Hunting means many different things to many different people. For some it’s about spending time in nature, observing wildlife as much as hunting it. For others, it’s about testing their skills in tracking and stalking. In some cases, however, hunting can be a matter of physical survival. Hunting Guide is explaining the detail what the hunting is.
Hunting Guide Short Report
There are many misconceptions about hunting in the mind of the general public. Partly these misconceptions are spread by the clash between the pro- and anti-hunting lobbies, in arguments where misinformation thrives alongside passionate emotions (on both sides). There are also hunting guide generalizations about the practice of hunting. Those who have not tried the activity, for example, often have the idea that the advantage of firearms always stacks in favor of the hunter, and that the animal is largely helpless prey.
Anyone who has ventured into the field with a gun knows that this last viewpoint is frequently well short of reality. When I first started hunting in his early 20s (relatively late compared to many young hunters), I was stunned at just how perceptive and wily wild animals could be. It quickly became apparent that these were not the gregarious creatures of the town or city, but wary animals with superb senses used to being on the lookout for mortal threats. Walk across a farmyard with a stick, and the crows and pigeons would look down on you with studied interest. Try to do the same thing with a gun and the birds would be nowhere to be seen. Hours might be spent studying promising rabbiting territory, but the outcome of the day might be nothing more than aching limbs from a long and arduous walk.
The fact is that wild creature have sensory abilities that far surpass our own meager powers of sight, smell, and hearing. Stand upwind of a deer, for example, and within seconds the animal’s head will twitch up, sniffing the air, before it quickly moves away into more concealing terrain. Hunting, therefore, is a true competition, in which modern firearms only partly iron out the tremendous natural advantages the prey possesses at the outset.
For this reason alone, if you are going to practice hunting, always respect your prey. Yet even more than that, you should honor your kills for the very fact that you take a creature’s life to put food on your table. In the author’s view, ethical hunting is paramount if legislation isn’t to kill off the pastime. I believe that there are only three reasons to kill an animal:
- For food.
- For legitimate pest control.
- To put a creature out of its suffering.
Under no circumstances do I believe it is acceptable to kill an animal for mere entertainment, simply to watch it die. Such an attitude reflects badly on all hunters as well as on the individual concerned.
Therefore, hunters need to be ethical on many levels. We should only take what the habitat or species can sustain so as not to disturb the fundamental natural balance. We should conserve as much as we hunt, obeying the laws about protecting the countryside and helping wildlife to thrive. From a legal standpoint, we should also conform to all national, state and regional legislation on hunting, even if we think it unwarranted. Only by holding our hunting to high standards will it bear the pressure of scrutiny from those who oppose it.
What is Hunting?
From the moment of birth, a game animal faces threats from predators, weather, disease, and competition. Only the strongest and wariest live long enough to reproduce. In this way, nature selects the best breeding stock to ensure that the species thrives.
All game animals have the potential to produce many more offspring than the habitat can support. Reproductive rates are high for the small game and upland birds. High mortality rates are nature’s way of keeping game populations in check. When too many animals survive, the population explosion causes disease, stunted growth and eventually starvation.
Among most upland birds, waterfowl and small game, 60% to 80% of the population die each year. Individuals over one-year-old comprise only 20 to 40 percent of the fall population. Because young animals are more abundant and because they lack the savvy of older animals, they make up the bulk of the hunter’s bag.
Regulations are based on the concept that game can be harvested as long as the breeding stock remains to produce another crop of similar size the following year. Seasons for small game, waterfowl and upland birds are usually long and bag limits generous. Liberal regulations are possible because of the high reproductive rates of these animals. Regulations for the big game are stricter because the animals produce fewer young.
Resource agencies monitor game populations and set regulations to achieve the desired harvest. Scientific wildlife management has eliminated the problems of mass slaughter associated with market hunting in years past. In fact, some of the continent’s most popular game species, such as white-tailed deer and wild turkey, are more numerous today than at any time in recorded history.
Good habitat is the key to an abundant wildlife population. To survive and thrive, a game animal needs food, shelter cover, room to escape and water. A reliable supply of drinking water is important, although some animals find sufficient moisture in their foods.
Most game species find the necessary plant variety along the edge of two vegetative types. Where a forest meets a marsh, for instance, the mixture of grasses, berry bushes, low-growing leafy plants and young trees provide an excellent supply of food and cover. The area where the two types of vegetation meet usually hold more kinds and higher numbers of the game than either type by itself. Hunters call this “edge habitat.”
