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Want to Learn to Hunt? Start Now

Hank Shaw duck hunting

During hunting season, I don’t go a week without a reader emailing me asking some variant of this question: “I want to learn to hunt, or at least see if I want to, but I haven’t the faintest idea how even to start. Can you help?”

But hunting season, which in America is, for the most part, late summer through late winter, is precisely the wrong time to get started. If you want to hunt in 2010, you need to get started now.

I am sorry if you are reading this outside the United States, because I have no idea how to get started hunting in other countries. But if you live in America, let me try to walk you through the process.

Keep in mind this is a primer, and I will undoubtedly forget some key points — feel free to ask any and all questions I have not addressed, and you hunters out there, chime in with stuff I am forgetting.


This is the primary reason I am writing this now. In most states, before you can legally hunt, you must earn a Hunter Education (also called Hunter Safety) certificate. This is what allows you to buy a hunting license in your state — and your hunter ed certification should be valid in all 50 states. A hunter ed certificate (usually just a sticker) is the gateway to the hunting world. Once you are certified, you can go anywhere, buy a local license, and start hunting.

Different states have different rules. The International Hunter Education Association keeps state-by-state lists of requirements.

Now not all states require the certificate. I did not have to take a course when I first started hunting in Minnesota. But, when I wanted to hunt in Wyoming, I did need the certificate — even though I was a licensed hunter in California. Bottom line: Better to get certified.

An even better reason to take the course is because if you have never hunted before, did not grow up around guns, and don’t know basic woodsmanship, this course should fill in a lot of blanks. I learned a ton just by taking the IHEA’s online course, which will get you most of the way toward being certified. It takes about an hour to complete.

Keep in mind you will also need to attend an in-person course as well in California, as well as in many other coastal states — the middle of the country, with the notable exception of Illinois, is much more hunter- and gun-friendly .

Here is the overview of California’s courses from the state Dept. of Fish & Game. If you live in New York, go to this site. Here are some other states’ hunter education sites: Texas, Washington state, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Illinois, Florida, and Virginia.

You will notice that the images for all of these sites feature children. That’s because most people take this class only once, and typically before they hit high school. So be prepared to be among kids and immigrants. It’s actually kinda cool, in an anthropological sense. But you will very likely meet a few other adults who want to take up hunting, too — they might become new friends.

Bottom line is that if you even think you might want to hunt, this is a low-cost way to get started. For one, it’s required in most states. But the courses also run through all the basics you need to know to a) be safe out there, and b) be successful. California’s course goes through everything from gun safety to private property rights to shot placement on a deer that’s quartering away.

Take the course, and take it soon! Classes fill up early, and you will want to get certified before fall.


One thing you can do before you even get certified is to get some practice shooting. Obviously you need a gun. Unless you are pretty damn sure you want to hunt, however, I would not recommend going out and buying a gun right away. They’re expensive.

Ideally, you know someone with guns who can show you the ropes. That’s how I learned. I shot other people’s rifles and shotguns until I knew I was going to hunt. If you don’t know someone with a rifle or shotgun, call up your local shooting range — there’s at least one in nearly every city, even Manhattan — and tell them you want to learn to shoot but don’t yet own a gun. They will often help, and many places offer courses.

Once you get access to guns, learn about them. Learn how they work — a gun is just a tool, after all. My shotgun doesn’t even have that many moving parts. Learn gun safety, like to always assume every gun is loaded, which helps you remember to always, always, always point it in a safe direction.

Practice shooting with someone who knows how to shoot, whether it is a friend or instructor, or just the guy next to you at the range. If you are nice, they will most likely also be nice — shooters want to see more people shoot.

You will get better with each practice session. Get to the range as often as you can — weekly is ideal. But even going out just a few times will do you some good. See why I am urging you to start now?


