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  1. Default Learning to hunt

    Hey guys,

    I posted this on another forum and was advised to check out this forum from one of the members. Thanks, Dale!

    This is a pretty embarrassing thing to post but if I ever want to learn, I have to do it. I'm a citified guy. I’ve lived in Miami, NYC, and LA for the last 18 years. I'm 36 and have never hunted.
    My wife and I are moving to Kalispell, MT in a few weeks and we've never even been there before! We just know we don't want the city life and decided to pack everything up and get out. We did the same thing here in Prescott, AZ. We left LA and moved here without visiting before. We got a taste for being away from the city and now we want to go even further.

    I took the hunter ed course in CA and got a license there as well as AZ but never did anything with it. I just didn’t know where to begin. It’s a bit overwhelming to go at it alone. When I tried to discuss hunting in LA I’d end up offending people. I knew I had to get out of there.

    I love the outdoors and I own several firearms, including a Weatherby Backcountry in 300 win mag. I've only used it at the range but I bought that rifle because I want to hunt. I’ve been told that’s too much gun for most hunting and I’m definitely open to suggestions on a better option. I also purchased a bow about a year ago. I went to the local shop and shot a few of them. I’m a fairly large guy (6’6” 275) so they suggested the PSE Evolve 35 with a 70lb draw. I don’t really know much about bows but I know that I enjoy shooting it! I’ve been practicing on a block in the backyard.

    My question for you all is... How can I get started? I want to learn from seasoned hunters and get out there but it's tough to find people. I feel embarrassed and don't want to annoy people by asking. I also work from home doing voiceovers so I can’t just ask the guys at work because there are none! Haha

    I'd appreciate any suggestions/advice.

    Thanks,
    -Matthew
    Last edited by BMB; 06-25-2018 at 03:05 PM.

  2. #2

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    Welcome to the site. Don't be embarrassed everyone was not brought up hunting. We all had to start somewhere. I would suggest going to the local range and meeting folks there for 1. This site has a lot of great folks and I am sure someone from MT will chime in. Don't get discouraged and it will work out. There are groups like the Mule deer foundation pheasants forever and BHA that you can join and talk to folks at the get togethers that can be a aveanue to look into. I hope you find someone to help you out. If I was in MT I would.

  3. #3

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    It's great that you are reaching out. We didn't all grow up with hunting dads. I was raised by a fisherman and felt very good about my angling knowledge, but as an adult I wanted to hunt, and had to start at square one. Many of us did. No shame in that.

    I would start by picking a first species and weapon. Pheasant, deer, elk, whatever. Each type/species of hunting has so many unique elements that chasing a generalized notion of hunting can make it seem overwhelming, where once you pick a first species/type of hunting, the first next steps become fairly straight forward. This focus also helps reaching out to seasoned hunters. It is easier to help somebody who has a reasonably specific goal/question, and depending on what you hunt it may take you to different folks.

    For example, if you wanted to hunt pheasant or grouse (upland birds), I would say to buy a $750-$900 12 gauge semi-auto from the benelli group or beretta group and start shooting sporting clays. I would find a decent wing shooter to take me out the first few times and get down the basic motions (which are very different than rifle shooting). When comfortable I would go to a local pheasant preserve and have one of their guys take you out with one of their dogs to get a feel for live bird shooting. Now you are ready to start planning a wild upland hunt. You would then have a working idea of gear, techniques etc.

    But if you want to deer hunt with rifle, you would take a very different path, like working on basic rifle technique at the range using a .22LR, 223Rem or .243Win (lower recoil would let you focus on shooting technique - 300WinMag is a great gun, but I would learn on a lesser gun to start), you also would start learning about the MT license/tag regime, learning about seasons, forage patterns, bullet selection, stalking technique, etc. Maybe if not initially comfortable with a rifle you would do some prairie dog or squirrel plinking to get your feet under you. etc. etc. Deer via archery would be somewhat different still.

