Author Topic: Ultra-basics of hunting  (Read 4157 times)

Justinicus

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Ultra-basics of hunting
« on: August 26, 2009, 09:41:24 AM »
Hey folks, I'm hoping some of you fine people (and ne'er-do-wells) would be willing to offer a little mentoring. I'm a reluctant city boy, and I haven't been hunting in about 20 years. Back then it was mostly goose hunting with my dad, and we weren't all that successful. We also went turkey hunting a few times, deer hunting once, and isat down hoping to catch sight of a squirrel once while my dad was otherwise occupied. No luck any of those times. So basically what I'm saying is that outside of waterfowl, I'm worse than clueless.

I see a few hunting shows, but they tend to skip the basics (and all seem to be about elk and eland anyway). I've read a few books which are good for technique, but still have some questions. Would you old hats help me out and describe your hunting processes?

For example, I'm interested in starting out with squirrel, maybe this fall. Definitely just small game at this point. Do you wear scent blocking clothes? Are good hunting boots and camp important, or is it worth it trying to get started with hikers and some khaki clothes? Blaze orange on public lands? Do you need to scout the area for small game like you do for deer? Are there any rules of courtesy for hunting public land?  I doubt this would be an issue for me any time soon, but do you skin and gut your all game in the field? If so, do you bury the offal or just leave it for the scavengers? How do you carry your meat home -- zip lock in the trunk? Cooler? None of the shows and books seem to cover such basic, practical aspects.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
-Justin 

Offline johndayton

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Re: Ultra-basics of hunting
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2009, 10:34:03 AM »
im glad you asked the question.... I am in the same situation as you...


Offline minimalist

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Re: Ultra-basics of hunting
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2009, 10:57:07 AM »
I've never hunted and I could use some basic information as well.

Offline TNDadx4

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Re: Ultra-basics of hunting
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2009, 10:58:47 AM »
Hey Guys!

I recently started hunting (last year) and I could tell you what helped me. First, I would recommend a hunter's education class in your area. The ones here have online training followed up by a day long workshop and live fire exercise. You learn the important ideas of gun safety, some of the state laws, season dates and common sense things, like what how much blaze orange you need, colors not to wear when turkey hunting, etc., as well as let you talk with the local wildlife officers.

Your state Wildlife resources website should also have a "Seasonal Hunting Guide" that tells you about public land, season and some tips.

The other thing that I would highly recommend would be to go a few times with an experienced hunter and have them show you the ropes. This was a real blessing for us as you get words of "wisdom"... "This is why we are doing this".... "This is why we are at this spot.", etc...



« Last Edit: August 26, 2009, 11:02:25 AM by TNDadx4 »

Hare of Caerbannog

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Re: Ultra-basics of hunting
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2009, 11:36:45 AM »
Hey Guys!

I recently started hunting (last year) and I could tell you what helped me. First, I would recommend a hunter's education class in your area. The ones here have online training followed up by a day long workshop and live fire exercise. You learn the important ideas of gun safety, some of the state laws, season dates and common sense things, like what how much blaze orange you need, colors not to wear when turkey hunting, etc., as well as let you talk with the local wildlife officers.

Your state Wildlife resources website should also have a "Seasonal Hunting Guide" that tells you about public land, season and some tips.

The other thing that I would highly recommend would be to go a few times with an experienced hunter and have them show you the ropes. This was a real blessing for us as you get words of "wisdom"... "This is why we are doing this".... "This is why we are at this spot.", etc...



Good advice.
Its quite likely that if you take a local class like that, the instructor will know people to contact that may be able to take you on a few small local hunts for game in your areas.
If you're not sure about finding a good class to take, stop by a local gun shop and ask the oldest grumpiest looking guy there. He will likely brighten up and be pleased you asked his opinion.
Small private guns shops are better for this kind of thing, in my opinion, than the big sporting goods stores. But while you're there be sure and buy something to support the little guy.

Offline DeltaEchoVictor

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Re: Ultra-basics of hunting
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2009, 11:51:02 AM »
Man, there's so much information you guys need that I don't know where to start.  I'll start with some simple basics for small game.  Keep in mind, this is just the way I do things.  I've been hunting since I was a little kid (30ish years) & these skills are much easier to teach than to express in writing.  Odds are, this won't be comprehensive & you'll have questions.  My biggest piece of advice is to do as much reading as possible.

Clothing - Wear something comfortable & that you can move well in.  They don't necessarily have to be camouflage, but if not camo then they should be flat earth tone colors.  What ever you wear should, at the very least be a close resemblance in color to the terrain you're going to be hunting in.  For example:  If you're going to be hunting in terrain that's mostly wooded, you'd want to wear something close to the same color as the understory, tree trunks, rocks & whatever else you'll find in that terrain.  Most often camo is the easiest thing to do this with, but that doesn't mean you need to go out & invest in the high dollar corporate camo that's being sold on TV.  I've never bought any of that stuff because it's not necessary.  An old set of BDU's in woodland is perfectly adequate.  Wear a hat, your head needs to blend in also & depending on what you're hunting the white's of your eyes will shine like flashlights, & the movement of your head while looking around can spook game.  Turkeys have very good eyesight & will spook with very little provocation.

