Learning to hunt

BMB

New member
Joined
Jun 25, 2018
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16
Hey guys,

I posted this on another forum and was advised to check out this forum from one of the members. Thanks, Dale!

This is a pretty embarrassing thing to post but if I ever want to learn, I have to do it. I'm a citified guy. I’ve lived in Miami, NYC, and LA for the last 18 years. I'm 36 and have never hunted.
My wife and I are moving to Kalispell, MT in a few weeks and we've never even been there before! We just know we don't want the city life and decided to pack everything up and get out. We did the same thing here in Prescott, AZ. We left LA and moved here without visiting before. We got a taste for being away from the city and now we want to go even further.

I took the hunter ed course in CA and got a license there as well as AZ but never did anything with it. I just didn’t know where to begin. It’s a bit overwhelming to go at it alone. When I tried to discuss hunting in LA I’d end up offending people. I knew I had to get out of there.

I love the outdoors and I own several firearms, including a Weatherby Backcountry in 300 win mag. I've only used it at the range but I bought that rifle because I want to hunt. I’ve been told that’s too much gun for most hunting and I’m definitely open to suggestions on a better option. I also purchased a bow about a year ago. I went to the local shop and shot a few of them. I’m a fairly large guy (6’6” 275) so they suggested the PSE Evolve 35 with a 70lb draw. I don’t really know much about bows but I know that I enjoy shooting it! I’ve been practicing on a block in the backyard.

My question for you all is... How can I get started? I want to learn from seasoned hunters and get out there but it's tough to find people. I feel embarrassed and don't want to annoy people by asking. I also work from home doing voiceovers so I can’t just ask the guys at work because there are none! Haha

I'd appreciate any suggestions/advice.

Thanks,
-Matthew
 
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NDMuley

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Aug 7, 2017
Messages
237
Welcome to the site. Don't be embarrassed everyone was not brought up hunting. We all had to start somewhere. I would suggest going to the local range and meeting folks there for 1. This site has a lot of great folks and I am sure someone from MT will chime in. Don't get discouraged and it will work out. There are groups like the Mule deer foundation pheasants forever and BHA that you can join and talk to folks at the get togethers that can be a aveanue to look into. I hope you find someone to help you out. If I was in MT I would.
 

VikingsGuy

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Aug 2, 2017
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2,068
Location
Twin Cities
It's great that you are reaching out. We didn't all grow up with hunting dads. I was raised by a fisherman and felt very good about my angling knowledge, but as an adult I wanted to hunt, and had to start at square one. Many of us did. No shame in that.

I would start by picking a first species and weapon. Pheasant, deer, elk, whatever. Each type/species of hunting has so many unique elements that chasing a generalized notion of hunting can make it seem overwhelming, where once you pick a first species/type of hunting, the first next steps become fairly straight forward. This focus also helps reaching out to seasoned hunters. It is easier to help somebody who has a reasonably specific goal/question, and depending on what you hunt it may take you to different folks.

For example, if you wanted to hunt pheasant or grouse (upland birds), I would say to buy a $750-$900 12 gauge semi-auto from the benelli group or beretta group and start shooting sporting clays. I would find a decent wing shooter to take me out the first few times and get down the basic motions (which are very different than rifle shooting). When comfortable I would go to a local pheasant preserve and have one of their guys take you out with one of their dogs to get a feel for live bird shooting. Now you are ready to start planning a wild upland hunt. You would then have a working idea of gear, techniques etc.

But if you want to deer hunt with rifle, you would take a very different path, like working on basic rifle technique at the range using a .22LR, 223Rem or .243Win (lower recoil would let you focus on shooting technique - 300WinMag is a great gun, but I would learn on a lesser gun to start), you also would start learning about the MT license/tag regime, learning about seasons, forage patterns, bullet selection, stalking technique, etc. Maybe if not initially comfortable with a rifle you would do some prairie dog or squirrel plinking to get your feet under you. etc. etc. Deer via archery would be somewhat different still.

After you get one under your belt, you will find that it is fairly straightforward to add others down the road.
 
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Ben Long

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Aug 8, 2011
Messages
968
Location
Kalispell, MT
NW Montana is about as welcoming a place for a new hunter as you can hope to find. You'll have literally millions of acres of public lands and accessible timber land, so that's a huge plus. I suggest stopping by the Kalispell office of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks office and see if they have any classes scheduled. Pick up the regulations and other brochures. Classes are a great way to meet people. It's worth dropping a few bucks for the Whitefish Gun Club membership so you can practice your shooting and get to know some folks. Flathead Wildlife Inc. is the local hook-and-bullet conservation group and there are a lot of us Backcountry Hunters & Anglers folks around too. Mostly, I would get out and drive to get a sense of the landscape.
 

