Hunting is an American tradition passed down through the generations. It’s a great way to bond with family, share values, and connect with the land. Before you grab your rifle and head out to get that 10-point buck, there are some things you (and every hunter) should know. These tips will help you make sure that you have a safe and successful hunting trip.
1) Observe State Regulations
Know what’s legal and what’s illegal.
Depending on what game you’re hunting, you’ll need a license and tags. Be sure that you hunt during the state-sanctioned season for the given game type. There are penalties and fines for violating any regulations. Most states require game checking, i.e. a digital record of all the game you’ve acquired, and most have made this convenient by providing smartphone apps through their DNR websites.
Here are some of the things that are prohibited:
- Baiting or hunting on baited land
- Hunting under the influence
- Hunting without landowner permission
- Killing or wounding an animal without thoroughly trying to retrieve your game
- Shooting across a public road
- Hunting from a vehicle
- Using blinding lights
There are plenty of things to watch out for, so check your state guidelines before you hunt.
2) Practice Safety
Safe hunting requires that every hunter makes a mindful effort to practice informed and ethical hunting. Here are some general safety guidelines:
- Educate yourself about the best hunting practices and take a hunter’s safety course.
- Make sure you’ve got the landowner’s permission if hunting on private property.
- Always be aware of your surroundings and practice safety around other hunters.
- Study the game you’re hunting and know what to expect.
- Scout the terrain of your hunting location before your hunting trip.
- Be aware of any natural predators that might also be hunting the game you’re after.
In addition to these tips, you’ll need to bring the right gear to ensure you get the most out of your hunting trip.
3) Find the Right Gear
When you’re getting ready for the hunt, remember that there are a few things you’ll need to take with you.
- Everyone knows they need to pack ammo, but there are many little things you might not think of, including rations, knives, lighters or waterproof matches, water purification tablets, a map & compass, a waterproof light, medicine, a space blanket, a metal cup and a cell phone or two-way radio.
- You also need to dress the part. You’ll need clothes appropriate to the season. Some evergreen clothing tips include orange for safety, good boots and a hat. You can get some durable, high-quality boots and camouflage gear from a quality outfitter like Carhartt.
- For deer and larger game, you’ll need a good hunting rifle. For fowl and smaller game, shotguns are the best fit.
- Bow hunting is a unique approach. Costs for getting a quality starter bow or gun will fall into similar price ranges. Lifetime costs of gun ownership will be higher because of ammo costs and range costs. Bow hunting, while less expensive, requires more learning on the front end, but it offers a different kind of dynamic than rifle or shotgun hunting.
4) Learn the Tactics
Because hunting seasons for each game type differ by state, it’s important that you research your state regulations. Know what gear you need to hunt different types of game, and which tactics to employ.
- If you’re hunting deer, go out with a rifle or bow, and mask your scent. Most hunters prefer a stand for deer hunting.
- If you’re hunting small game or fowl, a hunting dog is a helpful friend in the field. Because moving game are tricky, you should also spend some time practicing with clay pigeons before the hunt.
- Turkey hunting is a special art unto itself. You can hunt them with a bow or a shotgun depending on your preference.
- Once the hunt is over, it’s also important to have a plan to field dress and transport your game and process it. Also, keep storage in mind when you’re hunting and only take what you can handle.
Happy hunting! Now, you’re ready to go out there and bring home a big whitetail!