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Looking for some advice on getting into deer hunting when you don't have a hunting background.

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Brickbat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-28-10 11:25 AM
Original message
Looking for some advice on getting into deer hunting when you don't have a hunting background.
Mr. Brickbat and I do not come from hunting families. I fish, but have never hunted. We live in a hunting area and my son and I have worked on bow skills with the idea of hunting deer on our property. He has also started taking a firearms/hunting safety/ethics course through the DNR, and I think he's going to be interested in firearms hunting as well.

So, how does one "get into" it? Do you target shoot with your hunting rifle, until you're comfortable shooting it? We have an air rifle and plink with it, but how does that compare with a hunting rifle? Do you just buy one and start shooting? How do you know when you're ready for the field? How do you learn to field dress a deer?

As I'm typing this out, I'm thinking maybe I should take one of those "women hunter" courses that are sometimes offered. But I'll also ask what you all think. Thanks!
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X_Digger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-28-10 11:57 PM
Response to Original message
1. Well, there are multiple issues there..
.. as to the firearms portion, I'd take a basic gun safety course, then a hunter safety course (which is probably required for your hunting license* anyway, depending on state and your age.) That doesn't teach you to hunt, but it would get the safety aspect done with up front.

Then once you feel you have the knowledge to safely handle a firearm, find a local rifle range, and see if you have any friends for whom you could buy ammo and lunch in exchange for a trip to familiarize yourself with their rifle. Depending on caliber and design, some rifles barely kick at all, some are quite strong. Choice of gun to use when hunting often has a lot to do with the terrain you're likely to hunt in. ie, if you have lots of open terrain with little cover, you might have to make a longer shot than if you're in a mountainous area with lots of brush.

Once you're proficient, I'd ask around, see if there are any hunters who you trust- see if they'd let the two of you observe while they hunt on your land. Around here, private hunting land is very prized, not sure about in MN.

If you can't find a friend to help out, maybe check for a local hunting club, see if they have a women's group or a new hunter group.

As far as bow hunting goes, I can't help you there. I was never any good at climbing trees, I'd probably break my fool neck.




* Depending on your state, you may or may not have to have a hunting license to hunt on your own land. Even if you're not required to have one, consider purchasing one, as much of the money from licenses goes directly to wildlife conservation.
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Brickbat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-29-10 08:04 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Thanks for the tips!
Yes, we have our own land I would hunt on -- a very woodsy area with clear deer paths and known bedding sites. We also have a gun club near here; I should just get off my ass and swing by there. I hadn't thought of using a different rifle depending on cover. I have so much to learn!

I am almost sure we would need licenses to hunt our own land -- as anglers, we're always buying those little slips of paper. :)

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safeinOhio Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-29-10 09:03 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. If you have your own land
It would be very easy to find someone to exchange lessons, like gutting out your deer, for permission to hunt on your land. An add on graigslist will get tons of responses.

As for bow hunting, three things are important. 1. practice, 2. practice and 3. practice. Do it at all kinds of distance (up to about 35 yards) and heights. Also very important are camouflage, wind direction and staying motionless for long periods of time.

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Brickbat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-29-10 09:37 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Ah yes...the field dressing...
I was just talking with Mr. Brickbat last night about that..."Seriously? You could cut the rectum out of a deer right after you shot it?" he asked. The way I feel after they munch up the plum trees, yep, I could!

That's a good idea about exchanging lessons. Thanks for the tips.
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oneshooter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-29-10 09:43 AM
Response to Reply #4
5.  Is MN a shotgun only state? Helps to know before buying a weapon. n/t
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Brickbat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-29-10 09:53 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. No, it is not.
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safeinOhio Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-29-10 10:47 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Standard fair
for 100 years up there has been the ole 30/30. Cheap to buy and cheap to shoot and will do the job nicely. In the north woods, most shots will under 50 yards.
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Brickbat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-29-10 11:06 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. Until they get spooky, we could easily be taking shots at 20.
Thanks for the tip!
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safeinOhio Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-29-10 11:20 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. Being fringe animals
I have had my best luck with ambushes just inside open areas in thicker cover. Out in the open, after the shooting begins, they are all running. Once in the safety of cover, they seem to stop and look back. I remember my first deer in Michigan's north woods. Had Dads old 30/06 with a scope on it. A group of deer came in from the opening and laid down 15 yards from me and the scope ended up being a pain in butt.