All the while you will probably be thinking about what you most want to hunt — for most of you reading this space, it’s a question of what we most want to eat. Of course your terrain has a lot to do with it, too. For example, if you live in Arizona, the duck hunting ain’t great, but the deer and quail are excellent. Not a lot of elk hunting in New England, but you have some of the best grouse and moose hunting in America.

A good way to start is to contact the organization dedicated preserving habitat and expanding hunting opportunities for the critter they represent.

Say you really want to hunt deer. If you live in the West, contact the Mule Deer Foundation and ask for help. In California, we have the California Deer Association, and other states have their groups, too. Google it and see. If you are into turkeys, there is the National Wild Turkey Federation. Quail has Quail Forever, Pheasants have Pheasants Forever, there is also the Ruffed Grouse Society, as well as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. There are probably others I am missing.

As for duck hunters, there are a host of groups. West Coast hunters have the California Waterfowl Association, Delta Waterfowl focuses on the central states, and then there is always Ducks Unlimited.

Most of these organizations have local chapters. Talk to them, and tell them you are a newbie who wants to get into the pursuit. I am betting they will be overjoyed, and will bend over backward to help you.

Why? Hunting is slowly declining in the US, and these groups want as many new hunters as they can — and what’s more, most of the organizations understand that you are the single most exciting thing to happen to hunting in a generation. That’s right. YOU are the most exciting thing to happen to hunting in memory — food-oriented new hunters, which includes Holly and I, are the first flush of newcomers to hunting in a long, long time.

Most hunters always have hunted primarily for meat — it’s a lie to think we’re mainly out for the antlers. But tapping into America’s food renaissance is a top priority for many hunting groups. So let them know who you are, and take advantage of all the help these experienced hunters can offer.


If you are a woman reading this, there are even more opportunities. There’s a program called Becoming an Outdoors Woman, and if you Google that plus your state you are likely to find the site you need — it’s a decentralized thing, loosely associated with your state’s department of fish and game. Here is the California group’s website.

There is also an excellent annual novice women’s duck hunt here in California each year.


Finally, I would like to extend an open invitation to you — if you run into roadblocks, have questions, or need advice, drop me a line at scrbblr AT hotmail DOT com, and I will try to help. I may not know the answer, but I bet I can find someone who does.

I hope this helps spark into action all of you who have been mulling the idea of hunting but haven’t yet done anything about it. Get started now, and you will be ready to begin the real journey when the leaves begin to fall. It’s just a few short months away.

74 responses to “Want to Learn to Hunt? Start Now”

  1. Cork Graham

    Well-done and well-timed, Hank!

    Hopefully BOW will increase its number of opportunities for women to participate. Would be nice if they had more opportunities on this side of the SF Bay. Many women have asked me about what’s available, but often it requires a long ride to places distant from San Francisco…at least their questions tell me that there is a strong interest and resurgence in hunting/shooting.

    Considering hunters pay for most of the wildlife protection in the US with their tax dollars, I’d hate to see what would happened to public wildlands if the wildlife conservation-minded, license-purchasing American hunter became extinct…

  2. Bill Bird

    Meh…All the power to you and all others Hank, but I grew up in a conservation-minded family with trips to Yosemite and other National Parks as a teenager to “see and enjoy” all the wild animals. I don’t think I could ever bring myself to kill a living animal — unless I was pretty damn hungry or it was hunting me. I’m not passing any sort of judgement on any hunting activities either. It’s just a life experience that I’d rather miss at this point. Hate to be such a Debbie Downer on the blog.

  3. Mike

    Great post Hank! You’ve got my e-mail. If someone in New Mexico wants to get started, I’ll try to help. In my experience, waterfowl and dove shooting are easier for beginners at bird hunting because the added element of walking around with the firearm is eliminated. A good guide (ask around, get references) can be a real blessing for beginners, and they are often reasonably priced and experienced with beginners. Another tip is to find the best local mom and pop hunting/fishing store within driving distance and tell them you want to learn to hunt. They would love to make you a loyal customer. Your local Game and Fish office is also your friend. Stop in and say hello. Talk to a game warden about opportunities in his area.

