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How Did You Start Hunting?

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I'm new to the forum here and relatively new to owning guns, and am very interested in hunting as a way to expand my skills and take home some delicious meat.

So, my question is - how did you get into hunting? If you didn't grow up hunting, what did you do to learn?

Hoping some folks here can share their stories and thoughts. Thanks!
 

whacko

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I started hunting honestly because my son begged me and begged me. I got back from my second deployment in 2010 when he was 9 years old. We have always been an outdoor family.....back country camping.....ice fishing.....canoe trips....that sort of thing. Being a mass resident a child needs to be 12 before they can handle a fore arm to hunt (with a licensed adult in direct supervisors) so I had time to work on it. He was relentless though and kept up the pressure that's for sure. I had a couple of fire arms but started to do more.....bought the shotguns started shooting trap with him and then the 22 rifle and worked with him primarily on marksmanship. I took the hunter ed course in 2012 and the journey began. Started with the spring turkey season in 2012 and learned quick that turkey is a tough game to cut your teeth on. Spent a few mornings out there with him with not even seeing a bird. But.....it was alot of great time in the woods with him,......taught him alot on woodsmanship....using a compass......what to pack.....safety....etc...

That fall I started squirrel hunting with him. Perfect game to start off with. High success rate...tons of fun....get the lessons on dressing and cleaning game.....they taste great.....and you learn what it's about......takin a meal from the woods. We STILL love squirrel hunting and he's 16 now!! I took him on some youth pheasant and duck hunts with mass F and G programs and he had alot of success hunting those! He harvested his first deer last December (a 90 pound doe)! I took my first deer in 2014 on a trip with some army buds. Wife got her first deer in 2014 (yup....she's into it now) with the becoming an outdoor woman program. This deer season has been an absolute success......two weeks ago my son got a 140 pound 5 point and I hit a 90 pound 4 point ON THE SAME DAY! That's a memory that's going to last forever!

It's been. A learning process together as a family. Forst couple of years the success was limited to squirrel and a couple of stocked pheasants. Since then we have harvested much more successfully and have taken

Turkey deer cottontail rabbits snowshoe hare ducks and more squirrels this year than I can count!

Just do it is my advice......manage your expectations when you first start out.....just spend time in the woods and you'll learn more and more each trip and become more successful.

JUST DO IT.
 

whacko

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I'm new to the forum here and relatively new to owning guns, and am very interested in hunting as a way to expand my skills and take home some delicious meat.

So, my question is - how did you get into hunting? If you didn't grow up hunting, what did you do to learn?

Hoping some folks here can share their stories and thoughts. Thanks!
You can take the Texas online hunter ed course and it counts for hunter Ed in mass. All online. Takes a couple of evenings on your computer to knock it out.
 

EMTDAD

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9 yr old son at the time wanted to learn more about hunting.. went to a wedding on Cape Cod where cousins who hunt were also there... son started the conversation and they invited us down.. so the three of us (me & 2 sons) observed for a day. Even though we saw nothing, it was good experience. This year, wife & I got hunting licenses and started accumulating clothes & equipment. And learning... I need to take more advantage of the MAF&W classes..
 
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Started chasing whitetails about 5 years ago at age 35. Entirely on my own. So I learned through via hard knocks you could say... Still learning that way. Make mistakes, learn from them, and progress. Never stop telling yourself that you're a killer. As soon as you lose confidence in any part of what you're doing - you're toast.

There used to be a guy on here named Cerfur that would take new hunters out. Mostly pheasant hunting but sometimes whitetail. There was an incident at one point (careless firearm safety/handling) - and he subsequently stopped. Never see him on here anymore either.

If you're looking to chase whitetail I'll tell you the most important lesson I learned. Hunting season STARTS 1/1 of every year. That's where your hunting is done. Harvest season starts end of October for archery - but by then your "hunting" should be done. At that point you're just putting yourself in place to harvest deer you've already hunted down.
 

