You have a couple of weeks before deer season. If you’re like me, you’re going to spend opening day in a familiar spot full of memories from past successful hunts. If you’re new to hunting, or maybe you have never hunted but have thought to yourself it’s something you’d be interested in giving a try, then know you can do it. You just have to have realistic expectations.
When I started hunting, I was fortunate to have two uncles that would each take me a few times a season. But by the time I was 14 and had become the proud owner of a 4-wheeler, I was out on my own. Back then gaining permission on private property was easier. Before the widespread adoption of leasing land took away most hunter’s ability to secure a good place to hunt based on a handshake a little sweat equity. The number of mistakes I made, and the challenges I faced learning to hunt on my own, is what I attribute to the lifelong passion I have for hunting. It was a learned skill. One I’ll never perfect. I just hope to continuously evolve throughout my life.
There were no youth seasons back then. No one was trying to set us up for success. There was no R3 efforts, and conversation organizations weren’t tripping all over themselves to take youth out for mentored opportunities. All of these advancements are great. I’m a huge fan. They get people out in the woods and often build hunters. And just as importantly supporters of hunting. Yet, when we make an experience unnaturally easy, we run the risk of diluting the actual experience.
I’ve taken a number of people on their first deer and turkey hunts. More often than not, the hunters I was mentoring shot a deer or turkey, sometimes within the first hour of their first hunt. I can’t imagine how easy hunting must seem to them. How unfilled they were by shooting something with such minimal effort invested in learning about their quarry. The habitats they call home and the habits they possess which lead hunters to plan for success based on knowledge of how and why. Having someone else sit you in a tree and say the buck will come from that directions is still hunting, and again, it’s great that person is hunting, but how deep is the learning? How thorough is the understanding? How lasting is the experience?
If you are new to hunting, forget about killing big bucks. That’s not what hunting is about. Please don’t look to “influencers” on Facebook and Instagram. This new influencer world we live in has had an incredibly negative effect of the merits of hunting, at least in my opinion.
What you want to focus on is learning. And to learn, you need to be out there. The more time you spend where deer live, the more you will begin to understand why they do what they do. The puzzle hunting is will become clearer until one day, you have most of the pieces put together. That’s when you can elevate your game to pursuing older, harder to kill animals. Until then, get some experience under your belt. Hike ridges and look for sign, like rubs and scrapes. Don’t know what those are? Look it up. There is a wealth of information out there for you online, in books and magazines. There are even a few television and web shows worth watching. Not many, but a few.
You don’t need someone else to take you hunting. You have access to public lands all around. What you must have in a desire to hunt to procure meat for your table. Patience to learn how to be a good hunter. Ethics to follow the game laws. And the sort of persistent attitude that will drive forward after you encounter numerous failures. Like all things in life, the reward is sweeter when effort is maximized.
See you down the trail…
Pic: Learning to hunt on your own builds lifelong interest and passion.
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