Beginner to hunting

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by fatllama, Oct 26, 2011.

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  1. fatllama

    fatllama Member

    Oct 26, 2011
    Hey all,
    So a little about myself: I live in California, have shot a gun only once in my life, but I want to learn to hunt. I think this quote sums up nicely my beliefs on meat eating:
    "I decided that unless I become a vegetarian, I’ll get my meat by hunting for it. … I’ve seen slaughterhouses, and anyway, as Sitting Bull said, when the buffalo are gone we will hunt mice, for we are hunters and we want our freedom."

    —Thomas McGuane

    I would ideally like to hunt wild pig, for pork is by far the tastiest meat, and hogs are a big problem all thru California. I have a friend who is just as interested in hunting as I am, and we will probably be learning and hunting together.
    Now, how do you all suggest I get started? I don't know anybody who hunts, not even anyone who owns a gun (well maybe handguns, but not a rifle). I've looked up prices for guns and ammunition, and though I would like to buy a large caliber rifle that I'll be using for hunting and practice with it at the firing range, it seems that 18-25 bucks for a box of 20 rounds of 30-06 seems far too expensive if I might go through hundreds of rounds just to learn to shoot. However, I can't afford to also buy a smaller rifle and learn to shoot with that, and then also buy a second one to hunt...
    I'm sure this all sounds so ridiculous to most of you. It seems most people learn to hunt when they grow up with guns, but for me, having only touched a rifle once in my life, it's a completely different world that I have very little knowledge about.
    Any suggestions?

    By the way, not trying to seem all sophisticated here :p. I got that quote from this article, which I read when looking up internet materials on how to get started hunting. http://www.jackboulware.com/uncategorized/hunting-wild-boar
  2. klcmschlesinger

    klcmschlesinger Member

    Feb 22, 2007
    You will get better answers than mine....

    There are some very avid hunters on this forum that will give you better information than me, but as I am a hunter, I can at least tell you how I got started.
    I know you said you couldn't buy one rifle to learn with then another to hunt, but I started with a 22LR rifle, Marlin model 60 to be exact, and a 12 guage pump, Remington 870. I used the Marlin very often to shoot cans, targets, and hunt squirrels. It helped me learn gun safety, trigger control, sight picture, et.
    The 12 guage I used for dove, duck, goose, trap, and eventually deer. (No rifles for deer in Illinois). Shooting at trap and dove is a humbling experience and really makes you understand how much you don't know, and how much practice it takes to get good at any gun in the field.
    I don't know what a good caliber for hogs is, but because this is your first rifle be careful not to get something that has too much recoil, because you could develop a flinch and will make your learning process even more difficult.
    Again, you will get better advice than mine, but this is how I started.
  3. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Member

    Dec 1, 2005
    Central Ohio
    My parents had no interest in hunting or shooting. My first gun, acquired after much nagging at around age 15 or 16 was a sporterized 7X57 Mauser with a pitted barrel. Even at that tender age, I understood it would be better to get the big gun first as I could then argue the need for economy and get a smaller rifle, i.e., a 22 LR. I reloaded for my Mauser on the kitchen table with a Lee Loader. I was a safe shooter but not a very proficient shooter.

    We moved to California where I started hunting ground squirrels and rabbits on some public land mostly with a 22 LR I bought at Western Auto and an M1 Garand. Being pretty much self taught, I still wasn't a terribly proficient shooter but did manage a couple of running shots on ground squirrels and a probably 200+ yard shot on a mud hen with the 22 LR. I guess what I'm saying is that your case isn't hopeless.

    Since you're in CA and I'm in OH I can't help you much except give some advice:

    1. Be safe. New shooters tend to be oblivious at to where their gun is pointing and point your gun at people accidentally will not make anyone happy. Don't point your gun at anything you don't intend to shoot ever. Don't put your finger on the trigger until ready to shoot and make sure you have the right ammunition for your gun. Stories are legion about people shooting or trying to shoot the wrong ammunition in their gun.

    2. Take a hunters safety course. I'm sure it's required in CA anyway for hunting. You will meet the instructor and others there who will be happy to talk to you and answer questions.

    3. Join a shooting club if possible. I started learning the most when I started participating in some bench rest matches. It's also a good place to meet other hunting/shooting enthusiasts.

    4. As far as the gun to buy for your pig hunting, I would probably go with a bolt action 270 Winchester as ammunition is readily available (and you'll probably need lead free ammo in CA), recoil is reasonable and it's powerful enough to take any animal you could hunt in CA.
  4. Geckgo

    Geckgo Member

    Dec 14, 2010
    Southern Louisiana
    Hi there, just weighing in. When I got my -06 I figured I would be hunting that winter. I was wrong and never got a chance to get out, I didn't know where to practice so I bought a membership at a range for a year that I only used twice. I'm a lot better shot now and I owe it all to my 22 and lots of range time at the WMA.

