6 steps all new hunters should take to find success in the field
Do you want to learn how to hunt? There are many reasons why people start hunting. For some, it’s the opportunity to share outdoor experiences with friends and family. For others it’s the high quality protein, and for some, it’s just being outdoors. Total immersion is not the only, or even the best way to become a hunter. Familiarization with different parts of the lifestyle can be done in measured lengths. We've assembled six steps novices can take to become well-rounded, confident and skilled hunters.
1. Tag along
Accompany an experienced hunter to the field. Not to shoot an animal, but to soak in the sights, sounds and smells of the experience. You’ll get a sense for what it’s like to be a hunter. Immerse yourself in all parts of the hunt—setting decoys, sitting in a tree stand, bugling for elk or watching dogs work the scent trail of a pheasant.
2. Wild feast
Learn how to clean and prepare game. Eating your harvested animal creates an immensely gratifying connection with nature and your food. In contrast to its domestic counterpart, wild game needs to be cooked differently. There are many excellent sources of information (print and online) to help take an animal from field to fork. When in doubt don’t be afraid to ask. Online wild food communities also serve as a good resource.
3. First steps
To purchase a hunting license you will need to complete a provincial or territorial hunter safety and education course. And passing the Canadian Firearms Safety Course is required to purchase or use a firearm, and to purchase ammunition. Sometimes these courses are bundled together. In addition, hunter education courses are usually honoured by other jurisdictions should you find yourself hunting away from home.
4. Shooting practice
Learn how to shoot—even before you purchase a gun or a bow. Practice before the hunt is essential. It helps new hunters build confidence, and ensuring humane kills benefits the whole hunting community. Shooting at the range is an excellent opportunity to practice and reinforce the safety rules learned in your hunter education course.
5. Mentored hunts
Get assistance from someone who knows. It’s easy enough to find out about hunting. But how do you get out at the right time, in the right place, with permissions, license, tags, gun, ammo, and a deep knowledge of habitat and animal behaviour? Plus what do you do after the shot, once an animal is on the ground? Putting it all together is second nature to an experienced hunter but not very easy for someone new to the whole scene. Learning from someone experienced and passionate about hunting and the outdoors is the very best way to put all that new learning into action.
6. Celebrate success
Celebrate your hunt. Success can be defined in many ways: watching a beautiful sunrise with the wilderness waking up around you; hitting exactly what you aimed at; setting up in a location where you get see lots wildlife; bringing home some wild, organic meat to share. Whatever makes you happy with the experience, give yourself the time and space to soak it in.
Saskatchewan writer Lowell Strauss has welcomed many new hunters into the outdoor community