As a general rule, don't wear anything bright (except where mandated by law). 

Movement - When you move thru the woods you should keep your movement slow & deliberate.  Think about it, animals don't go bounding thru the woods making a bunch of noise except when they've been spooked.  Be quiet when you're in the woods, speech & sound carries for long distances.  You'll probably hear game before you see it, so keep your ears pealed & keep your head & eyes moving but do both slowly. 

When I walk in the woods I walk differently than I do when I'm on the street.  It's necessary to relax & slow down when you get in the woods.  I use a rolling heel to toe walk when I'm hunting.  It allows me to feel what's underfoot & makes me think about my movements.  I only take a few steps at a time, then I stop, look & listen.  I never just set out & stomp thru the woods, you'll miss a lot if you do that.  Only move a few steps at a time, it's a slow way to move but it's also how most game animals move.  They pick their way slowly thru the underbrush browsing on whatever they find to eat along the way.  I may stop for 2 minutes or I may stop for 10 minutes.  It really just depends on what I'm hunting.  Since I do almost all of my hunting alone & without dogs or extra eyes/ears I tend to be very deliberate.

If I find a spot I'd like to stay for a while I'll try to find something I can sit behind to help break up my outline.  It could be a small bush, brush pile or old rotted log.  Whatever it is you should make sure you have an unobstructed view of the area you're concentrating on.

Here are some other threads where we've discussed some specifics.
http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?board=6.30
Rabbit Hunting Tips
Squirrel Stew Topic  Has a bunch of related information.

Here's what I posted in another thread when asked about squirrel hunting in particular.
Quote
Here's what I've learned about squirrels & squirrel hunting.  I've been hunting squirrels longer than I've been hunting anything else, it's the first thing I ever hunted with my Dad.

1.  You'll see more squirrels while deer hunting than just about anything else.  You'll see more squirrels because you'll be carrying a large caliber rifle (usually) or a slug gun.  Both of which turn squirrels into gooey mush, thus you'll be less likely to shoot them....bastards, they just know when they're safe.

2.  Squirrels sound like monsters when you're a little kid & your Dad leaves you sitting against a tree & wanders off into the dark woods to find his own tree to lean against.  (Turkeys, deer, chipmunks, birds & just about everything else also sounds like monsters when you're a kid.)

3.  When you miss a squirrel that should have been an easy, close shot, even the squirrel thinks you're a poor shot.  Seriously, look at the look on his face the next time you miss one, you'll recognize it.  It's the same one your wife/girlfriend gives you when you do something stupid.

4.  Squirrels are loud when down on the ground scavenging (see #2).  One squirrel sounds like a dozen, a dozen squirrels sound like bigfoot...especially if their frolicking about happily just before the evil hunter opens fire on them.  Not that I've ever done that mind you....

5.  A Marlin .30-30 really will turn a squirrel into goo...bastard, that'll teach 'em.  (or so I've been told)

6.  Red Ozark squirrels are larger, dumber & slower moving than the ghosty little gray bastards that are only seen out of the corner of your eye.  Therefore, the Reds are more filling than the grays.

7.  Gray squirrels will run up the tree on your side, then just as you're about to shoot them they'll run around the trunk & ridicule you from the other side, for not being a quick enough shot.  Bastards...

8.  If you shoot at a gray squirrel with all 27 of your newly built wooden arrows, he'll dutifully wait for you to collect the 15 you can find before starting the whole cycle over again.  The sequence goes something like this...chase, shoot, get ridiculed from the back side of the tree...repeat until out of arrows...Find arrows & repeat until completely out of arrows....again.

7.  When you finally do shoot a gray squirrel you'll holler triumphantly, pretty much scaring everything in the woods into hiding.

Now for the serious stuff.

If it's your first time hunting squirrels take a shotgun if you have one.  It shortens the learning curve & it allows you to shoot into the thick tree tops to kill the squirrel where it likes to hide.

The best time to hunt them is usually early in the morning.  Be in the woods at your spot before daylight.  You'll start hearing them on the ground about the time the sun starts coming up.  They really do sound like monsters when they're digging thru the leaves looking for nuts.

If they're on the ground & not preoccupied looking for food, they'll be traveling quickly.  They typically like to travel along deadfall & don't spend a lot of time on the ground when not scavenging.  Use your peripheral vision as well as your primary vision, don't spend too much time looking in one place unless you know there is a squirrel where you're looking.

If you saw a squirrel head up a tree & you didn't see him leave the tree, but you can't see him, he's still in that tree, he's just a lot more patient than you are & better camouflaged too.  Be patient, get comfortable & be ready to shoot the second you see him again.

Animals don't stomp thru the woods, humans do.  Slow down, reset your human clock to "woods" time.  If you want to move thru the woods, do it like an animal would.  Take a couple of steps & stop, listen & look for a while.  Take a few steps & stop, listen & look for a while.  Take a step or two & stop, listen & look for a while.  Be soft, silent (as possible) & careful when walking thru the woods.  You're in the woods, enjoy it.  There's no need to hurry thru them, you'll miss a lot if you do.  Animals spend more time looking & listening than they do traveling, you should do the same.

