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.
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.