Another factor that influences plant variety is succession. For example, after a forest fire or logging operation, the bare ground almost immediately begins to grow grasses, shrubs, and trees. As the trees grow taller, they form a canopy that shades the forest floor. As the canopy grows denser, shrubs and grasses disappear because of the lack of sunlight. Eventually, only large trees remain. These changes in the plant community invariably affect the type and amount of game the habitat can support.
Succession begins after trees have been removed. New grasses, shrubs, and trees support animals like white-tailed deer. As time goes on, trees grow taller, yet enough sunlight penetrates to promote a dense growth of underbrush ideal for animals like ruffed grouse. As the trees mature and shade the forest floor, underbrush disappears and the forest becomes best suited for animals like a black bear.
Wildlife managers often set back the process of succession by periodically cutting or burning forested areas to promote a growth of new vegetation. These techniques enable them to increase the production of important game species.
In most agricultural areas, the trend is toward less habitat variety. Many farms once had small, weedy crop fields combined with brushy fence lines, unmowed roadside ditches, large wetlands and dense groves. Today’s clean farms have vast acreages of crops unbroken by fence lines, wetlands or trees. Even roadside ditches are often mowed for hay. These intensive agricultural practices severely reduce or eliminate populations of farmland game like pheasants and quail.
Hunters who understand the feeding habits and water needs of their quarry can better predict its daily movements. This makes it easier to select a good hunting location.
An elk may travel miles (km) to find food or quench its thirst, but most wildlife needs food and water in close proximity to cover. If an animal has to travel a long distance across open terrain to fulfill these basic needs, it is more visible to predators.
Most game animals can adapt to a wide variety of foods. Researchers have found that bobwhite quail consume over 1,000 different foods including seeds, plants, nuts and insects.
Despite their ability to use such a wide range of foods, most animals select items that they can digest easily and that are high in proteins and calories. They seem to instinctively know which foods are most nutritious. In one study, squirrels gained weight when fed a diet consisting solely of white oak acorns. But they lost weight when fed acorns of red oak. By nature, squirrels commonly feed on acorns of white oak but ignore those of red oak.
Like humans, game animals must have vitamins and minerals in their diet. Most animals obtain these vital elements from their food and water, but some need additional salt. They frequent springs and natural soil deposits with high salt contents. Many birds pick up grit not only to grind their food but to provide needed minerals.
Birds generally require less water than mammals, because they can reuse water as it passes through their digestive tract. Gamble’s quail can go a month or two without visiting a waterhole. Pronghorns, on the other hand, need water each day.
Many game species can survive in areas with no lakes, streams or other sources of surface water. They obtain water from foods or dew.
Habitat Types of Animal:
Grasslands usually have grasses growing in combination with broad-leaved green plants or forbs. The height of the vegetation varies from less than 18 inches in arid habitats to 10 feet (3 m) where the soil is moist.
Coniferous forests have dense stands of needle- or scale-leaved evergreen trees that provide some cover Needles that fall to the ground decompose slowly, forming acidic soil which produces few wildlife foods.
Brushlands have shrubs mixed with grasses and forbs; some have widely-spaced trees. The vegetation may be so thick that it is impenetrable. Brushlands are often an intermediate stage between grassland and forest.
Deciduous forests, also called hardwood forests, contain trees that lose their leaves in the fall. The leaves rot quickly, forming rich humus. Buds, nuts, shrubs and green plants provide food for wildlife.
Mixed forests have a blend of conifers and hardwoods. The combination of a good food supply and abundant cover enables these forests to produce more wildlife than coniferous or deciduous forests alone.
Wetlands have pockets of open water and dense stands of emergent vegetation like cattails and cane. The open water produces food for waterfowl and the fringes provide cover for a wide variety of game.
Semi-arid deserts contain shrubs, grasses, and cactuses and may have some trees. They support more types of game than arid deserts, which have only scattered shrubs and cactuses.
Agricultural lands with a variety of cover types support a diversity of wildlife. The fertile soil produces abundant food and larger animals than most other types of habitat.
Hunting Guide: Skills & Types of Equipment
When you choose the path of the hunter, you adopt a lifestyle and an outlook uniquely suited to the chase. It is a pursuit that quickens the heart and sharpens the focus. And the life skills and attitudes formed crossover into other facets of life. Hunting skills are gained over the course of several seasons and there is always more to learn, keeping you fit, vital and interested.
