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"I'd like to try hunting"


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I occasionally have a friend or relative express an interest in going hunting with me but feel like its just not that simple.  Most instances involve someone who lives far away and has little or no experience with guns and/or hunting.  I guess they could take an on-line safety test in order to get their license.  For someone with no shotgun experience I feel like several rounds of clays would have to precede the hunt to ensure safety and proper use of the firearm, at which point I'd still be nervous.  But even then the reality is I tend to do a lot of hunting and relatively little shooting.  I guess a preserve hunt or snow goose hunting might be a possibility. Today I had a shooting friend about 200+ miles from me and probably 300+ miles from birds say he'd like to try grouse hunting. I found myself thinking; no you don't.

 

If it was the guy next door I'd be happy to formulate a plan to get them "qualified" and into the field.  But when distant friends wants to casually "try it out" I find myself discouraging them and feel like I'm doing the sport a disservice.

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Agree, that's a tough one. It's not like "I want to try playing poker" or golf or similar. Especially if it's Friday and they want to go that weekend. I'm particular with who I hunt with, if I were put in this situation, I'd probably ask if they were serious, then talk about a summer of clays, hunters safety classes, then maybe a hunt at a club to start things out.

 

Case in point, the son-in-law of one of my employees had a group at a hunt club with several new hunters, one guy shot at a low bird and hit one of the dogs, which bled out in the field before they could do anything.

 

For me, it's not worth the risk to simply "take someone along" one weekend, too much could potentially go wrong.

 

My $0.02.

 

-Jason

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That's how my Willow dog got shot two years ago. Inexperienced grouse hunter not used to thick bush who wanted to come up and try it. Never again, and it cost me a friend and almost my dog. She is fully recovered but is packing a load of 6s under her skin, about 25 pellets. Lucky she was far enough away and the brush was thick.

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Fire Marshal Bill

I had a fishing buddy that wanted to go hunting with me last Fall. I said OK, but you have to stay on my left side because I'm left handed and point my gun barrel to the right. And keep even with me so I can see you at all times. BTW NO GUN. All went well I shot a few birds, he got the see the dog point and make a few retrieves. At the end of the day he said to me, gee that was fun can I go again next week? I said NO! He asked why not. I said because you talk to much. He said, O. End of conversation. The guy never stopped talking the whole time we were in the woods. And he was loud!

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Craig Doherty

As a guide, (whoops may not want to go there again) I often have new or relatively inexperienced hunters that hire me.  First rule is break action guns only carried empty. walk behind me single file as I handle the dog.  When the dog goes on point I continue to lead them to the dog then when we're close we switch positions and they load guns having been previously instructed to always keep their guns pointed away from each other and the dog.  I never carry a gun so I can concentrate on them.  It's even better when I have a second person helping and we'll each get behind one of the hunters and try and direct them safely to a spot where they might get a shot.  Basically do the same with friends and family that are interested in why I spend so much time with dogs.   I guess the bottom line for handling these friend, family, acquaintance situation is do you have the time to devote to introducing people to the sport to the point where you'll give up your own shooting chances to take them out.  If the answer is "no," and I can fully understand how someone who hunts a limited number of days each year wouldn't want to give up any of their own time, then I would never invite a newbie along.  What I might suggest is they come out in the offseason while I'm training to see what it's all about.  Someone interested enough to do that will most likely be willing to follow your safety rules and remain quiet during the hunt.

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If some of us older guys were to think about it we'd probably recall being introduced to the sport in a less than ideal way, back in the days before mandatory "hunter safety" courses. I remember walking along without a gun for a while, maybe a full season or two. Several lectures on gun safety preceded my first armed hunt, with a break action single shot. Living in the country back then it was more or less assumed that  all young boys were going to become hunters. We were raised around guns and hunting was sort of a rite of passage. That's no longer the case, and the decision to try hunting and the decision to introduce someone to the sport both take a bit more careful consideration. It's not something to be embarked upon lightly, but everyone has to start somewhere. Perhaps we need to be reluctant mentors if hunting is to have a future. I've done it a few times, years ago, and probably wasn't as careful as I should have been. Nothing bad ever happened but I'd take things a lot more seriously today. 