  4. Holly Heyser

    I’m happy to talk to/email folks about getting started too.

    Of course, Hank will probably answer your questions the same way I would. But if you’re a woman and have any particular questions about becoming a female hunter, I’m all ears. And if you live in NorCal, I’d be happy to add you to my growing network of women hunter/shooter friends who shoot skeet or clays together, and hunt together when opportunities. Email me at: [email protected].

  5. Bpaul

    Great post, great idea for a post, with a nice dose of altruism. I approve.


  6. Tamar@StarvingofftheLand

    Thanks for a timely reminder. I’m new, not just to hunting, but to guns, and I hope to get reasonably adept with my brand-spanking-new Remington 20-gauge (don’t most wives get jewelry for their birthdays?) before the season starts. We’ve done some trap and skeet, and it seems to me that shooting is a lot like other repetitive motions — it takes a lot of practice to commit it to muscle memory (I golf and row, and it’s the same).

    Can I add one to your list of suggestions? Check out your local rod and gun clubs. We’re out on Cape Cod, and the guys at Bass River Rod & Gun have been very welcoming and helpful.

    Sometime this fall, could you do a post on field-dressing a deer? I’m hoping to need it.

  7. Tovar

    Great post, Hank.

    Like you and Holly and those for whom you wrote this post, I came to hunting as an adult. I’m happy to be a resource for folks as well.

  8. Chris A

    Great Post!

    A good tip is to go with someone who is hunting and just observe. I’ve gone a number of times just as the muscle to get the animal out of the woods (big game). My first time going Elk hunting I was there to help get her out of the woods, the next time, last year, I was a shooter and came home with a nice cow. Just waiting on this years tag right now.

    Another reason to start early is that some states require you to apply in the early spring for a license/tag.

  9. Dan

    Thanks for this post. I grew up as a non-hunter and went through this very same process about six years ago at the age of 28. I started out on a guided pheasant hunt, which was an easy way to get accustomed to the rhythms of bird hunting with people who knew what they were doing.

    There is little that can match both the peaceful communion and respectful awe for the world that comes from being a hunter. It is humbling every time that I head to the woods.

    Get out there and get ready — the leaves will be falling soon!

  10. Paul Banbury

    Nicely done, sir.

    After doing all you recommend, there is one more secret that your readers should know. Assuming one is reading your blog because of an abiding interest in food, a novice hunter should volunteer to trade his or her cooking skills for hunting partnership. Every camp needs a cook, every hunt is relished at the table, especially if game has been bagged.


  11. Rob R.

    Hank, this is timely and wonderful. Recently I’ve been thinking that I might want to take up hunting for a myriad of reasons and I was in the same spot…where do I begin.

    This will be a great primer for me should I choose to take the dive into it.

    Thank you.

  12. Alan

    Great stuff!!

    I have been hunting in California all my life. I think the more people who source their food from the wild the better. In this ever shrinking world we are becoming surrounded by preservation when it is conservation which will allow us to be sustainable. Creating a strong base of ethical and responsible hunters will be the key to the future access to hunting grounds. Hunting is a fantastic vehicle to experience the great outdoors. It is a shame that what was once common place and a necessity has become taboo. Education and leading by example are the key to the future of hunting’s success. Your blog sets a great example!

  13. Greg Y

    Hank, Thanks for posting this info… I’ve been in the “I don’t know where to start” category!

  14. Eileen

    Good article Hank. I think you covered everything very well.

  15. Sherrry

    Hank, Thanks so much for supporting BOW! I volunteer for the NH BOW as web master, have taught a foraging workshop and help with the Fall weekend workshops. They have a fantastic weekend long program which covers hunting, field dressing large and small game, handling guns of all types, archery, fishing, kayak fishing plus much more. The brochure of workshops for the September weekend is available here There is also a link to the registration form on the home page, registration opens tomorrow (June 7th) and the program fills fast, so if you are interested hurry! For you CA folks, September is a lovely time to visit NH and the location is beautiful!