    Step one, take a hunter safety course. You will need it eventually and the certification lasts forever as far as I know. www.hunter-ed.com for more info.

    Step two, get a 22. They are cheap to feed, you can learn trigger control, breathing, field positions, etc. etc. etc. and you will become a better marksman. If you want to hunt with a rifle, you first need to learn to shoot. You can still bag plenty of small game (that is easier to clean and prepare) and a marlin 60 doesn't cost a lot. Browse the pawn shops and whatnot or online, you can probably pick up a good 22lr for under 100 bucks if you are thrifty. It will be the best 100 dollars you ever spent, and after 2000 rounds downrange, it will have more than paid for itself.

    Step 3, find a hunting buddy. Could take a while, could happen tomorrow. Shooting ranges, hunter safety classes, sporting goods stores are all good places to meet people. Make sure that it's someone reputable and not some bubba that likes to drink beer and shoot from his tailgate out of season. You might even find someone here, who knows.

    While all of this is going on, you can save up some cash for your first centerfire rifle. Don't skimp on the scope. It's not hard to find a centerfire for around 300 bucks or less that will kill deer out to 200 yards. I'd suggest a remmy 700 in .243 or .260 or something similar but that's a little outside the scope of this thread. You will probably pay at least another 200 for a scope, 100 for a case and cleaning kit, and probably another 100 to get you started on ammo, so don't focus too much on the cost of the weapon, feeding it and taking care of it costs more.

    If you can't afford a centerfire rifle, most hunters have several and would probably be willing to lend you one if you put up the money for ammo and you demonstrate to them that you can handle a firearm safely and you won't hurt their baby. I only have one big centerfire at the moment but my wife will be needing something in the near future, weapons tend to multiply.

    Guess I could have shortened this up by saying "get a 22 and a friend" but I wanted to explain myself a bit.

    my two bits
  5. Sav .250

    Sav .250 Member

    Jun 5, 2007
    Central Fla
    You`ve got a lot to learn my friend.......
  6. sugarmaker

    sugarmaker Member

    Jan 24, 2010
    Take a hunter safety or firearms safety course, state fish and game or local shooting club.
    Get a 22LR to develop marksmanship
    Get a caliber appropriate for what you want to hunt - used bolt action, caliber somewhere between 6.5mm (.264) and .30 cal. 308 winchester will allow you to shoot relatively inexpensive surplus ammo.

    Don't sweat the rest-it'll come. The biggest thing is to get out there as much as you can.
  7. Geckgo

    Geckgo Member

    Dec 14, 2010
    Southern Louisiana
    also, do google searches for how to hunt. There are some very good articles and videos out there on skinning, dressing, and processing. That will be a sharp learning curve if you've never done it. Practice on chickens from the grocery store and save money on chicken meat while you are at it, lol.
  8. Whacked

    Whacked Member

    Aug 21, 2011
    Cal DF&G website has some info on how to hunt deer, boar, bear, etc. goes over what to look for and things of that nature.
    While on their website, browse thru the hunting regs. I saw a section in the boar regs that lists what caliber firearms you can use.

    I've never been hunting altho I really want to. I also live in California. I've started my online research into the matter.

    For firearms, I've been thinking along the lines of a 12ga rifled, inline BP .50, and a bolt .270
    I want those firearms anyways so might as well :) the 12ga is my next purchase

    I second the Marlin 60. Great plinking gun. ammo is dirt cheap. If you shop around you can pick one up for $100.
  9. fatllama

    fatllama Member

    Oct 26, 2011
    wow, thanks everybody. I didn't expect to get this many responses.
    I guess I was getting too ahead of myself. I should focus on one thing at a time, maybe learning to shoot first would be better :p. I will probably be buying a Marlin 60 soon, any other plinking guns you guys would recommend?
    EDIT: was snooping around online on where to buy one, from what I've seen, guns are cheapest at gunshows and pawnshops. A gunshow is coming to the Cow Palace in Daly City near where I live in a few weeks, would it be worth it to go?
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2011
  10. okiewita40

    okiewita40 Member

    Jun 9, 2007
    Northeast Oklahoma
    I'll follow pretty much with everyone else here. Take a hunter safety course. Not sure about Cali. But here they teach firearm safety along with the different types of actions in rifles and shotguns.

    A 22lr is the best thing to learn to shoot with. And as has been said the marlin 60 comes highly recommended. With the price of marlin you will have put several thousands of rounds down range by the time you get to the price of the gun. Say about $140 for the rifle and around $15 for a bulk pack of federal .22lr. That makes for some real cheap practice.

