Hunting Tips For Beginners
Not one of the hunting tips we are going to tell you will guarantee you a successful hunt. Hunting can be hard and extremely frustrating for even the most experienced hunters. Although the hunting tips we will share with you may improve your overall hunting success they will never be a replacement for the time you spend out in the field. For a lot of us the reason that we hunt is because we have a profound respect and admiration for the outdoors and nature in general.
Being successful at hunting really comes down to being consistent and selective in the animals you choose to harvest. Anyone can get lucky out hunting but what every hunter should strive for is having the knowledge and ability to stalk, hunt, and harvest the game they are after in an ethical manor. Most of us are forced to work throughout the year so the actual time we spend hunting is limited. So one of our most important hunting tips we can share with you is that all the extra work you do throughout the year will pay you back when it actually comes down to hunting season.
The 4 Most Important Hunting Tips You Will Ever Learn
Although these are probably the most obvious tips to improve your hunting they are probably the most overlooked. As experienced hunters most of us will look to make investments in our gear to improve our hunting abilities over obtaining more knowledge and insight.
Below is what we consider the 4 best improvements you can make as a hunter.
- Know Everything You Can About The Areas You Hunt
- Know Everything you Can About The Animals You Hunt
- Know and Test Your Hunting Gear
- Be Flexible And Willing To Learn
Ok so let’s have a look at these 4 Hunting Tips in more detail so we can understand how they can improve our hunting successes.
Know Everything You Can About The Areas You Hunt
For all animals, humans included we have primary needs that we require to survive. The necessities of life always come down to food, water, and shelter. These three necessities should always be considered when you are scouting new areas to hunt.
When scouting for new hunting areas I always start by doing a little map work. Printed county maps usually work well but over the last year or so I switched to doing my map work on Google Maps. Google Maps is a great place to start as they give you different ways to view the same area and each is beneficial to doing research for hunting.
When I start doing my map work I typically start my search by focusing in on the waterways and how they interact with the road or roads that are on the area I plan to hunt. I want to make sure that all water can be accessible by foot over the period of time I want to hunt. I also want to make sure that the source of water is appropriate for the type of hunting I want to do. When I am looking at the interaction between roads and water I am making sure that the water is far enough away from the road so that I reduce the chances of running into competing hunters but can still walk in and out in the time I have to hunt.
As we all know animals need water to survive. We also know that water feeds plant life that animals eat and also use a shelter. So if we can find water in an area we typically find life.
The different types of water you will see on Google Maps will give you an idea of the types of animals you might see when you are out hunting. When hunting for waterfowl either ducks or geese I am looking for a larger waterbody on the map such as a lake or pond. When I am hunting for big game I typically like to find a river or stream. Not only do streams and rivers provide the big game animal a drink water and vegetation to eat but it also gives them a route that they can travel quickly and easily.
I can’t stress enough how important finding water is when it comes to finding scouting new wild game hunting destinations. As you find the water you can begin looking at each location and its own distinct physical characteristics such as changes in elevation, differences in landscapes, and any pockets of clearings. These will help you find trails the animals use, food sources, and bedding areas.
Another reason I like to use Google Maps to plan for my hunting trips is Google Earth and Google Street View.
Using Google Earth For Hunting
Another one of our hunting tips we can pass onto you is to use Google Earth. Before I even get to the Google Street View I like to scan the areas I plan to hunt on Google Earth. Google Earth will give you a pretty good general overview of the area you are thinking of hunting from a sky view. Google Earth is great for seeing the physical characteristics that are make up an area. You are going to see what kind differences in elevation, density of vegetation and trees, and also any breaks in the land.
Google Street View For Hunting
What Google Street View allows you to do is study the actual area you are planning to hunt see the actual terrain you are going to see when you actually get out and scout. What you see on Street View is what you are going to see in person. Although Google Street View may not pick up on every rural road you plan to travel down but sometimes you will get lucky. Typically the images on Google Street View are a few years old and the growth may have changed but you will get a very good idea of the country you are about to hunt. With Google Street View you can virtually drive down the road and look 360 degrees around you. It will let you see firsthand the vegetation in the area and also the terrain you are going to hunt. When I am using Google Street View on a secondary road I also like to look for any potential travel routes the animals may use when travelling from their bedding areas to their feeding areas. All animals understand the path of least resistance and how it can be used to benefit them either from ease of travel to making a quick getaway from predators. These travel routes are either naturally made by riverbeds, meadows, or forest fire burns. Or they can be made like a natural gas pipeline, hydro line, or clear cuts.
As you spend time on Google Maps learn how to use the distance calculator and how to get the geographic coordinates off of it. This will help you to plan and make the most of your scouting trips.
