|40 yd crossbow shot at the end of a golf tee|
As I said in my previous blog "Dad for a Day" I was going to start providing tips and techniques to help those who needed basic information to get started in the outdoors. There may be a million topics to choose from in a multitude of outdoor activities. I am going to narrow it down to just hunting, fishing, and camping for now. With hunting seasons winding down and fair weather fishing and camping season just around the corner, you might think I would start this Dad for a Day stuff by talking about those two outdoor activities. That is not the case though. Now is the perfect time to talk about hunting. This is your first lesson in your quest to become a hunter.
It is the perfect time to talk about hunting, because unlike camping and fishing, hunting requires more from you. Hunting also exposes you to hazards you won't encounter as a beginner like you would get in camping or fishing. I am not saying that camping and fishing do not have risks. Anyone who ice fishes or operates a boat at high speeds or in cold water certainly are expose to life threatening hazards, but I am talking about at the very beginner level.
As a beginner in the field of hunting, you will be using some sort of weapon like bows, crossbows, and firearms. This is what I mean by hunting requires more from you. You have to be a responsible person to take on hunting for your sake and others. If you go out hunting by yourself or with others, you all are already exposed to a hazard, your weapon. It is your responsibility as a hunter to have a excellent working knowledge of your weapon and its capabilities. I will use modern high power rifles as an example because they are on the upper end of the most dangerous if miss handled. The rifle I hunt deer with has crazy power. It is a Browning bolt action rifle in the .270 caliber. I will get into calibers in another blog. By crazy power, I mean at 500 yards (5 football fields) the bullet is still traveling in the neighborhood of 1500 feet per second. That means it is still traveling about the length of 5 football fields in 1 second. Let that sink in as you look at your watch. Every time the second hand ticks, that bullet has traveled another 5 football fields. Even more impressive, if you aimed it up in the air at a 45 degree angle and fired the gun, the bullet would travel approximately 2-3 miles. One lapse in judgement or mishandling a firearm could mean the end for you, your hunting buddy, or someone 2-3 miles away.
Now is the perfect time to talk about hunting, because your success as a hunter is due in large part to your preparation. You have lots to do before next season and the most important thing to do at this point is to get into a hunter safety program. These are great programs for beginners and teach you a lot about gun safety. If you are a parent wanting to involve your kids in hunting, this is something you can do together. My dad took me when I was just old enough to get in the program. I still remember how proud I was for shooting some clay pigeons at the end of the program, and how proud he was for me. Safety is the most important aspect of hunting however, there is plenty of other things to consider before those seasons start later this year.
If you are going to hunt, you will need a place to go. You will need to get permission of a land owner to hunt their property or hunt on public land. What are you wanting to hunt? Knowing what you want to hunt narrows down what equipment you will need. For example, squirrel hunting requires much less than say duck hunting. As a beginner, I recommend hunting small game initially. It does not require much more than a shotgun and a little camouflage clothing. The main thing is safety, I can't say that enough. The next important aspect of hunting is practice. I said earlier, know you weapon and its capabilities. If you aren't willing to put the time in to become accurate with your weapon, hunting is not for you. Practice shooting for the wildlife's sake. Clean, humane kills are the only acceptable way to harvest game in my opinion.
Hunting is all about respect for the game you are after. Organizations like PETA, like to portray hunters as crazed killers out shooting up everything that moves. That's just not the case. A true hunter, is into conservation as much as harvesting game for food. All true hunters want clean, beautiful habitat full of all sorts of game. In fact, people who hunt and fish dump BILLIONS of dollars into conservation though license and fees. Money that goes to habitat rehabilitation, pollution control, and paying conservation officers to protect game. Hunters selectively harvest game which provides healthy numbers of animals in a given area, and provide the greatest amount of money towards the preservation of game and habitat. Honestly, organizations like PETA should thank hunters for their contributions that better habitat and wildlife.
The off season is always busy for even the most experienced hunter, and more so for a beginner. So, first things first, find an place to hunt. Research public land available to hunt. Ask landowners for permission to hunt their land and get that permission in writing. Decide what game you are interested in. Take a hunter safety program. The officers that put on the hunter safety program can provide lots of information on the things you will need to hunt certain game, including what type of weapon. Once you know how to be safe, practice shooting your weapon a lot! There are lots of variables you can not control when hunting, but being an excellent marksman is one you can. This is plenty to get you started, as new seasons get closer we can add to your skills and knowledge. Just remember, Safety is the most important aspect of hunting. D