Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Into The Woods...

So, I finally completed a hunter's ed course and got my Hunter Education Certificate over the weekend (VA offers an online course). 43 years on this planet and I'm finally going hunting. Growing up, with suburban sprawl plus MA's anti-gun attitude, I never got the chance to go hunting with my dad. I know he had hunted as a kid/young man, but in all the time I've known him he has never hunted, preferring fishing.

As I grew up, I had friends along the way offer to take me hunting here and there. Zercool offered a "Hunting 101" when he lived in NY that I wished I'd taken him up on, but couldn't make it work. Along the way, I had limited experience - mainly varmint/vermin eradication in the form of squirrels, groundhogs and prairie dogs - but I've never gone hunting. I've never tracked an animal, followed a blood trail, dressed out a kill, or any of the other tasks that make up the hunting experience.

Well, I'm ready to learn. I figure I'm a good thirty years behind the curve, so I've got some lost time to make up for. Several friends and co-workers have offered to help; I intend to lean on pretty much everyone for a bit until I get a better sense of what's going on. Of course, Virginia regs dictate calibers above .223 Rem., so I either need to move up to .308 Win. or take Grampy's Marlin 336. I can think of worse ways to hunt than with my grandfather's cherished lever action rifle...

Or, I could look into getting one of those sweet Weatherby Vanguards in 6.5 Creedmoor. I hear that round works in AR-platform rifles, too. I've had reasonably good luck with both .223 Rem. and .308 Win. out to 400 yards; it's unlikely I'd need/be able to take many shots further out than that here on the Eastern seaboard at least (and if I'm headed out west, chances are I'll be shooting with a borrowed rifle). I've thought about .300 Blackout, but honestly, the range isn't that much better than .30-30 Win. At least that would only require an upper change, though...

So many decisions. So much hardware...

Of course, there's things like skinning knives, blaze orange jackets, boots, binoculars, and probably a million other things I'm forgetting. I just started getting into long-range shooting, and while hunting is a natural outlet for this new endeavor, it brings with it a whole host of additional geegaws and must-have gadgets for me to obsess over. Even not considering the prospect of a new gun. Or two.

I can see this being a costly venture, but at least I'll (hopefully) get some venison out of it...

That is all.

21 comments:

abnormalist said...

My condolences for not getting a chance to hunt with your father. My father is still with me, but at a mobility point where a lot of his outdoor recreation is reduced, and many of my best youthful memories involve tramping in the woods with him.

Grandpa's gun gets my vote, 30-30 has felled more deer than any other cartridge I'm aware of and will continue to do so. That and perhaps your dad and grand dad will follow along for a little guidance

Formynder said...

If you snag a 300blk upper, then you have a ready excuse to go get a silencer...

wrm said...

Of COURSE! it's an excellent opportunity to get another gun.

But yea, the 336 should be fine. Hunting there is up close, no? My Marlin works fine up to 100 meters/yards/whatever.

6.5 / 270 / 7mm is a great all-rounder, I've seen a guy take an eland with a 270 at 200-ish meters but I won't try that... so if you're getting a new gun you're on the right track.

Sdv1949 said...

I hunt in wide-open Nebraska where the average shot at a deer is 80 yards. My longest in 40+ years was 210 yards and, believe me, that is a loooong way.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Just get your shottie, some 00, and come out with me and MBtGE. The shot will be less than 40 yards, and the shooting is the easiest part. Freezing before hand and the dress/clean/drag/butcher parts are the hard parts of hunting.

Doug Watson said...

Heh...organic, locally-harvested venison is some of the most expensive meat on the planet. Luckily, you are in a good area for it.

As for calibers, I have always been partial to .30-06 or .45-70. (I don't like to track.)

.45ACP+P said...

+1 on the shotgun, hell most Virginia counties have issues with rifles. Add to your preparation and come out to the Appleseed this weekend.

Franny said...

