Hunting has been one of the increasingly popular action sports in recent memory. While its viewpoint may be polarizing to some, it sure has its long line of advantages. First, it’s an excellent way to develop one’s overall health. The planning and strategizing improve mental fitness, while the required running, hiking, and weapon use develop physical skills.

In addition, hunting increases a person’s survival skill set. It also provides revenues to local governments through the hunting licenses they issue. Yet, like any action sport, hunting has its requirements. If you’re new to hunting, you may want to read this article to get more information. Below are the essential points to ponder before you set foot for your hunting trip.

  1. Prepare Skull Cleaning Necessities

Before you start your hunting journey, you may begin eyeing the prize. Generally, hunters plan to make animal mounts out of their kill. In most cases, they choose to have taxidermized animals or skull mounts as their hunting trophies. For skull trophies, some hunters simply boil the animal carcass or head until the meat softens. After the meat removal, they clean the head and carcass with household bleach and other cleaning compounds.

However, this process may likely damage and shrink the bone structure. As such, many hunters go to skull cleaning stores to have premium mounts. The process used in skull cleaning shops is more subtle than boiling and typically ends in desirable results. If you opt for this kind of cleaning, you may read more about the process of cleaning skulls, especially with Dermestid beetles.

To prepare for skull cleaning, please be reminded of the following:

  • To have a higher quality skull mount, bring a fresher skull.
  • Keep the animal’s head in a freezer after the initial cleaning.
  • It’s advisable to remove the meat, brain, tongue, and eyes before bringing the animal to the skull cleaning store.
  1. Take Note Of Hunting Regulations

Before your hunting trip, ensure that you are familiar with your location’s or state’s hunting rules and regulations. These are generally displayed on your state’s Hunting Department’s website or the Fish and Game Department’s website. 

There are places and seasons where and when certain fowls or animals are not open for hunting. Some locations may also allow certain weapons for hunting while others may not. In addition, your place may also have specific hunting restrictions. For example, in the United States, Sunday hunting trips are prohibited in Maine, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. In contrast, South Carolina, Virginia, and North Carolina allow Sunday hunting only on private land. 

In choosing where to hunt, consider the size of the hunting area in your state or location that’s open for hunting. Generally, the public-owned hunting spaces is equal to the opportunities it provides to hunters.

If you want to hunt in a location without many restrictions, you may choose hunting-friendly places, such as Alaska, Tanzania, and Canada. However, it’s still best to review or read the hunting regulations of your location to avoid legal consequences.

  1. Attend Hunting Courses

Aside from reading your location’s hunting regulations, you may formally study their hunting rules through hunter education courses. Primarily, these study programs aim to produce law-compliant hunters. In addition, they provide learning opportunities for safe and responsible hunting. Typically, a hunting education provider issues a certification after the hunter completes the course.

To be more specific, here are some of the content typically given in hunting courses:

  • gun handling and troubleshooting
  • wildlife identification and conservation
  • safety, first aid, and outdoor survival
  • hunter behavior and ethics
  1. Check And Purchase Hunting Licenses, Tags, And Permits

A license is one of the essentials for hunting. Usually, hunting licenses are given after a hunter presents their hunter education certification. If you’re just starting to hunt, you may find the laws regarding licensing unclear, as the rules vary depending on where you’re located. 

To be familiar with licenses, tags, and permits, here are some of their definitions:

  • License

Generally, hunters could pay for their licenses annually. These are necessary to be able to hunt certain species, including the following:

  • small game: pheasant, quail, dove
  • large game: bear, bighorn, deer, elk
  • fish
  • migratory birds: brant, swans, cranes, woodcock
  • waterfowl: mallards, redhead, gadwall

Some states or places allow the provision of license packages that may cover all the fowls and birds. In other cases, licenses cover a four-legged game. However, it’s essential to know these special provisions, as they differ in every state. Moreover, hunting licenses usually limit the number of animals and species hunted for a particular season. If you’ve used your licenses up, you may need to wait for another season.

  • Tags

Commonly, tags are pieces of paper attached to killed animals to signify that they’re caught. Each tag is equal to one animal. Typically, hunters indicate the date and time when the animal is killed in the tag as a legal requirement. Most states or locations issue tags only in conjunction with a hunting license. In short, people without licenses couldn’t be given tags.

In some cases, hunters could obtain tags by buying them in hunting stores. Some places also allow lotteries for special tags allotted for the most desired species.

  • Permits

In some states or locations, permits work the same as tags. However, in other states, permits are an additional requirement for tags or licenses. Permits may also be location-specific or animal-specific. Thereby, it’s suggested that you read and understand all of your state’s guidelines regarding licenses, tags, and permits to ensure you have everything prepared before your hunting trip.

  1. Study The Site And The Routes

To avoid getting lost and familiarize yourself with the area, you may visit the hunting site during the off-season. Try to be familiar with the terrain—the location of the river, the uphill, and the possible tracks of wildlife. Depending on the species you’re planning to hunt, you may purchase aerial and topographical maps to know more about the location.

In addition, there are applications and websites for hunters that could give you necessary information about the location and the species present in the area. They may also offer information about the movement of the animals, especially if they’re migratory.

