Henson, Stephanie L G
The excitement of fall hunting season is just around the corner, and women across the country are preparing to attend Women On Target hunting excursions in pursuit of black bear, antelope, whitetail deer, pheasant, chukar and mule deer. Whether you are going to join them, or go on some other hunting trips this fall, there is much that you can do now to increase your chances for a safe, successful and memo- rable experience.
One thing that most serious hunters have in common is an exceptional understanding of the game they pursue. While there is no substitute for what you can observe afield, there is a great deal you can learn from reading. Brush up on things like your game identification skills. If you’re hunting an area inhabited by whitetails and mule deer, for instance, but only one is in season, it is your responsibility to identify the legal game. What signs and tracks do you know? You may have heard terms like “scrape” and “rub,” but do you know what they mean? What they look like? Learn what you can about habitat needs of the animals you hunt, not only to help you find them but because habitat is crucial to healthy game populations. To ensure you can dispatch the animal quickly, make sure you know the vital areas on any game you hunt.
This is the time that you should go to the range on a regular basis to improve your marksmanship skills and familiarize yourself with the guns, ammunition and other accessories you will use. You need to be knowledgeable about how your gun operates and how various ammunition performs in your gun. You also need to know how consistent you are with shot placement from a variety of distances. Only then can you determine what your personal maximum shot range is. It’s a hunter’s responsibility to strive for making quick, clean kills.
If you’re a new shooter, Women On Target instructional shooting clinics can help you improve your marksmanship skills by providing an opportunity to receive basic marksmanship training from supportive instructors. Of course, the clinics are only the first step. Next, you need to visit your local club or range and practice. You’ll find this process especially enjoyable as you watch your shooting skills improve. Local clubs often have NRA Certified Instructors who can help you if you want.
Find out what type of hunting apparel and other outdoor gear you will need. Although women’s hunting apparel is out there, it can be difficult to find. Women On Target national sponsors Cabela’s, Beretta and Browning offer clothing for women, as do some other companies. Some companies offer online sales; refer to their websites for details.
Perhaps you are going to use binoculars, a map and compass, rangefinder or GPS system during your hunting trip. This is a good time to practice with the equipment so that using it becomes second-nature. You don’t want to have to become familiar with it in the field.
It is imperative to research state and local hunting regulations so you can ensure your compliance with them. Check the state agencies’ websites or publications. Also, make sure you know the deadlines to apply for the licenses, permits and tags you need. If you have questions about anything uncovered during your research, contact the state wildlife agency and/or your outfitter for clarification.
Finally, use this time to work on your physical fitness. A program consisting of walking or running and moderate weightlifting should help you improve your cardiovascular health and enable you to carry your gear-or drag your buck out of the woods! As always, be sure to talk with your physician before beginning any exercise program.
This may sound like a lot of work, but when you have a great hunt to look forward to, the preparation is part of the fun! Learning to hunt safely and competently is a continuing-maybe even lifelong-process. By preparing thoroughly for hunting trips, you will become a more knowledgeable hunter.
Copyright National Rifle Association of America Jul 2004
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