Hunting

From Zero to Hero: Expert tips for hunting newbies

the Monocular was lucky enough to speak to Robert Hilliard, a professional hunter, journalist and author of the critically acclaimed A Season on the Allegheny. The book made it to the top 10 of Amazon's hunting category and here the author and passionate conservationist shares his expert tips for beginner hunters:

Take a Hunter Safety/Hunter Education Course

Whether this is required by regulation in your area or not, it should be a mandatory step for any new hunter. These courses primarily focus on safety, which should be the prime consideration for anyone heading into the field with a weapon. But many also address practical matters such as target zones on different game species, nomenclature of weapon components, and even care and processing of game once harvested. There’s a lot to be learned here for little or no cost.

“There are only three things that you absolutely need to go hunting: your gun, your ammo, and your license. Everything else is extra.”

Photo by robert.hilliard

Photo by robert.hilliard

Practice with your weapon(s) of choice….a lot

In addition to the safety factor that comes from being knowledgeable about using your weapon, a lot of frustration that results from missed shots or lost game in the field can be avoided by spending a few hours at a shooting range. New hunters can learn any idiosyncrasies of their individual weapon, improve their shooting, and gain confidence in their ability that will carry over into success in the field. Plus, there’s an excellent chance if you’re at a public shooting range that you’ll bump into someone who can offer you some free shooting or hunting advice.

 

Start small

Instead of making your initial outing a deer, bear, or elk hunt, spend a little time hunting small game first. Hunting squirrels, for example, can teach skills that will translate directly to hunting larger game. You’ll learn to move quietly through the woods and sit patiently for long stretches. And you’ll get practice with your gun or bow on a smaller target while the stakes feel a little lower. All of these things will help you to be more calm and confident – and ultimately successful – when you eventually go after larger game.

“If you’re at a public shooting range there’s an excellent chance that you’ll bump into someone who can offer you some free shooting or hunting advice.”

Focus on the equipment you need

When it comes to equipment, focus at first on just what you need. The array of equipment available to today’s hunters can be absolutely baffling, particularly to a new hunter. As someone once told me; “There are only three things that you absolutely need to go hunting: your gun, your ammo, and your license. Everything else is extra.”

While that’s a bit of an oversimplification (for example, you need to wear safety orange in many places, and gloves and a warm hat are kind of nice when the snow is flying), the concept is a good one. Start with the most basic equipment that you must have to enjoy a safe, successful hunt. Don’t clutter your game vest pockets, not to mention your mind, with extra stuff. Once you’ve experienced a few days on the hunt, you’ll start to learn which pieces you want to add to your equipment checklist. There’s plenty of time for gear shopping.

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