New to hunting...Advice?

Zbradford207

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Hey everyone, thanks for taking a moment to read this. As the title says, I’m brand new to hunting. Getting into it late in the game for sure. I’m 30 years old and have no experience minus some bird hunting back when I was younger. So I know there’s some steps I need to take as far as hunters safety courses and all that jazz. I’m posting in hopes of getting some advice or ideas on if you were to go back and start hunting with the knowledge you have now, what would you do/buy/have/tell yourself back then? I’m very into it already and have been researching for about 6 months but I figure it can’t hurt to ask the guys that know right?! There seems to be less people getting into hunting and I’m hoping that maybe my experiences can help bridge the gap between people that have thought about trying it but never gotten fully prepared for it! Anything you have to offer, even if it’s just a hello, is greatly appreciated!! Thanks again in advance and I hope you all are having a good start to your new year!!

Regards,
Zach Bradford
 

groundtender

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Zach - Good on you! Just do it....you are by no means too old to start up again. I am sure you will get some great advice from other members. When I was a lot younger I thought I had to have a hunting camp. You may hear and read many truly wonderful camp stories. For me the camp that I built up in Stratton turned into too much of a pain in butt. I didn’t like feeling like I had to go there just because I had it. So in spite of the many good times I had there with family and friends, I sold it 25 years ago and have really enjoyed hunting in many great areas in northern Maine. Have fun, you’ll always have something to look forward to, and have good memories of past hunts. Good luck
 
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mbVT

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Welcome Zach!
I wouldn't watch hunting TV- none of that stuff applies and sets false expectations.
Buy good, quality stuff, but don't get sucked into brand advertising and all that B.S.
You learn way more by doing than by reading, watching, etc.
Do what you love- I felt like I had to bowhunt because it was the in-thing, didn't love it. Glad I did it, and still do a little, but I don't sit much anymore.
If someone offers to take you to do something you've never done, go - own your ignorance about it, people will be happy to help you along.
Small game hunt a ton, higher learning return on time invested.
Always make sure it is fun - it won't always be fun in the moment, but it better be in the memories.

BY way of promoting an organization I belong to, the New England Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers offers a mentorship program for members that can take on any form as you go...
 

Zbradford207

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Welcome Zach!
I wouldn't watch hunting TV- none of that stuff applies and sets false expectations.
Buy good, quality stuff, but don't get sucked into brand advertising and all that B.S.
You learn way more by doing than by reading, watching, etc.
Do what you love- I felt like I had to bowhunt because it was the in-thing, didn't love it. Glad I did it, and still do a little, but I don't sit much anymore.
If someone offers to take you to do something you've never done, go - own your ignorance about it, people will be happy to help you along.
Small game hunt a ton, higher learning return on time invested.
Always make sure it is fun - it won't always be fun in the moment, but it better be in the memories.

BY way of promoting an organization I belong to, the New England Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers offers a mentorship program for members that can take on any form as you go...
I can’t help but watch hunting TV, luckily I stay pretty well grounded and understand that shoving 7 days of hunting into a 40 minute tv show isn’t exactly capturing everything there is to it! I’m a reader and a researcher through and through but I’m already well on my way gathering gear and trying to learn through any way that I can! I enjoyed archery back when I was younger as well but hear it’s extremely difficult hunting wise. Personally I’m gonna stay on a boom stick for now. Though I doubt I’ll ever get bored but if I do maybe I’ll take a swing for archery. That sounds like an interesting program and will have to look into it!! Thanks for the response!! I like active forum communities so it’s nice to already have a couple answers!
 

Acrossthepond

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*Disclaimer*
I’ve never hunted in the USA but I think this advice would apply anywhere:

Go and talk to hunters and meet people and make a few friends. Maybe see if someone is willing to mentor you for a while.
If you haven’t bought a rifle yet, go and try a few different kinds and see what you get on with.
Keep your kit basic for now.
Don’t be pushed into doing anything sooner than you feel like doing it.
Try and appreciate the experience of hunting and spending time in the great outdoors. It’s not all about killing big bucks. If you can get a small game licence or a doe tag or something that would be a great start.
 

Mountain Hunter

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Here is the best advice I can offer. I started hunting seriously in 2008. Nobody taught me anything about hunting before then.

