The Thrill of the Hunt: Hunting Basics Guide
Hunting, distilled down to its simplest form involves the pursuit and killing of wild animals. Modern day hunters employ the use of firearms along with bows and arrows. There is a rich history of hunting, as thousands of years ago it was the primary mode of existence and subsistence for the human race. There are a variety of different hunting methods and reasons for wanting to hunt. For the sheer sport and excitement of it all to the “Eat What You Kill” philosophy and lifestyle, which many people find alluring.
Whatever your reasons are for wanting to hunt, you still need to learn how to do it and how to get started. Now your hunting journey begins with the choice of a weapon, learning the law of the land both figuratively and literally, as well as educating yourself on what you want to hunt.
Setting the Foundation for New Hunters
Your first order of business is to choose a weapon. For our purposes, we’ll stick to two classes of hunting tools: firearms and bows. If you want to go primal with your own knives or fashioned spears – knock yourself out. Here are the jurisdictions and laws pertaining to these classes of weapons in the United States per each state.
Follow these links for more information:
You need to learn your weapon inside and out before taking it out to the field. Learn your weapon safety by going to any archery or firearms shop or range. They’ll be able to help you choose a weapon and give you the proper training and basic operating procedures.
New hunters need to hone their shooting techniques and train often before even considering going out and hunting live game. Take lessons at an archery range or join a skeet club. Find a hunting mentor who is trained and can pass on their knowledge to you.
Visit your state’s website for resources on hunting education. You’ll learn about the rules, regulations and general licenses. Once you’ve cleared through the bureaucratic hurdles and you’re comfortable with your weapon – the real fun begins.
Plan of Attack
Choose your prey and their location. You’ll want to learn everything about your selected animal. Here is a brief list of what you should learn about:
- Behavior & Movement Patterns
- Identifying Tracks
- Learning About Calls
- Hunting Methods
- Food Sources
- Conservation Status
- Gender Identification
- How to Approach
- Skinning & Eating
- Meal Preparation
Knowledge is power. You are now engaging in an ancient and rich practice. You are a custodian of the earth and part of the natural landscape. Utilize modern technology by using boundary maps, GPS devices and resources from the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service. Study the land through both the maps and by being an active participant when you’re out in the field.
Scout your locations beforehand and look for signs of different animals. You can set up trail cameras and monitor the area. You’re the apex predator now.
Once you’re ready, pack up the appropriate survival gear and head out with your team. This isn’t some amusement park you’re taking part in. Always prepare for the worst. Make sure that your properly stocked with food, water and have a first aid kit. Double check your weapons and bring any other necessary survival gear you see fit.
Proficiency in Weaponry
Along your journey, you’ll learn that many hunters cycle between using both guns and bows. You’ll want to stick to one weapon to start, as you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with decision fatigue.
Becoming an excellent marksman takes time and a lot of trial and error. Focusing on your initial skill set and mastering that is your first task. You can hone this skill while hunting and practicing at the range.
Your basic compound bows and rifle packages will set you back an initial $300 for basic starter packs. A great beginner set up usually costs a few hundred more dollars. Keep in mind that over the years, wear and tear is going to add up for some additional maintenance costs. You’ll also want to buy accessories and have to buy arrows or bullets and shot. The animals you decide to hunt have certain “methods of take” this means that only certain weapons should be used to kill the animal depending on what the regulations are in your specific hunting jurisdiction.
Rifles are usually for hunting ranges between 50 to 300 yards, while bows and shotguns are usually between 10 to 50 yards. Shotguns are great for animals that are on the move for the kill, while rifles and bows, which are single projectile weapons are best used for taking down a stationary animal.
While in the hunt, you’ll learn to experience and appreciate the animals you kill. In recent years, there has been renewed interest in the organic “eat what you kill” movement. A return to the roots of early man has risen.
An Energetic Connection To Your Nutrition
You can expect many knee-jerk reactions when talking about hunting your own food. This is a personal decision for you take back control in one aspect of your life, if you so choose to do so. There is an intangible force shared between you and the game that you hunt.
This is the closest you can get to being spiritually connected to the food that you consume. But still many people won’t see is that way. As they’re not aware of the process that goes on everyday when they decide to eat pre-processed meat. Those opposed to this lifestyle need to ask themselves if this is truly some sort of ethical quandary or just unchecked hypocrisy.
Someone who’s been very vocal about this lifestyle is UFC commentator and popular podcast host Joe Rogan. He had this to say about his detractors:
“Dear folks mad at me for hunting: I only hunt things I eat and my goal is to personally, ethically harvest all the meat I eat at home…I know that some people have a problem with that, but if you wear leather and eat meat, hating hunters for getting their own food is insanely hypocritical and just another sign of the convenient detachment people have regarding the food they consume. Make no mistake about it; if you eat meat you are killing as well…Life eats life. My goal with pursuing hunting is to get more connected with that.”
The reality is that we are consumers of butchered animals. And if that does bother you, maybe consider becoming a vegetarian or a vegan.
Enjoying the Meats of Your Labor
The transference of energy from your hunting efforts to the kill down to the preparation and eating of your food is an enormous chain of effort. One that will be rewarded once you finally sit down and taste your prize. Compared to the life of a factory farmed animal, killing a wild animal is conversely more humane. Hunters that eat their kills have ended their hunt with a swift blow. Rather than putting their animals through years of abuse and torture.
Hunters contribute to an eco friendly lifestyle by being self-reliant and cleaning up after themselves. But one of the most rewarding aspects of this entire enterprise is simply tasting the food after it’s been prepared. Fresh venison or an elk steak has to be tasted to be believed. Wild game, when prepared is an absolute delight. This is one of the reasons cage free animals have picked up in popularity. The meat simply tastes better. The quality is unmatched and will make for a fantastic meal.
New hunters and veterans alike, get out there and enjoy the hunt. Your next meal is waiting for you.