Gray squirrels like thick stands of timber, especially where there are lots of nut trees.  Look for nut cuttings at the base of trees, these are nuts that look as if they've been chewed or half eaten by something.  You can also hear squirrels when they're cutting the nuts up in a tree.  It sounds somewhat like something hard being chewed or scraped.  It's hard to describe but easy to recognize if you hear it.

Gray squirrels like to use hollowed trees for dens, these are great to hunt around.  Keep an eye out for old trees that may have trunk damage, been lightening struck or otherwise have structure damage to them that would allow critters to build dens in them.  Tree hollows are the "penthouse suites" of the critter kindgom.  That's about as good as it gets for a critter to build a den in.  Less desirable are the clumps of leaves & twigs often seen in tree tops and referred to as squirrels nests.  They probably are nests but odds are they won't be inhabited because these nests aren't permanent structures.  Never shoot blindly into these nests, it's unethical & if you do hit something, you may not kill it.  You won't be able to retrieve it either, shooting something & not retrieving it is about the worst thing a hunter can do.

Watch the tree tops.  Sit quietly, move very little & be patient while perusing the tops of trees & you'll see lots of life.

It's much easier to see squirrels after the leaves come down.  I love to hunt anytime, but when the leaves come down I usually hunt harder because the odds have increased in my favor.  Gray squirrels hide easily among the leaves.

Red (Fox) squirrels are found mainly in areas with sparse tree populations...I don't know why.  That's what they prefer I assume.  They can often be found in tree lined fence rows, areas without a lot of secondary growth where the tree population consists of large well spaced, older trees.  Our variety here in the Ozarks are typically much larger than our gray squirrels.  They're red, I mean really red colored here.  They aren't as ghosty as our grays & are slower to run away.  I've actually missed reds before & instead of them running away, they'll run toward me to see what all the commotion is about.  Red squirrel populations here are typically lower than the gray squirrel populations.  I probably see 6 or 8 grays to every red I see.

Squirrel hunting is a blast, especially while doing it with an old longbow.  If you've never been squirrel hunting before I urge you to give it a try.  Find someone near you that hunts & tell them you'd like to learn.  If you've got a good friend that hunts and you don't, ask them if you can go along.  It's a great way to burn a day with a friend.  Heck, if you're ever in S. Missouri give me a shout & I'll take you.

Offline pug-shadow

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Re: Ultra-basics of hunting
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2009, 05:35:26 PM »
Are small game better to start with for hunting?

I had tons of squirrels on my property when I lived in Iowa.
I haven't seen many in Texas, but builders here tend to plow all the trees down.


Offline wyomiles

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Re: Ultra-basics of hunting
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2009, 08:40:08 PM »
Never ever take a shot unless you clearly see your target and what is behind it!
Never ever shoot at a sound in the woods.
Buck fever is a terrible thing, keep your cool, if you miss do not keep firing randomly.
Enjoy the out of doors, if you do not make a kill it is OK!!
Know your area, take a compas and map. Tell someone else where you will be.
Find a hunting mentor.

Offline DeltaEchoVictor

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Re: Ultra-basics of hunting
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2009, 08:56:29 PM »
Are small game better to start with for hunting?

I had tons of squirrels on my property when I lived in Iowa.
I haven't seen many in Texas, but builders here tend to plow all the trees down.


Better than what? (j/k - rhetorical question) ;)

What's better about hunting small game IMO is that seasons are often longer & limits are frequently more liberal, which basically boils down to more opportunities to get out & hunt.  More opportunities mean you get to try new ways, or different methods for doing things & ultimately become a better hunter.  The only thing that makes one a good hunter is practicing & learning the skills.

That's not to imply that hunting small game is better than hunting large game, of course.  Hunting small game is an excellent way to get ready for hunting large game though. ;)

Offline P_Coltrane

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Re: Ultra-basics of hunting
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2009, 09:38:30 PM »
Are small game better to start with for hunting?

Small game is great -- just different and not better.

I love squirrel and rabbit hunting.  In my experience, larger game such as deer take much more of a commitment in time and resources. If I have an extra hour or two in the day I just drive out to one of my favorite spots and give it a go. No scouting, no scent masking, no camo. Some times I'm successful sometimes not. In the end I always enjoy myself and usually learn or notice something I hadn't previously.  In my opinion, learning patience and appreciation are the basics for small game.  The rest will come with experience.

Offline RUReady

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Re: Ultra-basics of hunting
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2009, 02:15:26 PM »
  Take a hunter ed course, they will teach you the basics. You might even find someone to hunt with. Hunting is my time to enjoy the great outdoors. Have not miss a year in 45yrs.

   Good luck.
  Dave

Offline bubtech

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Re: Ultra-basics of hunting
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2009, 08:56:12 PM »
In my opinion at least in IL ALWAYS WEAR ORANGE VEST!  It just isn't worth some numb-nuts shooting you cause you look like a deer.  Post SHTF is totally a different story.
B