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Getting Started with Hunting as an Adult: A Beginner's Guide

Written By Cameron Bissell
Hunting can be a thrilling and rewarding outdoor activity, providing an opportunity to connect with nature and develop essential skills. If you're an adult looking to venture into the hunting world, you must approach it with the right mindset and preparation. This article is a basic beginner's guide to help you take those crucial first steps into hunting.

Educate Yourself:

Before you spend any time in the field, you need to understand the fundamentals of hunting. The first step in your hunting journey is educating yourself about local regulations and laws. Get the necessary licenses, tags, and permits, and familiarize yourself with wildlife conservation practices. Take a hunter education course to learn about safety, ethics, and the proper techniques for hunting. There is no "catch and release" in hunting; everything we hunters do must be within the law and in good conscience.

Start Small:

Figure out what you want to hunt but look to other species that may offer greater opportunity. The traditional "big game" species can be challenging to hunt and sometimes even draw a tag for. For instance, many local parcels of public land in Florida are difficult to draw a deer tag for. Still, the same patch of land is open later in the season for small game hunting when a hunter can familiarize themselves with the terrain while hunting rabbits, squirrels, and wild hogs. All of which are more abundant than bucks.

Select Suitable Gear:

Invest in high-quality hunting gear that suits your specific needs. Despite what many glossy ads and influencers will tell you, this does not mean a multi-thousand-dollar camo set or matching cooler collection. Essential equipment includes a firearm or bow, appropriate clothing for the terrain and weather, sturdy boots, a hunting backpack, a knife, and safety gear such as ear protection and safety glasses. Look for after-season sales, and in many cases, for used items. Good quality equipment will last many seasons and can be passed on to another new hunter needing a budget-friendly option. 

Practice Shooting and Accuracy:

Compound bow

Improving your shooting skills is crucial for ethical and successful hunting. Regularly visit shooting ranges to practice accuracy and develop confidence in handling your weapon. Familiarize yourself with the scope or sight to ensure precise shots. Practice however and whenever possible, from dry firing your firearm (safely) to joining an indoor range to practice on a lunch break. A hunter proficient with their tools is a hunter who is most often successful.

Choose the Right Hunting Location:

Research and select a hunting location that aligns with your interests and hunting goals. You can choose public hunting lands, private hunting leases, or guided hunts. Ensure you have access to the area legally and obtain any required permits. 

Learn Animal Behavior:

Understanding animal behavior is fundamental to becoming a skilled hunter. Study the habits, movements, and signs of the game you're pursuing. Observe their tracks, feeding patterns, and preferred habitats to increase your chances of a successful hunt. Many hunters joke that, at their core, they are simply birdwatchers that occasionally bring one home. As you progress as a hunter, you will find yourself taking walks and noting game trails, food sources, and areas where animals are likely to bed down for the night. When this happens, every hike, hunting trip, and picnic becomes a field trip to discover new aspects of animal behavior.

Hunt with Experienced Hunters:

Hunters walking in a field

Hunting with experienced mentors can accelerate your learning process. Join hunting clubs or organizations to meet seasoned hunters who can offer valuable guidance and share their knowledge and experiences. Groups like The Future of Hunting in Florida, Hunters of Color, and the American Daughters of Conservation have programs to help new adult hunters begin their journey.

Practice Patience and Persistence:

Hunting requires patience and perseverance. Be prepared for moments of waiting and learn to enjoy the tranquility of nature. Social media has convinced hunters that every duck hunt is about reaching your limit of mallards, and every elk hunt ends with a massive bull. Hunting involves early mornings and sometimes hours without seeing a target animal. Remember, hunting is not solely about the kill; it's about appreciating the great outdoors.

Starting hunting as an adult can be both exciting and challenging. Remember to approach hunting with respect for nature, ethical practices, and a dedication to wildlife conservation. Educate yourself, practice shooting, and learn from experienced hunters to develop your skills. Embrace the journey and savor the unforgettable experiences hunting can offer.



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