  16. dmsintexas


    One item that I think could use some extra emphasis is that you have to start trying to find a place to hunt NOW. When I started last year I was amazed at how hard it was to find hunting opportunities. Deer leases cost several thousand and guided hunts were about the same. I found the most opportunity through Texas Parks and Wildlife but figuring out their schedules/language/draw requirements took me a couple of months. Hunting locations are available but please do not assume that you will be able to access them without some serious pre-work.

  17. chascates

    Great post! Texas has a workshop for women who want to learn outdoor skills:
    Most skeet & trap ranges offer instruction on shotgun skills for bird hunting as well as rifle hunting.

  18. Dave

    Terrific post, Hank.

    I echo your point that hunting and shooting organizations are generally THRILLED to teach newcomers, since hunter (and angler) numbers are declining. Hunter safety instructors and hunting oriented conservation groups know that the introduction of women and children to the shooting sports is key to preserving our hunting traditions.

    Also, dmsintexas makes a great point about hunting access. For many of us, gaining access to productive hunting spots is a big part of the off season effort. In my densely populated state, Connecticut, gaining access to private land hunting often makes a huge difference in hunter success. With that in mind, I often distribute a brochure to my students during the ethics section of the hunter safety course. Its called “About the Hunters” and it has been plagiarized and modified from the original version written by a retired New Hampshire game warden about ten years back. It is a great tool to help gain access to private lands. Willing to share with anyone interested.

    Finally, I also agree that the best route to early success is to start with a guide or an experienced hunter.

  19. chascates

    I’d also suggest contacting your local county agent to see if a feral hog can be harvested on a nearby farm. A young pig is great eating, and an introduction to hunting that isn’t that expensive or rigorous. I live in Austin, Texas and Craigslist often has farmers who make a little money and thin down the local populations that way.

  20. Gidds

    I highly recommend the BOW program. Here is a link to a post I wrote about my personal BOW experience:

  21. Clifton Lemon


    Again, I totally love this site. Just wanted to share some resources on hunting & guns. I’m mainly a duck hunter but am about to seriously start pig hunting.

    First of all, a buddy of mine, Nick Zigelbaum, started group called the Bull Moose Hunting Society. They have chapters in SF, Washington DC and Austin. They’re dedicated to supporting hunting and eating wild game. I think they have a lot of women members.

    Speaking of women hunters, my thoughts on that: first of all, guys totally dig it when women hunt- I’m seeing more and more women on the duck refuges. Also getting kids interested is a cool. That’s about the only thing the NRA is good for- they do support hunter safety training for kids. But so do Ducks Unlimited, CWA, and many other organizations. Local shooting ranges in the Bay Area often have programs and events for kids and women (I’ll list a few below). Other than that, the only thing different for women in getting into hunting is perhaps getting guns to fit correctly- when you’re buying a shotgun, for instance, you want one that fits your arm length and isn’t too heavy. I think women and men are a lot more similar than we think- women can be equally good predators, they just need to learn.

    Duck hunting is completely addictive and a great way to learn about birds, waterfowl, wetlands and conservation, in addition to providing you with a freezer full of game (although it takes a long time to get good at it). Since most of us (including me) did not grow up hunting, it’s really important to find someone who knows what they’re doing who can take you out your first few times. California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys have an excellent system of refuges where you can hunt basically for free if you go without a reservation. Reservations are definitely recommended, but you can still walk on to many good refuges for afternoon or even morning hunts. California DFG has a great website with info on hunting:

    There are many great ranges to practice skeet, trap and sporting clays to tune up your shooting skills (essential if you want to actually hit a bird.)

