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Mistakes you made as a young/rookie hunter

Six-GunSix-Gun Senior MemberPosts: 8,155 Senior Member
It goes without saying that hunting is a skill honed over time and I think it's safe to say that it's a rare time out that we don't learn something in the field that makes us better at our sport. Coming into hunting myself as a grown man in his 20's, I can attest to the fact that an adult who is new to hunting is hardly immune from making the same mistakes as a kid just setting foot in the field for the first time. So, what mistakes o wrong ideas did you have walking into the woods as a kid or new hunter?

Here's a few that I can remember:

1) Getting into the woods too late/leaving too early: I can't tell you how dumb this feels in hindsght. More than a handful of times, I would come strolling into the woods when the sun was well up, sit all day at a dead stand, and then leave too early because it felt hopeless being that I had just sat most of my time in the midday lull. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

2) Sitting down at the fist "good spot" on public land: nowadays, I do everything in my power to get as far away from the entrance to public land as I possibly can, even if that's a couple of miles. Why? Because every hunter who just wants to get out his truck and walk 5 feet to set up a chair or a treestand will be there with you. The fact is, that's exactly what I was doing right along side them. I think back and have memories of at least 10 treestands within' eyeshot of my position, many with hunters in them. Not a good place to be, but it took me a season or two to figure that out.

3) Leaving the scope zoomed in when leaving or entering the hunting spot: this one only happened once and has never happened since. I left my 4-14x scope zoomed all the way in only to have a doe and the big, mature buck she had tailing her blow out of a grass bed less than 15 yards away for what should've been an easy shot. Instead, I was stuck looking through a soda straw, trying to find them through the optics at the moment of truth. By the time I got a hopeless shot off, they had cleared over 100 yards.
Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.

Replies

  • CHIRO1989CHIRO1989 Senior Member Posts: 14,203 Senior Member
    Marlin 30-30's have a hammer blocking safety, Winchester 30-30's do not, using the new Marlin instead of the Winchester and out walks a doe broadside at 25 yds., cock hammer, clink!, eject presumed bad shell, clink!, repeat clink! doe moving out quickly still broadside clink! clink!

    Should have been my first deer.
    I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn away from their ways and live. Eze 33:11
  • CaliFFLCaliFFL Senior Member Posts: 5,486 Senior Member
    Always, always, always fill up the vehicle(s) BEFORE the morning of a hunt. Spilling gas on a hiking boot is disastrous.
    When our governing officials dismiss due process as mere semantics, when they exercise powers they don’t have and ignore duties they actually bear, and when we let them get away with it, we have ceased to be our own rulers.

    Adam J. McCleod


  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 12,043 Senior Member
    1- Not figuring out that the spot you are shooting for is on the INSIDE of the deer, not on the surface. So when you shoot for the 'tickle spot' right behind the shoulder, and the deer is quartering toward you... you hit too far back. When I was young, I learned that the hard way
    2- Like Wambli said: Scent Control. Did not get serious about it for years.
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • RazorbackerRazorbacker Senior Member Posts: 4,646 Senior Member
    Wambli Ska wrote: »
    I'll go with the big ones:
    #1 and the biggest one!!! Setting up where it looked good to me and not knowing what lookes good to my GAME!!!
    #2 Not taking the time to explore and learn the land. That includes looking for trails, food source (seasonal), water, sign and in general figuring out the geography of the hunting area.
    #3 Not checking my equipment (using borrowed stuff). Learned that one when I heard a sickening "click" while pointing my FIL Marlin 336 at a big fat doe not 10 yards away fom me. He swore to me the gun worked and was sighted in. Then I find out that he hadn't fired the gun in 30 years and the firing pin was busted... :cuss:
    #4 Waiting so long to get serious about scent control. I always did what I thought was "good enough". Didn't figure out for years that I would see 10 times more deer if I was dead serious about scent control.

