Outdoor activities are becoming increasingly popular in the states. Hunting’s popularity though has been said to be in decline.
Since the 1960s, the number of individuals hunting across the states has dropped. Yet, it remains the 7th most popular outdoor activity. Clearly, humans no longer need to hunt for their food – although many still do on occasion – but hunting brings many other benefits. These include helping to manage wildlife populations and stem the spread of diseases that can decimate wildlife, and sometimes spread to humans.
Figures vary, but one source reports that 15 million individuals went hunting in 2020, almost the same number that enjoyed the sport back in 2006. There was a drop to 13.5 million participants in 2013, but after that year hunting actually grew again in popularity.
If you are one of the newcomer to hunting, here is a comprehensive guide for hunting. There are plenty of people discovering more outdoor activities now, then you will need to invest in some essentials. Not least being licensed, and understanding different state hunting laws is critical. After your permit has been purchased, you will need to look at the other areas below.
As a newbie, you may associate hunting simply with rifles, but many hunters have different preferences. Muzzleloaders can be an interesting way to hunt with a nod to the past, shotguns can be used, and some hunters prefer to use handguns, if only occasionally.
In the US today, around 32% of hunters use a bow. This equates to around 3,500,000 participants hunting with bows now. But, if you wish to use a rifle then you will also need to understand what caliber ammunition you require for the game you are hunting.
The convenience of the internet means that many vendors sell hunting gear and even ammo that can be shipped to your location. This can help newbie hunters search for the equipment they need, and make the process less daunting.
Statistics show hunting is a relatively safe sport despite the use of bows and loaded weapons. In 2021 for instance, New York state witnessed just 9 accidents. Of these, 2 were self-inflicted, and 1 involved an individual with no license or hunting education.
Safety is paramount in hunting, and many states such as California have introduced hunting education courses. Clothing also plays its part in keeping hunters and other outdoors people safe. Fluorescent orange hi-vis clothing isn’t just wise, it is a requirement in many areas of the states for hunters.
Choosing the right clothing can also protect you from the elements, and make your trip more comfortable and enjoyable. Hunting boots are crucial, as are good-quality socks. It is also a good idea to choose materials that wick away sweat and provide warmth, this makes cotton largely a no-go.
So far you have your hunting clothing, a weapon of choice, and some form of ammunition. It is worth noting that special care needs to be taken with all of this.
Hunting clothing should be hand washed and there are special hunter’s detergents that can be purchased. Avoid fabric softeners as these reduce the effectiveness of hunting clothing over time.
Your gun dealer can advise on how to look after your weapon, but you may not realize that brass cleaning is vital for reloading, this means cleaning the cases after firing. These can be cleaned by hand, with a tumbler, or through other methods such as ultrasound.
A hunter can easily walk 10 miles or more during a hunting trip, and if the surroundings are unfamiliar, navigation tools are vital.
A GPS of some type, maps, and other navigation tools will make life easier for any hunter. There are also great advantages of range finders, and these can help improve accuracy.
As you gain experience you will start to understand what extra pieces of equipment are worth taking, and which ones can be left at home. Lighting, sunscreen, trash bags, a hunting knife, and food, are deemed essential by most hunters.
A first aid kit is a must-have too. Outdoor activities require equipment for safety to be considered seriously. Hunting is no different. Ensuring that you are in a position to treat an injury if it should occur or build a shelter if necessary will provide some peace of mind. The ability to communicate with someone who can assist is also a huge factor when you choose what equipment to take along with you.
Millions of people that start hunting end up carrying on the sport for the rest of their lives, and many hands their skills and stories down to the next generation.
This article is too short to give individual recommendations on each area but there are many resources on the internet for hunting, how to select the right outdoor clothing and the correct weapon for hunting different types of game.
Just remember, safety is crucial when hunting, and leave no trace behind so others can enjoy the outdoors as much as you are.