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New to hunting in washington

Discussion in 'Northwest Hunting' started by Atroxus, Dec 29, 2009.

  1. Atroxus

    Atroxus Marysville, WA Member

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    Hello, am I going to learn to hunt this year and am looking for some info/advice. I am in my mid 30s now, and have wanted to learn how to hunt since I was a kid, just never had the opportunity. I plan on getting my hunting license this January. I have taken the online exam, and just need to take the skill and attitude evaluation portions of the hunter safety class now. I have zero hunting experience though. I have been reading up online. I have also tried picking the brains of people I run into at local ranges and gun shops but the information I get this way has been pretty minimal. I don't think I have BO, or an abrasive personality, but I have not had much luck in getting people to chat with me about hunting. I got one guy to chat for a good 45 minutes about .22 rifles and target shooting, but he doesn't hunt.

    I have a Marlin 60 that I am planning to use on small game to start, with the hopes of buying a .30-06 in time for deer/elk season. My plan is to start out hunting squirrels, rabbits, and raccoons until big game time. I figure this will get me some experience in the woods, and while hunting the small critters I am hoping to scout out potential spots to hunt deer/elk when those seasons come. I am mainly interested in hunting things I can eat, and that can be hunted outside of deer/elk season for now. According to the WDFW web site squirrels, and european rabbits are open year round for hunting, and cottontail, snowshoe hares, raccoons are open till mid march. I am hoping some people here will have some advice/pointers to help me get started. I also have no idea where to start looking for animals to hunt. I live in Marysville and am hoping maybe somone can tell me some areas where I might have some success finding small game within a few hours drive. Also if there are any other edible critters that could be hunted with a .22 I am open to suggestions on that as well. I am not really interested in bird hunting though since I don't own a shotgun, and will be saving all my spare change towards deer/elk rifle this year.

    I am also curious about the edibility of certain animals. Just about everyone I talked to that has eaten it says that rabbit is tasty, so I feel pretty good about hunting those. I am gettign mixed messages though about squirrels, and very little at all about raccoons or any other small game. From what I read online squirrels are supposed to be pretty tasty if prepared properly. I have had several people tell me not to hunt squirrels in washington though because they "eat trash". I am wondering if I get far enough into the woods to not be getting "city squirrel" if the trash eating would be less of an issue? Same for raccoons; according to internet they are tasty, but the few people I got to comment in Washignton have said "You don't want to hunt those, they eat trash." Anyone here eat washington squirrels and/or raccoons? If so how do they taste, and how far into the woods do you have to go to avoid the trash eaters?
     
  2. tritt007

    tritt007 sw washington Member

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    never had squirrel or coon, got to be careful with the squirrels though the ground squirrels carry nasty diseases, rabbits around here are pretty good in my opinion but there best eaten during the cold months when they have no worms,in early spring there is bear season so you can do that before deer and elk,grouse are a biggey around here for me, there delicious we mostly road hunt for grouse,idk much about predator hunting either,hope something in my gibber gabber helps you some, take care -tritt
     
  3. TheDogFather

    TheDogFather Bellingham, WA Member

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    I'm glad that you are finally getting a chance to pursue your dream of hunting. By all means, get your hunting license and take the necessary hunters safety class, learn as much about marksmanship and care or your firearms as possible. In addition to reading on-line, look for outdoor magazines such as Field&Stream, OutDoor Life, Sports Afield, or any number of magazines dedicated to hunting and firearms. Local first person sources are invaluable so keep listening and asking questions when you go to the guns shops, sporting goods stores and shooting ranges. Some people are just slow to open up and, honestly, some might not be anxious to share their "special" hunting grounds but keep trying. Just be polite and friendly and get your face known and someone will come around. I don't know much about the areas around Marysville but you can get topographic maps of the area and try to plot some of the game hunting districts or boundaries on your maps. This will give you an idea of the terrain.

    You won't learn to be a skilled hunter in one or two seasons but you learn by doing. You learn by making mistakes. You learn by quiet careful observation and by remembering what worked. You become skilled by learning the habits and forage patterns of the game you are hunting. You need patience and an understanding that you will probably have more misses than hits to begin with. Just hunt safely and keep trying.

    Your idea to hunt small game as a way to familarize yourself with the area is good thinking, but any chance you have to get out into the woods in the area you might want to hunt is a good idea. Heck get your topo maps and make deliberate scouting trips. I haven't done much small game hunting in this state but rabbits and squirrels should be ok to eat in season and if you are careful with the cleaning and preparation. I don't think you would have to go too far into the mountains/fields to get away from the "trash eaters". I personally would not eat a raccoon unless it was an emergency or survival situation. You can certainly hunt grouse with your .22. Look for them taking dust baths along forest service roads or flush them into a tree. Heck they will just sit there and look at you.

    I hope you can get your 30.06 in time for deer and elk season. You want to give your self a little time to sight in it and get familiar with it. The 30.06 is probably the most versatile center fire rifle you can buy. This caliber will certainly take down deer, elk or bear and you can probably find ammo in any sporting goods store in the state. If you look around I'm sure you can find a used rifle, maybe with scope, in good shape for a fair price. I've seen several on this site.

