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N00b Alert - How did you start hunting?

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My family immigrated here from a city in another country and therefore cultural integration for me, like many other immigrant children was "unassisted" by our previous generation. My father did not take me hunting, for example. I have, however, grown to love the outdoors, and developed opinions about the American industrialized food machine, and also a fondness for marksmanship. Michael Pollan's book "The Omnivore's Dilemma", and MeatEater Steven Rinella have nicely verbalized thoughts which have been running through my head on Hunting and trapping in that it is one the most ethical, and compassionate way of sourcing meat, and a way for us, as people to better connect with nature and our past. I'd like to find ways to get into the sport and wonder what good ways to get educated are beyond the Basic Hunter Education courses.

For the hunters and trappers here, I'd love to hear about how you learned to hunt, who taught you, and what hunting and trapping means to you? Pretty open ended. If I've not done a good job thread-searching, and this has been brought up in the past, happy to read any links.
 

whacko

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First I don't trap. Nothing against it I just never got into trapping for furr bearing game.

As far as hunting I got Into it because because my son started asking about it. I've had fire arms forever but never thought about hunting until he started asking when he was about 10 years old. I took hunter Ed then started reading. I'm a 25 year army vet and did a fair amount of back country camping for fun over the years so basic woodsmanship I had the basics already down. We started hunting for grey squirrel as a way to keep the success rate high and get some meals from the woods. I also used it to teach basic woodsmanship to him when he was young. By woodsmanship I mean land navigation, proper clothing, field dressing game, and mostly how to get used to being in the woods for longer and longer periods of time. I've found that just being in the woods is an atmosphere that some people need to "learn" especially kids. Now we basically hunt everything in new England and spend alot of time in the woods. Hes 19 now and still enjoys squirrel hunting with me!

So......I'd suggest starting with small game hunting and just let your skills expand from there.
 

greencobra

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i just hunted birds when i use to hunt. i learned the ropes myself. i don't have the patience to sit in cover or up in a tree and ambush deer. anyway, the larger game animals i won't eat. i started going by myself cause i found out early experienced hunters very rarely seek out and ask the new guy to join them. i also found out early i liked spots that had wild birds and not stocked. management areas are over crowded and bled out, and besides, a stocked bird is stupid and freezes at your feet more times than taking to the air. i have some ethics, i won't blast a grounded bird hugging the ground. so you learn to ask landowners if you can hunt their fields. i never met a property owner that refused me permission. several years after starting, i picked up a hunting partner. we didn't own a dog so we beat the fields together and saw a lot of success. walking around beating the brush suited me. hunting turkey and duck is the only time i'd sit still and call them in to me. end of story.
 

pupchow

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I'd read outdoors magazines as a kid (Outdoor Life, Field & Stream, Sports Afield), and that is probably the foundation of my interest in hunting and the adventures that accompany it. I'd gone along on some deer hunts with my father when I was young but those were more of a group activity with not a whole lot of mentoring going on. I attended hunter ed when I was 15, and got my firearms ID card, so I could then hunt on my own. I ventured into upland bird hunting (grouse) by setting out with an English Setter our family had adopted, and also took some small game (squirrel, rabbit). When I was old enough to get a driver's license, I got one season of stocked pheasant hunting in. Then, I joined the military.

Decades later, I got back into hunting after moving to a location that made it more accessible to me. I'm learning as I go, and that's what I enjoy about it. Getting a hunting dog (pointer) as a pup, and working to train it, was an awesome experience. Even my wife's cocker spaniel turned out to be a very good hunter after I got her off the couch, and the two dogs worked very well together. Many good times watching those two work. I got my MA trapping license a few years ago and have dabbled in it. It's not like it used to be (permissible methods) but it's still a skillset that I want to develop, along with the pelt handling. And the trapping course dispelled some preconceived notions I had about it. The course instructors were great. My big game skills (bear, deer) still need work, along with my predator hunting. And I'm still wanting to do some waterfowl hunting, but that's a ways off.

When I was in my teens, I had dreams of being a bush pilot in AK. That didn't happen. However, I now live in a place where the woods are outside my back door, and it's been a great place to be in life. From spending time in the woods observing, along with classroom learning and digesting digital information, I hope to have a strong enough skillset & encouragement worth sharing with my grandsons when they have an interest in going afield.
 

71montess

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Family and friends, guns, bows, fishing and hunting, it’s in my “culture”. My parents grew up on a farm and always looked at animals from that prospective. you need to counter the popular liberal attitude of ” killing animals bad”.
 
