, hunting became less important as a food source.
Many hunters prefer to fill their freezers with meat from the animals they’ve killed and butchered rather than buying meat from the supermarket. This is becoming increasingly difficult due to the costs associated with hunting. Due to high-powered rifles, travel expenses, increasing tag prices, and expensive hunting clothing, you’ll need to allocate some of your income to fund your hunting hobby. Big game hunts for animals like Elk can cost you as much as $14,000.
It’s important to remember that the trade-off can be worth it. A single hunt can supply you with enough meat for an entire year. Ethically sourcing your food is also beneficial for the environment and can align with your moral code. What’s more, you don’t have to engage in the most expensive forms of hunting to fill your freezer.
Invest in Quality Gear and Clothing
A helpful tip that they don’t teach on a hunting safety course is to invest in quality gear suited to the specific needs of a hunt. Binoculars are a worthwhile investment as they’re used in virtually every type of hunt. High-quality optics extend your hunting range, allow you to detect movement from further away, and help you to familiarize yourself with your surroundings.
Hiking boots are a great example of a worthwhile investment if you require sturdy footwear for backcountry hunts. However, a $300 pair of hiking boots aren’t much use if you mainly hunt turkeys in the wet and swampy countryside. Invest in quality gear but do so strategically.
Find a Mentor
Finding a mentor is a way of extending your hunting safety course into the field. For the first few hunting trips, it’s beneficial to tag along with an experienced hunter. They can act as a source of information for various tasks. Whether they help you locate the right camping spots for an overnight hunt or accompany you to the gun store to recommend a specific type of ammunition, mentors can get you up to speed quickly.
How to Train for Hunting
Hunting safety course instructors may mention that hunting can be physically demanding. Hiking several miles across rough terrain with an animal on your back is exhausting and requires a significant strength and fitness level. However, these courses don’t necessarily tell you how to train.
Some of the most critical areas of the body to concentrate on are the quads, hamstrings, calves, back, and abdominals. Depending on the type of hunting you plan to do, it’s essential to regularly work out these muscle groups.
The following exercises are excellent for hunters:
- Tire drags
- Scissor jumps
- Turkish get-ups
Make Scouting a Hobby
To be a successful hunter, you should make scouting a major hobby. The best hunters often spend more time scouting areas than hunting. This allows you to learn the best trails, hiking routes, camping locations and discover more about the animals you’re hunting and their habitats.
Take notes and photos as scouting aids. It can be beneficial to set up trail cameras to capture activity in the area where you plant to hunt.
Hunting Knowledge and Practical Education are Key
Hunting is a treasured hobby that has serious repercussions if not performed safely. Education is key to maintaining thriving ecosystems and managing wildlife effectively. From taking your initial hunting safety course to being responsible for furthering your hunting knowledge, each hunter has a role to play. Continue to read about, learn, and practice ethical hunting.
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