Living an outdoors lifestyle since I was a little kid, the idea of hunting, fishing and foraging has always come naturally to me. It’s just something that we did – gutting fish, plucking a grouse clean of feathers, knowing which berries to pick – these are all things that I have never really batted an eye at. The reason for that all boils down to the fact that I was lucky enough to have mentors close to me my entire life, to help me learn and teach me lessons in the field.
I will always advocate that having a reliable mentor in your community is the best way to dip your toes into the outdoors world. There is also a plethora of online resources that provide additional support. If you are wanting to get into hunting but find that the idea of harvesting larger game sounds intimidating, might I suggest starting with upland game birds?
Putting aside a bit of bias that I may hold, as my introduction to hunting was through searching for grouse with my dad, even today I think there are many benefits to starting off with small game. From the cost of getting started, to learning how to deal with the harvest and the ease of getting out, the benefits to entering the world of hunting through small game are endless.
It can be easy to watch social media and hunting shows and think that hunting is out of reach for you financially. After all, there could be thousands of dollars in camo, rifles, optics and more in one small snapshot. There is a place for that, sure. But depending on the time of year, you could comfortably hunt for grouse in jeans, a hoodie and a good pair of sneakers. You aren’t hunting long distances for them, so there’s no need for any optics. Looking to purchase your first rifle? A .22LR with open sights isn’t going to break the bank and a box of .22LR bullets is significantly more affordable than larger calibres.
Of particular importance, if you find yourself hunting solo while new to hunting, small game provides an opportunity to learn skills that are transferable to larger game. Grouse teach you skills for plucking and gutting, and processing small game like snowshoe hare allows you to get familiar with the techniques that you can then transfer to larger animals without being initially overwhelmed. Hunting does not need to be stressful or expensive!