Gear to fit the small game hunter differs from that suited to the waterfowler. And the way of the traditional bow hunter is widely divergent from the style of the rifleman. Yet all share a bond and an ethos.
The complete hunter is versed in many skills and knows the operating systems and the nomenclature of a variety of tools. Most learn to hunt with .22 rifles and then graduate to a centerfire rifle and shotgun. With knowledge of rifle and shotgun comes a passing acquaintance with ammunition and ballistics.
Some hunters opt to shoot a bow. The traditional bow (recurve or longbow) is a good place to start to learn the mechanics of archery. Next, comes the compound bow, with its unique technical features and shooting style.
Hunters may opt to hunt with a muzzleloader rifle for a variety of reasons. It too comes with the need to gather knowledge and insight. There are several ignition systems, various powders and an array of projectiles designed to fit specific situations.
There is a lot to learn, but the process is rewarding. Along the way, the hunter faces challenges, but also finds satisfaction, building on successes in the field. Soon, success begins to show with meat on the table and trophies in the living room.
The Hunting Rifle
A rifle that suits your style of hunting greatly increases your chances of success. When selecting the best hunting rifle, consider its action, weight, and caliber.
The action of a rifle refers to the design of the mechanism for chambering ammunition and ejecting spent cartridges. Single-shot actions, like the falling block, are extremely reliable because they have few moving parts. Their rigid mechanisms hold the cartridge firmly, resulting in a high degree of accuracy. These rifles must be reloaded after each round is fired, so they teach shooters to make the first shot count.
Repeating actions hold several cartridges in the magazine, making it possible to fire more than one shot without reloading. Like single shots, bolt actions have a rigid design and few moving parts. Many hunters consider the bolt action to be the most accurate and reliable rifle. Lever, pump and semi-automatic actions are designed for faster firing. You may need a quick second shot if you fail to kill the animal or if a branch deflects your bullet. But fast-action rifles have more moving parts, increasing the chance of mechanical failure, especially in cold weather or when dirt gets into the action.
Rifles commonly weigh between 6 and 9 pounds (2.7 and 4 kg) without cartridges, slings or scopes. The recoil or kick, of a rifle, depends mainly on its weight and its cartridge/caliber combination. In a given combination, a heavy rifle has the least recoil, because the weight absorbs much of the energy that would otherwise be transmitted to your shoulder. Heavy rifles are easiest to hold steady and generally result in more accurate shots. Light rifles are easier to carry over a long distance.
The term carbine denotes a light rifle with a short barrel. Some hunters prefer carbines when hunting in heavy cover, where a longer rifle would tend to catch on brush or tree limbs.
The caliber of a rifle refers to the diameter of the barrel opening or bore. Caliber is measured in hundredths or thousandths of an inch or in millimeters. Hunters use rifles as small as .17 calibers for small animals and rifles up to .458 calibers for a big game. Many rifle models are available in a choice of several calibers. Within a particular model of bolt action, there may be 15 different calibers.
Hunters are often confused by traditional caliber designations. A .30-06 rifle has a 0.3-inch-diameter (7.6 mm) bore. The 06 refers to 1906, the year the rifle was introduced. A .30-30 rifle also shoots a 0.30 caliber bullet. The bullet was originally propelled by 30 grains of smokeless powder. To further complicate the matter, some caliber designations do not refer to the diameter of the bore. For example, the bore of a .308 Winchester rifle does not measure 0.308 inches (7.8 mm). The 0.308 refers to the groove diameter or the diameter to the outside of the rifling grooves. The bore diameter is only 0.3 inch (7.62 mm).
A hunter’s choice of rifle ammunition depends mainly on the size of the animal hunted and the distance at which it may be encountered.
To determine the ammunition best-suited for the game, consult a ballistics table. Most ammunition catalogs contain ballistic information including bullet energy, muzzle velocity and drop, all at different ranges.
A bullet’s hitting power, or energy, is determined by its weight and velocity. The heavier and faster the bullet, the more energy it delivers to the target. At normal shooting ranges, a light, fast bullet generally delivers as much energy and kills as effectively as a heavier but slower bullet. Hitting power is measured in foot-pounds (Newton-meters).
Muzzle velocity or bullet speed is measured as distance traveled per second. The faster the bullet is, for a given weight, the more energy it carries. It also flies flatter. When comparing bullets of the same size, the more powder the case holds, the more velocity a bullet has. The size of the brass case affects how much powder is behind the bullet.
