The sport of deer hunting appeals to many people from all walks of life. There is something about being able to get out into the woods and gain experience while honing your skill set. This article will go through the beginner’s steps to becoming a skilled deer hunter, licensing requirements, field dressing techniques, and an overview of what hunting is.
Introduction to Deer Hunting
Deer Hunting has been a popular sport for decades. There is a bonding experience that comes with going out in the woods with a group of friends to hunt a deer. If you are looking to get started on this time-honored tradition, there are several steps you must follow. You should begin your research a season or two before you want to go out and hunt. This will give you enough time to take a hunter’s safety course, find an experienced hunter to shadow, learn how to dress a deer, learn to shoot and rifle safety, learn needed tracking skills, and get your weapon up to par.
Accompany an Experienced Hunter to the Field
The first step to getting started deer hunting is to find an experienced hunter to mentor you. You should go with them into the field without your gun at first so you can get a feel for what hunting is about. Some states even offer ‘apprentice licenses,’ and these licenses allow people who don’t have a regular hunting license yet to go out with their mentor and give it a try. This gives novice hunters a chance to ask questions or have their concerns addressed all in one spot. If you’re not sure where to find a hunter to do a mentorship, your local DNR office is a great resource to either put you in contact with a hunter or get you a mentorship program.
Learn How to Clean and Prepare Game
Different types of game require different cleaning and preparing processes. You start this process by field dressing your deer.
- Once you find your deer, place it on it’s back with the legs spread. If you shot a buck, start by removing the testicles, and this will be your starting point to dressing it. If you shot a doe, start dressing it at the bottom of the udder.
- lace your knife into the skin and start cutting up toward the chest, making sure to only cut through the skin. You should cut from your starting point up to the bottom of the rib cage. If you cut too deep, you’ll puncture the stomach and have a mess.
- The lower half of the body cavity should be open now, and you are free to remove the stomach, intestines, etc. After you have pulled everything out, cut the organs away from the body. At this point, you should have an empty lower body cavity and be able to see the deer’s diaphragm.
- You will remove this part, and be able to see the lungs and heart. You cut the heart and lungs away and reach up to pull them out.
- Next, return to your original starting point, and cut from that point down through the meat to the anus.
- Cut through the pelvis, and this will expose the bladder and large intestine. Be careful when you do this step, so you don’t spill the bladder contents on the meat.
- Finally, roll the deer over and dump out any excess blood, and take your deer home to continue butchering.
Butchering Your Deer
It is best to skin your deer almost immediately after you get it home, but you deer should be left to hang for a day or two, so the meat is more tender and loses that strong gamey flavor. To skin your deer, put a hook between the tendon and bone of one of the back legs and hang it at a height that is an easy reach for you. Next, take a small, sharp knife and make a cut into the skin near the tendon, but avoid the meat. Once you have done this on both back legs, use small movements to separate the skin from the meat, and at the same time pull back on the skin to help separate it. You continue this method until you get down to the main body, you should simply be able to pull the skin down with your hands. Now you can either finish butchering the animal yourself or take it to a processing plant.
Take a Provincial or Territorial Hunter Safety and Education Course
Every hunter must take some hunter safety and education course. This course is usually offered through your local DNR office. You sign up and go to the class where you watch a variety of videos that go over different types of scenarios and hunting safety practices. You will also receive a handout with all of the hunting rules and government regulations, and this will act as a study guide for your certification test After you study and attend the classes, sign up, pay your fee, and take the certification test. If you are over 18, another option is to test out and skip the classes altogether. You will still have to pay the fee and take the actual test, but this is a quicker option if you are over 18. It is the law that you have your hunting license on your person every time you go out to hunt. You could be fined if you are caught without it
Learn How to Shoot, Even Before You Get Your Weapon
You can go to your local gun range and take classes on gun safety, and gun maintenance. You will need to know how to keep your gun in the best working order possible, as well has how to be safe when you take it out hunting. While you are at the gun range, have someone help you choose different rifles for shooting and see which one suits you best. To get good at shooting, you have to practice, and practicing with a trained and licensed instructor will make sure you get the best information possible. If you call your local gun range and explain you don’t have a gun but want to get into hunting, they usually have guns and rifles you can try. Your family and friends are also resources you can tap into to borrow a gun.
Get a Deep Knowledge of Habitat and Animal Behavior
The more knowledge you have about a deer’s natural habitat and behavior, the more successful you will be when going hunting. If you can recognize the signs that a deer is in the area and have a general idea where to look for it, the chances of your hunt being success go up. If you’re hunting in the winter months, look for shrubs or dense thickets as deer like to be able to eat without losing a lot of energy. You should get out and learn the area you will be hunting in if possible. This will help you learn the terrain and look for signs of deer, so you know where to start when you come in to set up your base camp.
Hunt Small Game First
Once you purchase your rifle, and go through all the necessary courses, start hunting small game first. This practice will give you a feel for how your gun works and help improve your aim. You can also learn how to clean and prepare small game before moving onto a larger game like a deer. This will give you more experience, so you’ll be more prepared when it’s time to go on a deer hunt. There is also a higher chance for success with the small game, and it will give the hunter a taste of what’s to come. You can also use this opportunity to hone your stealth skills.
Start Your Hunt
Before you begin your hunt, get your gear together. You’ll need comfortable, warm clothes, a sharp knife, compass, good shoes or boots, gun and ammo, and rope. Make sure you are warm and dry and have the ability to field dress and drag out any game you may shoot. You should have chosen a general area to hunt in already, so head there and get set up your base. It is always a good idea to let someone know you’re going in and around what time to expect you back so if something happens someone will eventually come looking for you.
Learning to hunt can be an excellent way to get out of the house and get a new appreciation for the wild. If you have an experienced instructor, the process will go that much more smoothly. You must have the proper licenses, certifications, and safety knowledge to ensure you are as safe as possible while you join this sport.
Andrey is manager of OutdoorNinjas online journal, working on creating compelling content about outddor activities, such as hunting, fishing, camping and others