    After you get one under your belt, you will find that it is fairly straightforward to add others down the road.
    Last edited by VikingsGuy; 06-25-2018 at 03:39 PM.
    "Freedom is NOT Free"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Kalispell, MT
    Posts
    925

    Default

    Send me a PM when you get to Kalispell and I'll buy you lunch.
    "The danger of civilization, of course, is that one might piss one's life away on nonsense," Jim Harrison.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Kalispell, MT
    Posts
    925

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    NW Montana is about as welcoming a place for a new hunter as you can hope to find. You'll have literally millions of acres of public lands and accessible timber land, so that's a huge plus. I suggest stopping by the Kalispell office of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks office and see if they have any classes scheduled. Pick up the regulations and other brochures. Classes are a great way to meet people. It's worth dropping a few bucks for the Whitefish Gun Club membership so you can practice your shooting and get to know some folks. Flathead Wildlife Inc. is the local hook-and-bullet conservation group and there are a lot of us Backcountry Hunters & Anglers folks around too. Mostly, I would get out and drive to get a sense of the landscape.
    "The danger of civilization, of course, is that one might piss one's life away on nonsense," Jim Harrison.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    Bitterroot Valley, MT
    Posts
    1,653
    Blog Entries
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    Welcome to the forums and to hunting! Sony worry about asking, just post here and read the responses. Your best way to remove hurdles and shorten the lear ing curve is to get a mentor. Adult onset hunting is growing rapidly. If you google that you'll find some help. I'm in Stevensville, but feel free to PM me.
    "There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm." ~TR

    "He was a mighty hunter before the Lord." ~Genesis 10:9

  7. #7

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    Welcome! I was an adult onset hunter as well (got started when we moved to Bozeman), and I have to say I think Montana is the one of the best states to get started in, licenses are reality inexpensive and the system is really straight forward as a resident. Also the seasons are generously long.

    First things first make sure you get your driver's license ASAP so you start the 180 day clock started to become a resident. This fall I would take VikingsGuy's advice and get out there and chase some birds. There is amazing grouse hunting around Kalispell, and it's a great way to get out and explore and start looking at terrain you might want to come back and hunt next year for big game.

    Next year get your Montana Sportman's license which includes upland, deer and elk (add a bear if you have interest in the spring hunt). I would spend some time poking around the FWP website and check out the rules and regs for your area, read up on the block management lands, and on the hunt roster (this is a great way to do a cow elk hunt, and in my experience it can be an almost guaranteed cow hunt, but you have to be able to go at some random times so it's best for residents). Also apply for an antelope out in eastern Montana, you may or may not draw but it's a great hunt.

    I also worked from home when I was in MT so I learned a lot of youtube videos, and from just getting out there and doing it... the first time I did the gutless method on an animal was humbling. As great as it is to have somebody teach you if you rely on somebody else to take you out you are going to spend a lot of time looking out the window instead of putting boots on the ground. It took me 22 days to get a bear my first year, I went out everyday after work and on the weekends and I blew half a dozen stalks and spent the first 10 days without even finding a bear but I learned a ton. Also don't feel weird asking around and seeing if anyone wants to go out and hunt with you or would take you, especially if you start with asking them about small game. I met what ended up being my hunting partner the entire time I lived up there by asking around at my wife's work party (Montana State University) if anyone wanted to go duck hunting, also hunting doesn't seem to be as red/blue of a top as it does elsewhere so I woundn't worry about it being a taboo topic.

    Good luck, I'm jealous of your move.

  8. #8

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    I'm thinking you found the right place. I suspect the next few years are going to be a lot of fun. Congrats on the move.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Front Range of Colorado
    Posts
    304

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    Welcome! I started hunting as an adult as well. It's amazing what you can learn from this forum. There are a variety of pod casts that are instructive as well but yes, as mentioned above, going out with someone is a great help.

  10. Default

    Wow, thanks to all for taking the time to reply. Great advice!

    I think if I were to pick a species to want to go with first it would be deer. I'm pretty comfortable shooting although I do flinch on my first few 300 win mag shots if it's been a while though. And it has been a while! Once I get back to the range and start shooting more then it all falls back into place and I feel pretty good. I'm going to follow all the advice in this thread and see what classes are available when I get there.

    Also, Ben, how about I buy you lunch instead? It wouldn't be right if I were picking your brain about hunting and picking your pocket also! Haha

    I really appreciate all the replies. Thanks guys!