    …As far as deer, turkeys, or pigs – they’re all over the frickin place, seriously, basically free food walking around. I’m about to get a bow to take some turkeys on a friend’s property that’s close to other houses for shotguns. Deer and pigs especially are invasive and we need to hunt them to control the population. Wild pig is the best meat I’ve ever had, so let’s get organized and go for it.

    When you live in a completely urban culture, it’s really easy to forget that hunting is a key part of American culture not only because the early settlers hunted, but also because farmers have always had to hunt for food or game control. Since humanity is rapidly urbanizing, if we don’t keep hunting traditions and practices alive, we’ll lose the knowledge. Hunting brings you into close contact with your food and makes you aware of an ecosystem and your place in it in a way that nothing else can. Most people will never hunt for food because it’s just too much hard work, and we can over harvest any given species without the necessary controls. Fortunately, hunting is a highly regulated activity, and it’s possible to have a good balance between harvesting and providing habitat for game to create a sustainable ecosystem that yields recreation, food, and healthy water and soil conservation practices as well. This is actually a part of our history, and even if some of the people you’ll meet hunting are really different than you because they’re totally not urban people, they want the same things everyone wants- healthy environment, nutritious food, time outdoors, time with the family, and good quality of life. Just because some of them insist on believing Obama’s gonna take our guns doesn’t mean they’re bad people. Some day they might end up outlasting their city cousins after all, who knows?

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  23. Ryan Sabalow

    Another place to try is to make friends with the people at the local hunting and fishing stores. They want to give you good tips about where to go and what to try so that you’ll keep coming back to them and buying their stuff.

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  25. Mike B

    I agree with chascates about checking with local extension agents who might know of land owners that would allow feral hog hunting. Lots of guys in Texas will let you hog hunt for free on their land. Some will even pay for your ammunition if you shoot slugs.

    I noticed that on the state by state list of hunter education requirements from the The International Hunter Education Association that military personnel was only exempt in Kentucky and Alabama. I was surprised at this. These soldiers lay it on the line for us and all receive proper weapons training. I assumed members of the military were exempt in most states, particularly in Texas

  26. Knifethrower


    Can you hook me up with Mike in NM who offered help? I will be unable to attend the NM outdoorswoman event (gotta cater an event), but I want to get started!

    Thanks, Man. Your site is very, uber inspring from a chef standpoint. I appreciate what you’re creating here.

    -Jen in Santa Fe

  27. Sam

    I’ve often been intrigued by hunting, and might even try it one day. In the UK, it’s not really an option. Fox hunting was banned a few years ago, and any sort of deer hunting community seems to be non-existent.

    It sounds silly, but there are certain animals that I just couldn’t bring myself to kill. It’s strange that as humans we seem to place some animals in the “ok to kill” category, while others are off limits.

  28. Christian

    I just want to say that I found your blog yesterday. I’m in contact with the MD DNR and signing up for BOW and hunter safety classes. I already preserve our csa and pyo farm foods, and meat would be awesome! Thanks for the great info and come over to DC some time!

  29. Candice

    I’m in IL but want to buy property out west and am saving my $$.
    I need to learn how to hunt because I want to own land and hunt to save on food.
    So I’m wanting to learn how to hunt, skin, etc.

    I would love to meet hunters in IL . My husband would appreciate learning to hunt as well. We are pretty good shots and have gone clay shooting and target shooting.

    We plan to get our IL Hunting License.

    If anyone is in IL and is an avid hunter, we would love to tag along and eventually be mentored.

    Thank you!

  30. Alan

    I’m learning to hunt at the moment – it’s always something I’ve wanted to do, but never had the chance. Friend of mine invited me a long recently and I’m really enjoying it.

  31. Bobby

    In reply to Mike B (March 13th, 2011 9:39 pm), I respect your sentiment and share your desire to reward the service of our military. However, marksmanship (which our service men and women, without question, boast in droves), is only a tiny fraction of the skills and knowledge required of a hunter. Respect for conservation and fair treatment of wildlife, comprehensive safety in a hunting setting, and the responsibility for ethical sportsmanship are all part of a hunter education course. These are not necessarily taught in any kind of military training or service.