    I think you could probably combine numbers 1 and 2 if you think about it. But yeah, as a kid I spent countless hours hunting hard in areas that probably hadn't seen much game in years.
    And I'll string along with you and bullsi on the scent thing. Even well into adulthood I didn't sweat scent too much. Sure, I played the wind. If it was right they'd walk right up to you. If it was wrong, then you're busted and it's just part of it. But with the products we have available today...
    To Bullsi's point on shot placement. I learned that lesson the hard way on the Western slopes of the Rockies. Shot an elk and man I tracked that thing for literally miles. I was in camp when the herd came through, called my shot and was confident of a clean, quick kill. The punishment for my mistake was, having left camp thinking it was a done deal, I had to hike back up that mountain with no water or snacks. The hardest lessons are best I guess. But I didn't even learn it til later that same year when I shot a deer in that same scenario. Not much tracking but when I found it the lightbulb above my head really went off on that elk.
    This has been an interesting topic for discussion OP, so kudos to you and I hope others will chime in.
    Teach your children to love guns, they'll never be able to afford drugs
  • bklysenbklysen Member Posts: 510 Senior Member
    First blunder (that I can recall) - forgot that, if'n it is snowing...scope caps are a wonderful invention. The easy flick-off types....

    You're walking with your rifle shoulder slinged, muzzle down through thick stuff during a wet snow, low wind. Great stalk opportunities....everything goes according to plan when you level the rifle at what you hoped to find....and discover that snow in the eyepiece thing...deer 1, me nothing.

    Second blunder (as a kid) sitting, getting a tad cold. Saw a small critter late morning through the cedar swamp, circle the ground like a little puppy dog looking for a comfy spot to lay down on a rug. Thought it was a fox/coyote perhaps....I stalked the spot, got very close.....and then I heard the snort of the very large Bullwinkle/Boyfriend coming to visit her with flowers.

    I'm quite sure I'll think of a few more.
  • U TU T Member Posts: 423 Member
    CHIRO1989 wrote: »
    Marlin 30-30's have a hammer blocking safety

    I removed the cross bolt safety on my Marlin 1895 45-70 for the same reason, although I was only hunting groundhogs. As soon as I heard the click, I knew what I'd done, recocked, moved safety and shot him. I wan't a rookie, but had never hunted with that gun, and now I've made sure I can't reapeat that same mistake again on that gun!
  • U TU T Member Posts: 423 Member
    Biggest rookie mistake I've ever made though is: Not taking toilet paper with me in the woods!!!!!!
  • MurDoc04MurDoc04 Member Posts: 132 Member
    Not properly sighting my gun in, 125 yards two deer broad side..button buck and a large body doe, Set crosshairs on doe and fired!!! Button buck dropped!!! Oh no!!! Comes to find out my scope was actually broke and shooting 8 inches to the left!!! :(
  • Dr. dbDr. db Senior Member Posts: 1,541 Senior Member
    1. Neglecting scent control. All I heard was a woof behind me.
    2. Arrow fetching had one white and one yellow. The other two were camo. One bird kept fussing at the colors it recognized.
    3. Not being really familiar with a borrowed gun. Missed a BIG, for S. Texas, buck because I had the safety on.
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,813 Senior Member
    1. Not carrying a compass when hunting in the river bottoms - moss grows on every side of the tree, and you can't see the sun, except at noon, when it is of no use for navigation.

    2. Walking a submerged footlog across a deep creek while wearing chest waders. When I missed a step and slid into the creek, my BIL kept my head above water by pulling on my hair, until I could extricate myself from the waders.

    3. Trying to deer hunt on public land in Texas. You have to run the gauntlet through a thick band of city slickers to get to a good spot, only to discover that someone else also did their homework and got up earlier than you.

    4. Not retrieving your downed dove before shooting another. If the birds are thick, it's very easy to lose one, if you get two or three down at once. I try to discipline myself not to shoot another bird while walking to retrieve the first one. It's hard to do, but it's really a shame to kill one and not find it.
  • VarmintmistVarmintmist Senior Member Posts: 7,955 Senior Member
    Not taking ammunition. Luckily, it was later in the season, I scrounged around under the seat of the pickup and found 1 w/a Nos BT 165, 1 w/a Hornaday 165, and 1 that I think was a 150gr Seller and Beloit. Now, I divide a box into my hunting gear. 3 in pocket of coat, 3 in vest, 3 in camo pants, 3 on the mancave bench, and the rest in the backpack. Never found a use for more than 2, so I make sure I have 3 at all times.
    It's boring, and your lack of creativity knows no bounds.
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 12,043 Senior Member
    bisley wrote: »

    4. Not retrieving your downed dove before shooting another. If the birds are thick, it's very easy to lose one, if you get two or three down at once. I try to discipline myself not to shoot another bird while walking to retrieve the first one. It's hard to do, but it's really a shame to kill one and not find it.

