Thirst for Knowledge

How can you become a better hunter? Find out here — and share your advice!
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Thirst for Knowledge

Postby VaSportsman » Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:10 pm

First, I just wanted to say hello and acknowledge that Ive been hanging around here for the last several weeks, trying to gain as much knowledge as I can. Not unlike a few Ive seen in this forum, I am as green as they come to hunting. That said, I am totally HOOKED!!! And when Im passionate about something, I will study it to no end in an attempt to become the best I can be.

Ill start off by giving a little background. I was born and raised and currently reside in Virginia Beach, Va. I grew up with a fishing pole in my hand and generally loved the outdoors. A tradition that my grandfather started and thankfully my father carried on was charter fishing locally. Some of my earliest memories include flounder fishing on the Eastern Shore. As I grew and my passion for fishing evolved, we began chasing bigger game off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina, catching the offshore species that migrate up the eastern seaboard. I didnt think there was anything cooler on the planet than firing up the diesels and making the 2 hour trip to the continental shelf, observing all the sea life, all while catching powerful and delicious dolphin (fish), tuna and the occasional wahoo. That was until I caught my first billfish. After that, forget about it, I was all in!

Fortunate I was, my old man would charter boats 3 and 4 times a summer over the years, often with the same captains. Im sure there were a few first mates that I annoyed because I was basically their shadow. I wanted to know everything, from tying knots to rigging baits, leadering and gaffing fish... you name it. Luckily though, most of the mates enjoyed teaching me and before I knew it I was getting invited to tag along on weekends, all I had to do was help clean the boat... DONE!

Well fast forward many years later and I naturally found myself running the cockpit of a charter boat. The idea that people were gonna pay me to do this was laughable to me because I would have done it for free. Well, over the next 13 years my job took me to places Id only dreamt of fishing. The Bahamas, Mexico, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Hawaii... I was the richest young man in the world! Ive since obtained my captains license and continue to fish to this day. God has truly blessed me.

Now Im a 35 year old man with a wife and three boys. My traveling days are over. So in the offseason months I often found myself looking for something to do. A couple years ago I took a trip to the eastern shore with a buddy and he handed me a shotgun and some camo and sent me up a tree. What the hell, I had nothing better to do. That evening I saw a doe a couple hundred yards away for just a brief second, then she disappeared. Shortly thereafter, it got dark and we went back to the house. Nothing too exciting, but I enjoyed being in the woods and that was the closest I had ever been to a deer so it was a pretty cool experience. We went the next morning and I saw nothing but again, it was just nice being there. We came back to the beach and I really never put too much thought into it again, until another buddy called me up a couple weeks later and asked if I wanted to go back to the same property. I obliged.

That evening, I climbed into the gear he had provided for me and he then did something that kind of caught me off guard. He started hosing me down with a spray bottle like I was on fire! When I asked him what the hell he was doing, he exclaimed 'deer can smell anything, this stuff covers up any unnatural scent.'. Ok man, whatever you say. Anyway, we grabbed our weapons and we were off. I climbed the stand I had hunted just weeks prior and he was off down the trail to another stand.

For the next couple of hours I think I heard every squirrel in the woods. I just knew every one of them was going to turn out to be a deer. Not so. By the time I had come to the conclusion that I was never going to see a deer, I heard footsteps that sounded just a bit different. I slowly turned to my left and sure enough, here comes a doe coming pretty much right at me. I got the gun into position to where I thought our paths were going to cross and clicked the safety off. It felt like an eternity for that deer to get to me but Im sure it wasnt all that long. I remember thinking I thought Id be nervous if and when I got this opportunity, but I really was cool as a cucumber (a decade plus of marlin fishing will teach you how to manage nerves). When she finally got close enough where I was confident taking the shot, I squeezed the trigger. POW!!!! That doe dropped like a bag of potatoes, perfect heart/lung shot. Then the funniest thing happened. I started shaking like a bag of mexican jumping beans. I crack up just thinking about it, man. It was uncontrollable, and I was excited as hell!

That was it, I was HOOKED! Dressing the deer was not my favorite thing in the world but not anything I couldnt get past. People say, 'How many fish have you cleaned? Same difference, right?'. Im here to tell you, it's not quite the same. Anyway, after taking the deer, field dressing it then getting it back to the beach and cleaning it over a couple beers with my buddy (who also shot a doe), I realized I was familiar with the feeling I was experiencing. It's the same feeling I had when I first started offshore fishing (Now dont get me wrong, I still enjoy what I do. But naturally if you do something day in and day out for a decade, it loses some of its glory). Anyway, Im sure you all know the feeling well. Unfortunately I didnt get the chance to hunt last year because I had a very pregnant wife. However, this past Thanksgiving I hunted with my father-in-law and shot my first buck. Not a big deer, just a 2 1/2 year old four point, but after that Im ready to spend every last dollar on all things hunting. Im ate up with it.

Which brings me to the whole point of writing all of this. As I said before, when Im passionate about something I naturally want to know all there is to know about it. I know nothing beats experience and I hope to get my share in the coming years. But Id like to pick some brains around here because Ive read enough on this forum to know there is knowledge to be obtained, and Im hoping there are some folks that will be just as patient with me as many of those first mates were when I was a young buck.

Obviously, Ive just started to collect all the essential gear needed. I still do not own a gun because I want to be sure I make the right decision for me. My father-in-law has been gracious enough to lend me his Remington 1100 12 ga. and I really feel very comfortable shooting it. Thing is, Im right handed but shoot lefty. That said, I havent had any problems with the ejected shells or gunpowder. Id really like to hear some advice on a potential gun for myself. I see myself hunting deer mostly but I do have friends who bird hunt that Id like to eventually join. What is a good all around gun and should I worry about buying a left handed shotgun?

