Katy and I were talking and she said her principal said he’d heard that I liked hunting. She asked him if he liked the outdoors and he said he used to but hadn’t been in 12 to 15 years, that he didn’t know where to go.
Which prompted her to say I ought to write an article about how to get into hunting.
I’m super blessed. I had the best mom and dad in the world. Dad took us hunting and fishing with him since we were born. We got BB guns when we were 6 years old, pellet guns at 9 years old and shotguns at 10. When I started dove hunting, I couldn’t even reach the trigger. I had to hold the butt under my arm like granny on the Beverly Hillbillies.
But what if you didn’t come from a hunting family? How could you get into it? It’s almost like a family inheritance or something — if you don’t have a dad or uncles that take you as a kid it can be almost impossible to get into.
I think we have to break newbies into two groups. Group one hasn’t ever hunted/fished and group two has but they’ve just moved to Idaho, or maybe just moved to a new locale and lost their old hunting/fishing spots.
GROUP ONE: I’M A HUNTING NEWBIE
There are a million/trillion Californians moving into Idaho. Many of them would like to get into the Idaho lifestyle but don’t know how to start. They’re not against hunting/fishing/camping — they just don’t know how to get into it. I’ve had a lot of them tell me this. This may be you.
So how do you become the next Kit Carson? It’s tough but not impossible. Let’s speed up your learning curve. I meet most of my hunting buddies at church or work.
Have patience. There’s so much to learn so it will take a minute. First thing, guns are a lot of fun but if someone gets shot it sucks all the fun out of it. You’re going to be shooting/hunting with people you love. It would screw up your life if someone you love got shot. I’m not known as Captain Safety. This year I’ve broken a rib twice, cracked my patella, torn a meniscus, gotten stabbed and I can’t remember what else but on gun safety, I take it super serious. While hunting, make it a standing rule that everyone has the freedom to point out unsafe acts. This is serious stuff.
The good news is, now it is easier than ever to get into the outdoors. As a kid, I only remember a couple of outdoor shows. There were no YouTubes, podcast, blogs, etc. Now there’s a million videos on calling, etc.
When I first started elk hunting, I just grabbed a bugle and went hunting. In those days, there were no tubes. We cut a vacuum cleaner hose and blew into it. There’s no reason you can’t have a sharper learning curve than we had in the old days due to all of the helps.
Seminars: I’d recommend hitting all of the outdoor seminars you can. I never heard of an outdoor seminar until I was in my 30s. Now I conduct 50 to 60 seminars a year. The first of the year I’ll be conducting two seminars at the Dallas Safari Club Convention & Expo, five at the SHOT Show in Vegas, and four at the 2021 Safari Club International (SCI) Convention also in Las Vegas, plus at multiple retail stores. But I still attend as many seminars as I can to keep on top and learn new tricks.
Publications: The Idaho Press has the best outdoor page of any newspaper. One disclaimer though. Used to all articles had to get approved and edited by an editor. Now, anyone can start a website/blog with no reality filters But there are a few good ones. I write a weekly Product Review for Ammoland ShootingSports News (ammoland.com), which is the largest outdoor website in America. Also, check out gunpowdermagazine.com.
Join local clubs, the gun range, archery clubs, shooting range events, local Ducks Unlimited club, the National Rifle Association and so forth. You’ll meet people there.
GROUP TWO: I USED TO HUNT BUT …
I’ve had to move a bit and that’s always a major pain. In some ways it’s like starting all over again. You have to discover new hunting/fishing spots. That can be a major pain but it can also be exciting. You’ll meet new hunting partners at work, Church or in your neighborhood.
If you’re a girl, it can be really tough to get into the outdoors. Of course, ALL of the guys will want to teach you the ropes but that can get weird. There’s getting to be more women groups. My wife and daughters go shooting with their buddies.
So yes, it’s tough getting into the outdoor world if you weren’t raised in it but it is not impossible.
Imagine you just moved to a new country and don’t know the customs or the language? That’s almost how drastic it is. Have the attitude of a 2-year-old and jump in with both feet.
Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop.