Almost every experienced hunter will you tell things they wish they knew or should have done while on their first hunt. This list might be long, some more than others, but no matter how many mistakes or regrets a hunter has under his or her belt, the fact still remains; we’re all beginners at one point and these mistakes are almost inevitable, which is why some hunters recommend going with a hunting outfitter to help alleviate this oftentimes overwhelming process.
New hunters should understand the hunting process as much as possible before venturing out and attempting their luck and skills at the sport. Granted, as mentioned before, mistakes will be made, but the key is to avoid as many of them as possible.
The top five mistakes any beginning hunter makes are typically due to:
1. Lack of Proper Hunting Equipment
The 21st century has proved to be a time where people depend on hunting equipment and tools. Hunting has evolved in the same regards and beginners without the right tools will come across many difficulties and mistakes on their first hunt(s).
- Compass or GPS: Any hunter looking to go out for a multiple day hunt and/or doesn’t know the layout of the land needs a compass or even better a GPS. A compass is more than just a directional tool, it’s a survival tool. 21st century or not, a compass is necessary.
- Gutting/skinning tools: Getting your game is one thing, but processing game it is a completely different type of skill set. Having the right tools depends on the preference of the hunter. This will rely on experience, which will only be determined with time. For beginners, at least have a sharp knife and do as much research as possible for the right tools.
- Miscellaneous tools: There are several tools and types of equipment that assist hunters in every aspect of the hunt. Some essentials include a flashlight, a 4-wheel drive truck and rope.
2. Lack of Preparation
Many of the initial hunting mistakes are due to lack of preparation. For the most part, the mistakes are small and unforeseeable, but sometimes the mistakes can be drastic and create a great amount of work that could’ve been avoided if only prepared.
- Forgotten/misplaced items: Any experienced hunter will tell you to always check and double check equipment prior to departure. The last thing a beginning hunter, or any hunter for that matter, needs is to be short of essential equipment or tools.
- Not enough or too much clothing: Always wear the appropriate amount of clothing. Not enough distracts the hunter from his or her surroundings and influences his or her aiming ability due to shaking hands. Too much causes the hunter to take off excess clothing, which creates more movement and baggage than necessary. Always keep up with the weather during a hunting season, especially in states where the temperature may fluctuate frequently.
- Being out of shape: Many hunts require a substantial amount of physical fitness, especially if you are hunting in the West. We use and recommend the Train To Hunt. A fitness program designed for hunters by hunters.
3. Lack of Knowledge
Beginning hunters may face many problems while up against their prey. In the hunting process, they most likely will come across certain obstacles where they either won’t know what to do or just have no idea that the obstacle exists due to obliviousness.
- How to track/call them: For some animals it’s about tracking, while others, such as elk it’s about calling. While tracking, know how to identify markings, paw/hoof prints and even traces of fecal matter. While calling, understand what type of call to use, how to use it properly and how often to use it.
- Their senses: Have a keen sense of what the prey’s senses are. This allows hunters to know some strengths and weaknesses of the prey and helps them have a clear idea of what they’re up against. For instance, if a prey has a strong sense of smell, then it might be a good idea to check the wind direction and plan accordingly; otherwise the prey may pick up on the hunter’s scent. If a prey is primarily hunted through food plots, then see which foods are best suited for the animal.
4. Lack of Field Dressing Knowledge
As previously mentioned, field dressing presents a whole new set of skills once the prey is killed. Depending on the animal, this set of skills will change, since the anatomy of every animal is different. Find out which method and tools are best for you and understand the potential mistakes that go into each procedure.
- Methods/Tools: Each particular method has its own uniqueness, which also depends on the tools used. Again, finding the right method and tools for the job mostly comes with experience.
- Mishaps: Every procedure comes with a set of safety tips, rules to follow and precautions. Whichever method or tool you choose, make sure to understand what could go wrong in the process when using it.
5. Lack of Confidence
Every beginning hunter faces obstacles and runs into mistakes. This is an unavoidable step to become a better, experienced hunter. The best thing you can do is perform the right amount of research and just be confident in your abilities. Confidence solves many problems and with the right amount, it provides a clear mindset to make better decisions and clear focus to follow through on those decisions more accurately.
Hunting is a sport or survival technique that teaches hunters many great life lessons, such as patience. Any mistakes or regrets that occur are all part of the process and learning experience. Some may prefer to learn on their own and as they go, while others may want to be as prepared as possible when they go on their first hunt.
For those looking to make the least amount of mistakes, it’s best to always do an ample amount of research and to bring along a hunting companion, such as a scout or hunting outfitter. That way, safe and well-informed decisions are more likely to occur for new hunters, who will also learn the tricks of the trade as they go along on their travels to become great hunters.