Get 3 different deer hunters in a room and you'll get about 6 different opinions. :crazy:
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Brickbat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-29-10 11:29 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. "Different hunters, different opinions."
Now that is the honest truth right there! :)

We do have a lot of small clearings in our woods, and I can follow the deer from clearing to clearing as I walk -- they do stop and check to see if you're still following.

I bet you never forget your first deer! I have to say the more I think about it, the more I'm interested...time to get out and ask some friends for advice and help...and to pull out the venison recipes. I bet it tastes even better when you take it yourself.
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safeinOhio Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-29-10 04:18 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. Even better when you butcher it yourself.
Not all that hard to do and you sure get more than you get back from the shops. You can take your time and cut out all of the silver skin and tendons and the flavor is great. I'll bet there are lots of "how to videos" on youtube.
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Brickbat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-05-10 11:43 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. Thanks again for your suggestions.
I really appreciate it. :)
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SteveM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-06-10 06:34 PM
Response to Reply #10
14. Sometimes I can get to sleep thinking about the hunt...
I got two deer last season; one well within the antler restriction (a 10-point of good size); the other a spike horn which folks here "weed out" as genetically inferior, but good eating. Filled my freezer with hormone, antibiotic-free meat, and have not purchased beef since!

Be sure to read up on aging your slaughtered deer. I use the "redneck" method of leaving the quartered carcass on ice for a week, adding ice and draining water, before completing the butchering. I leave many scrap pieces left over for burger, sausage and such, taking that to a local processor. Be sure to remove all the fat, sinew and silver from the meat. They do NOTHING for flavor, and can be a detriment.

I love stews and straight-up (no beans) chili, both of which do not require a meat-grinder.

My first deer was shot at a distance of 135 yds. I was sitting in a motte of small oaks on a mesa in Coryell County, Texas, and she was facing head-on and wouldn't move. I placed the shot (Remington 700 in .270 w/ a Simmons 2-10 variable scope) between the legs and where the neck met the withers. She went down on the spot (most head-on shots like this will drop a deer where it stands).
You're right! It tastes better when you take it yourself, and follow the processing through personally.

Sounds like you have a great piece of land. Much bigger deer in Minnesota!
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Brickbat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 11:56 AM
Response to Reply #14
17. So we're pondering freezers, guns, and locations...
probably not in time for this year, but maybe next year. I do think we have less deer this year and more wolves -- last year I would trip over deer while walking the dogs, practically. This year I haven't seen many, but we have a lot more wolf sign. Last year we had a gorgeous 8-pointer who would come up to the window...I could have gone out and strangled him, forget the gun!

It now sounds like my son is more interested in grouse than deer. I, however, am becoming more intrigued with deer hunting.
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SteveM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 05:15 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. Go out into the woods anyway...
Even if you do not hunt, you can practice "still" hunting or merely posting up without making noise and moving. Do this a couple times and I bet you'll see a deer.

I have found that if a deer sees movement or hears a noise, it will freeze for some seconds and try to get a "confirmation" from its other senses before bolting. Last season, in Uvalde County, Texas, I was standing in the open, watching a young buck walk directly toward me (from upwind). I pride myself in stillness and silence, and that deer finally stopped about forty feet from me and looked at me curiously. He jumped a step back and walked away, turned and stopped to look some more, before drifting off. That is how important silence, lack of movement and wind are in hunting deer.