Be careful or you will find life revolving around hunting seasons ;-). When we picked our wedding date the blackout dates started with hunting seasons (deer... Turkey... Pheasant...) then times I was unwilling to consider (too hot... Too cold...) then holidays and birthdays.

But the hunting seasons came first because he would miss every anniversary if it landed during deer.

PhilaBOR said...

If you like the AR platform, consider 6.8 SPC or 6.5 Grendel. Both more powerful than 5.56 and 300 BO. I hunted a few years with a 308 AR but my aging arms asked for a lighter gun. I put together a 6.8 and will try it out next month on hog. And I'm a big fan of Barnes solid copper TTSX bullets. Great penetration, good mushroom and don't leave a trail of lead fragments through the meat.

Anonymous said...

I suggest the old family lever rifle.

I started deer hunting at 14 with my
grandfather's single-barrel 12 gauge
shotgun. Not a real good deer gun
but I'm glad I used it for a couple of
years before moving on.

Still time to get a different rifle
later. I now hunt deer most with a Ruger 77RL in .250 Savage. Light, accurate and a fine deer
killer.

Mark Matis said...

If you actually decide to get a new gun, might as well do it right:
http://tinyurl.com/ycbed5
Simplifies the "dress/clean" part, and may even make the "drag" easier as well. Of course, you do not end up with quite as much meat, but tradeoffs sometimes must be made...
}:-]

Stretch said...

Most important hunting accessory?
Sox. Wool sox. With extra sox in a zip lock bag in your pack.

Jeff B said...

Don't sweat the age thing, Jay. I took my first ever white tail this past October. And I'm (almost) the same age as you.

Most of the rest is common sense stuff... Be as slow, quiet, and invisible as possible in the woods. Keep your eyes and ears open. Don't smell like you just spent 3 hours in a sauna. Watch the animals. Study the landscape/topography (you know how you like to have easy access to water? So do deer. Know how you hate to climb uphill when you can get to the same place on flat land? So do deer.)

And enjoy. Because that's the real goal.

Ger said...

Enjoy learning Jay! Use the lever action first, then decide what you need to do... (Consider you will have first hand experience that will guide you in what YOU want...) Anything you get as advice NOW is what the advice giver wants... Not you. (I borrowed a .35 Rem pump to shoot my first deer. Bought MY deeer rifle after that. Yes, *I* bought .30-06. But I am left handed and was considering 1 rifle to hunt anything up to Brown bear on the North American continent. One day it is going Elk hunting and moose hunting and Caribou hunting, ok maybe not all 3 on the same day...)

Bradley said...

6.5 Gren if you need the power, but 300 black supers have more then enough power at 200-300meters. plus with a can and subs its a quite quite quite rifle. I love my 300 black, but my 6.5 groups better at 250m vs my 300 black, both shooting super sonic rounds and both with 18" barrels 2.8" vs 3.3".

Old NFO said...

Lever gun or shotty. And be prepared to be cold, wet and nasty by the time you get through cleaning the kill. :-)

Kermit said...

Jay, go old-school and find a Savage 99 in .300 Savage. You do hand-load, right?

ProudHillbilly said...

Admit it - you're just excited to have an excuse to buy new toys. :-)

ProudHillbilly said...

Admit it - you're just excited to have an excuse to buy new toys. :-)

John Varga said...

Get a good grill guard for the ram and cruise the roads at dusk. You have heat, tenderize meat, and no need to drag the carcass back.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations.

You're in for a lot of learning but it'll be fun. Like you, I started hunting as an adult (many years too late as far as I'm concerned). It's humbling starting at square one when you're old enough to have mortgage payments but it's rewarding and mother nature supplies all the lessons you need.

Don't sweat the firearms. That's just the fun stuff and "minute of deer" 'aint that hard. The tougher learning curve kicks in when you're looking at a dead deer and thinking "this looks nothing like food". Field dressing (especially for a novice) is just about the yuckiest thing going. Good luck and have fun.

A.C.