You’ve heard the guys and gals at the office talking about their hunts for years, but you were never part of the club–until now. Finally, you got the courage to ask or were invited to go on your first hunt. Now what?

For many, learning to hunt, unlike learning to ride a bicycle or swim, is not a natural rite of passage. Many among us make it to adulthood without ever having been on a hunt. As you can imagine, learning how to swim or ride a bike anytime after puberty could be a bit nerve-racking–even a little embarrassing. If you are an adult about to experience your first hunt, it is completely understandable to have the jitters. Before venturing afield, calm your nerves and give your confidence a boost by following a few simple steps.

First, find a hunter education course near you. Hunter education is a course designed to teach students about hunter responsibility, firearms safety, wildlife identification, wildlife conservation, survival, archery, and muzzleloading. There is no specific age requirement to enroll in hunter education. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides a directory of state, territorial, and tribal fish and wildlife offices. Check with your local office for a listing of scheduled courses in your area.

The next step is to properly gear-up for the hunt. Choosing the right firearm and clothing is vital to the overall success of the hunt. You will need a suitable weapon for the species being hunted and the weapon will need to fit you properly. Determine the game species to be hunted and then match the species to the caliber or gauge. Once the correct type of gun has been determined, make sure it is not too long or too heavy. At a minimal cost, a gunsmith can cut the stock to make the gun fit the shooter.

Next, select clothing that is comfortable and adequate to the weather and terrain. For example, well-fitting hiking boots worn with thick socks will keep feet warm and prevent blisters. Layering clothing will ensure comfort at all temperatures. In addition, during certain seasons, like deer season, hunters are required to wear orange. Check with your local wildlife office for further information about proper clothing.

After a suitable firearm has been chosen, find a shooting range in your area. Start your search at wheretoshoot.org , a state-by-state shooting range directory. Watching selected videos will provide you with the information and instruction you need about shooting. At the gun range, you will be able to put into action the techniques demonstrated on the videos. Going on your first hunt without having practiced shooting is setting the stage for failure. Do not skip this step.

Once you have completed a hunter education course, selected the proper gun and clothing, and practiced shooting, you can climb into your first blind with confidence. Rather than having a hunt that ends with you going home with sore feet and hurt pride, you have paved the way for the first of many successful hunting adventures.

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Image by Tami McDaniels

  • Tammy

    An even easier way to receive your hunter education certification is to take an online hunter safety course at http://www.hunter-ed.com. Students will love the new live-action videos, realistic illustrations and interactive animations. Plus, the training at http://www.hunter-ed.com is state-approved!

    • Tami

      Great tip! Thank you for sharing.

  • George

    Great Article, I enjoyed it, we need to get more folks into hunting and back into the outdoors.

    • Tami

      Absolutely. One way to do this is to encourage hunters to invite a novice this hunting season.

  • Dan

    I remember being nervous before I went on my first hunt. First time hunters GET WARM SHOES. You will enjoy your hunt much more.

    • Tami

      I agree with you. If you don’t have the right gear for the hunt, your focus will be on that problem rather then the hunt.

  • Dntheos

    Also remember with the right selection of clothes and the right weapon be sure to have a small survival kit with you that includes a well built knife. This is one thing you do not want to forget…just in case!

    • Tami

      Great point!

  • Stuart

    Great story, the part about getting the gun sized is really important, I didn’t for my first hunt and I wish I had.

  • Amos

    Everyone needs to read this, and if you know someone who wants to learn, young or old,we should take them.

    • Tami

      Yep, we tend to forget about the adults. Of course we should take kids hunting, but we need to also remember there are adults who have never had the pleasure.

  • Dale

    Very good story

    • Tami

      Thank you, Dale . I appreciate the comment.

  • Darren

    Wonderful article really enjoyed reading it. I think sometimes we forget to invite a adult with us on a hunt.

    • Tami

      Thanks for the comment, Darren. You’re right. We’re focused on getting the kids involved (as we should be), but we forget the adults.

  • Bud

    Excellent

    • Tami

      Thanks, Bud. I appreciate the comment.

  • Allen Pettigrew

    This is a well written article, I really enjoyed reading it. I think everyone who hunts and fishes needs to take someone new to hunting or fishing at least one time a year.

  • cheryl

    it is a great help really great for fist time hunters for men or females young or old we can all learn something from andy