    Well, this is my two cents worth. I hope you get the answers to your questions. Stick with it, listen, get yourself known in your local hangouts. Best of luck.
     
  4. Red Ryder

    Red Ryder Washington New Member

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    I'll offer up some addition tips and insight that might help you out in getting started in hunting.

    You stated you were taking an online course. Consider taking a taught course as you may get tips and insight from the instructors. These folks have experience in hunting and could be a resource for you. Read all you can.

    Get a copy of the hunting game regulations. Study them. Keep a copy when you go hunting. Know what game regulations apply, where you can go and when.

    Learn about the area where you are going hunting. Find out where the GMU boundaries are. If you are close to civilization, make sure that you are not hunting in a no-shooting zone. Some folks are a little protective of where they go hunting as they like to keep that for themselves. You are going to invest time into learning your way around an area, the habits of whatever critter you are hunting and it will take you time to do this. Some folks who went through a similar investment of time aren't readily willing to part with that info so don't be offended if they don't want to share.

    Learn about land navigation with a map and compass. I usually cover an area with 3-4 different maps. Once you learn about land navigation, get a GPS with mapping capabilty and learn how to use it.

    See if any acquaintances such as friends, coworkers or family go hunting. See if you can wrangle an invite. It's a better plan to go hunting with a partner or a hunting party. If someone gets an animal, there will be help. If someone gets hurt or lost, there will be someone to go looking for them and someone to help. Being able to provide for yourself so that you are an asset as opposed to a drain makes you more welcome in a hunting party.

    My personal preference is not to drink and hunt. I would recommend to avoid those who do. Some folks like to put the party into hunting party. Are they there to hunt or get drunk?

    A lot of hunting is camping with guns. Make sure you get camping gear for overnight trips. You want to be able to stay dry and warm. It rains alot in the NW. You'll want a place to hang wet gear and to be able to warm up. The best way to go is a 4WD truck with a trailer. You might be starting off with a waterproof tent. Brrrr. Warming up by the fire should be a social occasion not a necessity. As another option, you can always stay in a cheap motel. They have showers.

    If you are starting from scratch, there is a tendency to go cheap on gear. Eventually you will find the shortcomings with your gear and upgrade. I started off on a budget and have reinvested in better gear as I went.

    You have selected 30.06 as the caliber you want in a hunting rifle. Good choice. I would suggest a 3X9 or 4X12 scope with a 40mm - 50mm objective. I have often seen used rifles with good scopes going for about $450.

    Make sure you sight in before you go hunting. Don't wait until you are in the area you are going to hunt. It really annoys the other hunters. Visually a target the size of a pie plate. Your maximum shooting distance should be the distance you can keep your shots on a pie plate. Know where to place your shot on a game animal to quickly drop it and minimize suffering.

    Binoculars are what you use to identify game (or another hunter) with, not your rifle scope. I like to use an 8X42 as the magnification doesn't make the binoculars seem to be moving as much. Get a strap type harness and they'll hang comfortably on your chest all day long.

    Get waterproof boots that are comfortable. Get lots of thick hiking socks. Put moleskin in your pack to address the "hotspots" on your feet that may turn into blisters later on. Get a waterproof jacket. Be able to layer your gear so that you can adjust your body temp as the temperature around you changes. If you wear jeans, get some gaiters to keep the lower part of your leg protected from brush and from getting soaked. Invest in T-shirts such as Under Armor as they wick away the sweat. Cotton shirts hold the moisture next to you.

    Get a good backpack to put your gear into. Get one with chest straps that go a cross the harness and this will help you retain the pack in position and stay more comfortable as your pack will shift less on your shoulders. I use a Camelback Ranger with the water hydration system on it.

    I have a few lists of gear that you may or may not find helpful. PM me and I'll send you some copies. You can gain knowledge through reading and listening to others but eventually it is your knowledge and experience that you will have to rely upon. I think you'll have a great time in the pursuit of game.
     
  5. Atroxus

    Atroxus Marysville, WA Member

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    Unfortunately I don't know anyone that hunts. I would much rather learn from an experienced hunter, but my options so far are go on my own, or don't go at all. :( My work schedule sadly precludes taking a live hunter safety class as well. I work 4 10 hour shifts and all of the classes I saw are scheduled multiple days to start before I get off work. I have taken the online exam already and am registered to finish up the evaluation February 4th(earliest I could get). I hope to have my license shortly after.

    Some people on other forums have recommended I start on guided hunts, but I am on a pretty tight budget so thats not an option either.

    If anyone wants to volunteer to take me out hunting to mentor me though I am eager to learn, and follow directions well. I also am very safety concious(sp) and do not mix booze and firearms.
     
