Getting started as a new hunter is not as complicated as it might look. While you might not bag a successful harvest on your first day, if you keep practicing, you will continue to improve and will have all of the tools necessary to become a skilled deer hunter. All it requires practice, patience, and the right set of gear for you. Opening day for deer hunting season in Minnesota is September 16, so you’ve got time to prepare. Below are some guidelines to help you get started.

1. Take a Hunter Education Course

Every aspiring hunter must take a hunter education course before they can legally purchase a hunting license. These education courses will teach the hunter about their local laws and regulations, important safety precautions, how to identify wild game, how to practice ethical shot placement and other vital hunting techniques. You can find a hunter education course by visiting your state’s wildlife department site, or going to the Hunter-Ed website.

2. Get Your License

Once you have a hunter education certificate, you can buy your hunting license. You can find information on how to purchase your license on your state’s wildlife department website. In Minnesota, residents can purchase their hunting license online, in person, or over the phone. Visit the Minnesota DNR’s license page for more information.

3. Get Your Gear

All states will have their approved legal equipment for harvesting big game listed on their website. If you’re bowhunting, visit your local archery shop to discuss your options for your first bow. The bow technicians will help measure your draw length and draw weight. The technicians need these measurements to help set up your bow to your specific proportions and requirements. All states have a minimum draw weight requirement, usually somewhere between 30-40 pounds. States set these requirements because if your draw weight is too low, you won’t make an ethical kill. Minnesota’s minimum requirement is 30 pounds. The technicians will also help you choose the right arrows based on the measurements of the bow you got. Check your state’s regulations for caliber requirements of shotguns and muzzleloaders.

4. Learn Shot Placement

Proper shot placement is a critical element in a successful harvest. Landing a shot in the wild game’s vital organs will help ensure a quick kill. Shot placement is taught during hunter education, but it is helpful to practice on a 3D target. Place the target in front of your Stump blind so you can practice in real conditions and keep practicing throughout the off season. Turn the target in various positions like quartering away, quartering to, etc. This will help you prepare for all possible scenarios.

5. Practice

Practice, practice, practice. Continue to practice during the off season, as much as you can. A good metric that will tell you when you’re ready for opening day is if you find you are consistently landing your arrows in a cluster. Consist shots in the vital area means that you are repeating the same form every time, which is what you want to be doing. If you find you can hit the vital area sometimes, but also frequently have errant shots, identify the inconsistency with your form. Make sure you’re using the same anchor point every time.

Once you’ve bought your equipment, all that’s left to do is practice. Keep up your routine and before you know it you’ll be enjoying a day in your Stump blind, waiting for the rustle of your first deer.

What steps did you take as a first-time hunter? Let us know your plan for fall in the comments below!




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