I’ve been hunting my entire life. So, a lot of stuff is second nature to me. I know my way around pretty much any gun just by feeling it out, and I have a good sense of which gear is quality, that sort of thing. And hunting is a lot about experience, more than anything else. I can get a sense for when it’s time to move on from a spot, or for when a deer is just about to move. I think one reason a lot of people don’t get into hunting is that it seems so daunting, like you have to have been doing it since you were little to be any good at it. Experience helps, but it shouldn’t be a scary thing to start out. So, if you read my blog and are thinking about going out for your first deer, I’ve come up with a basic intro for you, which is today’s blog!
Hunting deer has been a primary source of food for people in North America since the First Nations people first arrived here over the land bridge from Siberia. As they moved southwards into the deeper forests and warmer landscapes, they started integrating the deer into their mythology, and they used deer skin for a lot of their clothes and building materials. The Pilgrims in America recorded venison feasts as they first arrived here, and even though the population came close to being hunted out of existence in the 1800s, as people expanded across the continent, it’s now back to being extremely healthy, and here in Alberta, there are deer everywhere for the taking. A lot of the people I know live their whole year out of the freezer thanks to the deer they take, and I’ve never heard of somebody going out empty-handed out of hunting season. When you start taking deer, you’re going to get lots of automatic time outside and exercise in the great outdoors, fresh meat that’s completely organic, and a lot of expertise that sets hunters apart from passive, lazy modern folks.
First things first, you need to get yourself a weapon. I would recommend starting with a gun because it’s the easiest to learn, and it’s not as much of a pain to get into as using a bow. Bows are definitely a great way to hunt, but I’d really suggest getting your aim down first with a gun, and besides, using rifles will get you game faster, which is key to keeping you motivated to go take more game. You’re going to want to head to a hunting store near you to try out the feel of a rifle in person, since you need to get a weapon that’s sized and weighted to what you can manage. For deer, you want to be looking at Winchesters or Remingtons, .30-.30s or .30-.06’s in particular. Any good hunting store clerk can help you find something good, but stick to a really good company like one of these two. I would also recommend finding a firing range to try out the specific model before you pull the trigger, so to speak. Look at some scopes while you’re there, since you’re going to need one to make accurate shots at distance.
Once you’re armed, you need to get acquainted with your firearm before you take it to the woods. You should find a place to target practice on your property where you won’t be aiming into anywhere people could walk by accident. It’s probably a good idea to set yourself up against the woods, as long as it’s not somewhere kids play or your dog goes. Otherwise, shooting against a bank or a barn is a good backup. After you start getting better at hitting your marks, sign up for a hunter’s safety course, which you’re going to have to pass before you can even think about getting a hunting permit. They usually take about half a day, and there’s a written exam on rules as well as a practical part where they’ll expect you to show that you know your way around your gun.
After you get your permit and your test certificate, you can head out to the woods. You’re going to need some warm clothing, muck boots, and gloves, all stuff that doesn’t crinkle or make a lot of noise. You also need some reflective clothing to keep other hunters aware of where you are. I always take along a box of bullets, a good hunting knife that you can use to field dress (take out the guts) and a flashlight. I also keep my permits in a plastic bag inside my coat so they don’t get wet or bloody when I’m out hunting.
If you’re looking for places to hunt, always think about where deer could be moving. I tend to go for the edges of fields, or clearings in the middle of a fairly open woods without too many brambles. If you can find wild apples growing, there’s a good chance deer will be around.
I hope you find this helpful, and definitely let me know if you have any specific questions! I can answer them in Part Two!