1. Shoot often so you learn to shoot well. Try shooting at rolling tires, etc.
2. Buy a GPS and compass. Learn how to use them well.
3. Go hunting all day. You won't shoot a deer from the couch.
4. When you make a mistake in the woods, try your best to analyze it and learn from it. Some of the best lessons I've ever learned were when I did everything right but fumbled at the goal line.

You can read books, watch hunting shows, and go to seminars, but in my opinion, nothing is better than time in the field.
 

Big D

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*Disclaimer*
I’ve never hunted in the USA but I think this advice would apply anywhere:

Go and talk to hunters and meet people and make a few friends. Maybe see if someone is willing to mentor you for a while.
If you haven’t bought a rifle yet, go and try a few different kinds and see what you get on with.
Keep your kit basic for now.
Don’t be pushed into doing anything sooner than you feel like doing it.
Try and appreciate the experience of hunting and spending time in the great outdoors. It’s not all about killing big bucks. If you can get a small game licence or a doe tag or something that would be a great start.
This!
 

Big D

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Here is the best advice I can offer. I started hunting seriously in 2008. Nobody taught me anything about hunting before then.

1. Shoot often so you learn to shoot well. Try shooting at rolling tires, etc.
2. Buy a GPS and compass. Learn how to use them well.
3. Go hunting all day. You won't shoot a deer from the couch.
4. When you make a mistake in the woods, try your best to analyze it and learn from it. Some of the best lessons I've ever learned were when I did everything right but fumbled at the goal line.

You can read books, watch hunting shows, and go to seminars, but in my opinion, nothing is better than time in the field.
And this. Remember, it's supposed to be fun.
 

longbow

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Welcome to the site. Go get your hunter safety course done, you’ll learn a lot. Then tell us where you live and specifically what you’ll be hunting and we should be able to set you up with some good advice.
 
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Kingman Cruncher

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Keep it simple. Don’t get caught up in all the fancy clothing and gadgets and stuff. It just takes one well placed shot to harvest a deer.
Listen when people talk. Let them tell their stories, read, watch, etc. It may not be regional to Maine, but put it in your “take with a grain of salt” place and maybe learn from it.

Get acclimated to the woods even when you are not hunting. Go sneak around. When you hike keep your head up always be scanning. Go sit in the woods. See how long it takes for things to calm down. You can only become better and more comfortable in the woods by spending time in it.

Have fun with it.
 

Snowed

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A lot of sound advice has been shared.
My advice for what it’s worth - have fun, use the best gear that you can afford (while still staying married), hunt where the deer sign is, hunt all day no matter the weather conditions, ask all the questions you can, share your experiences with these folks on HC and let them help, and use everyday you’re in the woods to step away from your daily stresses and relax.
 

Zbradford207

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Wow! What a welcome wagon so far! I never expected such a response this fast, and I’m super pumped about it! Thank you everyone for all the tips and warm welcomes! I live in North Waterboro ME. I’ve been shooting for 20 years both handguns and long guns and I’m fairly well versed in it as such, just not so much in the application of it! Hunters safety is coming soon, and I’m about to purchase my rifle in just a few short weeks, I’m not even sure I’ll make it into the woods this year but who knows. Primary focus will be white tails but I’m interested in much more, I would like to try everything from squirrel to duck to turkey and anything in between in my area that’s hunt-able! I plan to try and stay active within this forum and maybe I can share my progress with all of you as I go! I’m now, because of all the positive response, even MORE excited to get after it! I look forward to sharing with you all the fruits of my labor, or the pains of my persistence, hard telling not knowing!!

Regards,
Zach Bradford
 

WetWool

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Keep it simple. Don’t get caught up in all the fancy clothing and gadgets and stuff. It just takes one well placed shot to harvest a deer.
Listen when people talk. Let them tell their stories, read, watch, etc. It may not be regional to Maine, but put it in your “take with a grain of salt” place and maybe learn from it.

Get acclimated to the woods even when you are not hunting. Go sneak around. When you hike keep your head up always be scanning. Go sit in the woods. See how long it takes for things to calm down. You can only become better and more comfortable in the woods by spending time in it.