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Congrats on the Immigration. First off you'll need to take a Basic Hunter Safety course; depending on where you go you likely won't learn much, but it will let you buy a hunting license.

For me I hunted as a kid, took a 20 year break then moved back home where my family has a fair amount of land. I had a lot of good mentors, my father, brothers, family friends, and even a teacher in high school.

See if you can find someone nearby who hunts and ask is you can come along. Personally my favorite seasons are Turkey, Goose, Pheasant, and Deer (in that order). If you're in MA then there are a number of Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) that are available for anyone to hunt. MassWildlife Lands Viewer

I don't trap, but from what I've heard in MA it's not worth the equipment investment.
 

one-eyed Jack

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My grandparents migrated from Germany in the '30s (as did my parents). My brother and I were born here. My GPs were among the first ones to buy land cheap and build a home on Pawtuckaway Lake in Nottingham, NH. Times were tough. My GPs lived off the grid but my GF was a talented wood carver and scratched out a living carving and selling full size cigar store indians . Food was in short supply and deer, small game, ducks and geese were hunted year round. They had a dug well and an outhouse. They had a big garden and my GM grew and "put up" vegies. My job when I spent time there summers and school vacations was to "harvest" food for the table. Fish were in good supply in the lake. I was given an old .22 pump rifle and shown how to use it. I would roam the woods and bring back tree rats, rabbits and my first deer at age 11. Anything that walked, flew or swam was food. Broke every game law on the books, but the land was still "wild". Held the family record for deer at the youngest age till, of course, Little Jack came along blew that away by taking three deer at age 10. One by bow, one by rifle and one with shotgun during the NH and Maine season one year. Sorry to bore you. Jack.
 

NHbullseye

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Got into hunting several years ago via the NH apprentice program. My neighbor took me out scouting and gave me a crash course in the basics. I then completed hunter Ed and have been very fortunate to harvest a deer every season since. I’ve certainly learned to be quieter and more patient in the woods. I’m of the belief, less is more, don’t use any fancy gear, calls, cameras etc just scout for sign off season pick a good spot to hang the stand and then enjoy the sounds of nature until an opportunity presents itself.
 
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Gentlemen, thank you for your phenomenal stories. I laughed, I cried, and I was bored (Jack) - just kidding - I thought your story about your grandparents was very moving. I also liked how in many cases that the next generation is quickly learning the trade. The sport seems to be a dying one in this country by the numbers but it's fantastic that some are keeping the tradition alive.

I totally get the liberal "killing is bad" attitude. I dove into vegetarianism for two years with the belief that "one bad day" was one day too many. Ultimately I decided that doing so was a betrayal to my human nature, and also gained lots of weight from never being satisfied with my meals. Since then, I've shifted my mindset toward eating sustainably harvested meat in lower volumes and higher quality. We're looking to purchase a small subscription from a local meat CSA this year to try it out - so far we're considering Lilac Hedge Farm in central MA. Wild caught fish seems to always be well priced whether frozen or previously frozen at Market Basket. I love to cook so the idea of working with meat that I've harvested and prepared is appealing.

On the "being outdoors" side, I was drawn to it by growing up near the woods, and ultimately went from trail walking to skiing to mountaineering. I've spent a lot of time in the winter in the presidentials / on Mt. Washington, and in the last several years climbed Mt. Shasta in Oregon and Rainier in Seattle. "Huffing it" with significant pack-weight is definitely something that I've gotten accustomed to, and an "alpine / minimalist approach" to gear selection in frigid environments, wayfinding, and making hard decisions like turning back are things that I've had to learn. It's definitely not directly applicable though - I'm not as much used to dealing with water infiltration (rain,mud), and the stealth and patience that NHbullseye mentioned is a skillset that I will need to develop. It seems there a meditative component to stalking - it requires hyperfocus on the present.

The MA Education course seems to be all booked up but it seems MA has a reciprocal relationship with other states to honor their courses. I will take the TX course online. I think I am drawn to waterfowl, and hog, with the understanding that hog may require travel south. I like the idea of still-hunting but recognize that there will be lots of fundamentals required before getting there.

