After long procrastination, delays, and distractions, I’ve finally decided to learn how to hunt this fall.
As I write this post, we’re about a month away from hunting season making its return here in Virginia. Why not jump in on the fun as the season begins??
Why hunting, why now? I’ve always had a desire to go hunting given I already hunt for fish. (Angling is like hunting, but with different tools yet similar approaches to ethics.) I want to further appreciate where meat is sourced from and want to directly partake in the field-to-plate movement. I already love the outdoors and grew up appreciating my surroundings, so hunting will supplement my desire to pursue this interest.
Does this mean I lust for blood or killing? Hell no! Hunting isn’t about the thrill of killing. It’s about selectively choosing an animal to harvest sustainably, with proper tags and licenses, and to conserve lands from which these animals are harvested from. Aldo Leopold said it best:
“A peculiar virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience, rather than by a mob of onlookers. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this fact.”
Obviously, hunting’s popularity is on the continual rise. And more women, interestingly enough, are picking up the sport as well. What best explains this? People want to ethically harvest their food, be one with nature, support a positive industry, and become part of a large community rooted in true stewardship.
So what will I do to ensure I’m on the right track to becoming a hunter? Below are four things:
1) Taking a Virginia hunter’s education course, passing it, and beginning my path to becoming a hunter
Here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, it’s required by law to take a Hunter Education course to fulfill requirements to hunt. From now until my first hunting trip this fall–whenever it may be–I’ll read course materials, take a test I’ll *hopefully* pass, and then begin to practice sure-fire hunting techniques to prep for my inaugural hunt. (I should have no problem handling a rifle since I’m already a CHP holder and gun owner.) This will entail target/clay shooting, finding a rifle best suited for me, learning all existing laws, exercising caution and attention to detail, doing strength training, and studying animal patterns or behavior. It may seem like a immense challenge, but the dividends are worth it.
2) Getting the right gear and equipment to be effective
Admittedly, I have no idea what kind of gear, equipment, or accessories I need for hunting. Mind you, I don’t plan to spend a fortune on popular brands just to look cool or glamorous. I plan to seek out affordable, comfortable, and resourceful items that won’t take away from this activity. Figuring out what gear, rifles, ammo, scopes, calls, or supporting equipment to get will be a daunting but not impossible task. I’ll seek out advice from my friends or the hunting brand ambassadors I’m connected to thanks to shooting sports.
3) Learning from more seasoned pros and tagging along on their hunting trips
Given the previous note, what other way to learn how to hunt than from the pros? I’ll seek out a mentor or two who can guide me along the way and show me techniques that can ensure I prepare and successfully complete a hunt–however big or small. Given how involved hunters are in the industry, newbies like me won’t be left in the dark. Deciding whom to look to and go training with on a semi-regular basis is something I look forward to doing soon!
4) Targeting a certain species and expanding from there
The first species I want to target is waterfowl–specifically ducks. (And perhaps deer too.) Like anything in life, you have to start with small baby steps. It would be odd to start with bear hunting or elk hunting, no? Progression is the key. My state has an excess of feral deer and the waterfowl hunting is plentiful, so I’ll start with the latter for sure. Plus, staking out these species would only require several hours to a day so as to not exhaust myself too early in the process. I’ll need to build endurance along the way to sustain certain terrain and hunting conditions. Got to be smart!
What advice can you impart on this newbie? What’s the best rifle with least recoil a small woman like me should use? Should I invest in things like tree stands–or start off small with gear and rifles? I’d really appreciate seasoned hunters to chime in below! I’ll happily take your considerations into account. ?
We’ll be keeping up with Gabriella’s hunting adventures here at Bullets First but I encourage you to read more articles that go beyond the 2nd Amendment at her home site: gabriellahoffman.com