10 Things Every Hunter Should Know
I grew up around guns, hunting, and fishing. While I am not an expert, it always seems like these 10 basic things are either not taught correctly, or forgotten through time. With the hunting opener coming up quickly, I hope they help you and/or your loved one out this year while hunting.
RESPECT YOUR WEAPON
Always assume that your weapon is loaded, and could and will fire at any given time. Every year, it never ceases to amaze me that not only the younger hunters, but the older more experienced ones do not practice proper firearm safety. Guns will be cradled with the barrel pointed towards the road, other people, themselves.
However, that is not the only issue. Keeping your weapon properly maintained will not only help to avoid any mishaps or misfires, but it can also help accuracy and range.
WEAR PROPER SAFETY GEAR
You would think that it is common sense to wear proper safety gear. However, this is something else I always see. Little to no hunter's safety orange. When I go out I make sure I am completely covered in Orange. This way I am sure that people can see me.
For those of you that fear deer will see you. Scientific studies have proven that deer see orange as grey. The DNR has even expanded to allow the hunters orange camo pattern so that you can have an outfit that will fit in with your surroundings. You can check your current state hunting regulations at their DNR website.
Orange is not the only item to wear for safety. I also wear shatter resistant shooting glasses in the event I am going through thick brush and need to protect my eyes or there happens to be a possible malfunction with my weapon. Bow strings can snap, and firearm barrels do blow up. A good pair of gloves works out well for grabbing barb-wire fences, protecting them from the brush, and protection from the elements. I also get myself a good pair of boots. I have taken a tumble more than once in the field, and a good pair of boots can help protect your ankles and avoid twisting injuries.
DRESS IN LAYERS
I always dress in layers. I have even bought an orange backpack to throw my extra layers into and take that with me to my hunting position. Weather can change very quickly, you don't want to have to retire early because of weather, or grit your teeth and endure the torture of the elements.
There have been many times that I have been quite comfortable and can see other hunters leaving their positions because of unexpected weather. Then Mr. Deer comes traipsing through.
SCOUT YOUR GROUND
This sounds self explanatory, but I know of a few friends that set their stands up in the same position each year. Game trails DO change.
Google Earth has made it extremely easy to look at satellite views of the land you're hunting on. I like to go one step further and look at topographic maps alongside the satellite maps. This way you can get a sense of draws, valleys, and possible game trail locations.
Looking at maps will give you a general feel of the landscape. Boots on the ground will give you first hand experience. Head out there in the off season. Go for a hike, learn the land.
Look for the places that are relatively inaccessible. Older deer have learned when the woods get crowded to hide there.
Look for locations where multiple trails come together into a cross roads.
Mark where other hunters will be or might be.
No seriously, you do smell. Deer and other game have an acute sense of smell, and to them you are a foreign smell within their woods that they will stay away from. You can minimize your scent footprint though.
Wash your hunting gear in regular water no detergent. You may think you smell like a mountain meadow, but to the animals it's a sweet chemical, not an actual meadow. There are "Fragrance Free" detergents out there, but I myself swear I can smell them.
If you can, hang dry your clothes outside for several days.
Smokers- This is kind of self explanatory.
There are some scent eraser products out there. I personally have never used any and don't know their actual effectiveness.
When scouting your hunting position take into account typical wind patterns and natural lees so you can minimize the range that animals will smell you.
My hunting group sits down with the maps, marks each person's location, discusses possible issues, new intel, and possible weather development the night before we go out.
If you hunt alone, tell someone where you will be hunting. This way, in the event that you have an accident, people will know where you will be.
Also, if you can find out who is hunting in your area. Let them know where you will be set up, and find out where they are set up. I have had to hug a tree 4 different times now. It is not fun to hear the hiss and snap of incoming rounds.
MAXIMUM EFFECTIVE RANGE
Many different factors affect your maximum effective range of the weapon you use.
Certain factors that affect this include but are not limited to:
- Proper weapon maintenance
- Ammo quality and type
- Weather Conditions
Some of my friends take a range scope with them and set up landmarks as certain ranges. i.e. That stump is 50 meters away.
DON'T GIVE UP
You will fail. There are days, maybe even years out hunting where you just cannot bag your game. That is OK. Even the best hunters come up empty handed.
Just make sure you don't give up though. There is a difference between a hunter, and someone who likes shooting things. The same can be said for a fisherman, and people who just like to catch fish.
The experience should be fun. It is a test of your skills. You can do everything right and fail. Just make sure you have fun and do your best. I once went 3 years without a deer, and the first time I took my little brother out hunting for his first time, we both filled our tags.
The failures are what make the successes so sweet!
HOW TO FIELD DRESS GAME
This is important! I won't try to tell you how to field dress each game type. It's important though that you either have someone teach you or refer to YouTube and/or field & game type magazines. They have some wonderful How-To's.
I always bring with me a good knife that can not only cut through skin but can go through bone (if need be).
Another thing I bring with is a rope. You don't want to try to carry a deer because there are other hunters out there that may think its a deer moving. Also, not many of us are built like Mr. Incredible.
There are some products out there like drag bags in which you wrap the deer up (post field dress) like a burrito and it slides across the ground.
I have never used an ATV but my friends swear by it when it comes to moving heavy game such as deer.
KNOW THE LAW
Red tape sucks. However, what's even worse than red tape is a fine. I like keeping my money and I'm sure you do too.
There are very particular laws concerning:
- Bag Limits
- Hunting Regions
Make sure to check the laws for the state you are planning to hunt in.