  32. Christian

    Maryland BOW starts Friday!! And the Deer Clinic is in early December. I intend to be in that class and the goose class!

    Side note on the Military exemptions- I am a milspouse and I strongly disagree with exempting anyone from Hunter Safety. Knowing how to point an M4 in the general direction of a target and firing is *not* the same as Hunter Safety. Being safe is for all hunters, and the classes insure that not only are you not being dangerous, but someone else is not being dangerous around you.

  33. Emi Reiner

    I am enjoying your web site quite a lot. I am curious about hunting and am interested in trying it. Thanks for the information.

  34. Melissa

    Thank you so much for this post! I was thinking that I needed to start now, but had no idea what I should be doing. This post is a great first step. I just found the Becoming an Outdoors Woman website for my state. I had no idea!

    Also, what a great book. I love it and own it. Great stuff!

  35. mark

    if folks are interested in learning about hunting, Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers a bunch of hunter skills seminars. Of course, the best place to state is with a hunter education class – got to to find out about hunter education classes in Colorado. From there, check out the other pages on hunter outreach and the related youth and women’s programs. The skills seminars help take the mystery out of how to get started and where to go. Colorado offers public access, over the counter elk licenses and incredible hunting and fishing opportunities to help folks get out and go. We hope to see you in a class or a clinic soon!

  36. austen wilkey

    livin down in the south this all comes natually and we arkansins all love hunting so for you to put his up only sharpens our skills

  37. Elly

    Do you have a post that goes into how to properly care for game between shooting it and cooking/curing it up? My husband and I are moving to TN from WA this spring and we’re hoping to take advantage of all the wild hogs, turkey, etc. I’ve fished all my life but I have never hunted before. I’m most interested/concerned with how to make sure your meat is safe, especially cured meats. I want to make my own salami etc (we plan on building a smoke house) but cured meats are a no-no for pregnant women. Any tips on how to make sure wild game is 100% safe? I’m also curious as to whether you’re supposed to bleed game like you do a fish so the meat doesn’t get mushy. Btw, I LOVE all your posts on “critters”. I have every intention of enjoying those nutty little tree varmints.

  38. Sammy

    Awesome post!

    M name is Sammy. I’m a 37 y/o female from Tacoma WA and have never picked up a gun in my life. I would really like to get into hunting but don’t know anyone at all who is. I checked out the website you recommended, but sadly no upcoming events that are not full already.
    Does know what steps to take from here?

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  40. GC

    Thanks for the info. I’ve been interested in hunting after a lot of reflection on current farming practices that are harmful and abusive to livestock. If I’m going to continue eating meat (which is beneficial for my particular body type) I feel it’s best for me to acquire the meat myself. Wild game is the healthiest meat available. And the connection to nature and ancestral tradition is very important to me. I’m a female in Canada and will be asking my uncle to take me hunting with him, or giving me some training.

  41. Buddy

    Great article! I was browsing “hunting” in general and came across your site. It’s great, very well written!
    I am an avid squirrel hunter myself and have been creating a resource to help others learn the sport so I love seeing other website that offer such good content.

    Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing more in the future!

  42. Rachel

    Ive been wanting to hunt for a while and finally last hunting season my grandpa took me out in the field with him for the first time. He recently bought me a gun for my birthday but I have never hunted before or took the class. I have only shot guns once or twice so I am VERY inexperienced to say the least. I’m worried it will be odd for me to take hunters safety as a 20 year old women and about my inexperience. I’m hoping to be able to go to my local gun club to get some practice shooting but I am not sure if, In the state of Wisconsin, I need hunters safety before I can go to these gun ranges. If anyone has any advice to prepare me for the upcoming hunting season that would be great! If all works out with the class and practice my cousin, who’s probably the best hunter I know, will go with me. Mainly I’m really nervous because I don’t want to suck at shooting/hunting/ect with this brand new gun.

