Expert hunting tips for new hunters

Last Updated on May 13, 2023 by

Since we have many new crossbow hunters in our audience, we decided to get you guys some expert hints and tips on how to start out. We contacted a group of very experienced hunters and below you can see their feedback to our main question “As a new hunter, what is the one thing you wish you had known before you started out?”

Jerry Ike Eulitt –   I wish I would have known that my dad was going to pass away at such an early age. If I would have known that I would have listened more and spent more time in the woods with him. The best memories I have with him are the times we spent outdoors. Successful or not those were the times I cherish most and those are the memories I am now making with my own son.
Hunting is like anything the more you do it the more you learn. Don’t get all wrapped up in antlers on the wall or the tags that you fill. The best part of any hunt isn’t the moment you get that buck on the ground its the moment you hug your hunting buddy or drag that deer back to camp and get all those pats on the back. It’s also those moment you fail and the moment you mess up and have someone to help you through.   That’s the most important thing I have learned in my time in the field. Now I worry more about soaking in the moment and enjoying the camp fire instead of dwelling on failure and worrying about not filling my tag.      

Kevin Paulson –   I wish, I had known that hunting was like everything else in your life. The more effort you put into it, the greater reward you would get from it. The further you get off the beaten path, the greater the chance of success. You only live once, you only get one shot at each and every single day, so go out there and hustle, hunt smart, stay in the stand all day or get off the beaten path and be in the woods as often as possible. The more time you spend in the outdoors, the greater chance you will have to be successful.        

David Proffitt –

As a new hunter, what is the one thing I wish I’d known before. I started out?Great question. One that made me think. As a young guy, I got started hunting in earnest around thirteen years of age. My buddies and I first attacked pheasants, rabbits and squirrels and then ducks followed by geese. I shot my first deer at fifteen, my first coyote at sixteen. As I entered adulthood I added hunting antelope and elk, trapped, and discovered turkeys. As I matured (pronounced “got old”) I have returned to focus on upland birds, ducks and geese. To some extent, the birds beseech my attention because their pursuit includes my best hunting buddies; all of whom happen to be Labradors and Setters. I have enjoyed great experiences in the fields, marshes, and mountains. I once walked-up-on a mountain lion sitting over a freshly killed mule deer; encountered wild grizzly’s in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, watched a wolf harass some wintering elk, and even looked down at a group of mountain goats (not something many can claim).I’ve gotten the chance to lie next to my son in a layout blind and coach him on taking the greenhead mallard that had landed six feet in front of his blind on his first youth hunt. I got the chance to help my two nieces on their first duck hunt. Explaining to them the fundamental rule of success; just like when they played basketball~if you don’t shoot you can’t score! But before I was gifted by these aforementioned experiences what do I wish I would have known? Perhaps I should have wished I would have recognized that the key to success when hunting or fishing doesn’t lie in the equipment. It lays in the doing. If you hunt, or for that matter fish a lot, you will have success. Why? Because if you are inquisitive, you will learn; you can’t avoid it. And if you learn, you will succeed. Maybe what I wish I’d grasped is that regardless of “what” you think you need to be afield, all you really need is to “go afield”. Or perhaps it is that hunting isn’t about the kill. It is about the pursuit. There is great reward in letting a hen mallard fly on because you made a decision to only shoot at the drakes. Or let that fork horn mule deer walk right past you because you are going to only take a mature deer. You will leave the field or woods richer even though you “got skunked”. Conceivably, the one thing I wish I would have realized right away is that hunting, for me, is my devotion time. I don’t know you, and I would never try to tell you what to believe, but for me … the wonderful love of a glorious creator is best experienced in a lonely place with the sun just beginning to rise. The presence of my God is so undeniable that I think I must have been purposefully ignorant not to of comprehended it years before I did. I wish I would of soaked it up and bathed in the beauty of all my surroundings and accepted that if my God created all of this …… then he really, really loves me~! Until I see you in the field or marsh, be safe, be good, and BE LUCKY!

Ryan Lisson –     You don’t need to know/have it all to hunt.” So many aspiring hunters get so stuck on all the details that they feel paralyzed to even start. Whether it’s figuring out which hunting gear items you actually need or reading about advanced scouting techniques, there’s a lot to learn. But you shouldn’t let that hold you back. The most critical thing is to just dive in and start hunting. In the end, getting out with a friend/mentor is the best way to learn how to hunt. But there’s a lot to be said about trial and error, personal observation, and repetition. You can always get the most modern hunting item or use specialized hunting techniques some later day. But before all that, just get out and do it. Maybe you won’t like it, and that’s fine. At least you didn’t spend forever studying it without trying it yourself. But maybe you’ll love it and start pursuing it more seriously. That’s where mentoring advice and modern gear really makes a difference.If you’re just learning to hunt and love to read about it, study away! But if you notice yourself starting to make excuses, don’t let all the questions stop you before you really even begin.  

David Holder –   Thank you Rob for considering us, love to help, that is what we are here for. As a new hunter I wish someone had told me how much there was to learn, how much I would need to learn from experience, but most importantly, i wish someone had explained to me that the greatest lessons in hunting would come from mistakes not success. And those mistakes and this missed opportunities are the very essence of what would keep the drive alive. The drive to get it right. then I wish they could have told me that while you are on that journey to get it right, that one day I would wake up and realize that the real lesson was not in strategy or technique but in appreciation and respect, something a hunter will learn through hard work and personal, challenges both physical and mental. At the end of the day it won’t matter if you ever kill a big buck or not, you will love life and all that hunting has offered and taught you..Next to being a husband, father, Christian or someone who has served others, a hunter just might be the greatest title an American can hold. And getting to share that with your entire family, well that sir is a direct gift from God!! Thank you sir I hope this helps.

