You’ve been reading about hunting. About the adventures, the organic meat, harvesting your own food and an escape from store bought foam packaged meat. That’s great! Now, you ask, where can I go and apply my new-found knowledge? It might seem daunting but in most cases it’s easier than you think.
First things first, let’s assume you know the basics, like how to shoot a gun or bow and how to prep your weapon. Next you should read your hunting regulations and familiarize yourself with the laws and requirements for your particular area. For example, most, if not all, states now require you to take a hunter’s education course. These can sometimes be an all-day class or in my home state, for example, this can be taken online. Also, all seasons require a license and often they require a tag and or additional add on permits, depending upon the state and the species. Another differentiator is a federal permit in the case of migratory birds. If you read your areas hunting regulations and are unclear about any of this contact your local Game Warden, they are happy to help. In addition, you can also find information on public access areas but more on this later.
So, you’ve got your license, tags and understand your regulations, now you just need a spot. If you don’t have a spot or are new to an area check with your local wildlife department for public land access. This could come in the form of Public Hunting Areas or could be a WIHA (Walk-in Hunting Area – Kansas) or OLAP (Oklahoma Land Access Program). These are private lands that the state/wildlife agency has obtained leases on for limited public access. Again, I stress reading the regulations as these are more restrictive and often have different seasons than private lands. Another alternative is to knock on doors. I readily admit I haven’t had to do much of this in my life, but it can be done to great success. In fact, I have asked only a handful and my success rate is above 50%. Often you will need to be prepared for lengthy conversations but if its access you desire then you shouldn’t mind this at all. If you do have success, I suggest that you reward the owner with either game meat or favors such as help with chores. Above all else you need to consistently thank the owner. I have also found that many also appreciate overcommunication; letting them know when you will be there, when you leave and where you park. Also, it’s a good idea to let them know what you will be driving. Little things like this go a long way. The next way to obtain hunting access would be via a lease or purchase of lands. Leases can often be relatively inexpensive in some areas and outrageously expensive in others. The upside here is obviously control. If you lease it, you are likely not sharing the property with other hunters and if you buy it well then, it’s yours to do with as you please.
Now that you have the land part settled let’s talk about equipment. But I don’t have the equipment, gizmos or a new gun…. pfhh…not needed. So, you don’t have matching camo or maybe none at all, and you don’t have a brand-new bow or gun. Trust me, none of that matters. When I started hunting in the mid 80’s I was wearing a pair of Walls Coveralls. Not camo, solid colored, tan. That’s right, tan. Sounds safe, doesn’t it?!?! So, my only piece of advice is to avoid colors that can get you in trouble. No tans during deer season (thanks Mom and Dad!), no reds or blues during turkey season and always wear your orange if required. Also know that growing up we practiced zero scent control. It’s a wonder that we were ever successful, but we were. Consistently. So what really matters? What really matters is if you can consistently hit what you are aiming for? This is numero uno. If you cant do this then I strongly recommend you hold off and practice unitl you can. The last thing you want is to wound an animal. Trust me there are enough variables that will be in play when the moment of truth arrives that the last you need is a lack of faith in your shooting ability. Now back to that gear you need. Honestly, you probably don’t need any. You probably have enough stuff to make do and enjoy yourself.
But I don’t have a tree stand… Again, back to my prior point, this is not important. You can create a quick ground blind using some sort of log, stump, bucket or other even sit on the ground and make cover with either dead or cut limbs. I’ve taken one deer this way and numerous turkeys and had many, many opportunities that I simply didn’t try to capitalize on because it wasn’t what I was specifically after.
So this all sounds too good or too simple to be true? It is. Now all of that is to say that you can do multiple things to help improve your chances of success, such as camo, practicing scent control, using a deer stand and learning to read sign, but don’t let these items become obstacles. The important thing is to not make excuses, get outside and go hunt. Your chances of success may be low when you start but your odds will be zero if you are sitting on the couch. Be safe, be smart and most importantly have fun.
Best of luck – please share your successes with us!
– The 8 Point