As a columnist and writer, occasionally various queries come in that asks for participation in product reviews, surveys, and even for interviews for others’ articles. It can be a perk in many regards. A few days ago I received one asking for two bits of advice that can be shared with those new to the sports of hunting and fishing. Once I started thinking about it, it was hard to list just two.
The first question was as straightforward as can be; what is the one bit of advice you would share with a novice hunter? The second question was what did I feel was the number one mistake new hunters make.
I want to elaborate on question number two for this column. I realize that the majority of those reading this column enjoy the outdoors in one way or another. I try to keep the stories where anyone would enjoy it though. And it seems to work, as I get emails and comments from people you would not typically think of as hunters or anglers who are reminded of when their father hunted, or their son just went on his first hunt, or their daughter just caught her first fish.
Seeing that, I think an answer to the second question would be worth printing. Even as seasoned outdoorsmen and women, we can share this knowledge to those just beginning to experience what nature and our natural resources offer.
As a new hunter for instance, we become nearly obsessed with fitting in. While trying to learn how to hunt we constantly hear stories of huge trophies and see beautiful hero shots. Just like a kid in school, we feel we have to do the same thing to fit in.
Sometimes that obsession and the struggle to come along with it, entices us to do things we normally would not. A new hunter needs to understand than trophies are not something that we get every time we go hunt or fish. As an experienced outdoorsman we need to emphasize this over and over. Otherwise that obsession will get the best of them.
To fit in, to break the peer pressure wall so-to-speak, a new hunter will start skirting right and wrong. Shooting after or before dark, hunting out of season, hunting on someone else’s property all become options when that happens. That is the wrong path to lead.
Several months ago I wrote about the hunter who took a potential state record bow kill whitetail deer. He later admitted to using antlers from a deer harvested in Pennsylvania on a small buck (by attaching them with screws) he shot illegally with a firearm during bow season.
His pursuit of fitting in, of having bragging rights for a big kill, caused him to cross the line. North Carolina pressed charges and he just pleaded guilty in the case. He was fined and his hunting license has been revoked for two years.
Worse than that, his reputation has been forever tarnished. All so he could fit in, tell his buddies about a huge trophy and show it off on the wall.
So again, the best advice for new hunters as well as those that mentor new hunters is to enjoy what you have. That once in a lifetime trophy is called that for a reason. They come with time spent pursuing the passion and learning the game and nature.