As an adult beginner hunter, you might be a bit uncertain of where to start and what you should know. Here are a few hunting tips to help you get started on the right foot.
Figure Out What You Want to do
Saying “I want to hunt,” is a lot like saying “I want to play sports.” Sure, you want to hunt, but you need to narrow it down. There are lots of different types of hunting out there. So, what do you want to do? You can slip down a creek listening for spring turkeys, glass along ridge tops for mule bucks, or head on up to the high country for elks. Take some time to think about what kind of hunting you’d enjoy the most. Then, you can set a course to do it.
One of the key hunting tips for beginners is to study up. There’s really no substitution for education. And while getting out there and learning from mistakes is great, it can be a slow teacher. You don’t need to get your masters in animal behavior, but knowing the biology, behaviors, and hunting tactics of the animal you’ll be hunting is a great resource. If you’re out hunting mule deer for the first time, it’s easier to look for mule deer signs when you’ve seen them before in a book. You’ll also want to take the time to learn about game patterns, preferred food sources, and trees in your region.
Books, magazines, videos, podcasts, and online websites are all resources you should take advantage of. Online forums are also great places to go to find passionate hunters who can answer questions you may have. And don’t overlook local game biologists or even your state parks and wildlife website, as these are other great resources to turn to for help.
Find a Mentor
While having a hunting mentor isn’t necessary, it can be helpful if you’re a newbie. But how do you find one?
There are a few ways. Some states, like Colorado, have an outreach program that typically pairs a hunt or a small group of hunters with a mentor. Sometimes, novice adults don’t take advantage of programs like these because they believe they’re tailored for youth hunters. However, there are plenty of opportunities for adults with little or no hunting experience.
Another way to find a mentor is by joining a hunter-based conservation group, like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. These folks are dedicated to protecting our hunting privileges, supporting wildlife conservation, and preservation of our public lands. They’re also dedicated to bringing in new members who want the same things. This is a great place to find a passionate and like-minded mentor.
Local clubs, like a sportsman’s or hunting club, are other places to look for a mentor. If you live in a community with one of these clubs, it’s a good idea to join. It’s likely to cost a small annual membership fee and some volunteer work hours, but the payoff of getting quality mentorship is worth the small investment.
Whether you want to hunt with a rifle, shotgun, or crossbow, you need to spend a lot of quality with your weapon. This isn’t only for your own safety, but for the animal’s sake as well. Wounding an animal and not recovering it happens, but it’s a mistake you don’t want to make often. So practice often. Use different targets, techniques, and field positions. You want to make sure you feel 100% comfortable and confident when handling and shooting your weapon.
Take Time to Slow Down
One of the most popular hunting tips for beginners? Slow down in all aspects. When new hunters are in the field, they often get impatient and want to make a move or change up the game plan when things aren’t working quickly enough. But that can often end up spooking whatever you’re chasing. Often, success is had by being patient, slow, and methodical.
But slowing down isn’t only advice for when you’re in the field. When you first start hunting, it can be exciting to discover everything and get your routine down pat like other seasoned hunters. However, routine can kill your adventure and enthusiasm. So slow down and enjoy the newness of it all, and don’t rush to learn everything all at once.
Consider Booking a Hunt
When you’re a beginner, planning your first hunt can be overwhelming. There are a lot of things to consider, and you might not know where the best areas to hunt are. For your first hunt, consider booking a guided hunt. Booking from an outfitter means you don’t have to worry about the land you hunt on, transportation, food, or tents. Another plus – your hunting guide will act as a mentor, from whom you can learn hunting tips, basics, and thousands of other small things you probably aren’t aware of. With a guided hunt, you can spend some time learning but most of your time doing the most important thing: enjoying your hunt.
If you’re looking to hunt elk or mule deer with professional guides in the mountains of Southwest Colorado, we’d love to be an option you consider. At Soap Mesa Outfitters, we are dedicated to giving you the experience of a lifetime. Let us show you what you’ve been missing.