While some of us grow up around hunters, it’s part of the family tradition, or, you happen to know hunters – many don’t. Especially with modern, urbanised communities – there is sometimes quite a divide between deciding you want to get into hunting, and understanding how.
This isn’t really the purpose of this article – the reasons people get into hunting can be as varied and as nuanced as people themselves. We always need to remember that everyone’s background and motivation vary. Some of this will then also frame how and who they want to head out with.
Do some research
As is my nature – I like to do lots of research before diving into anything. Sometimes it’s a little too much and I end up with a bit of decision paralysis – however, it certainly is recommended to learn a little about what it is you are intending to get into.
Like anything though – take what you read or get told with a grain of salt. If it is something you read on ‘the internet’ – take it with a bucket of salt!1
So, with that in mind, here are some recommendations for starting points to find some ‘fellow’ hunters.
The first recommendation, which is one I always put forward – is to join a club or organisation.
I personally am a member of the New Zealand Deerstalkers – the countries largest hunting organisation. There are branches all around the country – and I highly suggest you head along to a couple of meetings and check out what a club night is like. They all tend to have their own vibe. You never know – you might bump into someone you already know and suddenly realise they are actually hunters!
The Deerstalkers provide hunter training in the form of the HUNTS courses as well – invaluable information for new hunters – not just in firearms safety, but also navigation, first aid and of course – understanding more about the animals themselves! Through the course you will make new connections and generally, a HUNTS course ends in a party hunt as well.
Talking of party hunts – many branches organise regular group hunts. These are an excellent way to be introduced to new spots and meet new people. There are even woman only trips happening, should that be what you are looking for.
In addition, and maybe not as well known as it should be – is the fact that a Deerstalkers Membership comes with insurance. Literally. In the form of a 10 million dollar public liability insurance. This includes forest fires. So, if something goes really pear-shaped while out hunting, either on a private or a public block (some forestry blocks will require insurance before they let you on there) – you are covered.
There is a pile of other benefits as well.
The local club potentially will also have a shooting range associated with it. Another good place to go meet like-minded people.
The Pub (also known as ‘real life’
I don’t necessarily suggest you just head out hunting with some random you meet at the pub one night.
Many of us (myself included) are rightfully a little wary of heading out with someone into the backcountry with a rifle. I have vetted, and essentially been vetted by a few people before heading out with them. I tend you be a little picky myself (it’s nothing personal) – because who you head out with actions are going to reflect on you.
I don’t mean I only head out with experienced hunters – I have taken a couple of totally new hunters out on their first trip. This was normally after a couple of conversations about hunting, ‘a hunt’, expectations, and planning the trip.
Basically – discuss, plan. Check you are both on the same wavelength – and remember – on both sides of the fence – if you don’t want to go with a hunt with someone – don’t.
Much to same as above – vet people.
On saying that – there are also heaps of forums and Facebook groups. However, while it might sound a little cynical – it is also the realm of the keyboard warrior – so expect to have to wade through a bit of chaff. Just do a search online for hunting forums and groups and you will find them – one of my personal picks – is the lads at NZ Fish Hunt Dive – remember – these are big communities – you may have more luck at the regular club night of your local Deerstalkers – smaller groups, people who actually leave the house as well. ;P
Don’t overlook this as an option for your first hunt. I often suggest people head up to Balnagown Hunting – where Richard will take you through the whole process – and it’s still not a sure thing! However – you get a very experienced person (experienced in both hunting and taking new hunters out) who can guide you step by step.
Experiences vary. So I can only personally recommend Richard. Some ‘guides’ basically just point you in the right direction, others are only too happy to share all their knowledge with you. Richard certainly falls in the second camp.
I appreciate the irony of this recommendation ↩