Go Play: Beginner hunting tips and tricks to keep in mind

Brittany Markert / September 26, 2014

Mike Adams, a Grand Junction resident, started hunting 35 years ago with his dad.

“Every hunt, from first to last, I always am hopeful the night before to harvest something,” he said.

Even so, according to Adams, hunters mature over time and expectations change from harvesting an animal to just spending time with friends and family.

“I love the outdoors and the challenge of being in an environment with wild animals,” he added. “It’s very much like a life or death situation.”

As an avid hunter and a veteran to the sport, Adams suggests hunters take a training class through Colorado Parks and Wildlife, understand and be skillful with their chosen weapon, and be prepared for exposure to Colorado’s ever-changing weather.

1. Take a hunter’s safety course, and pass.

Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1949, must attend and pass a hunter education course. This Colorado law started in 1970 as a result of numerous accidents that happened while hunting around the state. Several options are available to obtain the hunter’s safety card, either through home-study or internet-based. Colorado Parks and Wildlife furnishes hunter education manuals, equipment and ammunition.

“It has significantly helped lower the number of accidents hunting, and it’s now considered one of the safest activities,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s public information officer Mike Porras said.

In the 1960s, Colorado hunters experienced an average of nine fatal and 24 non-fatal hunting accidents a year. Now there is an average of one fatal and 10 non-fatal hunting accidents a year.

2. Attend a hunter outreach program.

Porras also suggests that hunters attend outreach programs held throughout Colorado, which teach new hunters skills, ethics and traditions of the sport. Special programs are in place for diverse interests, backgrounds, and levels of ability through workshops, clinics, seminars, and educational hunts. Some programs are need specific, teaching youth, women or novice hunters only.

Novice-hunter programs additionally help newly licensed folks develop hunting strategies, as well as learn more about laws and regulations.

Women Afield, a women’s-only program, teaches hunting skills, shooting sports and angling to women in a comfortable environment. Applications for the event are held in April each year.

3. Get the right gear and know how to use it.

According to Porras, many regulations are in place to solely make hunting safe. For example, hunters must wear orange during rifle season to be easily seen in dense forest conditions.

Hunters should be prepared with the right equipment, Adams added – like a GPS, extra food, water, clothing, and fire-starting material. Also, they should understand their gear (especially weaponry) and know how to make repairs.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife suggests that hunters carry their hunting licenses as well while they’re out in the field, along with field-dressing kits (game tag, knife, small saw, rope, gloves, wet wipes and more). Knowing how to field-dress game is a requirement of the sport, too.

4. Follow the rules and regulations.

All hunters — new and experienced — should know the rules and regulations of hunting before heading out. Colorado Parks and Wildlife publishes booklets about specific game available for hunting, with dates and locations. In each booklet, the first page explains new rules to take into consideration while out on the field.

For more information, visit www.cpw.state.co.us.

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