Thursday, 16 January 2020

Resources for New Hunters

From time to time I get asked by friends who know someone who is interested in learning more about hunting to recommend where they should start.  If you know where to look, there are lots of great resources for new hunters and hunting curious people.

I'll break this down into 3 categories, hunting curious people, hunter education, and new hunters.

 

 

Resources for Hunting Curious People


If you didn't grow up around hunting, you may have negative preconceptions or concerns about hunting.  I know I did. Also, the whole idea of hiking through the woods and shooting an animal might seem completely scary or foreign, not to mention the whole idea of gutting and butchering.

Why do you hunt?


Why I hunt comes down to food and being outdoors. It is very hard to explain how, in spite of camping and hiking for my whole life, it wasn't until I became a hunter that I really felt I fully appreciated BC's nature and beauty.  Learning about animals and their habitat, and then spending the long weeks in their world that it takes to have a chance to harvest one is unlike any other experience.  The best part of it all is being able to cook and share meals with friends, while telling the story of the adventure that made that meal possible.

Venison Osso Buco


There are many reasons why people hunt.  For some tradition plays a role, for others food is a great incentive, but I think for all hunters, it is because they love being in nature and how rewarding the whole experience is.  One thing is for sure, it's hard to put it in words. 1Campfire does a great job of distilling all of that into a couple of short videos.

 1campfire.com

What is hunting like?


Many people have concerns about hunting that stem from when the worst of the worst ends up on the 6 o'clock news.  Yes, there are slob hunters out there who are just yahoo-macho-rednecks with guns.  They make us all look bad and, unfortunately, a lot of hunting TV is targeted to them. So, please don't let most hunting TV shows give you the impression about what hunting is really like.  However, there are a couple shows which portray hunting in a way most hunters I know aspire to emulate and practice.




MeatEater on Netflix - The best of the best.  It shows hunting for what it is at the highest level of ethics, conservation, and passion about nature. This is the way everyone I know strives to hunt.  If you want to get an idea of what it's like to go hunting, check out this show.

Other notable shows: Solo Hunter

Do you care about animals?


It may seem reasonable to assume that because hunters kill animals that they don't care about them.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Hunters are the loudest and most persistent advocates for protecting and restoring habitat and wildlife populations.  After spending months or years of one's lifetime in nature, close to animals, it is impossible not to develop a deep passion for protecting the beauty and wildness of untouched places.  A lot of hunters put a lot of time into conservation, political advocacy, and boots on the ground work to restore habitat and help scientists.  A great example is the new Faces of Wildlife podcast.  It highlights important conservation issues and just so happens to be hosted by hunters.

Faces of Wildlife Podcast

Are There Rules You Have to Follow?


It's not obvious to many non-hunters that there are rules that hunters must follow.  Broadly speaking, there are two sets of rules that hunters must follow.  These are the hunting and trapping regulations and Canada's firearms regulations if you plan to hunt with a firearm rather than a bow.


Download here

Canada's firearms licensing and regulations are complex and more information can be found here: http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/firearms



Hunter Education


Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Education (CORE)


To become a hunter, you must take a course called the Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Education (CORE) program.  This course teaches all the basics of the current hunting regulations as well as basic outdoor safety and survival.  Additionally, this course teaches you where to find and look up the latest changes in the regulations.

Many organizations and groups offer the CORE program.  You can find a local examiner or organization through the BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF)

https://bcwf.bc.ca/core/

It is also worth checking out EatWild.  They offer the CORE and PAL course, as well as many other outdoor education and hunter skills courses.

https://www.eatwild.ca/

Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL)


Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL)
The Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) is the licence a person must obtain to own firearms in Canada.  Many organizations offer the firearms safety course required to apply for a PAL.  I recommend that you take a course that includes not only non-restricted firearms (rifles and shotguns), but also restricted firearms (handguns and some specifically restricted rifles).  The addition of the restricted firearms to the course is only a few additional hours and marginal increase in cost, but it will help you become more versed in firearms safety and also means that you don't have to take the whole course again if you decide to take up target shooting with handguns.

New Hunters

Vancouver Hunter


Haha! You're already in the right place!
My most useful posts for new hunters are likely:
First Hunting Trip and Gear List Part 1: Looking After Yourself
First Hunting Trip and Gear List Part 2: Hunting Essentials
Choosing Your First Hunting Rifle

Conservation Groups


For several years I tried to get involved with conservation and meet fellow hunters through various groups.  I tried my fish and game club, the BCWF, and the Wild Sheep Society of BC.  For whatever reason, it never seemed to work out that I could get involved with something my speed until I went to a pint night with the BC chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. The BCBHA holds monthly pint-nights across BC which is a great way to get connected with other hunters, make friends, and dip your toes into conservation with a very low barrier to entry.  To quote Jenny Ly (BHA and Chasing Food Club), "I found my people" when I joined the BCBHA and started attending their monthly pint nights. 

The Region 2 (Lower Mainland) pint night is always the last Thrusday of the month at 7:00pm.  It is usually held at the Burnaby Lakes Rugby Club unless there is a special event (like this January 2020) because they have space to have a meeting while also having a pretty selection of beer. Come check it out and meet hunters!

This month the BCBHA has organized a live podcast instead of the usual pint night.  The event is Jan 30, 2020, 7:00pm. See the event poster and click the link below for tickets.

Click here to buy tickets


Podcasts


Podcasts are downloaded radio programs that you can listen to on your smartphone while you're driving or working. There are many great podcasts that I listen to regularly to stay up to date on hunting issues.  In fact, there are too many to listen to them all.

My top favourites are:

Rookie Hunter Podcast - Hunting from a new hunter in BC perspective
EatWild Podcast - Conservation and hunting education in BC
Faces of Wildlife Podcast - Conservation in BC 
MeatEater Podcast - Conservation and hunting topics mostly in the US
Cutting the Distance Podcast -Tips and Tactics for hunting from an Expert
Cal's Week In Review - Conservation news from across North America

https://www.themeateater.com/listen/cutting-the-distance

YouTube


I use YouTube for learning to call moose and elk, as well as tips for field skills like field dressing game. Type in the skill you want to learn and you'll likely find a very helpful video.


Books


Between the CORE program course manual and the Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game book by Steven Rinella, you have most of your hunter skills covered in great detail.

It is also worth purchasing the Backroads Mapbooks for anywhere you plan on hunting.

Magazines



https://www.bcoutdoorsmagazine.com/
BC Outdoors magazine is probably the best and most useful magazine when it comes to resources for hunters.  There is also:

Backcountry Journal https://www.backcountryhunters.org/tags/backcountry_journal

Journal of Mountain Hunting https://journalofmountainhunting.com/

 

 

Other Blogs and Instagram

 

Blogs and Instagram are another great way to learn abotu hunting and get involved.  Definitely check out these:

Chasing Food Club

Chris Pryn on Instagram


Final Thoughts


Everyone is connected to wildlife, whether or not they are aware of it.  Roads, power lines, pipelines, train tracks, and all of our houses exist in the habitat of BC's fish and wildlife.  Becoming a hunter makes you acutely aware of our impact and connection with nature.  I hope more and more people are able to experience and enjoy the outdoors in BC and gain an appreciation for this special place we live.



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