    Then you can step up to the center fire rifles. Just be safe and learn the 10 safety rules.
  11. wombat13

    wombat13 Member

    Feb 16, 2010
    Ten safety rules? I'm familiar with three safety rules:

    1. Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
    2. Never point a gun at anything you don't want to kill/destroy.
    3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

    What are the other seven safety rules I'm missing? I'm surprised I haven't killed anyone if I only know 30% of the important safety rules. Are you referencing hunting related rules such as unload your firearm prior to climbing into/out of a deer stand; unload your firearm prior to climbing over a fence, etc?

    Anyway, to the OP - as others have said, get a .22lr rifle and learn to shoot cheaply. Many people have good things to say about the instruction at Appleseed events (I haven't attended one so I can't say from experience).

    Once you can safely handle a firearm and are fairly proficient you can move up to a rifle you can hunt hogs with. Buying the .22lr first will save you a ton of money in the long run.
  12. montgomery381

    montgomery381 Member

    Sep 6, 2011
    There are many things to know about hunting. One of the most primary if not the primary principle of hunting is that hunter should never cause an animal to suffer. That means that a hunter should be proficient enough to deliver a shot accurately so that the animal dies quickly. With that in mind, since you are talking about gun hunting and not bow hunting you need to learn to be an accurate shooter. Get .22 and learn how to shoot and safely handle a firearm. If you are not safe you are a danger to other hunters and if you are not accurate you will wound animals or cause them to suffer needlessly and you will not be a respected hunter. You will rather be someone looked down upon by other hunters. sorry for soundy preachy. You have to start at the beginning and that is gun safety and marksmanship and a 22 rifle is the absolute best for both. Good luck and it is good to know that their are people like you who wanted to get involved in these things.
  13. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer member

    Apr 10, 2010
    Kodiak, AK
    I'll add to the "get a .22" bandwagon. Get a .22, learn to shoot and then hunt some rabbits.

    Later, you might want to consider a .308. The nice thing about a .308 is that you can find surplus 762x51 NATO ammo for cheap practice. A .308 will serve for any critter from hogs to elk.
  14. bison

    bison Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    The Cow Palace gun show is a joke - lots of ammo, black guns, and accessories but few real guns for sale, prob due to CA's strict gun laws. You're probably better off searching Calguns.net (good used gun listings), local gun shops (if there are any), or local FFLs that may come across used guns. I know one in Santa Rosa if you're in the north bay - pm me if so.

    The Richmond Rod and Gun Club is a good resource - they have a monthly hunter safety class and lots of people to talk to. A good range thats open to the public.
  15. BBQLS1

    BBQLS1 Member

    Feb 12, 2008
    Before you buy anything other than a rifle in .22 Long Rifle....

    Take the hunter's safety course. If it's a good one, they will cover the laws for your state and give you an idea on what you can hunt and how you may hunt it.

    Take a shooter's safety course. Learn to shoot!

    Find a local range to practice.

    You'll probably have an idea on what type of centerfire rifle or shotgun to buy at this point.

    You might find a hunting mentor if you can.
  16. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    Dec 22, 2002
    Terlingua, TX; Thomasville,GA
    Time flies by when you're having fun. Here I am, now, with seventy years of fun behind me, and I'm still messing around with it. :D

    About all I'd add to what's already been said is to spend as much free time wandering around in the boonies as you can. Preferably just sitting on a hillside at first light in the morning and from a little before sundown on to full dark.

    If you want to be a walking hunter, you need to re-learn the how-to. It's not like a city sidewalk or a mown lawn. I've found that if I glance down for the next three or four steps, so I know where sticks or rolling rocks are, I can then take those steps while looking out and around to see if Bambi is somewhere around. If you're watching your feet, you don't see much that's worth seeing. Then, glance and walk again. IOW, sorta flow, don't march. And don't be in a hurry. Also, look behind from time to time. Some critters will hide and watch and then move after you've gone past.

    Mid-day, critters bed down, so you go to learning the sorts of places they consider to be bedrooms.

    Plenty of literature on all this. Do some reading and browsing and feel free to come back with more questions...
  17. cottswald

    cottswald Member

    Sep 13, 2010
    Good that you're leaning toward a .22 rimfire. Easier for virtually everyone to shoot accurately and ammunition is dirt cheep. Once you get proficient at using it, consider hunting small game. Targets are many, and learning to hunt rabbits and/or squirrel will teach you many of the skills needed to hunt other types of game, not to mention that it's just plain fun.

    Local gun shows and pawn shops will for the most part be offering used guns. Unless you have someone experienced to accompany you, I would avoid buying used. Nothing will turn a new shooter off faster than to inherit someone elses problem. That's just my opinion. As far as buying new, these guys offer some very competetive pricing and overall get pretty good reviews: http://www.budsgunshop.com/catalog/index.php If you buy on-line remember that you will be paying an FFL charge for shipping through a licensed dealer. Check to see what that charge is in your part of the state.

