Maccabee Society reader Bradley asks:
For someone who has shot a gun once or twice before and never been on a
hunt, how would you recommend getting a hunting trip started?
Thank You God Bless,
Unless you grew up hunting, the task may seem out of reach: guns, ammo, practice, access to land, skill, strategy, etc. So here are some tips:
- Small game or large game? Go small. Doves, quail, pheasants, rabbits, squirrels. Hunting can get expensive ($200,000 for bighorn sheep). But small game is inexpensive-merely the price of a hunting license (about $40).
- You need land access. In America, we are blessed to be able to hunt on public lands. These lands belong to us. Take advantage. Research your nearest public lands. Alternatively, ask a friend who has land access to take you hunting. Many hunters will not want to take you hunting for their prized deer, but they’d be happy to take you dove hunting or let you hunt rabbits or hogs.
- You don’t need a friend or guide, but it’s highly recommended. Hunters like to hunt with others. It solitary but collegial. So make friends with a hunter, and ask for him to take you out and teach you.
- You need 1-3 gun(s):
- For birds, you need a 12 gauge shotgun. Every man with a wife and children needs to protect them with a 12 gauge, anyway. It’s the best home security weapon. You can get into a basic level Mossberg shotgun for $300.
- For small game, you need a 22 rifle. You can get the classic Ruger 10-22 for $200. I guarantee that you’ll more fun with this rifle than any other rifle you’ll every buy. It’s great for rabbits, squirrels, and even coyotes. Technically, you could kill a deer with a 22, but I wouldn’t risk it.
- For larger game, a basic rifle. Recommended calibers would be .243, .273, and .300, .308, or 30-06. Those numbers (calibers) are measurements of the barrel’s width in inches (i.e. .243 of an inch or .45 of an inch). You can hunt a deer or hog with .243 or .273. For larger animals like a bear, elk, or moose, you’ll need to go up in size – but this is your first hunt so stick with .243, .273 or 30-06.
- BOW HUNTING: It’s amazing but it takes more knowledge and more skill. I recommend starting with firearms, but I’m sure someone in the comments will stand up as the Apostle of the Bow.
- Hunter Safety. You don’t want to die and you don’t want to hurt or injure someone. This isn’t football where you might hurt your shoulder or soccer where you might tear your ACL. This is hunting. People can and do die. You need to learn how to carry a rifle or shotgun, how to employ the safety, and learn basic courtesy.
- Camouflage. Get some camo clothes that resemble the region and season. Newbs obsess over camouflage. If it’s generally brown and green and splattered, it’s going to work great. It’s more important to focus on insuring your personal comfort for warmth and water conditions than it is to match the leaf pattern. The old school hunters wore red and black plaid and they did just great.
- Eat the meat! One of the best parts of hunting is learning how to butcher animals, prepare, and cook the meat. Did you shoot some dove? Stuff them with cheese and jalapeño and wrap them with bacon. Enjoy. Hunting squirrels? Watch a Youtube video first on how to easily skin them.
Have fun. Make that first hunt. If you get nothing. No worries. It’s still fun. Report back and let us know how it goes.
Did I miss something? Experienced hunters, please weigh in by leaving a comment below.