You may also refer to the previous reports of a state’s Fishing and Game Department regarding hunting, which could include game status, trends, and harvest reports. These pieces of information are vital when you come up with your overall hunting plan for each season.

  1. Pre-Hunting Workouts

Apart from your hunting essentials, you also need to prepare your body and mind before you go hunting. Hunting requires a lot of running, hiking, and even swimming. In that case, you need to develop your cardio fitness, muscle conditioning, and endurance to ensure you survive in your adventure. Here are some of the workouts that could prepare you before you hunt:

  • For cardio: jump rope, squat jumps, 30 to 40-minute runs, elliptical machines
  • For muscle conditioning and gain: lunges, shoulder press, core exercises
  • For combined results: 1-2 days per week of 1-hour run with a weighted backpack

Moreover, a balanced diet of protein and carbohydrates is also important because you’ll burn many calories during the hunt. Aside from the exercises and diet, you may also need to prepare yourself mentally. Hunting requires extreme focus, so it’s crucial that your mind is clear before you go hunting.

  1. Train Your Hunting Dog

Many hunters bring their dogs during hunting. Generally, hunting dogs are classified into gun dogs (for chasing) and scent hounds (for tracking). On the one hand, the former is helpful when pursuing a running game, such as deer and rabbits. On the other hand, the latter could locate hiding or camouflaging games because of their keen sense of smell. They could also signal hunters when they discover potential prey.

Before you take your dog hunting, you should train them properly. You may start with basic obedience skills. You can do this by training your dogs with the basic commands, such as stay, sit, and come. 

Dogs generally have a short attention span and learn more in fragmented sessions. As such, try to keep your training short and substantial. When your dog is already familiar with the basics, you could proceed with the hunting-specific skills, such as pointing, retrieving, and tracking. Then, you may train it to hunt rabbits and squirrels before taking them to hunt big games.

For best results, you may also need to ensure your dog’s overall health. Feed it properly and walk with it during your workouts. Also, make sure that it has already completed its vaccination. Lastly, remember to avoid letting your dog drink water in the pond or river to avoid infection. Hence, you need to prepare food and water for your hunting trip for your pet’s safety.

  1. Practice Shooting

Hunting is never reduced to running alone. It’d be best if you shoot accurately to win your game. If you want to improve your shooting form and skills, you may need to practice weeks or months before the hunt. For arrows, 2-3 hours of shooting a day will help you develop your reaction time and flexibility.

If you’d use a deer rifle, start your training by shooting clay pigeons at a different distance. Rifles typically have varied shooting effects and trajectories at different proximities. Normally, you’d need to practice 200-yard rifle shots and short-range shooting. This way, you’ll know how to use your gun in different situations.

In addition, be familiar with how cartridges work and how to reload quickly yet efficiently to succeed in hitting your target. You may practice shooting moving targets, as these are more likely to happen during the actual hunting trip.

  1. Prepare The Hunting Essentials

Hunting is one way of living outdoors. Because of this, hunters may need other essentials apart from guns and arrows. In planning what to bring, consider your capacity to carry your backup and the added weight, especially when you’re going back to the starting point with your game. Furthermore, keep in mind that the weight gets heavier once elevation increases.

To ensure you survive and stay safe when hunting, you may consider bringing the following gear and necessities:

  • Water: Generally, you could keep your water in a hydration bladder. However, you may also bring water bottles, as they’re essential not just for drinking but also for cleaning.
  • First Aid Kit: Your kit may contain gauze, band-aids, hand sanitizer, wound cleaning solution, calamine lotion, and paracord.
  • Lamp And Flashlight: These light sources provide the needed light at nighttime, especially when field-dressing animals.
  • Knife: Sharp blades are advisable for easy and quick dressing. In addition, they’re recommended for cutting twigs when setting a fire.
  • Pre-Packaged Food: Since there’s lesser time and space for food preparation, you could bring ready-to-eat beef jerky, mixed nuts, and protein bars.
  • Game Bags: These durable bags should be ideal for packing out a game.
  • Rangefinder: This device is used in determining the distance between the hunter and the game, which will allow you to make an accurate shot.
  • Lighter: Fire is necessary for signaling a distress call, burning a knot’s ends, and getting the attention of some animals.
  • Wipes: These are primarily used for hygienic purposes, especially when cleaning utensils and baking a loaf in the woods.
  • Rubber Gloves: To avoid infection and cuts, you may wear gloves when dressing the games or handling sharp objects.
  • Rain Gear: To minimize soaking yourself wet that may lead to hypothermia, you may wear appropriate rain gear. Furthermore, you could use rain gear as a tarp during camping.

Wrapping Up

To have a successful hunting trip, you need to have a clear plan. The planning may take weeks or even months to ensure you have everything you need and you’re mentally and physically prepared. Thus, giving yourself ample time to prepare increases your chance of having a great hunting experience. Also, you’d avoid potential hazards during your hunt. 

In addition, remember to prepare your licenses, tags, permits, and other hunting essentials. Having these necessities would offer you a better, safer, and more productive hunting trip.

If you want to have a successful hunting experience, you can always go back to the essential things to ponder and prepare before hunting season in this article.