    I delayed getting a dove for about 3 minutes while the birds were flying heavy, and by the time I got to the bird it was completely covered in fire ants. get the bird you downed ASAP, or nature will take it.
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • FisheadgibFisheadgib Senior Member Posts: 5,797 Senior Member
    I'm sure most of us overlooked scent control as beginning hunters and I would have to say that most of my early mistakes also stemmed from impatience. Having been brought up deer hunting in Wisconsin where the season is short and even though there is an abundance of public land, there has always been an abundance of hunters also. Basically if you see a legal deer on public land, you shoot it because you likely won't see another one during the season. I couldn't count the times that I've shot the first legal deer to walk out only to hear something big go crashing through the woods after the shot. As I gained experience, I learned to move slower and sit still longer.
    snake284 wrote: »
    For my point of view, cpj is a lot like me
    .
  • 350JR350JR New Member Posts: 4 New Member
    "You shoot where you look".

    First buck I ever shot at ran off with a Bear razorhead stuck in the side of his antlers........right where I was looking. ROFL.

    God Bless
    Steve
  • LinefinderLinefinder Moderator Posts: 7,749 Senior Member
    bisley wrote: »
    1. Not carrying a compass when hunting in the river bottoms - moss grows on every side of the tree, and you can't see the sun, except at noon, when it is of no use for navigation.

    Been there, done that. Learned that lesson forty years ago and have never forgotten it. Marango Swamp is no fun after dark.

    Mike
    "Walking away seems to be a lost art form."
    N454casull
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,813 Senior Member
    Linefinder wrote: »
    Been there, done that. Learned that lesson forty years ago and have never forgotten it. Marango Swamp is no fun after dark.

    Mike

    So did I. But I gave myself a refresher a couple of years ago, and it was a lot more painful in a 60 year old body. Now, I take a backpack with snacks and water, GPS, AND a compass.
  • beartrackerbeartracker Senior Member Posts: 3,116 Senior Member
    Yes, D'Arbonne swamp west of West Monroe, La. I got lost in that swamp because I forgot to take my compass, I left it on the kitchen table at 4:00am that morning and it was just about dark before a fisherman came along the main bayou leading to Lake D'Arbone saw me following the bayou and pulled up to the bank. First thing out of his mouth was, "you lost son?" The first thing out of my mouth was "yes sir, will you give me a ride?" It took 20 minutes at about 15 miles mph before I even recognized anything and I had been hunting that part of the swamp for three years. So glad I did not have to spend the night there.
  • MileHighShooterMileHighShooter Senior Member Posts: 4,975 Senior Member
    1. Hunting with a 270

    2. leaving the scope on high. blundered my first chance at an elk that way. I was tracking them in deep snow and I came up right on top of them not 50 feet away. All I saw in the scope was brown
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 8,227 Senior Member
    Trying to shoot a deer through tree branches. The first deer I ever shot at was a spike buck I saw late in the day from a stand. It was only about 50 yards away, but on the other side of a tree with a lot of branches. I thought my 30-30 might just plow through all those branches and give me a clean kill.

    I was wrong.

    But, all things considered, probably the biggest mistake I made as a young hunter, and am still prone to making, is not practicing enough. I've made my share of great shots on game, but I've also made my share of misses on shots I should have made.

    The other one that comes to mind is misjudging the range. When hunting wide open country, it's so easy to do. The first antelope I ever shot at was what I thought to be about 350-400 yards away. I held over what I thought was about right, and touched off the trigger of my .270. I saw dirt fly about 50 ft. in front of the animal, and they quickly vacated the area.
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • FreezerFreezer Senior Member Posts: 2,359 Senior Member
    Moving too fast and not sitting long enough. I hunt balcktail in N Cal. The woods are crunchy. I have to move extreamly slow and sit often. If I see or spook a deer chances are they will still be in the area. Moving too soon will only send them out of the area and they're never alone!

    Forgetting a deers eyes are different from ours. They see in black and white and can't focus. Problem is if you twich they see you then those dang radar ears will locate you.
    I like Elmer Keith; I married his daughter :wink:
  • snake284-1snake284-1 Senior Member Posts: 2,500 Senior Member
    CHIRO1989 wrote: »
    Marlin 30-30's have a hammer blocking safety, Winchester 30-30's do not, using the new Marlin instead of the Winchester and out walks a doe broadside at 25 yds., cock hammer, clink!, eject presumed bad shell, clink!, repeat clink! doe moving out quickly still broadside clink! clink!