The bullet’s performance is affected by its size, weight, and shape. The bullet’s size or diameter is referred to as its caliber. This diameter corresponds to the diameter of the rifling in the gun. Caliber is measured in decimal fractions of an inch, i.e., .300 or .30 is a 30 caliber. Some calibers are expressed in millimeters. So a 7 mm is approximately a .280, 6 mm is a .240 and 7.5 mm is approximately a .300. Bullet weight is measured in grains.
The shape of a bullet determines its friction or resistance in the air, affecting its trajectory or flight path. A long, thin, streamlined pointed bullet retains its velocity at longer ranges better than a short, stout bullet. So the longer bullet has a flatter trajectory. The trajectory is also affected by the bullet’s velocity. A fast bullet flies flatter than a slow one.
The construction of a bullet also determines its ability to penetrate upon impact. The bullet should mushroom on impact and not break apart. Mushrooming transfers the entire bullet’s energy into the target.
Certain ammunition shoots better in your rifle; each gun is a little different. Today’s factory loads can perform up to the highest standards. Try different brands and loads until you find a particular cartridge that meets your needs and with which you can shoot tight groups.
Never use ammunition other than that recommended for the rifle by the manufacturer. The result could be a damaged rifle and serious injury. The correct cartridge designation for the rifle is stamped on the barrel next to the receiver or chamber.
The sighting system you use is as important as the rifle and ammunition. Some hunters spend as much for a long range rifle scope as they do for the rifle itself.
Many rifles come with iron sights. To aim, center a post at the end of the barrel in a notch or peephole in the rear sight. Iron sights are inexpensive, lightweight, durable and best suited for short-range shooting.
For more accurate, precise shooting or for shots at longer distances, hunters prefer telescopic sights or scopes. A scope consists of a metal tube containing a system of lenses that magnify the target. The reticules, a network of lines or crosshairs inside the scope, enable you to aim precisely. The optics allow you to focus your eye on the reticule and target at the same time, so you can aim quickly. Scopes are not as durable as iron sights and are easier to knock out of adjustment.
Scopes vary in magnification power, from lx, which magnifies the target 1 time, to 12x or more. Fixed power scopes have one magnification power. Variable power scopes allow you to change the magnification with the twist of an adjustment ring. Most hunters use scopes ranging in power from 2x to 9x. Low-power scopes work best for close-range shooting. They have a larger field of view, making it easy to find your target. High-power scopes narrow the field of view but help you see a distant animal.
A riflescope is attached to the gun using mounts or bases and rings. Whatever the mounting system, it must fit the scope, attach solidly to the gun and be adjusted to provide enough distance between the scope and your eye. Scopes should be at least 3 inches (7.6 cm) away from your eye, when the gun is shouldered, to allow for clearance when the gun recoils.
Most manufacturers offer a selection of special-purpose scopes designed specifically for shotguns and muzzleloaders.
Most people would be surprised to learn that hunting is not among the most dangerous sports. A National Safety Council study showed the fatality rate for hunting to be less than half that of boating or swimming.
Improved hunter education and increased use of fluorescent orange clothing account for the low accident rate. Every state and province sponsor some type of firearms safety or hunter education program. Many states require beginning hunters to pass such courses before they can purchase a license.
Nevertheless, the potential for a serious accident always exists. To avoid an accident, follow these safety rules.
- Treat every firearm as if it is loaded. Never assume a gun is unloaded because someone said so.
- Never point a weapon at anything you do not mean to shoot. This includes glassing other hunters with your rifle scope.
- Make sure your safety is on at all times unless you intend to shoot.
- Positively identify your target before shooting. Never fire at a silhouette, a vague form or an area where you saw or heard something move. Fluorescent orange clothing greatly improves your own visibility.
- Control the direction of your muzzle at all times. If you start to fall, point the barrel away from yourself and other hunters. After a fall, check the barrel for obstructions like dirt or snow. A plugged barrel could rupture when you shoot, possibly causing serious injury.
- Never lean a gun against a tree, fencepost, vehicle or any place where it could fall over and accidentally discharge.
- Never shoot at hard surfaces or water with bullets or slugs. They could ricochet and strike another hunter or a building.
- Never drink alcoholic beverages before or during a hunt. Alcohol does not keep you warm; instead, it speeds the loss of body heat.
- Use only the ammunition recommended for your firearm. Do not carry two different types of ammunition in your pocket at the same time.
- When not hunting, keep the gun unloaded and the action open.
- Keep all firearms and ammunition out of the reach of children.
- Refuse to hunt with anyone who does not observe the basic rules of firearms safety.