    And here's a link with lots of excellent (albeit sometimes subjective) information, which in many cases is backed up with good statistical data. http://www.chuckhawks.com/index2a.general_firearms.htm

    Good hunting, good shooting, and good luck!
  18. JSNAPS

    JSNAPS Member

    May 5, 2011
    Please buy 2 guns, first a .22. A used marlin 60 can be had for $100 or less! Learn the fundamentals and take a safety course. When you have mastered the technique buy a 30-30 (if you want strictly rifle) or a 12 gauge combo (mossberg 500 or remington 870) It will pay off! .22 is cheap fun and low recoil to practice and hone in on skills. No it is NOT for kids. I know plenty of ho hum guys who whip out their .Ultramega Magnum and then comment on my humble 39M. Once this guy (20's maybe?) bought a .338 winchester (for deer!?) with this uber scope and could not put 5 shots downrange let alone hit the paper more then 2 times :barf:. Dont fall for bigger = better. A 12 gauge combo is ideal and lovely if you want to go for hog, deer, and bird (the all rounder) and 30-30 is relatively and in all gun stores. Ammo called Lever Revolution is the bomb. 30-30 IMHO is the perfect hog medicine. Good Luck and Happy Hunting
  19. Sheepdog1968

    Sheepdog1968 Member

    Jul 20, 2009
    Good advice. Also, see if there are any local hunting clubs in your area. The hunter safety course instructor or the range where you take it might be able to help you find like minded individuals willing to help get you started.

    In terms of marksmanship, I am very fond of the Appleseed project. Look it up. You can definately do this with a 22LR.
  20. fatllama

    fatllama Member

    Oct 26, 2011
    Thanks everybody for all the help! Really overwhelming how many people answered.
    I think I'll check out my local gun shop for some sort of 0.22 rimfire, and otherwise order it online through them. Will be taking it slow, learn to shoot and hunt properly with small game before moving up. But I think I have a much more realistic view of where I can go now.
    Thanks again!
    Any suggestions on which gun? Besides the marlin model 60 (which has seemed to be the most highly rated beginner's rifle on the internet).
  21. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Member

    May 5, 2005
    Garrettsville, Oh.
    Count me firmy in the camp of starting with a .22. Go get that Marlin (or very nearly any bolt action from a reputable manufacturer) and a few cases of ammo. Burn said ammo under the tutelage of someone who knows how to shoot. You'll save yourself a lot of frustration if you don't teach yourself bad habits in the beginning.

    When you can consistently hit a golf ball at 25 yards offhand, go squirrel hunting. Find a mentor on the board here and get in the woods. Nearly everything you need to know to hunt nearly anything will be learned hunting squirrels.
  22. waterhill

    waterhill Member

    Sep 19, 2008
    East Texas
    On the .22, in Texas we can take pigs with anything this side of handgrenades.
    I have killed pigs with a .22LR. Aim for the ear.
    Definitely do the hunters ed and gun classes.

    There are lots of other things to learn about hunting. Can you identify tracks? Can you age them? Still hunting is learned by lots of practice. Spend a lot of time in the woods just observing/tracking/scouting. Learn all you can about your quarry and its environment.

    Alot to be said for knowing basic survival skills and being prepared.

    Thought about a bow? They can be had for cheap and carbon arrows last a long time, provided you don't lose them.
  23. ShawnC

    ShawnC Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    No. Va
    Definately what everyone else said. But don't overlook a good cheap military surplus arm if you're on a budget. A Mosin can be a great weapon for less than a C note, and surplus ammo is still relatively cheap. And it'll take out pretty much any big game you want to hunt.
  24. Ashcons

    Ashcons Member

    Oct 23, 2009
    Flintknapper has an awesome, long-running thread about his battle against the Texas feral hog invasion that would have a lot of good information/discussion for you to go parse.

    I would recommend a Savage MKII as your starting .22. You can get the non-accutrigger version at Wal-Mart for $117 (I think) and it is a bolt-action rather than a semi-auto. It isn't that the Marlin would be a bad choice (it is a good gun), but it would function more closely to whatever hunting rifle you pick up. I don't think you would be going wrong with a .270, .30-06, or .308. There seems to be a lot of surplus .308 ammo for relatively inexpensive shooting compared to the other 2 calibers. It might be a good compromise for both getting started AND taking out hogs.

    Sent a PM with more information about taking some steps to learn about how to get started!
  25. marksman13

    marksman13 Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    Cheap practice? Capable of killing a hog? I say get a 12 gauge shotgun. Practice with cheap birdshot and hunt hogs with slugs. Just my personal suggestion.
    I would advise you to try and find the money for a 22LR as well as a centerfire rifle though. If that's not possible then the shotgun is a very versatile tool.
    I'll parrot the others who said to take a hunter's ed class. It won't get you where you want to be, but it will be a great introduction.
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