    Should have been my first deer.

    Winchesters do in a way. If the trigger is not pulled the hammer will not fall all the way and strike the primer. Also, the lever has to be pulled up tight to the stock. Those aren't safeties in the traditional sense but they are safety features.
    I'm Just a Radical Right Wing Nutt Job, Trying to Help Save My Country!
  • snake284-1snake284-1 Senior Member Posts: 2,500 Senior Member
    And what do you mean mistakes made when you're young? Hell, I have made some all to late in life. For instance, in 2009 I was on an antlerless spike hunt at a Texas Parks and Wildlife Management area. I shot a spike, not once, not twice, but three times and he kept going. The park rangers had cautioned us to wait 20 minutes after shooting an animal to let it lay down and bleed out. I, knowing everyting about hunting said screw it and got up after five minutes. It was getting dark fast so I wanted to locate it. However when I got close to the fence line I heard something rustling in the grass. I couldn't see it, but come to find out that deer was laid up about 50 feet from me and when he heard me coming jumped the fence and died off Parks and wild life land. We weren't allowed to pursue anything on that side of the fence. So scratch one deer. Now I wait.
    I'm Just a Radical Right Wing Nutt Job, Trying to Help Save My Country!
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 8,155 Senior Member
    Oh, I agree. We all learn new stuff when we hit the woods thoughout our lives, and some of those lessons come the hard way, but i figure it's those early mistakes that really shape how we hunt for most of our lives. That's the only reason I worded it as such, but the story you posted is a good one to note. I'm going on a mule deer hunt in a few weeks that will be my first ever. I can already tell you that the landscape is completely different and I'm sure the way the animals behave is going to be different. I can almost guarantee you that there will be a hard-learned, later-in-life lesson in there somewhere by the time that week is up.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 8,227 Senior Member
    FWUW, Luis, I don't think I've killed a single mulie at a distance more than 200 yards. Don't be surprised if you get shots like this. They're not all way over on the far side of a wide canyon.
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 8,155 Senior Member
    JerryBobCo wrote: »
    FWUW, Luis, I don't think I've killed a single mulie at a distance more than 200 yards. Don't be surprised if you get shots like this. They're not all way over on the far side of a wide canyon.


    I remember you mentioning that and I really, REALLY hope you're luck will rub off on my adventure. I am not looking forward to that heavy terrain element of the hunt from a shot opportunity perspective. It's public land and sometimes you have to act "right now." I am more than willing to stalk patiently, but some of the places I saw would necessitate a canyon-to-canyon effort if the animal is worthwhile because navigating the terrain would slow you down far too much.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • mkk41mkk41 Banned Posts: 1,932 Senior Member
    There's an old saying that only a fool tests the depth of (COLD!) running water with both feet.

    Found that out crossing a stream in blinding blowing snow on one of my first hunts.
  • snake284-1snake284-1 Senior Member Posts: 2,500 Senior Member
    bullsi1911 wrote: »
    1- Not figuring out that the spot you are shooting for is on the INSIDE of the deer, not on the surface. So when you shoot for the 'tickle spot' right behind the shoulder, and the deer is quartering toward you... you hit too far back. When I was young, I learned that the hard way
    2- Like Wambli said: Scent Control. Did not get serious about it for years.

    I started getting serios about scent control about 30 years ago. When we'd be at deer camp it was cold so we wouldnt take a shower until we were about to leave. Then I read an article about scent. There's two sides to it though. You can smell like a cave man and run the deer off or you can smell like Lady Petunia Blossom and scare hell out of em too. Because human body odor is unlike other animals, deer and other game when they smell you, know it's something "NOT GOOD." You need to keep your scent, good or bad, down to a dull roar. But when you use alot of perfumy deoderant and maybe cologn it is not natural either. Also, brushing your teeth with baking soda is a pretty scentless method to keep your breath reasonably good. Any strong smell other than that of things natural will raise the red flag to wild life. Anyway, that's my opinion.
    I'm Just a Radical Right Wing Nutt Job, Trying to Help Save My Country!
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