  43. Stephanie

    Thanks for this! 🙂

  44. Linn

    Thanks for this information Hank. I’m in Texas and have wanted to learn to hunt for a long while now. Its time to get going on that desire and you’ve helped. I grew up around guns, but strangely enough, nobody hunted. Just target shooting. Go figure. I’m in my 50’s now and have 3 kids I’d like to introduce to hunting also.
    dmsintexas raised the point about finding a place to hunt this has always put me off in the past. I grew up in UT, NV, and CA and the lack of public land in TX was a huge shock when I moved here and I still don’t like it.
    I’m particularly interested in hog hunting. Heard they’re really tasty!
    Got the rifles for it already. Got the outdoor smarts down pat I think. Got plenty of outdoorsy gear. Going to start my education.
    If you know someone in TX or someone wants to help me out with info, I’d really appreciate it!
    Thanks again for this site and your time Hank.

  45. Steven McEown

    Great post Hank! While I was able to be around guns or ever go hunting as a child I am from the backwoods of Georgia and I am finding that the older I get the more I realize that hunting is just in my blood. I am currently deployed to Korea with the Army (Where I got to start my experiences with guns) and I am planning and looking forward to getting myself, my wife, and my daughter (when she gets old enough)into hunting when I get back to North Carolina come the end of February. If you know anyone in the area please put a word in for me as my best friend who was my hunting connection has already moved back to Florida. Thanks again Hank!

  46. Kevin Bryant

    Great post, and great site.

    While I was born and raised in a hunting, fishing and gardening family, we have taken MANY under our wing, and have shown them the way. All of them are now avid outdoors men. We take on the stance, along with almost all that I have met, that if you are serious and show a true interest in hunting, we will help you in any way that we can.

    One thing I will add is that you must show absolute respect to those that are giving you a hand at getting started. Weather it be the DNR agent helping you find a place to hunt, the person giving you lessons on how to shoot or the experienced hunter handing down the knowledge of the trade. This will do more than you ever know in your first endeavors.

    Another thing is to realize that this is not easy. It takes time and hard work. Do not be discouraged if you get into the woods and see NOTHING all day, week, or even season. You are in their world, and they have the upper hand. Sit back, look around and enjoy the world around you.

    One thing you will find is that hunters and anglers are one of, if not the biggest group of environmental conservationist out there. We have a huge interest in keeping our nature pure and bountiful.

    I am also open to help anyone in the Cleveland area.

  47. Mike

    Totally agree with you about the practice shooting bit. It’s best to have someone who’s already experienced and can show you the ins and outs.

  48. Cliff

    I usually don’t quite know how to answer when people ask me how to get started, but this is some great advice Hank, and some really great comments.

  49. Gage Hill

    Wow, thank you Hank. Im 21 years old and in the Coast Guard and I’m getting transferred soon. I’m going to school to learn my trade for the CG and I’m going to be a Gunner’s Mate. Unfortunately I know nothing about guns and didn’t grow up around them. Im trying to get stationed in Alaska and really want to try and be a “mountain man” and acquire some grit for myself. You definitely helped me today with getting started, and I’m going to do my best to help hunters out there just like you helped me when I become a vet. Thanks again Hank,
    SN Gage Hill

  50. msingh

    Hello there, This is some really interesting advice but can a person from abroad come and hunt in America?

  51. kim95843

    My husband hasn’t hunted since he was a kid. He needs a mentor to show him the ropes of deer hunting. How would I put him in touch with someone who can show him what he’s doing.?

  52. Joy

    THANK YOU so much Mr. Shaw for this informative advice!!! I just got a new dog and now that my kids are grown I want to learn to hunt. I am a female in Michigan and I believe my dog is for upland birds. So both I and my dog need to learn to hunt 🙂 I will look into the Hunter Safety classes and hopefully meet someone who can take me under their wing. So excited!!