As you can probably tell from my writing, I make great effort to economize. I bought a used Remington 700 w/ scope from a known pawn shop/gun dealer for $300, used factory ammo, bought cammo from Salvation Army (still use it after many years), and other inexpensive gear. When I took 2 deer last year, and put the cost of the hunts up against them, I beat out the cost of grocery store meat -- without all the crap processors put into beef!

Hunting deer is primal human culture. As one scribe put it: You think of things during a hunt you would never think of any other time. So true.
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Brickbat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 06:32 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. That's the kind of stuff I'm looking forward to...
the taking of our own meat, the self-reliance, the sport of it, and the nature part of it.

Our deer, unfortunately, are not very sporting -- they are so used to being around cars and dogs and noise, it's pretty easy to come across them, or have them stumble onto you.

That's a good idea about practicing, though -- never too early to start that. :)
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SteveM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-06-10 06:21 PM
Response to Original message
13. Talk up deer hunting enough, and someone will say "come on down...."
Edited on Wed Oct-06-10 06:44 PM by SteveM
That's how I got into it. In my case, 2 friends had land and had been hunting their respective tracts for years (even a century). Once you have a place to go (for free, hopefully), you are rather compelled to do the rest!

(1) Find out from your friends or your state's fish & game what kind of weapons are allowed;
(2) Get hold of some used books on deer hunting (there are many) and read up on the subject;
(3) Borrow or rent a rifle (or shotgun, if required), and get instruction where you can (the "Becoming an Outdoors Woman" course would probably help; certainly, it won't hurt to inquire of a local chapter through your fish & game dept.;
(4) You need to at least practice with your chosen hunting weapon to "sight in" your scope, overcome the chief problem of "flinching," and becoming comfortable with safe handling. You can purchase a used rifle, but there are so many good new ones which can shoot within a "minute or two of angle" (that is, three or five rounds fired within an inch or two at 100 yds) that you may just wish to save a lot of headache and purchase new with an adequate $150-250 scope;
(5) You don't really know if you are ready for the field until you go out. Try accompanying someone on a dry run, or if you wish, use a legal weapon to squirrel hunt -- much of what you need to do can be duplicated by squirrel hunting;
(6) Field dressing is a squirrel X 100, this is usually included in the books mentioned above;
(7) The best way to start out hunting is to get in place down-wind early, sit down, don't move and shut up. Until I learned this, I came home empty-handed.
(8) Don't forget obtaining a proper knife. Again, it can be a good cheap one, but NOT a large one.

Good luck! Please don't hesitate to ask folks here about more advice. On edit, See: "Women Who Hunt," by Mary Zeiss Stange, Professor of Womens' Studies at Skidmore, who has hunted for years. Not a how-to book, but a defense of hunting and the women who choose to do so.
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Brickbat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 11:51 AM
Response to Reply #13
16. Thanks so much for the info!
I really appreciate it. :)
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old mark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-13-10 02:44 PM
Response to Original message
15. If you find a "women hunter" course, I'd advise taking it - you will really benefit, and
Edited on Wed Oct-13-10 02:45 PM by old mark
you will meet like-minded women, possibly someone who can ease your entry into hunting.

Talk to someone who hunts locally for advice about the best choices for rifles for your area, and look around to find something that feels right to you...there are tons of used rifles around for sale that have many decades of useful life in them for a lot less money, and these are usually my first choice.
Don't be afraid to ask for information from anyone in your class or from some knowledgable person in a gun shop. You should also find and join a local fish and game association to use their range and again for contacts and information...remember some hunters can be pretty right wing, so be prepared.

I hope you find yourself with an enjoyable new pastime...I find that I have never had a bad day hunting, even when there is no game aroiund for miles...


mark
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Brickbat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 11:56 AM
Response to Reply #15
18. Thanks for the info.
What a helpful thread this has been! Hopefully this time next year I'll be able to participate instead of asking for advice. :)
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