Physical Scouting For Hunting Trips
After I have narrowed down a hunting area to about 2 or 3 new potential hunting spots I try and plan several trips to do some physical scouting. From Google Earth I write down each of the geographic locations I have determined are worth investigating and plug them into my GPS. I try plan to do my scouting at different times of the day and carry a journal with me to make notes. Animals behave differently at different times of the day and I want to maximize my chances of seeing them when I am physically out there.
As I am driving to each location I am constantly on the lookout for the animals I plan to hunt and or any sign like a track or trail I can see from my truck. If I see animal or something noteworthy I make a note about roughly where it was so I can do further investigation on my computer when I get home. I will want to see from above what is favorable to that animal and what physical characteristics are found in that area.
As I drive the roads to each spot I periodically stop to check the soft shoulders of the dirt and gravel roads looking for tracks and see where they are coming from and where they are going. I also take notes of these areas to investigate later on Google Maps also.
As I arrive at each potential hunting spot I am on the lookout for any type of sign I can find. First I am looking for the actual animal I want to hunt. If they aren’t around I take a walk and try to find tracks, trails, or scat that the animal I am going to be hunting has left behind.
Even if the area is unproductive or inactive at this time I know it is an ideal habitat for most animals and over time there is a good chance that the animal I am hunting will move into this area and call it home. I don’t know how many times I have been scouting one area that I thought was prime terrain for one animal and found a great hunting spot for another animal. You are never wasting your time if you are properly scouting an area.
I like to bring a camera with me during these scouting trips and at times will even wear a GoPro to record a visual of the area. I like to review the image or video later to see if there are certain areas that I think would be worthy of putting up a trail camera. It also allows me to keep a fresh visual image of the area in my mind so that I can strategize about where to best put a tree stand or blind.
In general these hunting tips may help you improve in certain aspects of your hunting success but to truly improve you need to understand the animals you are hunting.
Know Everything You Can About The Animals You Hunt
The second of our most important hunting tips is to know everything you can about the animals you are hunting.
We have broken it down into 6 main areas that would benefit any hunter to know about the animals they are hunting.
First and foremost you should be able to identify the animals you want to hunt in the field. Safety is such huge part of hunting you need to be 100% sure that the animal you are targeting is the animal that you are allowed to hunt and also the animal you want to shoot.
The physical characteristics of any animal can change based upon the age of the animal and the sex of the animal. In some cases the differences can be very minor and indistinguishable to the untrained eye. For example a whitetail deer fawn and whitetail deer doe can look very similar depending upon the time of the year. Same with ducks. It can take countless hours if not years to be able to identify all the species of ducks both in a picture but more importantly while they are in flight.
Not only should you familiarize yourself with the physical appearance of the wild game animal you planning to hunt but you should also be able to tell roughly the age and sex of the animal you are looking at based upon tracks and scat. You are not always going to physically see the animal when you are out scouting or hunting. It’s the other signs they leave that will give you an idea of what you are chasing.
The Animals Preferred Diet
Understanding the diet of the animals you want to hunt is going to help you find their home range, their feeding areas, and also the times when the animals feed.
Every bird and animal in North America has their very own specific diet. Geographic locations can change the diets even amongst the same species of animals just due to the availability and types of food sources that are present in that region. It is important to understand the diet of the animals you plan to hunt and how they may change in different or new locations you plan to hunt. A black bear in one area will eat a completely different diet than a black bear in another region of the continent.
Some Animals also have specific times when they like to eat. Some may eat a couple times of day early in the morning and late in the evening and others will eat throughout the day as opportunity presents itself. If you can understand what they like to eat and when they like to eat you are at a huge advantage over most hunters. Especially if you can find the feeding areas the frequent in their home range.
Size of Home Range
Understanding the size of an animal’s home range is important part of hunting. Some animals in North America limit the areas they live in to under a few square miles and other animals may travel hundreds of miles a year. By understanding an animal’s home range you will understand if you need to stalk the animal over a great distance or if you can sit and wait for it in a tree stand.
The Strengths And Weaknesses of Its Senses
To be a successful hunter you are going to have to learn to trick your prey animal’s senses. Although physically most game animals are far superior to any hunters we can overcome physical limitations with mental ability and the circumstances of the natural environment around them. Any strengths a wild animal may have can be manipulated into a weakness.
The Three Senses Of Wild Game Animals You Need To Overcome Are:
Sense of Sight
When studying the animals you are planning to hunt you are going to learn that some have an incredible ability to see over great distances and others have an unbelievable ability to see the slightest movements. To be successful at hunting any animal you are going to have to learn how to overcome this.