Shifting gears from past to future - how do you guys foresee how you hunt to evolve in the future? Knowing what you know, what will you do differently? What are some epic bucket list locations, and game that you would like to get in to, and what's stopping you (tongue in cheek on this last one)?
 

river1988

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My family didn't immigrate recently, but no one took me hunting either. I got comfortable with killing my own food via fishing, and later killing garden pests. This may not be the direction you were going in, but as you've mentioned "food" has an Overton window. Things like squirrels and woodchuck are actually quite tasty, though most people don't think about eating them. I didn't, until they ate all the herbs and vegetables in my garden.
 
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Gentlemen, thank you for your phenomenal stories. I laughed, I cried, and I was bored (Jack) - just kidding - I thought your story about your grandparents was very moving. I also liked how in many cases that the next generation is quickly learning the trade. The sport seems to be a dying one in this country by the numbers but it's fantastic that some are keeping the tradition alive.

I totally get the liberal "killing is bad" attitude. I dove into vegetarianism for two years with the belief that "one bad day" was one day too many. Ultimately I decided that doing so was a betrayal to my human nature, and also gained lots of weight from never being satisfied with my meals. Since then, I've shifted my mindset toward eating sustainably harvested meat in lower volumes and higher quality. We're looking to purchase a small subscription from a local meat CSA this year to try it out - so far we're considering Lilac Hedge Farm in central MA. Wild caught fish seems to always be well priced whether frozen or previously frozen at Market Basket. I love to cook so the idea of working with meat that I've harvested and prepared is appealing.

On the "being outdoors" side, I was drawn to it by growing up near the woods, and ultimately went from trail walking to skiing to mountaineering. I've spent a lot of time in the winter in the presidentials / on Mt. Washington, and in the last several years climbed Mt. Shasta in Oregon and Rainier in Seattle. "Huffing it" with significant pack-weight is definitely something that I've gotten accustomed to, and an "alpine / minimalist approach" to gear selection in frigid environments, wayfinding, and making hard decisions like turning back are things that I've had to learn. It's definitely not directly applicable though - I'm not as much used to dealing with water infiltration (rain,mud), and the stealth and patience that NHbullseye mentioned is a skillset that I will need to develop. It seems there a meditative component to stalking - it requires hyperfocus on the present.

The MA Education course seems to be all booked up but it seems MA has a reciprocal relationship with other states to honor their courses. I will take the TX course online. I think I am drawn to waterfowl, and hog, with the understanding that hog may require travel south. I like the idea of still-hunting but recognize that there will be lots of fundamentals required before getting there.

Shifting gears from past to future - how do you guys foresee how you hunt to evolve in the future? Knowing what you know, what will you do differently? What are some epic bucket list locations, and game that you would like to get in to, and what's stopping you (tongue in cheek on this last one)?
So if you show up to one of the hunter Ed courses they will not turn you away it’s a policy they have, I’ve taught them for a few years and lots of times they stop accepting registrations at 30 but we end up having a handful more. Where are you located? There’s no substitute for boots on the ground, period. If your hunting more than scouting your doing yourself a disservice. I think new hunters should be at minimum scouting 5 times for every 1 sit throughout the year, more like 10. People that follow this catch on so quickly and become very proficient killers. The guys that walk around and put a stand at the first pile of crap or scrape they find and sit there 10 times a year never kill and if they do it’s shit luck and never consistently. After season scouting in the snow is a huge help and easy for the new guys to catch on. I grew up in a waterfowl family my dad and grandfather dragged me around as a young kid, I shot my first duck at 11. Did a lot of bird hunting up til 9-10 years ago. I was duck hunting with a friend and I told him the deer were about to come out of that edge and cross the marsh, sure enough they did and he said you need to take my gun and kill one tomorrow. I went in the next day and 8 minutes into it I killed one and I’ve been a complete degenerate ever since. If your ever up on the north shore let me know I can take you out scouting and show you what to look for
 

MisterHappy

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MudMuppet: If you show up at a HE class as a drop in, it's possible that you will get in, not a given. When it's taught at my Club, it fills up, instantly. Historically, about 10% are no-shows, and we have not had to turn away any Wait List/Walk-ins, but there is no guarantee of a seat for people above the expected class number. MassWildlife supplies all the course materials, and if there are 40 student packs, 41 students won't work, especially in the Blended curriculum, where the books have to be used after the first session, and before the second one. HE people want to get more hunters in the field, but there are limits.

As for the practicalities, join a Club, and find an experienced member that can give you pointers.

If you take a non-Mass HE course, it will be honored for Mass Hunting License issuance, but the FUBAR Mass gun laws' quirks, that are even more whack than the non-hunting regs, won't be covered, and a small mistake will set you up in a world of hurt. For instance, carrying a sidearm during Deer season is no allowed, regardless of what it says on the LTC. Also, the Massachusetts defnition of "hunting" is exceptionally broad.
 
