Good morning T-Nation brain trust.
I’ve decided that this is the year I begin to hunt seriously. My stepson is taking a serious interest in it (bagging a monster turkey with his bro last week sure helps) and I’d like to make it something we do together for a really long time.
My experience up until this point has been what I’d call “casual”. I’d go along with my uncle on backyard hunts as a kid, learned how to field dress a deer, scout for tree stand locations with him, stuff like that. I’d occasionally venture out into the woods with friends to shoot stuff at other times in life, but these were unorganized boondoggles at best.
Right now I’m struggling with budget and whether or not I want to pursue both archery and firearms hunting. My uncle is a high-level bow hunter, a great resource for getting started and he’s pushing me HARD in that direction. He’s all about scouting his spots and setting up mobile tree stands with a walk-up setup. He’s got some impressive trophies with the bow over the years, so his success is obvious. I was proficient with a simple recurve as a youth, and he assures me that I can get proficient with a compound before October with a little bit of practice.
Gear-wise, my uncle’s two pieces of advice were to buy a used high-quality bow appropriate for your draw length and weight AND buy nice, not twice on your treestand. He was adamant that this is the best product on the market and ADAMANT that it is worth every penny. Apparently he’s sunk a few thousand into similar products over the years before he found his Goldilocks.
One of each of those for me and my kid already puts me at $800 worth of hunting equipment. I’d like to keep this under $2,000 for this year, at least.
That brings me to firearms. Different seasons, different permits from archery and it’s possible to hit your total bag limit in archery season. My thought for a north woods big game rifle is a Ruger American in 30-06 with a relatively inexpensive scope like a 3x9 Leupold. I don’t have a lot of experience with scoped rifle shooting but I’m not anticipating any 400-500 yard shots. I like the idea of a heavy bullet that can punch through a little brush and take a moose if I win a permit, but this is all theoretical for me right now. What I most like about that is it is a $500-600 game harvesting setup that should work fine for shots out to a few hundred yards for me.
I’m not sure what to get for a bird gun. I may go cheap here as well and get a used Mossberg 500, but damn if I couldn’t talk myself into a Browning Citori really easily. The other possibility I’m considering is investing heavy in archery and just grabbing a cheap, used shotgun with barrel swaps for birds and slugs for deer.
Outside of gear and other “getting started” type of advice, I’d appreciate any other tips for hunting the vast north woods of Maine and similar habitats. Moose is a distant possibility due to low lottery odds, but deer, turkey, pheasant, quail and grouse are all definitely on the menu. I’m an experienced woodsman and backpacker but I’m sure there’s plenty to learn about hunting that hasn’t even entered my mind yet.
Any an all advice and feedback is appreciated. Thanks!