Your first deer hunt is a life-forming experience. You’ll remember every moment and every subsequent hunt will recall how you felt the first time. You don’t have to be raised on hunting to become a deer hunter. Even novices can become experts with training and discipline. Before you can get out there to hunt though, you’ll need to do the prep work. Here’s some of what you’ll need to do to prepare for your first North Texas deer hunt.
Start by finding a hunting partner or mentor. Ideally this would be a friend or family member. You can’t put a price on the knowledge of an experienced hunter. If you don’t know someone who fits this description, you can seek someone out in other ways. Talk to neighbors and coworkers, try to source those you know. You can meet people at local gun training centers and in online hunting groups.
Your partner can help answer many of your questions, but some things you will need to find out for yourself. Choosing your weapon is an individual preference. You’ll need to try before you buy and that takes time. Different caliber guns have different recoil strengths and you’ll need to make sure you can handle it. Make sure you’re comfortable with the size of the weapon. Of course cost is a huge factor. As a first-time hunter you don’t want to make a huge investment in a rifle if it’s not going to be the right fit.
Research the laws of your state if you’re not a Texas local. Each state differs on the timing of hunting seasons, limits of the number of animals you can take, and permits required. The laws can also change each year so make sure your information is up to date.
Choose your location and know the surrounding areas well. If you’re on public land and you shoot an animal that wanders onto private land you will be unable to retrieve it. Know where the borders are and stay well within them. Familiarize yourself with the terrain and scout the location well ahead of the hunt.
Prepare yourself for the hunt. Your first and foremost task is to get blaze orange clothing and the amount of orange you wear will depend on your state’s laws. Your orange can save your life. When choosing camouflage clothing, keep in mind your desired hunting location. Choose camo that matches the surroundings. Invest in good quality waterproof boots because your hunt will only last as long as your feet last. Dress in layers appropriately for the season.
Choosing what to bring with you is crucial to a successful hunt. You don’t want to overpack, but you want to be prepared for emergencies should they arise. Water is your most important item, followed by food. Protein bars are excellent for portability and energy. A sharp hunting knife is a necessity. Other important gear you’ll need is a compass, flashlight and/or headlamp, batteries, and a first aid kit.
Get to know your animal. Different species of deer will exhibit different behaviors. Observe them as much as you can and study them. Their body language will tell you more than words ever could. Watch the positioning of their ears, tail, and head.
Once you’ve done all the groundwork to prepare your hunt, take some time to prepare your mind. Enjoy the time spent in nature away from technology, stress, and the demanding pace of modern living. Part of the joy of hunting comes from centering yourself, quieting the noise around you, and listening to nature. Most of all enjoy your first hunt and truly absorb every bit of the experience because that memory will stay with you forever.