Have fun with it.
This Zach! Go on Ebay or thrift stores and get yourself a good wool jacket and pants! There is a reason the outdoorsmen have used this material for 100's of years.... it works! Being cold will reduce your fun level quick! You don't need to spend a ton of money on a great shooting rifle but stick to the old school calibers for "cheap" ammo, 06, .308, 30-30 kill great! We've taken 4 deer now with my sons $200 savage and $60 bushnell scope, shoots well! Ask questions of people, be a sponge! Wander the woods 12 months per year, become a "woodsman" more than a hunter.... know where north, south, east, and west is! Walk the woods when snow, see what part of the woods they are using and just when you think you know guess what, they change up on you!😁 Find a piece of property to hunt that gives you a good chance for success during the season, apple trees, oak trees, etc and ask permission then share some meat of your harvest! Best of luck and make it FUN, no greater rush than the crunch crunch of Mr. Whitetail!
 

802-603hunter

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You’ve gotten some good advice so far. I’ll add that I would mark a couple weekends in early May to get out and familiarize yourself with some woods. They will look very similar to the November woods before things start to green up. Most all of the deer sign from last fall will be visible as well (droppings, scrapes, rubs, tracked up runways). It’s great experience with zero expectations.

I would strongly echo Kingmans advice, whenever you’re in the woods walk with your chin up scanning the surroundings, it’s great practice that forms favorable habits.
 

Mainewoods

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You definitely do not need much to start hunting whitetail deer, and there's a lot of post on this site that go into what rifle, what's in our fanny/day pack, scouting tips, clothing, etc. Like 80-603 said, spring is a great time to get familiar with areas, and it's also a great time to fish. Spring hiking into beaver ponds and streams to fish for native brookies, is a bonus to general scouting. Also, if you have a smart phone, consider using OnX and scrap buying a GPS. You can probably sign up for a 7 day free trial to see if you like the app.
 

Vtbuck223

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It is really a great time to be taking up hunting at your age...
So much has changed in the last 20 years...having a site like this available...so many great books out now compared to just 30 years ago.... and, some of what is available on youtube is pretty amazing. The learning curve is much faster these days and you are not just at the mercy of whoever happens to be your mentor!

Did you say you have a rifle? A big purchase and perhaps most challenging decision at a starting point...
 

Meatseeker

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Welcome aboard. The members here have given you a ton of excellent advice. I'll add a few things I've picked up a long the way.

1.)Study your hunting area as much as you can with google earth or other similar map application. Learn terrain features, access points, where roads are, where bodies of water are, where agriculture is, where recent cutting has occurred...etc. Having a decent mental pictures of the area helps tremendously when you put boots on the ground.
2.)Study the animals you intend to hunt and the habitat you plan to hunt in. Literature on animal life history and forest ecology is very helpful. A lot of hunting articles are based on certain tactics and tricks. These can work, but honestly understanding what drives an animal's behavior (food, weather, shelter, time of year, hunting pressure) will help you better anticipate where they are likely to be. Learn as much about the forest as you can such as being able to identify plants and trees, and what type of areas certain types of trees and plants grow. Its great to read that White oak acorns are a preferred food source for deer, but is another thing to be able to tell the difference between a White Oak, Red Oak, Pin Oak etc. and also where these type of trees are likely to grow.
3.)Don't let folks convince you that you need access to prime private property to enjoy good hunting. We have a ton of great public land throughout the entire country. Pick a spot, study it, visit it, and get it done. A lot of public land hunters won't venture farther than 1/2 mile from the truck. I've found that if you are willing to go beyond that you will often have it to yourself. You might not be successful at first but you will be eventually if you keep working at it. Private land access can be great if you can get it but its not necessary.

AND REMEMBER.... IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN
 

Mattb

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One thing that sounds obvious, but I spent a lot of years learning - don't bother hunting where the deer aren't.

This is especially relevant if you have a bunch of other responsibilities and aren't out as much as you'd like. If you're in Waterboro, then you're close enough to coastal York County that you can at least scout, if not hunt regularly, in areas that actually have a lot of deer (for Maine, at least) - seeing areas like this can be a huge help in figuring out what good habitat and high traffic areas look like.

I spend too many days walking through and watching over spots that just didn't have many deer - a few prints in some mud can be exciting, but they could also represent 1 deer crossing at 2am 3 weeks ago. A muddy trough in the ground is a different story. It can be difficult to get past the excitement of finding the former in order to keep looking for the latter.

Cameras can also be a huge help here. Some guys don't like 'em, but they were a game changer for me - though it was because I spent the first couple years I had them mostly not getting any pictures at all, and while knowing where the deer aren't isn't quite as valuable as knowing where the are, it's still very good info.
 
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