Mark from MA

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Started with a bb gun at the ripe age of 8. Had a dog and hunted birds since I was 12, and I've had 3 dogs and hunted birds ever since.

Dad took me out to the Berkshires when I was 10, killed my first deer at 12. Killed a bunch with the shotgun by the time I was 18, then needed a challenge, got heavily into bowhunting and killed deer with every type of bow made, longbow, recurve, and compound.... even made my own recurves for a while in my 20's and 30's. Hunted heavily in NH, CT, and MA thru the years mostly with the bow trying to kill mature bucks, and filling the freezer when needed. Most of it an alone pursuit, because it's tough to get people like minded, and willing to sacrifice the time and effort and persistence to be a true hunting partner. My Dad was always closest and the one I learned from and the one I trusted to meet me on time at 4am or whatever time we needed to be on stand, and the one to help me drag a deer out of some swamp at 8pm.

I also, taught my son how to bird hunt with the dog, we still do that together regularly, he killed his first pheasant at like 10, He also killed his first deer at ten with a rifle. His first bow kill buck at 12 with a compound. He doesn't like the deer thing as much as I did, plus he's into 2 legged does now....that's typical, I'm assuming he'll come back to me at some point and we'll do some deer hunting again.....but if he doesn't that's OK too. I know he's always out to tag along with me with the dog every year.

Being in my mid 40's, and having a bunch of 130-160" deer on the wall, my biggest 225#, all from New England, I'm slowing it down as far as deer goes. My dad has 4-5 he got as well, I'm pretty much come full circle and have gone thru all the stages. I'll remember those hunts forever. and some of the time I put in and stuff I did to get certain animals I targeted when I was in my 20's and 30's I laugh at now. But those deer on the wall do end up as dust collectors....not a lot of people nowadays care to hear the stories. But there was a lot of hard work and time sacrifice in most cases, put into every one of them. Sometimes I wonder if it was all worth it, I could have probably learned more and made more money instead or something.......whatever.

Now I'm all about spending time with family and friends, and if I can work in a hunt doing that great. I belong to a club where we shoot birds and mostly shoot the shxt, and that is plenty fine for me. I train the shooters for the youth pheasant hunt and it brings me a lot of joy to do that and give back a little. I'm always glad to take anyone out that wants to learn......mostly bird hunting, because I'm not super into the deer thing anymore, newbies are better off learning from someone that has the "deer bug"
 

RDG

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My dad deer "hunted" when I was a kid, although I never saw him harvest anything. LOL. He taught us proper firearm handling and took us scouting a few times but that was it. Took us to turkey shoots and that short of thing. It never stuck with me.

I didn't buy my first firearm till I was 32 years old after I had kids. Hunting came a few years later. Not sure why I started but wanted to try it. I started coyote hunting and turkey hunting. Never saw anything for a couple years.

One day a co-worker offered to take me pheasant hunting over his lab. That first hunt his dog flushed a hen up right in front of me.. two shots later and I watched that bird fly away, but I was hooked.

At the time I had a 10 year old golden retriever but she was so scared of everything... thunder, planes... even a loud wind would scare her. Trying to hunt with her wouldn't have been fair to her. So I hunted pheasants without a dog or with anyone that would let me tag along... mainly my coworker.

Last year we lost our golden and with-in weeks I knew I needed another dog in the house. We brought home our chocolate lab in Oct of last year. I read every book/article on gun dog training and got him started early. I joined a club with pheasants I could hunt year round and the training started.

Truth be told I didn't get nearly enough training time with him at the club but I swear this dog was programmed to hunt from birth. We did live bird training, firearms training, retrieving and scent training. He loved every bit.

So the day before opening day in MA, We hit a stocked WMA in the afternoon..just for a trial run. He flushed three pheasants in 20 minutes... they whole rest of the day I couldn't stop smiling.

