1) Getting a Hunting Mentor!
For someone interested in hunting that has never hunted before, locating a hunting mentor is a great start. The majority of all hunters began hunting because someone (a hunting mentor) took the time to introduce them to the activity. Although entirely possible, individuals rarely begin hunting without the support and guidance of a hunting mentor.
Nearly everyone, perhaps with the exception of those living in large urban areas, has seen hunters during the hunting seasons. We are a very obvious bunch when we practice our craft and do so by dressing in very noticeable attire. Hunter orange and camouflage are our favorite colors and often, but not always, we drive pick-up trucks or Sport Utility Vehicles.
Some recent research indicated that hunters were asked the question, why did you take someone hunting? The overwhelming hunter response to that question was, because someone showed an interest and asked the hunter to take them hunting. Nothing happens in life unless we make it happen! If you want to hunt, make it known. ASK a hunter!
Another great way to meet hunters is through scheduling a FREE hunter education course! Many folks that volunteer as hunter education instructors are also very avid hunters. Even if an individual instructor is unable to provide mentoring opportunities themselves they may be willing to provide insight and information for getting started hunting on your own. Don’t wait, be proactive and make it happen!
If provided the opportunity to go hunting with someone, keep the following in mind.
Be prepared: Becoming a new hunter can be somewhat overwhelming. A little research into the activity prior to the first outing is recommended. Doing your “homework” prior to a hunting or shooting activity displays your level of interest and may be greatly appreciated by the mentor.
Be safe, legal, and sure: Even a newcomer should understand some basic firearm and tree stand safety, the significance of reviewing hunting regulations prior to the season, and the importance of properly identifying the target before pulling the trigger or releasing a bow string.
Be on time: Hunting involves a distinct timeline, and although not always critical, should be adhered to. Avoid making your mentor wait for you due to lack of preparedness.
Be polite: Show your hunting mentor your interest by listening, learning, and remaining respectful. It could mean the difference between gaining a new hunting companion and a one-time only outing.
Be appreciative: Keep in mind that mentoring is the ultimate outdoor gift. Showing appreciation for it is welcomed and appreciated. If you can afford it, offer to buy breakfast, lunch, supper, or contribute to fuel costs. Even a simple thank you is always appreciated by the mentor providing a hunting opportunity.
Be proactive: Some of the greatest rewards and accomplishments in hunting come through spending time learning about the habitat and species hunted. Satisfaction from hunting does not come solely from pulling the trigger or releasing a bow string. Becoming a successful hunter is a learning process that never ends.
Be ethical: Responsible hunters abide by two sets of laws. One set is established by government for the protection of resources, people, and property. The other set of laws is based on our moral behavior. Always set an example for other hunters by being law-abiding and ethical both in and out of the field. The future of hunting depends on it.