  6. das_napeth

    das_napeth Snohomish, WA Member

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    Since you live in marysville you might want to look at places around the mtn. loop hwy area. I've never hunted out there but have a buddy who says he has. Just be sure to double check shooting zones and such. Come to think of it, I might have to check it out sometime myself also. I was in everett not too long ago and saw a .30-06 savage bolt action with an accu-trigger which I think had a scope on it for $350 at a pawn shop. Let me know if you want further info on that.
     
  7. Atroxus

    Atroxus Marysville, WA Member

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    I just recently got a NIB Stevens 200 .30-06 for $200+tax, and a NIB Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40mm scope for $165 including tax and shipping. I just sigghted it in and broke in the barrel the other day. Someone on another forums told me a few places up near mountain loop that I am gonna start scouting. Hopefully I can connect with a tasty deer or elk this year, and load up my freezer.:)
     
  8. 2506

    2506 Seattle Well-Known Member

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    Red Ryder said a mouthful. The only other thing I would at to his sage words, and it should just be a reminder to EVERYONE on this forum and not new information--always tell someone your plan: where you're going, what you're doing, and how long you'll be gone.
     
  9. Red Ryder

    Red Ryder Washington New Member

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    Atroxus, it looks like you got a nice Stevens rifle and scope to start out with.

    Check with the area law enforcement to see if there are any shooting restrictions in the area you are going into. You could make a day of it and head out in the woods to sight in or keep it close in and hit a range like Kenmore or perhaps Ebey Island to sight in. It's nice to have a bench rest to shoot off of to maximize your rifle's accuracy. (Once your rifle is accurate, the rest is up to you.) They have scopes so you can check your target out. It saves some walking back and forth. With a 12 power scope, you should be able to see your impact on the target. I would suggest starting out at 50 yards with a large target to make sure you are on paper and then move out to 100 yards to get better dialed in. Be aware that with some rifles, as the barrel heats up, the point of impact may change. My nephew's Remington 700 in 30.06 would shoot a nice 4 shot group and the 5th shot would be a flyer. Let the barrel cool between shots to avoid this once you are getting dialed in.

    Once you do get your rifle dialed in, practice shooting standing and kneeling. Prone is a good position also but realistically, while it is one of the most accurate shooting positions to use, most hunters don't use it. Put a sling on your rifle. Lear how to use it in the standing and kneeling positions. The kneeling position will give you more stability than standing if you can use it. A sling will help you in the standing position if you have time to utilize it (deer move kind of quick!). You may also use the side of a tree to stabilize in the standing position but do not rest the rifle directly against the tree, use your hand.

    Another reason to have a sling is it provides a safe direction to point the rifle while carrying it. When I greet another hunter on the trail and they keep sweeping me with their unslung rifle, I get more than annoyed. Practice maintaining safe direction (away from other hunters in your party or as you approach others) when you carry your rifle unslung. My own sense of personal courtesy dicates I sling my rifle when others approach so I don't sweep them.

    I like scope covers on my scopes. I use the ones that press onto the scope and pop up when you press the button or tab. It's really easy to do this as you shoulder your rifle. As you go through the rain or wet undergrowth, these will help keep your lenses clear. If you can, learn to shoot with both eyes open but be able to focus on the sight picture of your scope.

    The Marlin model 60 is a fine .22 rifle. If you are set up with a scope and sling on this rifle, you can train with it in some of the shooting positions and $ave some ammo costs. Find out when wabbit season opens up and see if you can hunt the area you want to deer hunt in. This will give you an opportunity to scout the area you plan to hunt deer in and see if there are any sign, game trails, good places to hunt, etc..

    It sounds like you're working your way into this. You can stretch essential purchases out between now and hunting season.
     
  10. Atroxus

    Atroxus Marysville, WA Member

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    Will check on the shooting restriction thing. I had checked WDFW for restrictions, I had not thought of local LE restrictions since I plan to be well outside city limits and as far into the woods as I can stand to hike.

    I got teh scope dialed in fairly well I think. My best 3 shot group at 100 yards was about 2 inches across. I think I can get it smaller once I get a better recoil pad and/or some more practice to get accustomed to the recoil.

    I already have a sling, and I plan to get a shooting stick or bipod. I will definitely practice from field positions before trying to shoot any live animals though.

    I also have a marlin model 60 with a 3-9x40mm scope that I plan to use for small game until deer/elk season. I figure teh small game also will be great for scouting potential deer/elk areas. I can hold a 1 inch group at 50 yards from a rest with my marlin. I just need to find someplace to practice that allows shooting from field positions though.
     
  11. das_napeth

    das_napeth Snohomish, WA Member

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    Well since I'm considering checking out spots around the loop also. How about buddying up sometime to scout/small game?
     
  12. Atroxus

    Atroxus Marysville, WA Member

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    Sounds awesome. I'll PM you to work out the details. :)
     
  13. 2506

    2506 Seattle Well-Known Member

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    Hey, I'd be up for running around in the woods as well. If you guys don't consider 3 a crowd...
     
  14. Atroxus

    Atroxus Marysville, WA Member

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    I don't have a problem with it. I'll PM you as well.