Justin Martin –   I wish I had known a few things when it comes to deer hunting. One is how extremely important it is to play the wind correctly and not be scared to go to the effort to hang new stands and whatever it takes to make sure the wind is in your favor. That in addition to persistence is the key to taking deer with archery equipment.

Scott Haugen –   I started running a trap line in 4th grade, and in my adult years ran a 200 mile long trap line for wolves in Alaska’s Arctic, where we lived. I’ve been fortunate to hunt big game for over 40 years, on multiple continents, most of these hunts, of which, were filmed for TV shows. I also lived a subsistence lifestyle in Alaska, where the only meat we had was what we hunted for. In order to be consistently successful, I focused on the animals themselves. I’d encourage people to get afield as much as they can, not just during hunting season, and study and learn from the animals. You can learn a whole lot more about animals and animal behavior when watching them from afar, or through a camera lens, than when in a rush to try and fill a tag.  

Michael Engelmeyer –         The one thing I wished I knew when I started deer hunting would be, “big deer aren’t everywhere, to kill a big deer, you have to hunt where big deer live”.

Grant Woods – I wish someone had taught me how important the approach and exit strategies to stands/blinds are when I started hunting. Just this one strategy would have resulted in me seeing more deer during the early portion of my hunting career, Enjoy creation!  

Hank Forester – If you want to be a successful hunter, you have to understand the game you pursue. From where to find deer to how they see and smell, the QualityDeer Management Association (QDMA) is the resource for the most current, science-based information on deer and deer hunting. For novice hunters wanting to learning more, check out our ebooks QDMA¹s Guide to Successful Deer Hunting.

Hans Baertle –   Hello Rob…. here is my two cents of advice, as with everything else you learn through hands on experience and from mistakes. As a new hunter first you should know your own limitations and also the limitations of your weapon. Don’t expect to get good results tackling a brown bear with a .243 or shooting at one with a any weapon bow or crossbow from too far away. Most inexperienced hunters make the mistake not getting close enough to their animal for a clean kill. Practice your stalking skills on small game and deer before graduating to bigger game such as elk, moose and bear. Above all you need to know your weapon and it’s capabilities and practice your shooting skills.

Foggy Mountain –   As a new hunter I suggest scout. Weather your a bear hunter, deer hunter, or upland game hunter scouting is key. Find the food source, bedding areas and travle source and you will have success. More time in the field scouting will lead to greater success while hunting.  

Steve Sorensen –   When I started out hunting, I wish I had known how good a deer’s sense of smell is. I was a teenager when I remember climbing a hill with a family friend I was hunting with, and he must have doused himself with Old Spice because all i could smell was his cologne. We had lots of deer back then, but we didn’t see a single deer that day. Now I know why. It wasn’t until I started reading articles on deer hunting strategy that I realized deer could smell far better than we can even imagine, and that their noses are their principle survival mechanism. It was years before I started considering wind direction when I planned my stand sites, and even longer before I began to work on minimizing my human smell.

Jenn Becker –   I have to chuckle a little bit when you ask that question. There’s a lot of things I wish I had known when I started hunting 6 years ago, especially starting out with a bow! The biggest one is how mentally challenging hunting is. I think there was a false sense of reality that I had gained somewhere along the way that hunting is easy and animals are easy to fool. I couldn’t have been further from the truth and have had some harsh reality checks very early on in my hunting career. But, if hunting was easy everyone would do it! The other part of the mental challenge is the mental grind. I’m still very new to hunting, but I have to mentally prepare myself before every hunt, whether it’s an afternoon of sitting in a tree or a week long trek in the mountains. Each hunt is different, but you always want the same outcome. Being mentally ready to face disappointment or to have a screaming elk at 20 yards, you’ve got to be ready for whatever nature wants to throw your way or make you work tirelessly for. If I’m not ready for any situation, I’m probably going to go home with a lot of tags in my pocket. But, even when I go home empty handed, I always know there’s something I can take away from every hunt versus thinking the hunt was a failure. So for anyone thinking about getting in to the realm of hunting, that’s fantastic! It’s a truly rewarding sport and being out in nature is second to none.I hope that helps with your article, Rob. If you want me to expand on it more, I am more than happy to. Let me know if I can be of any more assistance or provide anything else for the article.

Jeff Guidry –   I grew up in a household where hunting was part of life. I was in the duck blind from the age of five, and ,before that, my ole man would take me out back and sit with him while he shot doves. I guess my best answer would have to be based on when I went out on my own. In this instance, I wish I had had more experience in dealing with unethical hunters. When hunting public land, it can get very annoying when folks that weren’t brought up the way I was come in late, or set up too close to you. There’s a fine line in approaching someone in situations like this, and attitude is key. Yet, there are always going to be those few a**holes.

Kenny Hollingsworth – As a new whitetail hunter, I wish had known more about scent control and wind direction. Once I started a regimen of using scent free soaps and laundry detergents my success increased substantially. Using this and always waiting for the right prevailing winds to hunt a prime stand has been the key to increased success over the years. These are the two most important things to address when hunting in my opinion.  

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