  53. Nick

    Great article Hank! This was one of the articles that served as a resource for my entry into hunting. You were one of the first hunters that I came across that provided relatable information, articles, and books. Keep up the excellent work.


  54. Graham

    Thanks for the article. I’m 31 and hoping to get into hunting. I’m taking my conclusion course for hunter’s safety this weekend, so after that I’ll be able to obtain my hunting license. I’m curious about where to start. My goal is to get into deer (and hopefully eventually elk and moose; I live in Colorado), but I wonder if it would be easier to focus on small game for a while first. I’m really hoping to find some local hunters who wouldn’t mind letting me tag along and shadow them to see what they do to hunt.

  55. julie fox

    the very best advice i’ve received regarding getting into hunting. I’m embarrassed to beg for duck and venison and want to get it myself. I’m an older gal no longer worried about asking for help. you gave thanks sooo much

  56. Eddie

    Good article Hank.
    One hurdle to breaking into duck hunting that I’m slowly realizing is that although hunters are glad to help out w’ advice, there appears to be an invisible line when it comes to asking about a good place to hunt. When I ask veteran hunters how their hunt went, they invariably say not so good (lie) or they’ll direct the conversation a nice little planted pheseant hunting club.
    They have honey holes – but they’re not talking.

    The idea of a mentor sounds nice, but finding one that will actually take you out to a fertile hunting spot and teach you the ropes is not easy.

  57. John

    Nice one Hank!
    Awesome advice. I have to obtain a license too!

  58. Dan

    Thank you so much Hank!

    I have three boys and my dad wasn’t a hunter so never got the chance but I can see its a good activity in my generation with my kids!

    Keep up the good work and thanks for taking the time and sharing with us!!


  59. smith braver

    You are right mike. finding a person who is experienced is more important than finding a hunting place. with having a nice gun and powerful scope , we can have wonderful times.

  60. Angie

    Hi my name is Angie. My husband’s a dove hunting fanatic! My 15 1/2 yr old son is now interested in hunting dove also so my question is,in Bakersfield CA,what is required for him to obtain his hunting license? I’ve searched online and I’m just not getting a real clear answer so could u please help me . much appreciated thank you Angie Ponce from Bakersfield ca

  61. Jason

    Hi! This is a good guide on hunting. However I have a question. Firstly, can you please give me an authentic resource to prove that hunting is actually going down in the US? As per research it is rising and more and more people are getting into hunting by the day. However I might be wrong, hence I’d like you to please provide me more clarification on this.

  62. Bow Hunter

    Nice article and a really well put together site! It’s not often that I see my two passions in one place – hunting and mushrooms, but you did it! It’s a strange thing – I get equally excited when I sight an elk as when I find a perfect fly agaric. Thanks, David DuValle @

  63. Keith

    Hank – I love your blog. I just got my first jackrabbit and used your Sardinian stew recipe. It was excellent.

    As to the popularity of hunting, the US Fish and Wildlife service has published annual hunting license data by state here:

    Over 16 million annual license holders nationwide in the 1970s and 80s. High 14 million per year in the last 10 years.

  64. Ross

    Good article Hank Shaw! I want become hunter too!

    Very very good article!!

  65. Simon

    Some great advice Hank. Most people would choose a gun first and then educate themselves. A great idea to get some education under your belt before you race out with a gun not really knowing what to do or expect.

  66. eric crayon

    I think finding an expert friend who live near the hunting area is very important . We go somewhere for hunting but we couldn’t hunt anything because of that . Good rifle and scopes are other friends

  67. Tom

    Hank, do you think it’s easier to get started deer hunting with firearms or bowhunting? I’ve done both, but how do you think the learning curve compares for someone totally new? Appreciate it.

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