That last post was a good one, very well said. Hunting is my passion, it is what I do. I didn't have amentor or teacher, it has always been just me.
Make no mistake,being able to consistently take animals is very difficult. They are out there surviving every hour of every day and are very,very good
at it. Still, there are things you can do to increase your odds considerably.Here's a bit of what I've learned over the last 17 years of hunting-
1- Patience. This is the number one most important attribute for the beginning hunter. You will not have the skills to stillhunt or track,therefore
you will be an ambush hunter. This is probably the most consistently succesful way to hunt even for experienced hunters. You must learn to sit
still(and I do mean still!) for hours at a time. When you move your head,you move it very slowly. Move your eyes more than your head, but when you
must move your head move it like it's stuck in cold molasses. This goes double for your hands. If you can elevate yourself in a treestand, you have a
little bit more freedom of movement,but not much. Since sitting still is hard, a blind is a helpful tool. You can buy or build one, or just use
natural brush and branches to create a screen. Do this days or weeks before using the spot for hunting if using natural material.
2-Location-You can be very patient and sit very still but if there`s no critters in the area it`ll be in vain. Luckily, most of the time there will be
animals in the area if you are in any type of suitable setting, how long you have to sit depends on how good an area you picked. Animals are like
people in the way they travel-they are lazy and will usually take the path of least resistance. Game trails will often be well defined and easily
spotted and if you can find watering holes and feeding area`s you`ll be able to spot the trails coming in and out of them. Make your set-up off the
trail. How far depends on your weapon,visibility and how far you feel comfortable shooting. I am mostly a bowhunter so I like to be within 30 yards.
With a rifle you should be able to go to 100 yards if you have practiced a good amount.
3-Wind. Any experienced hunter will tell you wind is the most important thing to be aware of when hunting. If the animal comes in downwind of you, it
will bust you 99% of the time and be gone in a flash. Pay attention to prevailing wind conditions in the area you intend to hunt and set up your
ambush accordingly. There`s always a chance the animal will come in from a direction you don`t expect,but that`s pretty much unavoidable. You can take
some steps to minimize your scent, likie washing with scent free soap. Some people like to `smoke` their clothes over a campfire on the theory most
animals are used to faint smoke smells and it`ll help cover human odour. It is also antibacterial,so you can take a smoke bath to help a bit more.
4-The kill shot. Like others have said,be familiar wth your quarry and know where to place your shot. If your using a rifle you have more options than
the bowhunter. By far your best option is a shot through the lungs. This give you the largest possible target with the most margin for error. I`m
assuming your hunting something like deer,so if you hit a bit forward of your intended POI you`ll still break down the shoulder,probably hit the heart
as well. A bit back and you should get the liver. Not ideal,but it will work. Avoid the paunch. Since the animal will often not take a perfect
broadside pose,learn where to shoot on quatering shots. Quartering away is an excellent shot,as long as the angle isn`t too severe. Picture where the
off side shoulder is and put the bullet into it. You`ll take out both lungs and maybe the liver as well on this shot,and avoid the heavier bone of
shoulders and ribs. This shot is great for those shooting a lighter calibre rifle and archers. It also means the animals is not looking right at you
so is less likely to see minor movements. If you are bowhunting,be aware that a deer can move quickly enough to duck your arrow so it`s good to shoot
when they are relaxed and not looking right at you.
5-After the kill. What you do after the shot determines how well you eat,or if you eat at all. If the animal runs off(it often will,even on a perfect
shot) you need to track it. Adrenaline is high at this monent,but keepa close eye on where the animal dissappears from view,and immediatly mark that
spot. Wait about 30 minutes befoe following the animal,in casethe shot was less than perfect. A badly wonded animals will bed down very quickly and if
left alone will die right there. If you push it, it may be able to run for miles and you may never find it. Start looking for blood at the area where
you shot the animal. Sometimes there will be a tuft of hair on the ground too. Blood may be very sparse at first,or even for the whole trail. Go
slowly,marking every spot you find blood. If you lose the trail,go back toi your last blood spot and start doing small circle`s,getting bigger till
you pick it up again. Wounded animals do some strange things, but often they will head for water and they will often go back in the direction they
came from, perhaps because they feel it`s safe there.
Anyway,once you find the animal it`s time to get to work. If it`s warm,like considerably above freezing temps, you need to work quickly to get the
meat cooled. This will ensure the best quality meat and least spoilage. Many have given advice about gutting and not spilling the bladder. Good
advice,but I do it different. Unless I`m close to my vehicle and intend to take the animal out whole,I don`t gut the animal. Out here a decent
whitetail will go 200lb,so dragging it out is a big job for one guy. Here`s how I do it,and it`s teh only way to go on moose and elk- Pull the animal
to a position where you can wok on it freely and safely. Lay it on one side,or you have some rope,tie the back legs to tree`s and pull them apart,so
the deer is on it`s back with legs spread. Make your cuts along the inner part of ther leg,working your way down to the joint. If your careful and
pull the leg back hard,you can easily avoid opening the stomach cavity. You`ll get to the joint eventually-you can take it apart with your knife if
your careful, juts take it slow and cut all the little ligaments and muscles holding it together. Don`t pry with your knife, you`ll end up breaking
Once you get through the joint,it may be easier to turn the deer over and finish removing the haunch by cutting from the top,following the spine
back. Do the same thing with the front legs. Your best steaks are from the backstraps,which run along both sides of the spine from the shoulders to
the back legs. It`s essentially like filleting a fish. You don`t need to cut much here,just cut along the spine to the ribcage all the way along.
There are a couple of video`s available free online that show how to do this way better than I can explain it.
As far as butchering goes,it is much easier than you think. I can cut and wrap a big whitetail in an afternoon by myself,about 4 hours if I have a it
of help to wrap and whatnot. The backstraps you simply cut into steaks.These are absolutley fantastic! The rest you can do as you please. I make roast
and stew from the rear haunches. Once you start cutting, it`s fairly easy to see how all the muscle groups fit together and you can seperate them and
make roast without alot of muscle in them. Anything that doesn`t get made into steak or roast is either cubed for stew,sliced thin for jerky or goes
through the grinder. If the weather is till warm,I`ll process the same day but if it`s near freezing overnight I`ll let it hang for a day or two. If
it`s below freezing I guess you could pretty much hang as long as you like.
I say get out there and give it a try. If your not comfortable trying for a kill yet,take your camera. You`ll get good practice getting close and
learn how the animals behave and just how spooky they really are! You may be surprised at the hunting instinct that comes over you when the animals
get close. I`ve seen it happen to more than one person who thought they weren`t really into hunting. Everyone reacts differently to killing an animal.
Some feel really bad,some are euphoric over their success, most have a mixture of the two. Either way, you`ll have learned a valuable skill and when
you eat it,you`ll have no doubts about where it came from and how clean it really is.
edit on 4-10-2010 by Gazrok because: Edited by the SPCP
(Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Paragraphs)