Suggestions for first hunting experience?


April 14, 2009, 02:13 AM
Hey guys,

I grew up in a family that would occasionally go camping and shooting was part of that. I learned about guns and when I got older I bough a few of my own. I have had a few handguns, a .22LR rifle, and a shotgun. However, until recently, I never owned a high-powered rifle and I have never been hunting.

My Dad grew up hunting and he has always wanted to take me hunting, but it just never happened for whatever reason. Now he's getting older and we want to finally go while he's still healthy enough.

To get the ball rolling I got myself a Savage model 110 in 30-06. My Dad has one too, but his has a wooden stock while mine is synthetic (I'm a student, gotta save money).

We are planning on taking our rifles to the shooting range to zero them in. After that, I guess we will have some time to practice, because who knows if or when we might get drawn.

We are in Arizona and were hoping to go Elk hunting, but we know some people who tried for years without getting drawn.

Any suggestions on how we should go about planning and preparing for my first hunting trip? My Dad hunted a lot as a young man but that was a LONG time ago and in a different state (Wyoming).

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April 14, 2009, 02:48 AM
I also wondered, since I have never hunted before, would it maybe be wise to start smaller? Maybe hunt some rabbits or something? I have a .22 rifle I could use for this. I also wondered about other species like javelina. What's a good place for a beginner to start?

April 14, 2009, 07:44 AM
get and study pictures on where the vitals are. practice with them at the range. when i first started hunting i would take the cardboard cutout of a deer and shoot it with a pellet rifle. (practice, memory, cheap to shoot) also see if any small game or if any game is till in season and give that a try. in Florida (and other states)hog are open all year on private land

Sav .250
April 14, 2009, 09:45 AM
"about planning and preparing........."
that`s almost as much fun as the actual hunt. "Bonding" with your dad, it don`t get any better than that.
I`m guessing you can get in touch with the game-fish dept for some info as well.
Good luck .

April 14, 2009, 09:58 AM
Unfortunately, you missed the elk deadlines for this year. For next year, if you're willing to hunt cow elk you're likely to get drawn.

If I were in your shoes, I'd get on AZGFD's website, and look up the elk and pronghorn hunt guidelines pdf. There's a page in there that lists draw odds for every elk unit. Pick out a unit where the draw odds are above 50%, and plan on you and your Dad applying seperately for cow elk next year. At least one of you will draw and you'll be elk hunting. My wife, brother and I applied in this manner and 2 out of 3 drew. My brother doesn't have a tag, but he'll have nearly as much fun without his rifle.

Now that you know where you want to hunt elk next year, apply for deer in that unit this year. Again, apply seperately to increase the chances that one of you draws.

If you don't draw deer, squirel hunting is my favorite small game. Again, plan on hunting in the unit where you're going to apply for elk next year.

April 14, 2009, 10:32 AM
Yeah, +1 on squirrell hunting. It is hard to beat and good practice making head shots. Rabbits can be found all over the state as well. The more you get out, the more you learn. It is fairly easy to get drawn for cow elk, especially the late hunts which I recommend anyway because of the colder temps. Familiarize yourself with the hunting regulations. The hunter's safety course offered by game and fish is worthwhile and you get a free bonus point which will improve your chances of being drawn for elk.

April 14, 2009, 10:46 AM
Hunting is a wonderful thing, but it can be a rather painful experience if you're not in shape. To prepare for this coming fall/winter, start a fitness program now. You don't want to learn that you're woefully out of shape while dragging a 180 pound deer to the top of a ridge. Running, bike riding, or some other form of cardiovascular exercise 3-4 days a week for 45 minutes is an acheiveable goal.

A weight program, in addition to cardiovascular exercise, is also a good idea. The goal would be not to bench press 500 lbs, but to be in possession of enough physical strength to drag the aforementioned 180 pound carcass a mile or so without having a heart attack or stroke.

Learn to be still, and ALWAYS be aware of the wind. You can smell like a 50 lbs bag of dog crap and see deer/elk, as long as you're down-wind. Make sure you've got the appropriate attire. Dress in layers, make sure your clothing is water-resistant/waterproof. And in cold weather, remember that cotton kills.

Learn to read a compass. Practice your navigational skills. A really great navigational tool is a hand-held GPS unit. Really handy, but it shouldn't replace the skill of traditional map/compass navigation.

Others will chime in with more handy tips :D

April 14, 2009, 11:44 AM
Shotgun hunting offers a lot more opportunities that don't require a lot of time, special clothing, money, tag drawings, etc.

Dove, quail, rabbit, to start with. All worth eating, if made right. Long seasons, no tags, game is readily available in Arizona.

April 14, 2009, 11:53 AM
Cleaning rabbits or squirrels is easy. Cleaning and hauling out an elk, well......

April 14, 2009, 03:46 PM
look into a guided hunt somewhere

if its going to be in an area that niether of you know well it pays to have a guide

Yo Mama
April 14, 2009, 04:50 PM
Start with birds. I started with Dove, and man I'll tell you just gutting that was alot to overcome for me who never hunted untill a few years ago.

I really want a rabbit, but don't know how to clean it, and I've heard that you have to clean them quick.

April 14, 2009, 05:25 PM
man I'll tell you just gutting that was alot to overcome for me who never hunted untill a few years ago.

I hear you there.

I started hunting in part because I realized that I'd eaten meat all my life but never actually killed anything myself. That seemed wrong -- if I'm going to eat meat, I should be willing to deal directly with EXACTLY where it comes from.

Turns out, hunting brings out some very primal instincts, too. It's changed a lot of things for me, and I often feel like I've barely even started yet.

Gutting stuff without tearing up the animal is harder than it seems, if you don't know what you're doing, too.:)

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