How To Overcome A Wild Game Animals Sense Of Sight
Tree Stands – As most predators will attack at ground level, most wild game animals will be less suspicious of an attack from above. You may hear a myth that certain animals like deer don’t look up above eye level. Well they do. And there are plenty of videos online of hunters getting spotted from below and having their hearts broken.
Tree Stands also provide a degree of protection when you are hunting large predators like bears. It’s surprising how quiet even the largest bears can navigate over almost any terrain.
Ensure you practice extreme caution and safety when using a tree stand. Too many hunters are injured each year while using them.
Ground Blinds – A ground blind can be either commercial purchased or manmade with debris from the surrounding area. A ground blind is used to not only mask the hunter but it also helps to cover up any and all movements you will make while sitting for the day.
Camouflage Clothing – Is designed to help a hunter’s silhouette disappear into the surrounding environment.
Sense of Smell
A large number of wild game animals have a very keen sense of smell. Throughout your years as a hunter you are going to hear numerous hunters talking about how they were “winded” by an animal. What this means is the animal has picked up your unnatural or suspicious scent and determined you to be a threat.
How To Overcome A Wild Game Animals Sense Of Smell
Adjusting Approach Due To Wind Direction – Once you have found a promising hunting spot and have set a tree stand or blind you will have to factor the direction of the wind in how you approach your hunting spot. You don’t want to spend countless hours scouting the perfect location, stalking the animal you want to harvest on a trail cam, and patterning their every movement to only have it wind you on your way into your spot.
Limiting Interaction With Strong Scents – Avoiding strong scents the day of or during a hunting trip will drastically improve your hunting successes. A lot of things humans choose to do create an unnatural scent that is easily detected by wild animals over great distances. Smoking, drinking, and even detergents that you wash your hunting gear in produce a scent that can be carried in the wind. Some hunters go to extremes to limit the amount of scent that they are taking into the woods with them. I have heard of some hunters cutting out eating meat during hunting season so that they do not smell like a predator. I also know hunters who swear by keeping their hunting clothes in a box with either cut apples or pine tree branches in an attempt to smell more like their surroundings.
Scent Removal Compounds – Wherever we are faced with a problem there is always a business that wants to help you solve it. But for a price of course. Scent removal sprays and agents are big business in the hunting industry today. From machines that produces ozone to convenient spray bottles that contain a masking agent the market place is full of these scent removal products. . These products can produce good results but you need to realize that your body is constantly producing different scents. If you start sweating you are giving off a scent that is hard to control. Also if you exhale you are producing another type of scent that animals can pick up on.
Charcoal Infused Hunting Clothing – Another modern solution to the scent control is charcoal infused hunting clothes. From boots to hats and everything in-between you can find camouflage hunting gear that is infused with charcoal to help you control your scent.
Sense of Hearing
For the most part animals throughout North America have a very keen sense of hearing. Both Predators and Prey animals alike are able to hear the smallest noises over great distances.
How To Overcome An Animals Sense Of Hearing
Be Selective In Your Gear – When you are purchasing your hunting gear especially pants, shirts, coats, and hunting packs test the noise it will make when rubbed together or an object is brushed over it. You are going to find some of the hunting clothes on the market are much louder than others. You don’t want to give yourself up to an animal just because a branch scrapes across your hunting pack or your big thighs keep rubbing together while you are walking.
Get In Shape – It is essential to be in good physical shape while you are out hunting. You would hate to ruin an expensive hunting trip because you are not physically capable of navigating the terrain. Also you aren’t going to be sneaking up on anything if you are huffing and puffing down the trail
Speak Quietly And Carry A Big Stick – Well I don’t know about carrying a big stick but you need keep verbal communication to a minimum while you are hunting. Overtime you and your hunting buddies will learn to communicate with non-verbal communication such as hand signals and the occasional head nod.
You Need To Learn To Walk All Over Again – As a hunter you will learn that every step you take needs to be with purpose and also calculated to reduce noise and avoid injury. While you are walking your focus will shift from where you will take your next step on the ground to the terrain in front of you. You are constantly looking for the best places to step and also forward in pursuit of game.
Game Attractants and Lure Scents – The hunting market is flooded with game attractants and lure scents that are designed to bring that game right to you. A lot of hunters will use these luring scents not only to bring the wild game in but also mask their scents.
We recommend that if you do want to use a lure or attractant to block your scent you use a drag to do so. A drag is just a small piece of cloth that has a lure applied to it and is tied to your boot and dragged behind you. It will help to mask any odor you have created while walking in the animal’s home range.