406LIFE

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Joined
Aug 18, 2016
Messages
2,119
Location
Bitterroot Valley, MT
Welcome to the forums and to hunting! Sony worry about asking, just post here and read the responses. Your best way to remove hurdles and shorten the lear ing curve is to get a mentor. Adult onset hunting is growing rapidly. If you google that you'll find some help. I'm in Stevensville, but feel free to PM me.
 

wllm1313

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Joined
Dec 9, 2015
Messages
2,626
Location
Aurora, CO
Welcome! I was an adult onset hunter as well (got started when we moved to Bozeman), and I have to say I think Montana is the one of the best states to get started in, licenses are reality inexpensive and the system is really straight forward as a resident. Also the seasons are generously long.

First things first make sure you get your driver's license ASAP so you start the 180 day clock started to become a resident. This fall I would take VikingsGuy's advice and get out there and chase some birds. There is amazing grouse hunting around Kalispell, and it's a great way to get out and explore and start looking at terrain you might want to come back and hunt next year for big game.

Next year get your Montana Sportman's license which includes upland, deer and elk (add a bear if you have interest in the spring hunt). I would spend some time poking around the FWP website and check out the rules and regs for your area, read up on the block management lands, and on the hunt roster (this is a great way to do a cow elk hunt, and in my experience it can be an almost guaranteed cow hunt, but you have to be able to go at some random times so it's best for residents). Also apply for an antelope out in eastern Montana, you may or may not draw but it's a great hunt.

I also worked from home when I was in MT so I learned a lot of youtube videos, and from just getting out there and doing it... the first time I did the gutless method on an animal was humbling. As great as it is to have somebody teach you if you rely on somebody else to take you out you are going to spend a lot of time looking out the window instead of putting boots on the ground. It took me 22 days to get a bear my first year, I went out everyday after work and on the weekends and I blew half a dozen stalks and spent the first 10 days without even finding a bear but I learned a ton. Also don't feel weird asking around and seeing if anyone wants to go out and hunt with you or would take you, especially if you start with asking them about small game. I met what ended up being my hunting partner the entire time I lived up there by asking around at my wife's work party (Montana State University) if anyone wanted to go duck hunting, also hunting doesn't seem to be as red/blue of a top as it does elsewhere so I woundn't worry about it being a taboo topic.

Good luck, I'm jealous of your move.
 

rideold

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Joined
Oct 28, 2015
Messages
363
Location
Front Range of Colorado
Welcome! I started hunting as an adult as well. It's amazing what you can learn from this forum. There are a variety of pod casts that are instructive as well but yes, as mentioned above, going out with someone is a great help.
 

BMB

New member
Joined
Jun 25, 2018
Messages
16
Wow, thanks to all for taking the time to reply. Great advice!

I think if I were to pick a species to want to go with first it would be deer. I'm pretty comfortable shooting although I do flinch on my first few 300 win mag shots if it's been a while though. And it has been a while! Once I get back to the range and start shooting more then it all falls back into place and I feel pretty good. I'm going to follow all the advice in this thread and see what classes are available when I get there.

Also, Ben, how about I buy you lunch instead? It wouldn't be right if I were picking your brain about hunting and picking your pocket also! Haha

I really appreciate all the replies. Thanks guys!

-Matthew
 

kotikant

Member
Joined
Mar 24, 2018
Messages
253
Location
Las Vegas
Though I've been camping, hiking and fishing a good deal in my life I never decided to pursue hunting till this year. I kinda know what you're thinking/feeling....you seem to have your head on pretty good though - you found this place, right? :) Everyone here has been very generous to me with answers, advice and so on as they will be with you even though I've probably worn things a little thin in the process. Anyway, welcome to the form...and congrats to moving to MT!
 

TexAg09

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Joined
Nov 18, 2015
Messages
180
Location
Central Texas
My suggestion is to join the local Backcountry Hunters and Anglers chapter, go to some events such as pint nights, and just see if you can pick people's brains. Most people in that organization are friendly, and want to see the sport grow so they'll be willing to help you start out on the right foot. Also, watching a ton of youtube videos, searching for threads on specific questions on here, and asking a lot of questions here as well has helped me.
 

Gerald Martin

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Jul 3, 2009
Messages
3,792
Welcome BMB. You won't make the 180 day residency requirement for this years big game hunting season and most of the nonresident draws are past the due date. However, you can pick up some over the counter tags still available to NR's if you want to hunt more than just birds this fall.

In particular I would suggest you buy a single region whitetail doe tag ($70 for N.R. price) as your first big game to target. Most regions in MT except for Region 1 and 2 (your home turf) will have them. Various units will have slightly different regs on where and when they can be used, but it's not to difficult and you should have plenty of opportunities. That should lessen any pressure over the possibility of messing up limited chances. It is also possible that some individual hunting units might have surplus antlerless tags that will come on sale later this summer.
 

