As long as humans have walked on all twos, we have hunted. Fortunately, we have many tools available to us that exceed a sharpened stick and an empty stomach to muster courage. While the tools may have evolved, the passion and the need for the hunt have not. There are many hunting preparation tips that are essential when setting out into the jungle, woods or forest. All of these techniques will make the difference between bringing down a prized buck or coming home, hands in pockets, with nothing to feed your family and you.
Rules, Regulations and Readiness
The biggest differences between hunting thousands of years ago and today are the regulations. The beauty of the hunt is still marvelous, but the rules have changed and need to be recognized and followed. Ignoring the basic hunting policies will lead to a night in jail or thousands of dollars in fines. Neither option is particularly pleasant, especially when considering the glorious hunt lost due to overlooking the rules. The first thing to do after you have decided to embark on a hunt is to secure a hunting license. These licenses generally cost between $50 and $100 and can be obtained at local retail stores. Generally, any large retail store with a gun section will be able to accommodate consumers looking to acquire a hunting license.
Note however, that if you’re hunting on your own land, the rules are different in each state. Some states don’t require a hunting license if hunting your own private property—others do. Check all rules and regulations on licensing requirements in your state.
The second logistical step to take before you suit up and pick up your weapon of choice is to mark territories that are not restricted. Another misstep that will lead to a large fine is to go hunting on such land. These areas usually consist of endangered animals or those deemed to be dangerously close to populous regions to have hunters wielding guns or bows (if you so desire) and tracking animals. At the same place where the hunting license is purchased, acquire a map that shows places in the region in which hunting is disallowed. This will easily avoid any “Oops!” moments that end up with a big guy named Tiny who is looking at you for his next ‘meal’.
Choosing Your Kill
It may seem like common sense; however, there are numerous different types of animals to hunt, and there are different seasons allotted to each species. Many species overlap, so obtaining your state’s hunting regulations, bag limits, and seasons is important. The department that handles that in each state is different, so go to your state’s website to find out. Most of the times these handbooks of rules are located on the counter at your local Wal-Mart or sporting goods store.
In determining which type of species to hunt, consider what type of animal you enjoy eating. If you are a person that enjoys rich flavored meat, then considering the deer for venison would be a good option for you. If you prefer lighter meat, you may want to opt for a small bird such as quail. Paradoxically, there are other reasons to bear in mind when determining what you will be hunting before leaving home. Your choice of weapon will depend largely on what you like to eat. Make sure that you do not go into the forest with a slingshot while searching for elk. While a small weapon may have worked on Goliath, in the 21st century, unless they are made of kryptonite, it usually takes more than a few pebbles to kill an animal.
Choosing Your Weapon
This decision is based off the previous choice. Once you have determined the size of your prey, the next step is to decide on an adequate tool to accompany you. Choosing a weapon also depends on your general knowledge of weaponry. Some specific rifles intended for ‘green’ hunters include:
- Marlin Bolt-Action .22
- Savage Bolt-Action .22
- Winchester Bolt-Action .308
- Springfield Bolt-Action .30-06
The .22s would be used for small game—rabbits and squirrels. The larger rifles are generally favored over non-kryptonite pebbles for bringing down an elk.
Shotguns require the animal to get a little closer to you before you can shoot. The shotgun can be used for small and large game, depending on the shell you’re using. When hunting smaller game, realize the nature of the prey and choose a weapon that will spray as a wider-patterned shot. The wide range of effectiveness will require a weapon with less force needed to hunt the animal. Specific shotguns intended for novice hunters consist of the following:
- Beretta 391
- Remington 1100
- Beretta Teknys 20 gauge
- Winchester Model 1897
Practice Makes Perfect: Applies to Everything in Life
Now that you know what you will use, it is essential to spend a significant amount of time learning your weapon, which can be done easily by practicing. It might sound strange, but become intimate with your shotgun. All guns, be they rifles or hand held, even of the same design, are unique and can yield different results. It’s important to understand and compensate for any idiosyncrasy with your weapon. If it shoots a little high at 200 feet, then you know you have to lower the barrel a bit to compensate. Take your shotgun before the big day and begin tracking the number of cans, plastic bottles or whatever that you can target accurately. While practicing your shooting, remember proper shooting technique.
Stance is important in the shot technique. The placement of your feet will determine where the shot goes. If your feet are too far apart, you will likely miss a follow-up shot based on the drastic body movement needed to correct. Gripping the weapon to an appropriate level will put your mind at ease. Keep in mind this is an individual process that takes time. If it is uncomfortable, do not squeeze the handle as tightly as you would a bar of gold when out in public. Subsequently, do not pull the trigger and lose complete control of your weapon. Make sure you have the gun snugged against your shoulder to prevent bruising from recoil. Finally, make sure that you are prepared for the hunt by monitoring your breath while you hold the gun and during the shot. Deep, concentrated breaths should be taken to keep the gun from moving and ultimately, missing the whole reason for being out there: a stunning, well-deserved kill.
We would love to hear from our readers about this and other articles. We welcome you to submit your article to our “Readers Write” section about some of your hunting stories, experiences, and common sense wisdom you’d like to share.
Other articles in this issue:
- Vegetable Storage: Getting to the Root of the Problem 
- Heating Options for Your Home 
- Yes, Virginia (and Maine!), There are Fresh Greens in Winter