The Nature-Friendly Hunter
The nature-friendly hunter’s motto is: Leave the woods the same as when you came. Well, minus an animal or two of course. If you are going to be camping overnight, try to disturb as little of the environment as possible. Don’t clear brush unnecessarily. Try to envision your trip as an overnight stay at someone’s home. You are a guest in the habitat of many animals and some you aren’t even aware of.
Always bury your campfire to ensure that it will not reignite and cause a full-blown blaze in the wilderness. Check your fire several times before leaving the area. Forest fires can be devastating to natural areas for years afterwards. If left to spread out of control, a forest fire not only endangers the lives of animals but the lives of citizens and firefighters as well.
Bodily functions are an unavoidable part of life. When relieving yourself, bury your fluids and excrement with dirt to prevent disturbing territorial boundaries of animals.
If you pack it in, pack it out. Do not leave trash lying on the ground. Return your campsite as close to its original condition as possible before leaving. Double check your gear before hiking out so that you don’t unintentionally leave anything behind. Pack your food in airtight containers to avoid attracting any hungry neighbors.
If you are installing a tree stand, choose a mature, healthy tree. Smaller trees may be permanently damaged by the combined weight of your gear and your body. Consider tying back stray branches instead of cutting them. Choosing a mature tree will provide you with more choices in large branches to fasten your safety cord to as well.
A few safety tips
Be aware of your surroundings. Watch for bad weather and leave tree stands at the first signs of high winds to avoid injuring yourself and the tree. Keep your eyes and ears open for flash floods. Dress appropriately for the predicted weather in your area. Dressing in layers is helpful. Don’t forget your safety orange clothing to alert other hunters in our area of your presence.
Be on the lookout for stow-aways in your bedding or gear like snakes, scorpions, or spiders. Shake out all bedding and clothing, including your boots, before putting them on or packing them away for the day. You wouldn’t want to pack an unwanted visitor and bring him home with you.
Bears, badgers, or other aggressive animals may be encountered when hunting. Keep your eyes open and attempt to avoid any confrontations with any animal that you are not stalking. Keep in mind that this is the animal’s home and you are the guest. Try to back quietly away from an animal without disturbing it. If an animal attacks you, cover your head with your arms and roll into a tight ball to protect your head and torso from injury.
Teach your children to respect nature and the environment when hunting together. The best way to teach is by modeling respectful behavior while showing your children the basics of successful hunting. This ensures that the joys of hunting can continue for generations to come.
Picking the Best Rifle
Picking the right rifle for the big hunt is vitally important because it can make or break the hunt itself. You never know what problems may arise from having the wrong rifle at the hunt, so ensure that you have taken the time to pick the best rifle for the job. There are a number of criteria points that should be explored as you determine the best rifle for hunting, too. As you grow as a hunter and learn more, you will be able to make your own decisions in terms of picking a rifle for the hunt. For now, however, it is likely best that you consider a bit of expert opinion.
There are many types of hunting rifles. Bolt-action, lever-action, semi-automatic and pump-action rifles are just a few of the different types of guns that hunters utilize in the big hunt. Within these types, there is also a selection of different caliber types. Solving the great mystery of picking the best rifle, then, means answering a few questions about the type of hunt you will be on.
You will first need to consider your location. If you will be hunting in thick brush, you will probably need a faster-loading gun that you can operate rather quickly in tight spaces. With limited visibility on your hunt, you will likely want a light gun that you can work with rather quickly. If you have a longer distance to cover, you will probably want a rifle that offers you a great deal of more control. Bolt-action rifles can give you that control, but they are hard to work with in small quarters of space because of the mechanics of operation. While some hunters may say that they have done so, it can be extremely complicated to load a gun with a bolt-action loading mechanism while crouching behind a bush. The movement alone could lose the prey.
You will also need to consider your type of prey. Most rifles are suitable for killing deer of any kind. Again, the discussion ventures back to the location distinction on this account. If you are killing smaller animals, however, you may want a rifle that you can hold at a more “still” pace. This means that you do not want to spend your time controlling the gun when you are trying to control the shot. For this reason, many recommend going with a smaller semi-automatic for hunting animals like rabbits or badgers. The skittish nature of the animal can be offset by squeezing off a quick shot from a semi-automatic.
After you have determined your prey and your location, it may be time to pick a rifle. Of course, there are many popular brand names within each subset of gun type, but the reality is that you will need to find a gun that you find to be most comfortable. You will look for strength and accuracy out of a bolt-action gun, for example, which may lead you around to several gun stores before you find the right one. You should also look for little extras on the gun, such as adjustable triggers and thumb safety switches. Features like these will make your gun a lot safer and a lot more user friendly.
After you have purchased your gun, you should get to know your gun. Take it apart and put it back together again. Learn the ins and outs of your gun so that you can be as safe as possible with it. You will need to know what ammunition it is that your gun shoots. Find out the best way to maintain and store your gun, too. Gun safety is of utter importance, so ensure that your new rifle is locked away and stored in a safe place away from children or other family members that may be curious about it. Always keep it unloaded when you are not using it and never point it at another person.
Survival Tips for The Hunter
Sometimes it’s easy to lose your way in an unfamiliar wood. Carrying a compass and maps of the general area that you will be hunting in can help in the event that you get lost. Carry a flashlight with extra batteries in case you get caught out after dark. There are also flashlights on the market now that operate by just a shake, eliminating the need for batteries. Matches in a waterproof case are essential and a sharp knife is good to have as well. A traditional Bowie or a Swiss Army knife both serves the purpose.
Some granola, candy bars, or dried fruit are a good idea to bring along if you are not skilled at finding food in the wild. Never eat any plants or berries unless you are familiar with what types are poisonous. If you are unsure of the safety of a plant or its fruit, don’t eat it. Risking an illness while stranded in the wild is not preferable to an empty stomach. A bottle or two of drinking water is necessary also. Humans can survive for weeks without food but only three days without water. You will not want to drink any water found on the land without boiling it for several minutes first to kill off any bacteria or parasites.
It is recommended that you carry a needle and thread in your survival kit. These materials can be used to repair torn clothing. You can also stitch up a wound to stop heavy bleeding in case an injury occurs and you cannot get medical attention right away.
Most hunters carry a six to eight-foot length of rope to help drag their game back to the truck or haul equipment up into a tree stand. This rope can be used in many ways if you are stranded in the woods for an extended period of time. You can use a rope for first aid purposes, to help build a shelter, or to secure equipment during your hike. You can even string up a makeshift clothesline to dry wet clothing should you fall into standing water. Be sure to keep your rope with you and not in the truck.
It is also a good idea to wear a belt when out hunting. A belt can be used as a tourniquet in an emergency, as well to help secure a splint to a limb if necessary. A belt is one first aid item that you don’t have to cart around either.
Fire safety when stranded
It’s important to follow usual camp safety guidelines when starting a fire under any conditions in the wild. Always triple check to make sure a fire is completely out before leaving the area to prevent flare ups and a potential forest fire. Choose an area away from trees and shrubs, and line your pit with small boulders or stones to help contain the embers.
Gather larger logs and sticks and stack them in a teepee fashion. Then gather small twigs and scraps of paper to use as kindling at the base of your teepee. Blowing gently on your kindling will help your flames catch hold. You can use pine boughs to shield your fire from wind if necessary. You can also use boughs to stand or sit on if snow is present. This will help insulate your feet from the cold while warming yourself near the fire.