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The classes I’ve taught have only been at two local clubs, but our group leader has boxes of hundreds of workbooks, they don’t issue a specific amount that align with registrations for a specific class, they give him boxes of workbooks and tests to last a couple years till we run out or the update curriculum. Only issue we have ever had has been some people have to stand if we run out of tests. We are told by MA wildlife to NEVER turn anyone away.
 
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We typically hand out the yearly fish and wildlife booklets I believe he gets those mailed to him at the beginning of the season. We never did one in 2020 I guess they are doing some at the headquarters. I haven’t heard a thing about this year either we usually do them from January up till turkey season
 

peterk123

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I was drawn to fishing and hunting since I was a little kid. Don't know why because my father did not do it. My christmas present every year since I was like seven years old was a subscription to Field and Stream. I started fishing early but it was not until later in life I picked up hunting. I had read so much about it though at that point that I knew the basics. Started with a bow and never looked back. Nothing beats time in the woods. My second season I got a deer with the bow. I was too cheap to take it to a butcher so I bought a book on butchering a deer. Been butchering my deer for the past twenty years as a result. I love the experience. I spend countless days scouting in the summer, it's actually a family affair. I can't imagine anything more pleasing than the hunting experience. That includes learning, scouting, hunting, dressing the deer, butchering, finding ways to use every bit of the animal, and lastly cooking it for my family.
 

MisterHappy

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We typically hand out the yearly fish and wildlife booklets I believe he gets those mailed to him at the beginning of the season. We never did one in 2020 I guess they are doing some at the headquarters. I haven’t heard a thing about this year either we usually do them from January up till turkey season
I'm not a Lead Instructor, I'm happy as a spear carrier in that opera! [laugh] We blocked out the dates on the Club calendar, but I don't know if we're doing it, with occupancy limits, etc. Last Spring, we had to cancel the class after the first session, 'cause Covid.

Best of luck, this year.
 
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So if you show up to one of the hunter Ed courses they will not turn you away it’s a policy they have, I’ve taught them for a few years and lots of times they stop accepting registrations at 30 but we end up having a handful more. Where are you located? There’s no substitute for boots on the ground, period. If your hunting more than scouting your doing yourself a disservice. I think new hunters should be at minimum scouting 5 times for every 1 sit throughout the year, more like 10. People that follow this catch on so quickly and become very proficient killers. The guys that walk around and put a stand at the first pile of crap or scrape they find and sit there 10 times a year never kill and if they do it’s shit luck and never consistently. After season scouting in the snow is a huge help and easy for the new guys to catch on. I grew up in a waterfowl family my dad and grandfather dragged me around as a young kid, I shot my first duck at 11. Did a lot of bird hunting up til 9-10 years ago. I was duck hunting with a friend and I told him the deer were about to come out of that edge and cross the marsh, sure enough they did and he said you need to take my gun and kill one tomorrow. I went in the next day and 8 minutes into it I killed one and I’ve been a complete degenerate ever since. If your ever up on the north shore let me know I can take you out scouting and show you what to look for
MudMuppet you're on - I'm near Boston so we're really not far from eachother. Once I take my class I'm going to reach out to you to learn me some scouting - that sounds like a lot of fun.
 
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MudMuppet: If you show up at a HE class as a drop in, it's possible that you will get in, not a given. When it's taught at my Club, it fills up, instantly. Historically, about 10% are no-shows, and we have not had to turn away any Wait List/Walk-ins, but there is no guarantee of a seat for people above the expected class number. MassWildlife supplies all the course materials, and if there are 40 student packs, 41 students won't work, especially in the Blended curriculum, where the books have to be used after the first session, and before the second one. HE people want to get more hunters in the field, but there are limits.

As for the practicalities, join a Club, and find an experienced member that can give you pointers.

If you take a non-Mass HE course, it will be honored for Mass Hunting License issuance, but the FUBAR Mass gun laws' quirks, that are even more whack than the non-hunting regs, won't be covered, and a small mistake will set you up in a world of hurt. For instance, carrying a sidearm during Deer season is no allowed, regardless of what it says on the LTC. Also, the Massachusetts defnition of "hunting" is exceptionally broad.
Thanks, Misterhappy - I'll reconsider doing an online course run by another state. I need to check my club calendar too.
 
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