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5 Phases of Hunting We All Go Through [PICS]

5 Phases of Hunting
Steiner Optics

We all go through different phases of hunting. Developing our skills and methods over time, we share common milestones with other hunters.

Several decades ago, two professors at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse conducted a survey of hunters. Robert Jackson and Robert Norton’s research revealed that there are five phases each hunter passes through.

Even though this work was done years ago, their results still seem to hold true today.

Though, from my personal experience, I feel that these phases don’t necessarily follow one after another. I often experience two or more of these stages at the same time.

How about you? Here are the five phases of hunting.

1. Shooter Stage

Silhouette of a young man shooting with a long rifle against sunset sky, with a sunburst

We all start here, figuring out the mechanics of how to shoot. In this stage, it’s not about bringing home dinner. This phase is more about the thrill of our first hunts.

2. Limiting Out

2. Limiting Out

I’ve been here. And in many ways, still am. I’ve also moved into other stages while still experiencing this one. In this phase, success is often measured by limiting out. It also helps that this phase puts a lot of food on my table.

3. Trophy Stage

3. Trophy Phase
Steiner Optics

Trophy hunting is a controversial term these days. It’s often used by the anti-hunters to portray hunters in a negative way.

Here’s the  truth. Even though I’ll mount that mule deer head on my wall, I still eat all the meat.

4. Method Stage

4. Method Phase
Elk Hunting Tips

This is where the art of hunting takes shape for the individual hunter. Maybe it’s getting good with a bow, or mastering a particular duck call. For me, I’m always in this phase, even when I’m in another.

5. Sportsman Stage

5. Sportsman Phase
California Outdoors

Often called the “mellowing out” phase, this is about enjoying the hunt for the sake of the hunt itself. I find that I’m in this stage of hunting, and still into methods and limits.

For each of us, these phases present at different times, with different overlaps. The one thing that we all hold in common is the love for what we do.


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5 Phases of Hunting We All Go Through [PICS]