During hunting season knowing the breeding patterns and cycles that the animals follow can greatly improve your chances of harvesting them. This in a lot of forms of North American hunting is referred to as the “rut”. As the animals are primarily focused on breeding they are less worried about predatory animals such as a hunter like yourself.
Finally as you are researching the wild game you plan to hunt you need to understand what type of environment that they like to live in.
Ducks, Moose, Mule Deer, and every other animal in North America have a preferred home range that they want to live in. You need to understand where the like to live to help you narrow down where you will find them.
To truly gain knowledge of the animals you are hunting it is going to take time out in the field getting up close and personal with them. The more you know about the animals you hunt and also the areas they live in the more successful you will be in hunting them.
Know And Test Your Hunting Gear
After you have learned about the areas you want to hunt and the animals you want to hunt it is time to get very familiar with the gear you are carrying.
Every year I have the same ritual either when the season ends or I have tagged out. I clean out my bag and inspect my gear for damage and ensure everything is still working. I want take it all out of the bag so that if there is any moisture everything has a chance to dry out.
About a week before the hunting season begins again I test and repack my gear again. I replace the batteries on anything that needs them even if the old batteries still work. Always make sure this is done on your flashlight and your GPS. You may not always hunt the same spots and it is always good to know you are going to make it home at the end of a long day out hunting.
At the end of the season oil anything that needs oil and try to work it in a bit to the moving parts by operating it how it should be operated. For example if you have a folding knife put a small drop of gun oil or any type of metal lubricant on the mechanics and open and close the blade several time to work the oil in. Just like how you would oil your guns or bows you can have too much of a good thing. Too much oil on hunting gear first of all makes a mess and carries a strong scent to everything it will get on. It also allows dust and dirt to build on the parts that you probably are going to have the most trouble cleaning later.
At the end of your season you should make sure any weapon you use for hunting is cleaned and you apply a small coat of oil to the metal parts to give them a bit of protection from rust. Most weapons such as rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, and bows are built to last if you take good care of them. But if they are left without any maintenance they will fail you in the field and can become very dangerous to anyone around them. Ensure you read and follow the maintenance as described in their specific owner’s manual.
Throughout the year you should be practising with your hunting weapon especially right before any hunting season begins. Rifles, Shotguns, and Muzzleloaders need to be shot periodically to ensure they are sighted in properly and your shooting skills are maintained. Bows also need to be shot as much as possible to keep up your skills and your archery equipment needs to be inspected regularly for problems.
The more you can practice the more confidence you will have when faced with the wild game you are after.
Be Flexible And Willing To Learn
As a hunter it took me 30 years and a season of not filling my tags to learn that I needed to spend more time learning about hunting. I also realized needed to be more flexible with the ideologies I have towards hunting.
I think a lot of us hunters get stuck in a mindset that animals only behave a certain way and the way we were taught to hunt is the only way of doing it. That is not true though. The hunting lifestyle is a tradition where the fundamentals are strongly taught by an experienced mentor to a new hunter. At a certain point though your mentor will let you hunt on your own. Those first few season I remember that it was hard to even see an animal let alone shoot it. Over time and through experience I learned enough be a little bit successful and fill some of my tags but that is pretty much where my education in hunting stopped.
We need to recognize that the animals we hunt, the environments we hunt in, and weather patterns we hunt during are constantly changing and evolving. As modern hunter it is important to constantly learn, evolve, and experience new things. The research and development teams at every Hunting gear manufacturer is constantly adding more technology to our traditional way of life and are giving those willing to stay on top of it an advantage.
So when the opportunity presents itself to you to pass the hunting lifestyle on to the next generation of hunters do teach them the fundamentals of ethical hunting like respect, conservation, community, and safety. But also teach them that the most important part of hunting and life is to pursue knowledge, admits flaws, and be willing to grow as a person.
Hunting Tips For Different Styles Of Hunting
Getting Ready To Hunt For Archery Season
The best time to get ready to hunt for archery season is the day after all legal season have ended in your area. As a bow hunter the one thing you are going to have to maintain throughout the year is your archery skills. All types of hunting whether it be rifle, shotgun, or bow hunting requires constant practice and training to stay on top of your game. As an ethical hunter the last thing you want to do is wound an animal and cause it to suffer. There are countless photos of deer and other North American big game species that were successfully taken by hunters where they find a broadhead and partial arrow still lodged in the animal.
As archers, we know that there are always going to be times where our shots can be off just a little bit. But as we know being off a little when the arrow leaves the bow means you are way off after it has travelled 30 or 40 yards to your target. Archery errors can either be human error, a mechanical malfunction in the bow or arrow, or else an environmental factor like the wind. They can also be any combination of the three. This is why it is so important for us as bow hunters to check, maintain, and practice with our archery equipment all the time.
