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An Interview with a New Hunter

Last year my friends and I peer pressured a buddy to go hunting, and despite our losing record over the last couple of years on big public land bucks, he agreed.  I wanted to make sure that he learned everything I could teach him in the short preparation time that we had before the season, and he knocked it out of the park.  As a follow-up to my piece Mentoring starts now I wanted to interview Nate to see what he thought about the process.  I’m trying my best to mentor people each year if they’d like to start hunting, providing what I can from education to old gear.  Nate will be returning to deer camp again this year, and I couldn’t be happier.


[APT] What made you decide you wanted to get into hunting?

[Nate] It was always something that interested me but I can’t put a finger on why.

[APT] Did you grow up hunting?

[Nate] I did not, my dad’s never even hunted. He also wanted to but it wasn’t something our family did. I’d imagine a big part of that was my grandfather being a veteran that survived Korea and Vietnam.

[APT] Do you think it’s easier to get into hunting as an adult?

[Nate] That’s a tough one… I want to say it is because I have an active interest and the maturity to take it seriously but there will always be a part of me that wanted to get into it sooner. There’s so much to learn and put into practice to get good at it. I also think I have a solid respect for the severity of carrying a loaded rifle that probably wouldn’t be matched by 8 yr old me.

[APT] Do you think your military training affected your hunting style at all?

[Nate] It absolutely has! As with any activity we’ll always fall back to what we know. Opening day I immediately snapped into carrying my rifle as if I was on patrol, butt stock in the right shoulder, rifle pointed down at the dirt, slight separation from my fellow hunter as if we were worried about mortars. I wanted to really work on noise discipline and was so focused on the ground as if tree branches were trip wires. In fact, I got called out on it after the second day by my buddies father that I needed to keep my head up more. I spent the next three days working on it. On the plus side I was commended for being so quiet… but that did come from a friend who’s admittedly hearing deficient.

[APT] Did you feel sufficiently equipped for your first hunt?  If not, what would you change?

[Nate] I did up until opening day haha. My friends who had invited me offered plenty of advice, some of which I wish I took more seriously. I bought a water proof jacket, water proofed an old pair of boots and packed as best I could. I wish I had picked up thicker socks and water proof trousers. All of which were suggested but I had thought “I’ll be fine”.

[APT Comment] Being wet and cold is why most of the public land hunters we often see in our area act as a free deer drive for us.  If there’s weather, even on opening day, people are going in for lunch to warm up.  Being comfortable in the woods gives you more time there.  Spending more time in the woods means you’ll see and hear things other people never will.  Unfortunately this also means that you’re now stuck in an endless cycle of buying gear.  Not that that’s a bad thing.

[APT] What didn’t your mentor touch on that you think they should have?

[Nate] My mentor covered a LOT before we headed into the woods and at times it felt like a fire hose information. I keyed on what I perceived to be important information but there’s only so much you can take in. The parts we didn’t cover as much were how to pick your spot and tracking. We talked about them but knowledge and practice are two different things.

[APT] What animal did you first hunt?

[Nate] Deer


[APT] Did you hunt private or public land?

[Nate] Public

[APT Comment] We took Nate to an area where there was a preponderance of public land, having been stationed in Maryland and elsewhere there wasn’t as much territory always available.  In Pennsylvania there were all of a sudden nearly 15,000 acres in one parcel at his fingertips.  I always introduce new hunters to public land hunting situations.


[APT] Are you interested in hunting other game?

[Nate] I’d be interested in trying out duck but would like to get decent at deer first.

[APT] Where would you suggest a new hunter spend most of their money?

[Nate] Gear, period. In this day and age there are plenty of affordable rifles and glass but if you’re not comfortable sitting in damp, cold, outdoors you’re in for a bad time.

[APT Comment] Some parents would have their children suffer through their first couple seasons, hunting gear is a great way to get people to understand the value of a dollar.  However, a miserable mentee is a great way to turn people off of hunting for good.  Why pick a hobby you have to suffer at, be cold, and not get a deer?  I can not get a deer in my living room.  We called it a week as it had been sleeting for hours on the last day of his hunt.  I was disappointed we didn’t get him a shot opportunity, but he assured me he still had fun.  Wouldn’t you know it, he’s back again this year.

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Last modified: September 29, 2017