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Best animal to start with for a new hunter? (Nor Cal)

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Best animal to start with for a new hunter? (Nor Cal)

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Old 05-09-2015, 11:22 AM
  #1  
Spike
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Default Best animal to start with for a new hunter? (Nor Cal)

I'll start by saying Im 21 and live in Northern California. I've never owned a firearm or have even been on a hunt before, it's also worth mentioning that I don't know anyone that hunts.

I want to start hunting in my area, Obviously before I choose my wepon type I need to know what I'll be hunting.
Long term Id like to be a big game/deer hunter.

By the time I start my first hunt I'll most likely have a 7.4 cubic ft freezer as this fits my price point the best. At first I thought I'd skip birds and and shotguns all together, (my impression is that all bird hunting is done with shotguns, is this true?) and take a boar as my first animal i don't know how doable that is because those things are pretty large.

It would be my first time skinning and packing an animal and I don't want to waste anything so do I need to buy that shotgun and start with birds or not? Or am I going about this all wrong?

Last edited by Jay lance; 05-09-2015 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 05-09-2015, 12:09 PM
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My opinion is that you should learn to crawl before you learn to run. Personally I enjoy bird hunting and the companionship of my dog/s, I also enjoy eating them. Then there are rabbits which are also good eating. Yes most bird hunting is done with a shotgun and it is another thing you would have to learn because shooting a shotgun in wingshooting is far different than shooting a rifle. If you are not willing to learn to shoot a shotgun, buy a .22 rifle and start with hunting squirrels. I suspect most people on this forum started out hunting squirrels. Of course you can also hunt squirrels with a shotgun as well. My best advice I can give you is start slow, and learn along the way and then advance into something else. Hunting is not just buying a gun and going out and filling the freezer, there is a lot to learn besides the shooting part. You need to learn where to hunt, how to hunt and there are different ways, you need to find out which way suits you the best. Right now you are all excited, you made a decision to become a hunter, slow down, hunting is all about slowing down. I would recommend you join a sportsmans club where you can associate with experienced hunters and perhaps find a mentor or if you know a good hunter who may be willing to mentor you, ask them if they will. Reading good books about hunting is good, it gives you a starting reference point but you have to do to learn. You can go out and stumble around on your own but you will learn more and learn faster with someone to mentor you and be available when you have questions, starting slow will also prevent you from spending a ton of money only to find out that hunting is not your cup of tea. Lastly, if you go for a mentor, ask around and make sure they walk the walk as well as talk the talk, thee are B Sers out there who shouldn't be teaching anyone anything and make sure they have good ethics and will not get you in a bad situation with the wildlife dept. Good luck in your endeaver.
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Old 05-09-2015, 01:49 PM
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Starting out small game hunting is really good advise. As Oldtimer said, most of us probably started out popping squirrels with our BB guns or .22's. But sometimes people just aren't into small game or wing shooting. I for one never have gotten into wing shooting that much. I'll go on an occasional Quail or Goose hunt but not very often. If you would like to start off on Big game, then your choice of prey couldn't be better. Hog hunting is both fantastic for filling the freezer with some great meat and they are a little easier to hunt that your average deer. Don't get me wrong, they are by no means easy prey, but they are just easier than most deer.

One of the first things you will need to do is get yourself a good rifle. If you plan on starting off on Hogs then move up to Deer, then I would suggest a good 7mm.08 Bolt action rifle. Scope it with the best glass you can afford. Then take it to your local range and learn how to shoot. And I don't mean learn how to rest the rifle on the bench and learn, I mean learn how to shoot from varying positions that you will be in in the field while hunting. Standing offhand, taking a knee, sitting, and prone. Accuracy is paramount in hunting. The animals we hunt deserve the fastest and cleanest kills we can provide so there will be as little suffering as possible.

Next is learning as much as you possibly can about the quarry you seek. Ask around as Oldtimer suggested and find a friend that actually hunts. I know most of the ranges I have been to have been loaded with hunters and you may find that most hunters are always willing to help a newbie learn our wonderful traditions. Read as much as you can, but first hand experience can't be beaten. See if you can get yourself invited to "tag along" as an observer only on a few hog hunts and let whoever allows you to come teach you. Like Oldtimer said, there are TONS of things to learn other than just grabbing up a rifle and going shooting. It's called Hunting for a reason.
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Old 05-09-2015, 02:43 PM
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Excellent advice guys and if he could find a mentor before he even starts buying his firearms all the better.
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Old 05-09-2015, 06:14 PM
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Hunter safety course and meet up with other like minded people


.22 Long Rifle & shotgun on paper & cans; then squirrels, rabbits and doves.


The great outdoors, become part of it - nothing else like it !!!

Last edited by Sheridan; 05-09-2015 at 06:40 PM.
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Old 05-09-2015, 10:41 PM
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squirrels .
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Old 05-09-2015, 11:06 PM
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It sounds like you don't have a hunting license yet and haven't gone through hunter safety training yet. DFW has a list of available locations and dates for Hunter Safety requirements and the course is required to get your hunting license. If you attend a class in your area, you'll likely meet other people from your area that are getting into hunting.

Small game and birds are a good way to start hunting. Some people only hunt those and never get into big game. If you get into turkey hunting, it's very addictive and lots of fun.

Another option for big game hunting in CA is to hunt hogs with a guide. It's a fairly inexpensive hunt and you can learn a lot about hog hunting and what terrain to look for.

Like other people have said, slow down, research, enjoy your time outdoors and pay attention to what the animals are teaching you. Northern CA has a lot of public land and game to hunt. Good luck.

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Old 05-10-2015, 06:44 AM
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CalHunter wrote:

It sounds like you don't have a hunting license yet and haven't gone through hunter safety training yet. DFW has a list of available locations and dates for Hunter Safety requirements and the course is required to get your hunting license. If you attend a class in your area, you'll likely meet other people from your area that are getting into hunting.
Yep Jay, If that's your situation, I'll echo the theme to learn to shoot first and along the way make friends that hunt.

For sure, find a good rifle range - learning to shoot a 22LR 1st is the quickest way - Maybe 2 to 3 months. AND if your interested, Find a good skeet range - Maybe 2 to 3 years as mastering a shotgun will take longer. Just remember the people you meet along the way will be most helpful when its time to begin hunting.
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Old 05-10-2015, 07:04 AM
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good advice above but in the end the best way to learn anything worth doing is ,jump,right in and get your feet wet.


you will make mistakes. learn from them. as with anything , srive to be better tommorrow then you are today.

Last edited by kidoggy; 05-10-2015 at 07:07 AM.
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Old 05-10-2015, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by CalHunter View Post
Small game and birds are a good way to start hunting. Some people only hunt those and never get into big game. If you get into turkey hunting, it's very addictive and lots of fun.
I realize this Is ill advised for a new shooter from a financial standpoint, and I will most likely not go this route, but in theory if I wanted to skip the 22lr altogether, would there be a rifle that could be used for turkey hunts and at the same time also be used on small game like rabbits and even squirrels without ruining them?

I'm pretty sure there isn't something that fits this niche, which is why I'm leaning toward a shotgun that way I can hunt everything I mentioned aswell as birds (turkey's included) and just way more game in general, the huge downside being that I won't have a rifle to practice my marksmanship... I'd get a 22lr like everyone is saying but I'd be stuck eating only squirrels and rabbits because the caliber so small and I'm in a real tight budget so I can only afford one or the other right now.

and yeah, I've yet to take the hunter safety course. Hopefully I can link up with someone there.

Last edited by Jay lance; 05-10-2015 at 05:40 PM.
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