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Had an acquaintance in Pa who did some part time guiding for one of the shooting preserves up there.  Did the entire gun safety thing before hand.  Still ended up with his GSP taking a load of shot in the side of the head while one of the newby's shot at a low bird.  Dog survived, but lost hearing in one ear.  I have no doubt my little Lew would be an excellent preserve dog and I can handle her well.  Just don't trust those I don't know.  I've pulled off many a shot because I thought a dog or hunter might be down range.

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3 minutes ago, tut said:

Had an acquaintance in Pa who did some part time guiding for one of the shooting preserves up there.  Did the entire gun safety thing before hand.  Still ended up with his GSP taking a load of shot in the side of the head while one of the newby's shot at a low bird.  Dog survived, but lost hearing in one ear.  I have no doubt my little Lew would be an excellent preserve dog and I can handle her well.  Just don't trust those I don't know.  I've pulled off many a shot because I thought a dog or hunter might be down range.

 

 

I've guided some guys at a preserve and there, in addition to inexperienced hunters, you can have the problem of poor flying birds, especially quail. The preserve I used to go to didn't use quail for that reason. Even so, pen raised birds, in many cases,  don't fly like wild ones. 

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For years I had a guy every now and then ask to give hunting a try and I always responded. "I'm not your guy." Back then, I hunted like a badger after a pocket gopher and knew it would be more of an endurance test for the guy than recreational. And like many of you, I don't trust just anyone with a gun. And even though I've been hunting and recreationaly  shooting for 45 years, I would understand if someone didn't trust me. Trust is a personal thing. But I regret my selfishness today. 

 

I've personally introduced a dozen or more people to hunting, mostly women. Unless I know them very well, they don't carry a gun. It doesn't take but a few minutes to realize if a guy knows how to handle a gun. Unfortunately, it only takes a millisecond for something horrible to occur. 

 

I don't believe that anyone I introduced continued hunting. Everything is a wonderful nature walk even when you cleanly kill, but a cripple is more than most mildly interested people can handle. I always caution them about cripples before we even plan the day, explaining that if it will make them uncomfortable, don't go. No matter how careful we are, you just know if you're going to cripple a bird, it will be at the worst possible time.

 

But I can say, everyone I took walked away with a respect for the challenges of bird hunting that they didn't have before. I took my wife to the sandhills of Nebraska when she wanted to go hunting with me. I made a nice left right double on sharptails in the first half hour and she made no exclamation. I asked her if she didn't think that was some pretty good shooting. She said, "From the way you describe your hunts, I thought you always hit everything you shot at." Three hours later I was still scaling hills looking for a third bird while she waited in the truck. She finally asked why I wasn't sitting in the truck with her waiting for one to walk by like they do when they hunt on TV?"   

 

 

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1 hour ago, Craig Doherty said:

As a guide, (whoops may not want to go there again) I often have new or relatively inexperienced hunters that hire me.  First rule is break action guns only carried empty. walk behind me single file as I handle the dog.  When the dog goes on point I continue to lead them to the dog then when we're close we switch positions and they load guns having been previously instructed to always keep their guns pointed away from each other and the dog.  I never carry a gun so I can concentrate on them.  It's even better when I have a second person helping and we'll each get behind one of the hunters and try and direct them safely to a spot where they might get a shot.  Basically do the same with friends and family that are interested in why I spend so much time with dogs.   I guess the bottom line for handling these friend, family, acquaintance situation is do you have the time to devote to introducing people to the sport to the point where you'll give up your own shooting chances to take them out.  If the answer is "no," and I can fully understand how someone who hunts a limited number of days each year wouldn't want to give up any of their own time, then I would never invite a newbie along.  What I might suggest is they come out in the offseason while I'm training to see what it's all about.  Someone interested enough to do that will most likely be willing to follow your safety rules and remain quiet during the hunt.

 

I concur with all of your thoughts. Where I hunt, I'd want them walking beside me. Using only one gun is a good idea. I think I'd carry on a quiet conversation explaining everything as happens afield. When a person is starting from scratch, there are lots of questions that need answers. Losing a few chances is a reasonable price to pay in order to help the person learn the rope a bit.

