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City Boy Guide - Getting Started in Hunting

There are many folks that have grown up around hunting, have access to a community of knowledge, (parents, grandparents and other family or friends) and a plethora of firearms. This article is not for them. Instead this is for the person who is interested in getting started and equipped from scratch for under $1,000 (including your firearm), dispelling a few myths and giving you some tools to make choices.

Before I get started, I'm going to assume that you've already obtained your possession and acquisition licence (PAL) as wall as your Atlantic Hunter Education (HSE). If you don’t have these already, please consult your nearest Department of Natural Resources (DNR). They have the study materials, host the classes and administer the tests - NOTE: These apply in New Brunswick, Canada.  Please review your state/province regulations for individual regulations and requirements.
Beyond that, you’re going to need lots of common sense; hunting or rather successful hunting is made up almost completely by it.

Getting started for under $1000:  There are really 3 categories to consider when purchasing what you’ll need before going out into the field. If you're like me, you're going to need to buy these items. They are (1) Clothing, (2) Supplies and (3) a Firearm.

  1. Clothing ($200). This may be the most underrated area people initially invest their money when getting started. If you look at any hunter that's been at it successfully for years, you'll notice they're fit for utility and not fashion. You can have the best truck, tools and firearm on the planet, but if you can't enjoy yourself because can't feel your feet (and other important body parts) well you aren’t going to have much fun, now are you?
    1. Buy good insulated (preferably rubber) waterproof boots that are at least -40C. It shouldn't matter to walk through water or if you say still for hours at a time, you’re going to wish your feet were toasty warm. Personally I bought a great pair of Stanley’s on sale for $40, but you can easily drop $100+ if you don't stay focussed on what you really need.
    2. Merino Wool undergarments (top and bottom). Merino is soft, so forget the itchy wool thing. Plus wool will keep you warm even if you're wet. This could save your life as people have died in temperatures even above freezing. I picked up mine for $30 each at my local Costco. It seems like you can go without it, but after your first couple 6am, -15C mornings, your butt will thank you.
    3. A hat that covers your ears and gloves you can shoot with. Besides the obvious, you don’t want to spend time with your hands keeping your ears warm or having to take them out of your gloves to make the shot. You want your hands ready and available. Don’t be cheap, spend at least $50 to by both of these items, they are important.

Everything else you should have on hand. Please be mindful to use the proper amount of hunter orange to meet your provincial requirements. You don’t need super special hunting pants and jacket; that will come in time. In fact, visit you nearest military surplus store, they have great wool sweaters and cotton pants that you can get dirty and will last season after season. Everything I listed above can be purchased for less than $200.


  1. Supplies ($100). This is where you can really break the bank, but I’m going to help you stick to the basics with these 10 lightweight items you should have in a small backpack. (TIP: If there are zippers on your pack, clip them off; random clinks of steel have no place in the forest, the wildlife knows it. Instead use a bit of paracord as a pull; you want to be a ninja in the woods, not a one man band.)
    1. A knife.  A sturdy, full-tang knife. Don’t go crazy getting some post apocalyptic zombie slayer. 3 inches or longer and something you can wash the blood off of. If you wait for a sale, you can get a nice one for $25. A well made knife allows you to do everything from clean fish to split kindling. (TIP: Keep it sharp, really sharp and it will pay you back in efficiency. If you can’t shave the hair of your arm with it, you have a paperweight, not a knife)
    2. Fire. You may not need it, but it will cost you less than $5 ahead of time, weighs near nothing and could maybe save your life. (TIP: Carry at least 2 ways to start a fire) Personally I carry a lighter for quick and easy and magnesium for difficult wet conditions.
    3. A container of water. Not only can you carry water, but you can boil and carry more if you need to. You can get a 32-oz. stainless-steel water bottle for about $5. Staying hydrated is fundamental to any good day hunting.
    4. Some lunch. You don’t want to bring anything heavy. I usually bring a sandwich, a couple fruits and granola bars. (TIP: Don’t leave garbage in the forest…or someone will find you and make you into coyote chum)
    5. Some cordage. Personally I prefer parachute cord (aka paracord) and you can get 50’ for $5. Good cordage may be one of the best items you can have on you in case of any emergency and for hauling larger game out of the woods. I recommend you look up the many uses for this amazing tool, everything from first aid, to towing. (TIP: If you have bright cordage, you can also use it to mark a trail if you have to).
    6. A flashlight. Yeah, you don’t plan on being out at night, but when the sun goes down and you are still making your way back, you’ll wish you spend the $10 for a nice compact LED flashlight.
    7. 2 maps. One to leave behind to show others where you plan on hunting and one to take with you. I picked this tip up from my father in law, he would always leave a map with the area circled for his wife so she knew where to find him if need be. If you have a good printer, this shouldn’t cost you anything. A GPS is good, but batteries die. Low tech is the best tech when you’re getting started out. Besides, isn’t half the reason you are picking up hunting is to get away from technology? A compass is good, but only as good you were tracking your way in or already knowing where you are on a map.
    8. A garden spade and toilet paper. Yeah, you know what this is for and it really sucks to not have it, so bring it. This should be something you have at home and won’t cost you anything from an investment perspective. Leaves just don’t cut it sometimes.
    9. A camera. You don’t want to miss capturing a great once in a lifetime shot of something and forever being the “it was this big!” guy. This should be something you have at home and won’t cost you anything from an investment perspective. (TIP: Bring a zip-lock type bag to keep it in)

