Updated: Mar 31
Hunting is a relativity new activity for me. It has coupled well with my enjoyment of the outdoors, nature, and all the stories connected to it. Come to think of it, even as a teenage skier I was often found carrying a backpack that had all the gear I needed to boil some water and have a bite to eat. This, all while sitting in the snow, surrounded by the vista of a wooded hillside or a mountains edge. I loved packing for the backcountry just as much as I did waxing my skis - all in preparation for a day spent outside.
A couple of years ago, my nephew David Morgan, was telling me about his experiences waterfowl hunting while we enjoyed some of his slow-cooked goose. That combination created a spark in me. A spark o take the Hunter Education Course and see if hunting is something I'd enjoy. What I mean by that is I felt it was something that I'd love, it would only make sense to me (however, reality and perception can often be two very different things when it comes to the outdoors). My wife was enthusiastic to take the course as well, so together we completed both our PAL and Hunter Education certifications.
Since then, my interest in hunting has only grown. At the same time my passion to explore the outdoors has been inspired and my understanding of the same expanded. It's become quite evident the more you learn the more you discover the more you can learn.
I've heard it said that all you need to go hunting is a shotgun, some shells, and a pair of hiking boots. The premise is that it's not as costly or as difficult as some of the hunting shows can make it seem. While there is an element of truth buried in there somewhere, my experience has been a little different on both accounts. I'll say this, if you have the determination it will serve you well in all aspects of hunting. It's the thing that you'll lean on when an immediate solution is not readily available.
All that being said, here is my list - what I started with (maybe it will help you get started too).
1. SAFETY EDUCATION
Before heading into the field you need to take a couple of safety courses. After taking these I certainly understand why. There was a great deal of material to cover, and fortunately, my courses were taught by both an experienced hunter and a firearms operator. Both courses offered a great deal of insight to both in field "how-to's" and more importantly the precautions that need to be given when handling firearms. Additionally, they cover the many, many rules and regulations that accompany both hunting and firearm possession.
Helpful information from the Government of Ontario https://www.ontario.ca/page/hunter-education
Canadian Firearm Safety Course (CFSC) $190 More Info Here. The Firearms Act requires that individuals wishing to acquire non-restricted firearms must take the Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC) and pass the tests. 1 Day Course
Canadian Hunter Education Course $190 More Info Here. New hunters of all ages must take hunter education training and pass an exam before they can purchase their first hunting license. The Ontario Hunter Education Program will assist you to understand the natural world and become a knowledgeable and responsible hunter. 1 Day Course
Option: One-Stop (P.A.L. & Hunter Education Course) – $330 More Info Here. This is a combination course of both the CFSC and Canadian Hunter Education Course. 2 Day Course
2. FIELD EXPERIENCE
Getting boots on the ground and time spent in the field really helps bring it all together. I can't stress enough, the importance of being able to tag along with an experienced hunter who can pass on some insights and help make sure you're not making any costly mistakes. In my case I had my nephew take me out. He helped me with firing my gun for the first time, cleaning my gun, and an assortment of other pointers when in the field. My first day water-fowling was on a slow day with little to no action in the sky. I'm not sure we planned it this way, but it was a great introduction with no pressure and plenty of time to work on the things like aiming, field setup, and calls.
I'd like to note that I picked up some Snap Caps and practiced at home the simple motion of loading and unloading my shotgun. This helped me become comfortable with this motion allowing me to be more able in the field. Few things will make a fellow hunter hesitate like someone bumbling their way through the process of either loading shells into their gun or trying to find out how to safely unload shells from your magazine.
My main hunt was going to be waterfowl. Mainly because I could go with my nephew who had good access to land - the one thing I've found a continual challenge. With waterfowl being the target, I set my equipment list to suit. Here is where you can simplify in the beginning (as I did to some extent), and allow your pursuits to dictate the expansion of the quality, quantity, and cost of your gear/equipment. For my first few hunts (waterfowl & upland game) here's what I had on hand:
Shotgun - Remington 870 Supermag. Link
Ammunition - Winchester Link
Hiking Boots (Red Head Bone Dry) Link
Knife (old Swiss Army Soldier, now a Pioneer) Link
After completing a couple of hunts and being sure that this was an activity I wanted to pursue I started to obtain additional gear that is particularly suited to the task. Listed below are the items that I have purchased over a period of time. By no means is this an exhaustive list – there's seemingly a never-ending lineup of gear that will give you the sense that the next item is the one that will make the difference. I don't think anyone item creates a make-it or break-it situation. Because after all there is no substitution for being in the right spot at the right time. But when it comes to gear, my preference is to look for items that keep you comfortable, dry, and warm. Remember, if you can hunt with a group of friends the gear can be acquired as a team, distributing both the cost and responsibilities.
UPDATED GEAR LIST
Waterfowl Hunting Jacket - Drake Waterfowl 3-1 Link
Layout Blind - Cabela's Northern Flight Ultimate Link
Hunting Knife (Morakniv, Kansbol) Link
Simple Goose and Duck Call Link
Decoys, Floaters (Goose and Duck) Link
Bushnell Binoculars 10x42 Link
Backpack - Cabela's Elite Scout Link
For a shortlist, check out our blog post on WaterFowl essentials. It's a shortlist of the ideal gear to have on hand for a good day in the field.
So, I'm new to hunting, and my experience in the outdoors has helped to make some adventures feel a little more familiar and comfortable. If you like being outdoors and on occasion enjoy eating a meal that has gone from field to plate, then hunting might just be up your alley. With so many types of hunting (field, waterfowl, small game, big game, etc) you can probably find your niche. My suggestion, start small or start with someone who has the experience and let your commitment be dictated by your experience.