 

 

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DennisMcFeely

I go to the local preserve a good bit as it's convenient given my work schedule and my dog and I enjoy it.  A couple times I've taken friends new to bird hunting to the preserve who were already deer or turkey hunters.  I'm very selective about who goes with me and I give a little talk about safety and how it generally works with the pointing dog.  IMO a preserve with an experienced pointing breed allows for a relatively controlled situation for an introductory bird hunt.  I never carry a gun and have also held my dog by the collar during the flush as he is no longer broke.

 

These people have been close friends and have appreciated the experience as I did when several UJers helped me start out.  It's been fun to see two of my good friends get hooked, one of them getting a started dog from Bergs.  Some of my closest friends I've met here through bird hunting so it's great to see people I've known for years wanting to take it up.

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Going through two teenagers right now.  I have 3-4 different parents tell me "Johnny would like to hunt, can you take him?"  I can't.  Not until I'm comfortable with my son and/or daughter being on their own.  I try to explain that I just can't pay attention to two at once, the way I need to, with guns in the mix.  I do have the one boy still interested, and my son and he will both be 16 over the summer.  I have told this boy that if he takes the hunter safety course I will take him hunting next year as I believe my son will be up to my standards by then. 

As for adults, I have found that most find it mildly interesting but when faced with the amount of work it takes are not that interested anymore. 

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I am an advisor for a fraternity. One of my favorite things I do is get to take guys from the fraternity out hunting. Some of them have hardly ever hunted before, some have gone out on opening day every year but nothing else. I have not had an issue with them yet (I have had an issue with coworkers before). I think with the Fraternity guys there is no question that I am in charge and they follow my instructions. Most of the guys I have taken are really interested in learning more about bird hunting with pointing dogs. They ask many more questions than I think of to tell them about. 

 

I also tell tell them that if they shoot my dog they better be able to outrun my shotgun blast. I have found them to be very cautious with their shot selection.

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Took a Chinese guy from work who is fully embracing American culture of guns and hunting.  He heard I was the resident bird hunter at work and asked me to take him. I really did not want to take the risk of him shooting my dogs or me.  I told him that the number 1 rule was to not shoot my dogs.  I repeated this rule about 30 times.  He got the point.  We went, he paid for the birds and I got to concentrate on my dogs during the hunt.  He killed 2 out of twenty but we both had a good time and I was glad I did it.

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One of my cousins said "I'd like to try hunting" to me about a decade ago. I was in no position to help him at that time. We lived 5 hours apart and completely different types of lives. The side of the family he is from has never been hunters but he has always been interested in the outdoors.

I suggested he check first if he would need a hunters safety class. While I'd trust him to be safe once he knows the proper etiquette I knew I wasn't the proper teacher for him. He would be starting from scratch. I tried to look up any tyes of outdoor courses in his area. Here in SD there is a very good program for women who have never been around hunting to learn but it doesn't seem like anyone does the same for men.

 

Thankfully he married into a hunting family who have taken him under their wing. He mostly deer hunts and I'm sure he is safe at it. I would actually like to pheasant hunt with him sometime as I've always enjoyed his company.

 

I've noticed that just because someone shoots a lot that doesn't mean they handle guns a lot. Shooting at a very controlled range is not the same as being on your own to stay safe. Walking for miles between shots will make you develop safe habits. 

 

While sitting around waiting to go dove hunting early this season one of the 'friends of a friend' who hadn't hunted much, if any, but shoots a lot was showing off his new 9mm rifle. Cool enough gun but I'm not really into them. I barely notices it until he handed it to the guy next to me to look at. Chamber closed and pointed right at me. I'd trust the guy next to me with anything and he quickly pointed it up and checked to make sure it was unloaded. Giving a nasty look and comment of "Better point that up." That 'gun guy' either didn't notice or worse yet he didn't seem to care...but I bet he has shot many times more rounds in the past few years then I have. I really don't need to hunt around him again...I'm sure he is the type of guy who is just reckless in his entire life. 

 

Tim

 

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