Everything else is optional really and everything I listed above can be purchased for less than $100 assuming you already have a few common items. You don’t NEED binoculars, but they are good to have, spotting scopes (TIP: Don’t use a rifle scope to see anything but game. If you tell someone later that you spotted them in the distance and don’t have a pair of binoculars around your neck, you’re going to get smacked,) Other unnecessary items are trail cams, scent, de-scenter, licks, bait, stands, etc. you are just getting started out, those things can come later. What you need is your feet on the ground and learning to track and follow what it is you’re looking to harvest.

  1. Firearm ($700). A lot of folks are really passionate about this one. But I’m going to keep this one really basic by putting some basic logic out there that wasn’t readily available when I started. Know and use what you need to get the job done. If you loose sight of that, you could easily spend $2,000 for something when you could have got what you needed for $200. There are some many firearm manufactures, models, calibers and bullets. To make it easy, let’s work our ways backwards from the kill. 1,000 foot-pounds (or ft-lbs) of energy for example will kill a deer and 2,000 will kill a moose if centered properly. Bullets are not meant to pass though what you intend to kill, they meant to have they energy observed into the animal, knocking it down, like a massive punch (for more information research muzzle energy). That being said you can now apply that to the fire arm you will use. For example the same .308 rifle using varying ammunition (grains are weight and added weight is added punch) and deliver anywhere between 1500 and 3000 foot pounds of energy making it very versatile. The same can be said for a shotgun, but in terms of shot size and disbursement. Now use that and buy what fits you and don’t fall into the Ford vs. Chevy vs. Dodge type debate and get the job done.
    1. Rifle or Shotgun ($500). Your first inclination is to go to a new gun, but there are plenty of legacy firearms that offer a great deal of versatility, such as a Savage 24; a combination gun that fires a variety of rifle calibers over shotgun calibers, like an El Camino. You can get your entry level firearm for under $500 that will last you decades if taken care of.
    2. A couple boxes of ammunition ($60). Whatever ammunition you sight your firearm in with, your going to want to use in the field. You don’t have too, but until you are fully proficient with the working of your firearm, you’re going to want to remove as many variables as possible.
  2. Cleaning kit ($40). Keep it clean and working properly. A dirty firearm is a danger to you and everyone else outdoors! (TIP: If your firearm is new, clean it anyways. You want parts that are over lubricated cleared and vice versa for under lubricated parts.)
  3. Gun range membership ($100). Typically to get a years members at a good gun range and club for decent price. You don’t want become proficient with you firearm on the field scaring the hell out of everything and everyone. Do that on the range and come onto the field with proficiency in hand.


Keeping numbers in check: We don’t need to hunt rabbit, deer, coyotes, etc. to keep their numbers in check if we think they’re over or under abundant. A season of hunting can effect a population by maybe 10%, a bad winter can effect it my 50%. Responsible resource management connects these dots. Wildlife numbers will reduce naturally through starvation, disease and lower fertility. Populations are cyclical.

Failure: There’s nothing wrong with leaving the wilderness empty handed. Remember, the worst day in the woods or on the water is better than the best day in the office. Enjoy yourself, take some photos and tromping around is good exercise!

2015-02-18 05:56:06


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