    -Matthew

  11. #11

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    Though I've been camping, hiking and fishing a good deal in my life I never decided to pursue hunting till this year. I kinda know what you're thinking/feeling....you seem to have your head on pretty good though - you found this place, right? Everyone here has been very generous to me with answers, advice and so on as they will be with you even though I've probably worn things a little thin in the process. Anyway, welcome to the form...and congrats to moving to MT!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Central Texas
    Posts
    111

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    My suggestion is to join the local Backcountry Hunters and Anglers chapter, go to some events such as pint nights, and just see if you can pick people's brains. Most people in that organization are friendly, and want to see the sport grow so they'll be willing to help you start out on the right foot. Also, watching a ton of youtube videos, searching for threads on specific questions on here, and asking a lot of questions here as well has helped me.

  13. Default

    Welcome BMB. You won't make the 180 day residency requirement for this years big game hunting season and most of the nonresident draws are past the due date. However, you can pick up some over the counter tags still available to NR's if you want to hunt more than just birds this fall.

    In particular I would suggest you buy a single region whitetail doe tag ($70 for N.R. price) as your first big game to target. Most regions in MT except for Region 1 and 2 (your home turf) will have them. Various units will have slightly different regs on where and when they can be used, but it's not to difficult and you should have plenty of opportunities. That should lessen any pressure over the possibility of messing up limited chances. It is also possible that some individual hunting units might have surplus antlerless tags that will come on sale later this summer.

  14. #14

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    Your on your way. Raised by my mom, hunting came later in life for me as well.
    Fishing, hunting, I would closely observe others that were successful, and do what they did.

  15. #15

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    You will research and find out so many idea's, tips, and tactics it can seem over whelming and nerve racking. I think the hardest thing for new hunters as an adult that I have noticed is just finally making it out to hunt. I would plan on just getting your tag, and hunting for a half day or full day. Camp at your vehicle or at your house depending on where you hunt, make a weekend trip. You don't need to do backpack trips or be extravagant in your gear. This is a basic introductory to show you that you can do it. I'd bet after getting out on your first day you will feel more confident than ever and ready for more. Montana mountains and the public land are amazing and can seem to go on forever. As stated above, check out the Fish and Wildlife office and inquire about areas, but also where you could start hiking this summer and see the terrain and explore.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Gallatin Gateway, MT
    Posts
    2,475

    Default

    Matthew, you are blessed to be residing in the Flathead. There are so many trails, mountains to be climbed, and amazing vistas to view close to you, as well as an abundance of wildlife. Hunting is not just about shooting; it's something I enjoy year around with eyes, binoculars, spotting scope, camera ... and bow or firearm during the hunting seasons. I encourage you to scout with maps, electronics, discussions with locals, and otherwise to establish a list of places to visit that are good wildlife habitat ... and just get out there and go for it!

  17. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerald Martin View Post
    Welcome BMB. You won't make the 180 day residency requirement for this years big game hunting season and most of the nonresident draws are past the due date. However, you can pick up some over the counter tags still available to NR's if you want to hunt more than just birds this fall.

    In particular I would suggest you buy a single region whitetail doe tag ($70 for N.R. price) as your first big game to target. Most regions in MT except for Region 1 and 2 (your home turf) will have them. Various units will have slightly different regs on where and when they can be used, but it's not to difficult and you should have plenty of opportunities. That should lessen any pressure over the possibility of messing up limited chances. It is also possible that some individual hunting units might have surplus antlerless tags that will come on sale later this summer.
    A bit of a follow up to my statement that most regions have OTC whitetail antlerless tags... It appears that only Region 3, 6, and 7 do this year. I would still check in to surplus antlerless tags that may be left over from the drawings. I believe a list of those might go on sale @ Aug. 7.
    An OTC elk B license might be actually easier to obtain, but for the most part Elk B licenses are going to be harder to fill than a whitetail B license.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Frigid Ohio
    Posts
    2,658

    Default

    As you are a novice, I really have to put this out to you in heart felt honesty. Put that Mag in the closet, PERIOD (for now).

    You don't need that much to start with.....or ever, for that matter.

    It may prove useful to you later on, after some skills have been learned, and you find that you can actually get yourself into a situation where it may be required, but those are probably going to be few & far between.

    I'm going espouse our Grand PuBaa (Randy) once again and simply suggest that you reconsider your weapon of choice to a 7/08, or a 308. Either will hurt the world on any elk walking the face of this earth in very short order!

