How To Start Hunting at A Later Age: The Do’s & Dont’s
Many of hunters that we find afield today have been hunting since they were toddlers. Toting a Daisy BB in the old forest or trying their hand at traditional archery.Usually, these activities are introduced and ingrained under the supervision of their elders. An aging grandparent with years of wisdom or a loving father or mother nearby to nurture the lessons of sportsmanship.
However, there are the few hunters who were less fortunate and got into hunting much later in life.
It seems that an increasing amount of outdoor folk have been taking the field eager to learn the ropes and immerse themselves in this world. So what are these men and women supposed to do without the direct guidance of a relative or mentor? How does one get started in this rather intimidating world of guns, rods, reels, and sporting dog jargon? What are the etiquettes? or the “Do” and “Don’t do” things that one is supposed to learn?
I remember my first day afield as an early twenties bow hunter, fresh out of college with a degree and education that would do absolutely nothing for me in the woods. I had gotten my hands on a brand spanking’ new PSE compound bow and found myself on an old deer stand in the middle of a suburban neighborhood in Maryland dotted with McMansions.
I had gone out on my first hunting experience on opening day of Whitetail deer in Montgomery County, Maryland. Armed with my new bow, cheap arrows, and a drab green mil-pack full of useless items like a giant bowie knife, two gallons of water, and if I can remember correctly – some awesome new mixed and matched camo from Bass Pro Shops. I was sure to “catch” a deer! I shot and harvested my first 6 point buck that morning and I’ve been hooked ever since. A lot of Youtube videos later and a bloody shed – we had our first freezer full of venison. Looking back on it, I realized I made a lot of mistakes that day, but I also learned tremendously within those first few hours.
Needless to say, here are a few things I’ve learned to do and not to do since that embarrassing day thanks to individuals that were willing to take me under their wing and teach me their ways.
Things You Should Do:
- Find yourself a mentor
- Register for and attend a hunter’s safety course
- Learn the hunting, fishing, and firearm regulations of your local, state, and federal jurisdictions – ignorance of the law is never an excuse!
- Be ready to learn and stay humble
- Respect the quarry and the land which you recreate on
- Know what is ethical and what is not ethical
- Practice and be proficient enough with your weapon BEFORE you take the field
- Research and learn about the animal you will be hunting
- Make friends and stay out of trouble
- Volunteer and give back
Things You Don’t Do:
- Be arrogant or naive
- Show disrespect or disregard for wildlife, people, and property
- Trespassing or poaching
- Waste anything that you harvest
- Post anything on social media that would harm the image of the hunting and fishing communities (This subject will and deserves an entire post to itself!)
- Make an unethical shot or action that would maim or intentionally cause suffering to an animal
- Take the life of an animal for the pure enjoyment of killing it – the joy of hunting does not come simply from killing
There are many things that could be added to this list, but then again – these things can be completely up to your personal opinions. Regardless, I feel that every hunter that takes the field should have, up to a certain extent, high regard for life and the environment in which he or she steps foot on.
What do you think? What do you wish you would have learned earlier in your hunting career? Any advice you’d like to impart on others?
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