Post Season Ready To Hunt Tips For Bow Hunters
As we said above the best time for an archery hunter to prepare for the next season is the day after the current season has ended. If you love hunting especially bow hunting like I do hunting then you are going to take it very seriously and the thought of hunting never really seems to leave your mind. I don’t know how many times someone will be talking me about something other than hunting and my mind will consciously decide it’s a good time to think about hunting. Preparation is the key to be successful at anything. This couldn’t be further from the truth especially when we are talking about bow hunting.
Setting A Post Hunting Season Routine
The day after hunting season I try to have set a routing to prepare for the next bow hunting season. This helps a little to get over the depression of knowing I am not going to actually be hunting for another 8 to 10 months.
Things You Can Do In Your Off-Season From Archery Hunting
Process Your Game For The Freezer
If you have had a successful season and have got a bit of wild game for the freezer you probably have some work to do unless you have dropped it off at the butcher. For some of us archery hunters the post hunting season ritual includes making sausage, burger, jerky, or just cutting up some roasts into steaks. The down time we usually face in the winter is a good time to practice processing our own wild game. One of the most rewarding aspects of hunting is preparing wild game to be enjoyed by your friends and family. We challenge you this off-season to learn a new way to process your wild game and share it with a non-hunter. It’s a good way to win them over to the hunting lifestyle.
Check, Maintain, and Store Your Gear For The Year
The day after the fall archery hunting season has ended I like to unpack my bag and allow my gear a chance to air out and dry in the garage. I wash my hunting clothes and store them in a cardboard box with a couple small pine branches to help take some of washer and dryer scent out of my clothes. Every month or two I replace with new to keep the natural scent and help hide some of the unnatural scents produced in my garage throughout the year. Any electronic hunting equipment I may have I pull the batteries from. Before I pack my bag again in the later summer early fall I replace the batteries in my range finder, gps, and emergency flashlight.
Check Your Bow and Bow Strings For Damage
The post season of archery hunting is a good time to give your bow a good once over to check for damage or wear. A small drop of oil goes a long way on your bow. Always remember that when oiling any type of hunting gear less is always more. Excessive oil can lead to dust and dirt build ups and can also get all over your other gear.
The post season is a good time to check over those bow strings for any wear and give them a good waxing. If they need replacement or an upgrade get them into your archery pro-shop. A poorly maintained bow is dangerous one to everyone near it.
Check Your Arrows
The post archery hunting season is the perfect time to check over your hunting arrows for straightness and damage. Any questionable arrows should be discarded and any older arrows should be thrown in the practise pile.
Take Down Trail Cams
Depending upon the State or Province you live in and the harshness of your winter you may want to take down your trail cameras and store them over the winter. If winter scouting is near impossible plan to get out a couple times in the spring to check and set your cameras. Spring is also a good time to do your infield scouting for the upcoming archery season. Winter and early spring usually comes with increased precipitation. The ground will be prime for tracking and trailing game in your hunting areas.
Take Down Ground Blinds and Tree Stands for the Season
As you are taking down your trail cams its also a good idea to collect your ground blinds and tree stands for the winter. Once you get them back to your home it is a good idea to check them over for wear or damage. The post archery season is also a good time to check your stand harness and tree stand safety equipment. Tree stands are especially dangerous pieces of hunting equipment. Ensure your stand is functioning as per the manufacturer’s specifications and if in doubt treat yourself to a new one. Too many bow hunters are hurt each year in tree stands.
Keeping Your Shooting On Target
Archery is not like riding a bike. It’s one of those skills that you have to constantly practice to maintain your shooting abilities. Try to get to the range as much as you can during the off-season. Grab yourself a target that you can use in your yard or even your garage. Practising the mechanics of shooting your bow is very important even if you have a limited space to work in. I try to focus on one aspect every time I shoot. Working on your posture, drawing to your anchor point, breathing, and following through with your release throughout the year will make a world of difference during your next hunting season.
Other Sources For Finding Hunting Tips
Another great way to stay on top of all the hunting tips and tricks for north american game is to get yourself a magazine subscription. No matter if you have the magazine delivered to your door or your smart phone the are full of great information and products reviews that are sure to help you improve out in the field. Two magazines that I personally subscribe to and recommend are Outdoor Life and Petersen’s Bowhunting. The companies that put out these great magazines have some of the best writers in the industries. They review the latest products and keep you in touch with what is going on in the hunting world. Even if you don’t want the magazines book mark their websites. They are full of great information.
Hunting Tips For North American Wild Game
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