Being outdoors, hunting, is a great way to spend time with family and friends. Most people come to hunting by way of a family mentor. They spend time in the outdoors with their parents or grandparents. Ideally, they’ll enroll in a hunter’s safety course. They get their certification and then head out to the field with their trusted gun to become an official member of the hunting community.
Also See: Upland Hunting Etiquette
Whether you’re hunting or not, being in the outdoors is incredibly enriching. Quite simply it’s good for the soul. Adding the pursuit of game is the icing on the cake. I know many great hunters who have vast knowledge and experience who hunt alone. However, any time we’re in the outdoors, just as wild animals know, there is safety in numbers.
Having a companion to join you in the outdoors has one element of safety against the unknown, but being safe during our hunts is an entirely different responsibility.
When we start hunting, we often have a mentor along with us. Hopefully, you’ll have a teacher who is experienced both in the hunt and survival. If a storm arises, and you’re in an area far from camp or home, together you can find or create shelter. God forbid you have a slip and fall or accident, but if you do, you’ll have someone with you to apply first aid techniques and get help.
It’s great to have someone to keep you going. There is an aspect of mental challenge that comes with some hunts. Cold mornings in the field hunting pheasants during a polar blast can be brutal. Climbing 12,000-foot peaks searching for elk can be daunting. A hunting partner can also be someone who boosts your morale when you have an arduous hike up the mountain, helps carry your gun and gear, or shares their lunch.
The experiences you’ll have will be priceless. I enjoy hunting alone, but I look highly upon the opportunity to spend quality time with my husband, daughter, and friends in the outdoors during a hunt. It’s a joy to teach a youngster about tracks, scapes, and other signs in the field. I also appreciate the bonus of having extra eyes to spy elusive wildlife.
Excitement in the Field
As a guide, I’ve learned that there is no way to become a better hunter than to spend time in the field, in real life scenarios. I’ve also learned that things can get exciting in a hurry when a hunter spies the animal they’re pursuing. If you’re new, you’ll want to control the adrenaline rush. If you’re a mentor, it’s your responsibility to control the exhilaration—yours and your mentee's.
As the big buck emerges from the brush, the new hunter’s eyes widen. Mass amounts of adrenaline are being pumped through his body. His heart begins to pound. His vision narrows. The blood surges through his veins at such a rate that he might even become dizzy; possibly even seeing stars.
With sweat emerging on his brow, it’s time to breathe. Stop and remember safety concerns, which if overlooked, could lead to tragedy in the field.
Breathe. Make sure he brings his focus back to the scene. As the two of you focus on the buck, you also have to scan the surroundings. Not just for other deer, but for other hunters.
Always know the locations of other hunters in the field. When we’re upland hunting, this is a key focus; we must remember to watch our swing as our focus narrows on a beautiful ring-neck. Knowing everyone's locations applies to big game hunting and waterfowl hunting too.
If you’re hunting with your rifle and your guide or partner is walking ahead of you, and you see an animal, do not shoot. Wait for him to get behind you, or let him know you need to step ahead.
When you’re spending the morning in the duck blind, it can be a cramped situation. Discuss zones of fire before shooting light. You know what they say about the word assume. Be aware of where your shooting lane is and make sure other hunters in your blind know theirs. Never swing your duck shotgun muzzle in front of another hunter or even the dog during a shot. Know your zones of fire.
Depending on what you're hunting, where you are, and how many people are involved these zones can change. If an animal is moving, or if your partner is walking, you need to reassess your shooting lane.
You may end up with only one target to shoot on a big game hunt. If both you and your friend or family member have hunting licenses, it’s fair to discuss who shoots first. What if you’re together and spy an animal; who gets to take the shot? Have these chats in advance because it will help prevent accidents and hard feelings. Be safe, and never shoot past your hunting partner.