First Hunting Season - Thoughts and Recommendations
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
My first hunting season was very “green”. It consisted of three total trips into the woods, and none of them were full-day trips. I was generally cold and uncomfortable. I did see a fawn while hunting mid-morning while walking a wooded ridge and I tried to sneak and pursue it. I was too loud for even an untrained and unconditioned animal. I remember clicking my release as I walked almost in the same way a kid would feel compelled to spin a fidget. In summary and in hindsight, here are things that I would tell someone going for their first deer hunt:
Dress appropriately, especially for cold weather. Layering is also key.
Warm long underwear/base layer
Warm socks (wool, and if you can afford it get merino wool for all your socks and base layer)
Insulated boots. Cold feet suck.
Insulated pants and jacket.
You can go to Goodwill or other used clothing store, and get warm stuff for cheap (do some research a bit before you shop so you know what items to look for)
Insulated gloves are another huge item, or you can go with the waist hand warmer.
Use your budget to determine what is best for you, but one or both is a great way to extend your hunt and keep your spirit up in cold weather.
For warmer weather first-timers, bugs are a real thing. And they generally suck as much as the cold. I can tell you from current experience that rhinoskin bug proof under layers are effective and wonderful. I literally sat in a swarm of mosquitoes on the ground on a field edge for an entire evening sit this past season and had only one or two bites on my exposed shooting hand. You can find them on Amazon, and I would highly recommend the socks, pants, shirt, and headpiece (hood).
Footwear may still need to be rubber depending on your land. I hunt marshy land mix and the rubber calf boot is still my choice for most hunts. Wet feet are not pleasant, but not as bad in warm weather.
***Remember you can spend way less money sometimes getting used ski gear or something similar in non-camo colors and be super warm. Then you can spend $30 for an XXXL size of outer pants or shirt, wear them over your hot pink ski gear, and you are instantly camo, yet did not drop your life savings buying camo underwear and mid-layers that no one including the deer is going to see anyway.***
Bring something comfortable to sit on. Only you can determine what is comfortable. If you have back issues or nerve issues obviously your needs and comfort may be different. Options include everything from a pad on the ground all the way up to a padded swivel chair in a comfy blind.
Ground blind vs no blind
If you are seeing deer in the area you started hunting, then you may be able to increase your chances with a ground blind placed appropriately. This will allow you to hide some movement and other beginner mistakes until you get some experience under your belt.
However, if you are hunting an area a couple of times and not seeing anything, it may be tempting to assume you are sitting out in the open and moving too much for deer to come by, and that may even be true. But I would suggest scouting new land or new parts of your current land and practice finding ground cover with a small folding chair until you see deer. I feel like the risk of setting up a ground blind in a spot that is not great for deer because you are new to the sport is higher than the benefit of hiding some of your movement. Plus, the less gear you haul around, especially in the beginning, will usually be for the better.
If money is no object, then there are many items that will shorten your learning curve and instantly make you far more comfortable in the woods. However, there are plenty of small tweaks and frugal changes that can make a huge difference in your first season hunting. Whatever your budget: get warm, get comfortable, and have fun.