These are the best options for new hunters.
Hunting has probably the largest learning curve of any outdoor activity out there. Many people think pursuing and harvesting wild game is easy. Until they get out into the field and start hunting for themselves. Usually, the first hunt is a bit of a wake-up call for newbies that this is not going to be as easy as they thought.
Which is why it is important to choose the right hunting trip suitable for new sportsmen and women. You can get out there and start pursuing almost anything, but these options are slightly easier than the others and provide a good learning experience that can later be translated over to tougher big game animals.
By this point, most new hunters should know the hunting regulations, and they should still have their hunter safety course fresh in their minds. The animals in this beginner's guide to hunting are just what we think are ideal introductions to the hunting experience.
This may not be one of the most exciting critters to pursue, but the great thing about squirrels is they are plentiful, and easy to bag for first time hunters. There are almost no special skills involved in hunting them either. Just find a quiet spot in the forest, sit down, and wait. You usually will not have to wait long to start seeing them. The great thing about small game is it can really help to hone your shooting skills. And a squirrel is extremely easy to field dress and prepare for the dinner table without feeling overwhelmed like many newbies are with a deer or other big game. As a bonus, the hunting license for most small game animals is cheap, which means you can try out hunting on these guys without breaking the bank on tags.
If you know some experienced hunters who can take you, going after ducks or geese is a great way to get out for your first hunting season. It's a great way to practice hunting from a blind. Especially since it is usually a more action-packed hunt than you might experience deer hunting. Even novices can often find success on public land with a good mentor. Just make sure you're using non-toxic shot. It's a necessity when pursuing ducks, geese, or any other waterfowl on federal lands. As a bonus, butchering of waterfowl is mostly straightforward and simply enough for any newbie to master quickly.
There are many kinds of upland game birds, but the pheasant is one of our favorites for newbies simply because there is nothing quite like flushing a rooster from cover. This type of upland bird hunt does require the use of a dog, so it's best to go with a mentor who has one already trained. Still, when the roosters are really flying, a newbie can experience some of the most action-packed hunting to be had. This type of hunt is also a good place to put those skills learned from your hunter education course into play. Because it involves a lot of muzzle control while walking. Also, you must quickly learn to identify a rooster from a hen because most states do not allow the harvest of hens. This helps new hunters develop excellent trigger discipline.
The great thing about doves is you do not need a bunch of expensive equipment to hunt them. Just about any shotgun will do the job with some size 7 or 8 shot. Maybe consider a spinner decoy to help draw in wary birds, but those are cheap. You don't even really need camo. Most dove hunting happens in the early season when it is warm, so newer hunters need not worry about getting cold. Some hunters simply wear jeans and T-shirt and have no problems getting a limit of birds. Aside from offering great action, doves are easy for new hunters to learn how to clean, and dove Jalapeno poppers make an excellent first wild game recipe to try out with animals you've harvested yourself.
Another small game hunt with a low bar for entry. We like the rabbit because you can do it with or without a dog to help flush the animals. Even without a dog, rabbits are usually easy to find and flush once you learn what to look for. Once again, new hunters do not need a ton of fancy hunting gear. A good pair of boots and a reliable shotgun will do the trick. Although we do recommend a good orange vest and a pair of pants that are briar proof. You will be beating a lot of low, thick cover to find these animals. Rabbits are easy to field dress and prepare too, which will help new hunters get ready for big game hunting.
If you live in a state like Texas or Florida, feral hogs are not a bad choice for a first-ever hunt. Hogs leave some of the most obvious signs in the woods when they are rooting. Most of the time, you need only to set up near food and it will only be a matter of time before a sounder shows up. Feral swine are incredibly tough animals, but that's why we like them for newbies. This is an animal to practice shot placement on. If you can drop feral hogs on a consistent basis, you should have no problems with a mule deer or whitetail deer when the time comes. Just be warned that not all hogs may be edible, which is fine, because these things are mean and invasive. State wildlife agencies want as many dead as possible, and most of the time, they don't care how you do it, so long as the job is done.
Early season deer hunting
For the prospective deer hunter, we recommend the early season as the ideal time for a new hunter, especially youths, which is why they hold youth season so early. In the late summer and early fall, the deer are still usually behaving in a predictable way, making it easy for even the greenest of hunters to pattern them with a little hard work and discipline. You are also likely to see a lot of deer before their behaviors become more erratic due to the rut later in October and November. For newbies wanting to hunt deer right away, an early season muzzleloader or archery hunt is often just the ticket. Just make sure you get your deer field dressed and quartered up quickly. Venison can spoil quickly in the warmer temperatures of the early season if you do not take proper precautions.
Products featured on Wide Open Spaces are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
Enjoy the outdoors?
Sign up for daily stories delivered straight to your inbox.