Around 2.1 million years ago our ancestors stopped scavenging leftovers after predators killed prey and we started finally hunting for ourselves. This kickstarted a tradition that has been a large part of our evolution as a species and it is one reason hunting for beginners can be so rewarding.
It is innate for humans to hunt and kill. We are predators and even though we have largely outsourced killing to a few people working in factories, it is more rewarding and ethical to go through the process oneself. Even if we cannot hunt every bit of meat that we eat, there is a level of respect that comes from hunting, which cannot be gleaned elsewhere.
Getting started hunting can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Hunting for beginners can be relatively simple with the right support and guidance.
If you wait until the end of this article, we have built an entire system to help beginner hunters get started in a painless way.
Hunting for Beginners: A Spiritual Practice
Despite common depictions of hunting, it can be a profound experience. This is especially true of beginners who have lived in an urban environment their whole life and want to connect to the ancient practice of hunting.
Taking the life of a large mammal not unlike a human is an intense experience and one that comes with reverence. The physical adrenaline rush, the nervousness, and thrill associated with hunting are all biological markers of a time when we needed to be successful in order to eat.
Sometimes the experience of hunting an animal requires many long hours of sitting, waiting and often in harsh weather conditions. The reward of a successful kill is meaningful for many reasons, but more newcomers to the hunting scene are putting a spiritual spin on it.
After all, we are taking the life of another animal to feed ourselves, our family, and our community. There is nothing closer to the circle of life and death than that!
How to Get Into Hunting: Honor the Animal
Anyone who is learning how to get into hunting needs to pick a weapon. Most beginners would benefit from a rifle because it is much easier to kill an animal at a longer distance than with a bow. Don’t get it wrong; hunting is never easy, but with a rifle it might be easier than a bow.
Try to be proficient at a range that is the maximum you will be hunting. If you are hunting at around 100 yards, be able to hit a dinner plate size range at 120 yards and it will be much easier.
Buying your own rifle is relatively inexpensive and the 270 or 308 calibers are great for most game animals. Remington or Winchester rifles are excellent starting points if you are hunting game. For turkey hunting, duck hunting, or any other birds, you will want shotguns and other weapons.
If you desire to use a compound bow to go hunting, make sure you do one major thing: commit. It is a big commitment to bow hunt with a compound bow because you must be far more proficient and practice a lot more than with a rifle.
Compound bowhunting is incredibly rewarding, but requires a level of commitment and consistent practice that many people are not realistically able to make. Without that commitment, it is not worthwhile to bow hunt or else you will be unsuccessful and injure the animals.
Choosing the Prey: What Will You Hunt?
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to hunting for beginners. In certain regions of the world it may be easier to get started with deer hunting while in other regions dove hunting is the way to go. In some places, such as Texas, wild hog hunting is not only common, but helpful to many farmers and ranchers!
Each animal will come with a separate set of challenges. The rifle practice that we mentioned above only pertains to larger game like hogs, deer, and elk hunting. It is a completely different practice regimen to prepare for dove or small game birds. They’ll require shotgun and trap shooting practice most likely.
Generally, the big game animals require a little more patience. There are long periods of time without seeing any animals. Sometimes it requires stalking the animals on foot being still, silent, and patient. Of course, the payoff is much better with a large game animal.
In contrast, small game hunting can be more oriented towards a high quantity of action, these events can be highly social, and (to some people) more enjoyable. It’s really up to you to decide which of these resonates the strongest and choose to prepare for that.
How to Start Hunting
Learning hunting for beginners can sometimes be a lot simpler than one thinks. There are definitely things to consider before getting in the field (such as state licenses, hunting seasons, and practicing beforehand), but generally speaking the best way to get started hunting is by getting into the field!
In many states hunting is often not highly regulated or prohibitive. In Texas, if you have land and deer or hogs are on the land, they are often up for hunting. Hogs are a special case that we can hunt year round!
Having friends that own private land can make hunting a little bit easier especially if they are managing the land for game and wildlife. In the absence of a friend who can take you on their land for some hunting, there are two main options: hunting with an outfitter and hunting on public land.
How to Get Into Hunting with a Guide
A great way to starting hunting is by paying for hunting trips with a guide called an “outfitter”. Usually an outfitter is a guide who owns property or knows of people who do own property who can take you out to hunt in the way that you desire.
Looking for a specific animal? There are outfitters that can help. Looking for a specific experience? Same thing. This is the best way to get started because the guide will not only help you to get started, but also educate you throughout the entire process.
A hunting outfitter is a great way to shortcut some of the learning curve by both being told what to do and learning through a healthy dose of questions!
The only downside to outfitting is the cost. Usually it isn’t excessive, but it can make the per pound cost of meat a bit higher than you would find at the grocery store. For the learning experience, it is hard to say that this isn’t worth it, though.
Hunting on Public Land
The free and total self-starter route of hunting for beginners is to get on public land. Many regions across the United States have public land that you can hunt on. Some states are better than others (Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado all have lots of public land) so it is worthwhile to look up states near to to see what is available.
The downside of public land is how challenging it can be for a novice hunter. Getting out into the woods and mountains in order to hunt game (especially large ones like elk) can require a lot of effort, a lot of skill, and many tools.
While it is free, the time you spend searching for game on public land is never recuperated. If you are a fan of the outdoors, great (in fact, if you’re not a fan of the outdoors we don’t recommend hunting!) But if you are looking for a kill to have that experience, public land is probably not your best bet.
Dressing Game: What to Do When Successful
One reason it’s important to have a guide with you (outfitter) is for help once you kill an animal. It’s not easy to go from no knowledge of animal anatomy to gutting, skinning, and cleaning the whole thing.
This is an important part of hunting because it ensures the animal gets used in its entirety, the meat doesn’t spoil, and you get out of the hunt successfully. The following video is a great big game dressing guide that’s better than anything we could produce with text.
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Take the Next Step
Now that you have an understanding of how to get into hunting, it is important to take the next steps. Many new hunters read a lot about it, learn, speak with friends, and never end up doing anything. We’ve been there…
The Conscious Hunter retreats are a series of hunting excursions with like minded beginners who have either never hunted before or simply did not have the mindful experience that we curate.
If you want to learn more about the retreat email internal at conscioushunter.com.
How to get into hunting
How to start hunting