    2nd, Just keep talk to the guys here. After all, it's titled "Hunt Talk".

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cfd3XkHDaDA

    Good Luck & Good Hunting

    Gunner
    "Talent, hits a target, no one else can hit... Genius, hits a target, no one else can see."

  19. Default

    Thanks again for all the comments.

    BearFoot, I was raised by a single mother also. She worked 2 shifts most of the time so I never had any hunting or fishing trips. I've just got something pulling at me to get out there and learn to hunt and fish.

    Looking at all of the different options available for tags can be a bit overwhelming. OTC, A/B, regions, etc. Makes my head spin! Haha

    Ryan, I think you're right about just getting out there being a big hurdle for new hunters. When I was in CA that's what kept me from doing it. I had no idea where to go in the different regions.

    When you're going to hunt in an area that you don't know, do you stay close to your vehicles? That's part of the struggle for me I think. I have reservations about wandering around in bear country without knowing where I'm going. I have the Montana GPS unit from Garmin and I've been told to get ONX maps for it and it helps a lot. What do you guys do?

    Also, Gunner, I just watched that video and I think I'm now in the market for a 308 rifle. Thanks!

    -Matthew
    Last edited by BMB; 06-26-2018 at 12:15 PM.

  20. #20

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    You DEFINATELY need the OnX chip for your GPS. in the meanwhile you can get some of the info here
    http://svc.mt.gov/msl/mtcadastral/ online at Montana's land ownership website. but definitely get the OnX I think you are on the right track with looking into a 308 or something like it. if you decide you want to drive out to region 7 let me know,

  21. #21

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    While folks often get hung up on big game, I know I do, remember a lot can be learned by hunting birds and small game. Not sure exactly what's in that country, but going after things like rabbits, squirrels, grouse, etc is still hunting (and tasty). Often times forays for these can be shorter, easier, and less pressure.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Front Range of Colorado
    Posts
    304

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by 1_pointer View Post
    While folks often get hung up on big game, I know I do, remember a lot can be learned by hunting birds and small game. Not sure exactly what's in that country, but going after things like rabbits, squirrels, grouse, etc is still hunting (and tasty). Often times forays for these can be shorter, easier, and less pressure.
    Good reminder. Nothing like a casual walk in the fields or woods looking for birds!

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Coloado Springs
    Posts
    2,190

    Default

    Another AOH here...started at 33. I was lucky enough to have some outdoor training between the scouts and the Army as a basis before I started chasing critters. A few suggestions from me: Learn map reading/compass skills and terrain association (GPS is great until the batteries or unit dies), learn some basic outdoor /survival skills before you head off into the woods and ALWAYS carry a survival kit, once you have selected your species and settled on an area get out and learn it early and often BEFORE you are thinking about chasing an animal. Best of luck and enjoy the woods.
    "Never apologize for being a Patriot!"

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Andover, Minnesota
    Posts
    3,078

    Default

    If I were in your shoes I would worry about the following:

    1. figure out the access game, make sure you know how to legally access land you can hunt. It isn't super tough where you will be, but the better you learn these skills the more you will find the hidden gems, and start finding your own honey holes.
    2. Get out and start hiking areas you think you might hunt this fall as soon as you get there. Hike all summer, and keep you eyes open. Always have your binos with you and glass all of the interesting looking stuff you see. You will start to see game and their patterns the more time you spend out in the woods with them.
    3. If you are going to spend money; spend it on boots, binos, and a pack first. Guns and shooting is sexy, and an important skill, but you are going to do way more walking and glassing, than shooting.
    4. Join BHA and your local conservation group (sounds like Ben Lamb pointed you that direction already), be active in the group, and get to know people, they will be a huge amount of help once you start to build some camaraderie.
    5. If you are going to buy another rifle, make it a .22lr and/or a shotgun, the 22 is great for practice and both open up a wealth of small game opportunities.
    6. Consider buying these books. The link is to volume 1, but there is a volume 2 for small game and birds. https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Guide-Hunting-Butchering-Cooking/dp/081299406X

    I am sure some disagree, so you mileage may vary.
    “The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” - Jack London

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Front Range of Colorado
    Posts
    304

    Default

    Great advice MinnesotaHunter.

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