First Steps Afield

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Published on: Sep. 18, 2013

bushwhacking through scrub trees instead of following the trail to his stand. I hadn’t considered that he knew nothing of scent trails and wind directions. In my mind, there was no other option but to go this route to avoid contaminating the area.

As someone who has spent time afield, realize that you’ve developed habits and tactics in response to the natural world that others haven’t. The good news is that you probably know more about nature than you think you do. The bad news is that you have to do your best to convey that information. Dropping barometers, animal routines, even nuances in leaves crunching, all mean something to you, but little to others. Before taking a newcomer afield, think back on your early days and tick through the things you wish you had known. Those will be the critical pieces of information you should pass along. Just remember you don’t want to overwhelm your friend and that some information ought to be shared over time and as his or her skills increase.

Define Success Early On

To someone who has never been hunting, you can be certain that his or her standard of success is going to be harvesting an animal, but that doesn’t sufficiently capture the fullness of the experience. We can all remember trips where we didn’t see anything. That’s the nature of our sport. You must help your friend see the other advantages of spending time afield.

This past deer season, I was hunting with two friends who were new to bowhunting. It was a crisp December evening and we saw a few deer, but nothing within range. Walking back to our vehicles in the dark, the purple sky was draped in brilliant stars. I was admiring a constellation when a meteor blazed through our field of view. One of the guys was especially struck by the spectacle and, despite leaving empty handed, felt privileged to witness it.

What drives us to brave nasty weather for hours on end is being immersed in something greater than ourselves, reconnecting with an ancient dance. Show your friends the true nature of hunting, and they’ll appreciate the wonder of the natural world, with or without a notched tag.

Save Your Equipment

Many of us who have gotten serious about hunting started with entry-level gear. The price point may have been attractive, or it may have been handed down,

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