What do I need to do to go Hunting?

Wow, we’ve been busy. We went from wildfire evacuation directly into a big hunting trip for two weeks. We followed that up with moving and here we are. We are barely settled in our new home but we’re back to hunting before it’s over for the year.

We’re happy to share that we’ve had a consistent audience of people who are using our web pages to learn about harvesting wild food. Our main goal in the first place was to help people get started, so we’re on the right track.

Our most popular posts have been about “how-to” stuff, like reading the tides, how to process clams, how to kayak fish, and so-on.

So for this article, I wanted to get very basic and write about what someone needs to do to start hunting. We’ve talked to quite a few people who are interested in hunting but are intimidated for one reason or another. Mostly it’s just difficult to learn without a mentor, which I completely understand.

But it’s worth the learning curve – there are tons of reasons to get out there and harvest your own wild meat. Maybe you just want to eat healthier. Maybe you want to feel more connected with your food. Or maybe it just sounds fun. All of these are good reasons to go on your first hunt. So here’s what you need to do to get started.

When we started hunting, it was as simple as hiking through the woods with shotguns looking for grouse. We were lucky to have some good friends like Alicia to show us how it’s done.

5 simple steps to start hunting

1. Take Hunter’s Education

Every state wildlife agency offers a basic hunters education class. This is an easy class that is sometimes entirely online. You need to take it once in your life and then it’s valid forever and in every state.

In a lot of hunter’s education classes you can get paired up with a mentor through a mentor-ship program if you want. This is huge for anyone that’s worried about getting started without one.

2. Pick the type of hunting you want to start with and learn the rules

There are open seasons and closed seasons. There are lots of other rules. Get a regulations book (you can get them free online in PDF or mailed to you by your local fish and wildlife office) and read through it, and you’ll learn that it actually isn’t that complicated. Generally, you are allowed one big game animal per hunting season. In your area it might be that it has to be an antlered animal (aka a Buck), or maybe you can only harvest 2 of the birds you want to hunt. Either way, you’ll need to know when you can hunt, where you can hunt, and what the limit is. There are also more detailed restrictions on ammunition, legal shooting hours, etc., that you will learn in hunters education and by reading the regulations.

If you have any questions about the rules, I strongly encourage you to contact your local fish and wildlife office and ask them – don’t rely on asking someone who hunts unless you really trust their expertise.

3. Learn how to process the meat

This is potentially the hardest part to do without a mentor, but it’s definitely not impossible. It’s fairly intuitive – humans have been hunting for a long time and they didn’t have Youtube to watch every time they encountered a new food. Watch some videos of people processing the animal you want to hunt, and just remember the main goals are to keep your meat clean, cool, and dry. This just means you should avoid hunting when it’s hot, and if you are lucky enough to harvest something make sure to take good care of the meat and it’ll be great.

4. Learn your weapon

Whether it’s a bow or a gun, this is a very important and sometimes overlooked step. After spending time and energy in the field looking for game, you’ll be very disappointed if you make a bad shot. Most importantly, you have to be consistently accurate with your weapon to be ethical. One reason we love archery is we can practice at or near home, but practicing with a gun usually means going to a range.

Once you feel comfortable target shooting with your weapon, it’s important to practice in real-life situations. For archery, I like to bring a target out into the woods and shoot uphill, downhill, and through vegetation. With a rifle, I like to practice in a variety of shooting positions.

The bottom line is that when you’re ready to shoot at an animal, you will know. You will have practiced enough to feel very confident with your weapon.

5. Gather up the gear you’ll need

Hunting can be so incredibly simple. In addition to the equipment you would want to bring on a hike, you just need a license, a weapon, and a couple of small tools for processing an animal. Bird hunting is a great way to start. All you really need is a cheap shotgun (about $200) and basic hiking gear to get started. Here’s a list of the basics:

  • Hunting License
  • First Aid Kit
  • Water and Food
  • A good pair of hiking shoes
  • Navigation
  • Weapon and ammunition
  • Field processing equipment – knife, game bags, gloves, knife sharpener
  • Orange vest – not required in all hunts but we always bring along in case we find ourselves hunting near other hunters

In summary

You really don’t need much! The beauty of hunting is in it’s simplicity. You’ll find yourself in beautiful places where you never would have otherwise wandered, and you’ll appreciate the food you eat more than you ever have.

The main hiccup for most people is just finding the motivation to get started, but once you do you will never stop. If you have any questions about getting started with hunting, please feel free to reach out to us. Here are some photos of what keeps us hunting every fall.

elk tenderloin with red wine and garlic pan sauce
Venison Fast Food Burgers

A Few Hunting FAQs

Is hunting expensive?

Hunting does not need to be expensive. If you stick to the state in which you are a resident, it’s very affordable. Hunting gets expensive when you start buying tags to go hunting out of state as a nonresident.

Do I need to wear camo to go hunting?

No, you don’t need camo. Camouflage can be very helpful (and almost necessary) for some types of hunting like turkey and duck, but it still isn’t necessary. We often hunt big game in our regular outdoor clothes and just try to wear grays, browns, or greens. It’s more important to be safe and comfortable with clothing that is appropriate for the weather.

Do I need to wear orange to go hunting?

In some states and for some types of hunting, orange is required. We wear orange any time that we hunt an area where there are lots of other people hunting. We generally avoid this though. Read the regulations for your area and the type of hunting you want to do and you’ll learn if you need it or not.

Can I start hunting without a mentor?

In short, yes you can. If you’re the type of person that can really do the research ahead of time, you can start hunting without having a mentor.

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