We had a great first season this year. .. it was only my crappy shooting that caused us to not limit out. He flushed more birds that I could have legally shot. I need more time on the trap course. He gets excited anytime he sees me wearing orange or grabbing something from the basement. He just wants to hunt. I've never been a duck hunter but think that might change soon. Although at a year and a half he's still got a lot of puppy energy, might not want to sit in a blind for too long.

I even bought a CT non-resident hunting license after MA season ended so we could keep hunting. He continued to flush birds into mid December....and...Well I continued to miss them. LOL. CT stops stocking around thanksgiving just like Ma but the season stays open till Feb. I know theirs poblably not many birds left but we'll continue to take walks with a shotgun. Just trying for one more.
 

HorizontalHunter

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You can take the Texas online hunter ed course and it counts for hunter Ed in mass. All online. Takes a couple of evenings on your computer to knock it out.

This is absolutely true and a great option if you can't get into one of the courses that DFW offers but you are better off taking the class in the state you want to hunt. That way the course covers the rules for the state you want to hunt in and you can ask questions if you don't understand something.

I also highly recommend the Map, Compass, and Survival course and the Archery course. States like Connecticut that have separate licenses for firearms hunting and archery hunting require the separate archery course for the archery license. They won't accept the Hunter Safety Course for the archery license.

Bob
 

Al-Jim19

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I just started hunting about 3 weeks ago, so I still suck...bad. Take the following for what it’s worth.

I got into guns about 6 years ago, for protection and range fun. Tactical stuff has been my forte. Got a little bored with it and have always liked the idea of “making” my own food and providing for myself. Had a bitch of a time finding a class within an hour of my house that fit my work schedule, so I took the Texas online course, which i highly recommend. Make sure you read the necessary MA laws online though. One of the biggest challenges for me is finding a place to hunt. Have a buddy (also brand new, started back in October, this season has gotten a pheasant, rabbit, and 3 squirrel) who has a friend with a farm we’ve hunted a couple times. Looked for squirrel both times, probably 8 hours in the woods, got nothing. There were weather conditions that affected the hunt but realistically I suck. Yesterday went with a different friend who offered to show me a couple spots. Starting to feel a bit better but the task of finding even squirrels is challenging. I’m gonna keep at it but it’s clear I have a lot to learn.
 

whacko

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I just started hunting about 3 weeks ago, so I still suck...bad. Take the following for what it’s worth.

I got into guns about 6 years ago, for protection and range fun. Tactical stuff has been my forte. Got a little bored with it and have always liked the idea of “making” my own food and providing for myself. Had a bitch of a time finding a class within an hour of my house that fit my work schedule, so I took the Texas online course, which i highly recommend. Make sure you read the necessary MA laws online though. One of the biggest challenges for me is finding a place to hunt. Have a buddy (also brand new, started back in October, this season has gotten a pheasant, rabbit, and 3 squirrel) who has a friend with a farm we’ve hunted a couple times. Looked for squirrel both times, probably 8 hours in the woods, got nothing. There were weather conditions that affected the hunt but realistically I suck. Yesterday went with a different friend who offered to show me a couple spots. Starting to feel a bit better but the task of finding even squirrels is challenging. I’m gonna keep at it but it’s clear I have a lot to learn.
Just stick with it! First year with my son we hardly saw anything even squirrels......but after a couple of seasons we've learned more and more and now we never get skunked on a squirrel hunt. Like you said it's about finding good areas......once you hunt a season or two you'll know where to go.....and when to go for squirrel. I learned quick that an "all day hunt" for squirrel is not the most productive method. These days I go for 2 hours after sunup and head home........or start 2 hours before sundown. It's when they are most active and my success rate went WAY up when I started that way.

Hunting takes time and effort. Even squirrel hunting takes effort and knowledge to get to the point where your confident that you'll get a few every time. It's worth every ounce of that effort in the long run with any game you are going after.
 
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