It’s difficult to venture into something new when you don’t know where to start. If you’ve never hunted before and don’t have anybody in your family who does, the process for getting started might seem overwhelming. Connect with a hunting mentor to guide you through the hunting process from gear selection to field dressing the deer.
What a Hunting Mentor Does
A hunting mentor is someone that can answer any questions you have about hunting and will guide you in the field on your first hunt. They will be by your side, talking you through the steps in real time. Get to know your hunting mentor first by exchanging emails, then meet in person. Discuss your experience level and what your goals are. How often are you looking to hunt? Are you planning on donating your harvests? Will you be using the meat yourself? These are all items you should discuss with your mentor before you get started. They will help you choose the right equipment for you and teach you how to scout, where to hunt, protocol during an active hunt, and how to donate or field dress your harvest.
Before you go on your first hunt, take the time to practice at a range together. Let them see your technique and coach you. Then, practice shooting at targets from your Stump blind so they can see your technique in real conditions. If there is anything you need to adjust in your shot, you should correct it before actively hunting.
Find a Hunting Mentor
To find a hunting mentor, check out various conservation organizations like the Quality Deer Management Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Each of these organizations hosts events that new hunters can attend. QDMA hosts Field to Fork events that teach new hunters how to harvest the deer, field dress it, and cook the meat to put a delicious meal on the table. Even if the organizations are not hosting an active hunt at the moment, see if you can attend a local chapter meeting or email someone at the organization to start a dialogue. They may lead you to someone in your area that will take you on one-on-one hunts.
State agencies will hold hunter education courses online or in person. The courses are vital and often required before going on your first hunt. Your state wildlife department might also host mentored hunts. Take your state’s hunter education course to get started. Reach out to the instructor or classmates to network until you find a hunter in your area.
Become a Hunting Mentor
If you’re a seasoned hunter who knows their way around the woods, consider helping a novice hunter by becoming a mentor. Imagine how rewarding it will feel to help your mentee on their first hunt and watch them bag their first deer. It will help sharpen your patience, communication, and teaching skills, which will help you on your own hunts and in other aspects of your life, like your career.
There are plenty of curious minds out there just waiting to get out and hunt. All they need is a helping hand. More people interested in hunting means more people interested in nature, wildlife, and conservation. It’s educational for all parties involved.
Do you have a hunting mentor? How have they helped you grow as a hunter? Let us know in the comments below!