BearFoot

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Joined
Jun 6, 2018
Messages
235
Location
Alaska
Your on your way. Raised by my mom, hunting came later in life for me as well.
Fishing, hunting, I would closely observe others that were successful, and do what they did.
 

Ryan2782

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Joined
Jul 6, 2017
Messages
173
Location
Boise
You will research and find out so many idea's, tips, and tactics it can seem over whelming and nerve racking. I think the hardest thing for new hunters as an adult that I have noticed is just finally making it out to hunt. I would plan on just getting your tag, and hunting for a half day or full day. Camp at your vehicle or at your house depending on where you hunt, make a weekend trip. You don't need to do backpack trips or be extravagant in your gear. This is a basic introductory to show you that you can do it. I'd bet after getting out on your first day you will feel more confident than ever and ready for more. Montana mountains and the public land are amazing and can seem to go on forever. As stated above, check out the Fish and Wildlife office and inquire about areas, but also where you could start hiking this summer and see the terrain and explore.
 

Straight Arrow

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Jun 10, 2009
Messages
2,803
Location
Gallatin Gateway, MT
Matthew, you are blessed to be residing in the Flathead. There are so many trails, mountains to be climbed, and amazing vistas to view close to you, as well as an abundance of wildlife. Hunting is not just about shooting; it's something I enjoy year around with eyes, binoculars, spotting scope, camera ... and bow or firearm during the hunting seasons. I encourage you to scout with maps, electronics, discussions with locals, and otherwise to establish a list of places to visit that are good wildlife habitat ... and just get out there and go for it!
 

Gerald Martin

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Joined
Jul 3, 2009
Messages
3,792
Welcome BMB. You won't make the 180 day residency requirement for this years big game hunting season and most of the nonresident draws are past the due date. However, you can pick up some over the counter tags still available to NR's if you want to hunt more than just birds this fall.

In particular I would suggest you buy a single region whitetail doe tag ($70 for N.R. price) as your first big game to target. Most regions in MT except for Region 1 and 2 (your home turf) will have them. Various units will have slightly different regs on where and when they can be used, but it's not to difficult and you should have plenty of opportunities. That should lessen any pressure over the possibility of messing up limited chances. It is also possible that some individual hunting units might have surplus antlerless tags that will come on sale later this summer.
A bit of a follow up to my statement that most regions have OTC whitetail antlerless tags... It appears that only Region 3, 6, and 7 do this year. I would still check in to surplus antlerless tags that may be left over from the drawings. I believe a list of those might go on sale @ Aug. 7.
An OTC elk B license might be actually easier to obtain, but for the most part Elk B licenses are going to be harder to fill than a whitetail B license.
 

Gunner46

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Dec 6, 2003
Messages
2,741
Location
Frigid Ohio
As you are a novice, I really have to put this out to you in heart felt honesty. Put that Mag in the closet, PERIOD (for now).

You don't need that much to start with.....or ever, for that matter.

It may prove useful to you later on, after some skills have been learned, and you find that you can actually get yourself into a situation where it may be required, but those are probably going to be few & far between.

I'm going espouse our Grand PuBaa (Randy) once again and simply suggest that you reconsider your weapon of choice to a 7/08, or a 308. Either will hurt the world on any elk walking the face of this earth in very short order!

2nd, Just keep talk to the guys here. After all, it's titled "Hunt Talk".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cfd3XkHDaDA

Good Luck & Good Hunting

Gunner
 

BMB

New member
Joined
Jun 25, 2018
Messages
16
Thanks again for all the comments.

BearFoot, I was raised by a single mother also. She worked 2 shifts most of the time so I never had any hunting or fishing trips. I've just got something pulling at me to get out there and learn to hunt and fish.

Looking at all of the different options available for tags can be a bit overwhelming. OTC, A/B, regions, etc. Makes my head spin! Haha

Ryan, I think you're right about just getting out there being a big hurdle for new hunters. When I was in CA that's what kept me from doing it. I had no idea where to go in the different regions.

When you're going to hunt in an area that you don't know, do you stay close to your vehicles? That's part of the struggle for me I think. I have reservations about wandering around in bear country without knowing where I'm going. I have the Montana GPS unit from Garmin and I've been told to get ONX maps for it and it helps a lot. What do you guys do?

Also, Gunner, I just watched that video and I think I'm now in the market for a 308 rifle. Thanks!

-Matthew
 
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joens

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May 24, 2018
Messages
19
Location
Montana, Region 7
You DEFINATELY need the OnX chip for your GPS. in the meanwhile you can get some of the info here
http://svc.mt.gov/msl/mtcadastral/ online at Montana's land ownership website. but definitely get the OnX I think you are on the right track with looking into a 308 or something like it. if you decide you want to drive out to region 7 let me know,
 
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