I cant tell you how many youtube videos Ive watched trying to figure out which deer call to buy. And just reading through these forums Ive come to the conclusion that its a matter of personal preference, although there are a couple names that tend to pop up frequently. Im dying to get one and get started on learning all the different calls. Ive enjoyed learning about the rut and cannot wait to experience that next year. It takes everything in me not to go buy everything off the shelves off the local Bass Pro Shops.

Anyway, my apologies for the length of this post. If youve made it this far, I appreciate you hanging in there. Depending on the response I get, Id love to ask more questions. Im heading out to Farmville, Va. early next week for three days to give it another go. I will certainly be back to hopefully tell an amazing story. I promise Ill keep it under 1000 words though. Thanks for listening and happy hunting.

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Re: Thirst for Knowledge

Postby buckwild » Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:25 pm


Yes, that was a long post - haha. Ive been hunting deer about 12 years and the first five years were with bow only. When I decided to gun hunt I also had to ask around. I was in the military, but never owned a gun, and didnt know that much about them. I wanted something versatile and ended up getting a Remington 870. You can get the "combo", which comes with a slug barrel and shot barrel. I mostly deer hunt with it, but have taken it trap shooting before, and this spring I used it to hunt turkey.

As far as calls - I hunt public land, and for the most part the deer have the hunters figured out. The only call that I have ever had a deer come to was a "can call" that simulates a doe bleat. Oh - I take that back. I have had deer respond to a series of "tending grunts" on more than one occasion. That is where you repeat a short and soft "urp urp urp" (google it).

Hope that helps - Good Luck!
Semper Fidelis!

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Re: Thirst for Knowledge

Postby usmclowrider » Sat Dec 15, 2012 8:00 pm

I am relatively new to hunting also. I have been shooting since I was 8 though. And the only shotgun I have ever owned was the remington 870. Remington Definetaly has some great shotguns at reasonable prices. Also, the remington 700 is a very popular gun at a decent price.

I don't know much about calling as I haven't done any yet. But I also plan on learning all I can about it or next year. Good luck with learning everything, I just joined this forum too and everyone seems to be very helpful.

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Re: Thirst for Knowledge

Postby Sierra » Sun Dec 16, 2012 1:40 pm

Hi VA, welcome to the forum. I am kinda new here myself actually. I am so glad there is another person who makes long posts, I am no longer the only one!

As I am sure anyone on here will predict, I am going to second Buckwild on the Rem 870. They are great guns and affordable. Buy the combo so you get both barrels, so you can venture into bird hunting. I plan to learn pheasant hunting.

I am with you on the hunting addiction. I didn't get into it the same way... basically my grandfather always wanted to take me but my mom is VERY anti-gun. I was not even allowed gun-shaped toys. So Boppa (my grandpa) would plant seeds verbally. We were going to hunt when I turned 18. Unfortunately, he passed away before then. Well, when I got to my early 20s I remembered his words and decided to try, and there you have it. Fortunately for you, you have your friends to help you with getting started.

I also want to buy just about everything, and I think over this next year some semblance of that may happen. I plan to plant stuff on the farm I am allowed to hunt in a clearing I found. I am still learning myself, so I won't be too much help, but the people on here are great and welcome questions. Hell, they have put up with me. :-)

Also, it's awesome you are a fisherman as well. I love fishing, and have adapted from growing up in Florida and open-water fishing to what we have here in Ohio. I often take my kids. You'll likely end up with a similar plan: Go someplace nearby and let kids fish, untangling lines, baiting hooks, and helping as need be. Return kids home in the afternoon, then go back out for real fishing. :-) We're lucky and have a pond out back with decent bass, great for when I don't feel like driving anywhere. We also have a good impoundment and dam within a few minutes drive, with good walleye fishing. Also fun catfish fishing under the dam.

Anyway, glad you're here. Hope you like it!

And then the moon, like to a silver bow new bent in Heaven

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Re: Thirst for Knowledge

Postby Sailfish » Mon Dec 17, 2012 7:34 am


Wonderful introductory post!
"Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you'll be able to see farther."

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Re: Thirst for Knowledge

Postby kellory » Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:33 pm

Welcome to the forum. There is a lot to learn here, and the people are friendly. (we don't mind long posts.) Have questions, ask. There is also a search function for each forum section at the top left of each forum. Enjoy. ;)
The only real difference between a good tracker and a bad tracker is observation. All the same data is present for both. The rest is understanding what you are seeing.

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Re: Thirst for Knowledge

Postby tgloden03 » Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:48 pm

First off welcome to the hunting family man!
I have been hunting for 15 years and enjoy every minute of it and that feeling you get after harvesting a animal I still get it every time im fortunate enough to bag a animal. As far as calls go im not sure what to tell you as I have come to find out that mostly it just comes down to personal preference. But like you im also right handed but shoot left handed. Where I live in Mississippi we get to use high powered rifles for deer hunting so I use a bolt action 270 that is made for a right handed shooter but I do duck hunt which I use a shotgun that is made for a right handed shooter. They do make shotguns for left handed shooters but shooting a gun made for a right handed shooter doesn't bother me not to say that you might like a lefty gun better. What I have learned is that you just have to try different things and see what you like.

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Re: Thirst for Knowledge

Postby oletimer » Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:09 am

Welcome to a life long passion. I am also in Va. but not close [ about 50 miles SW of DC]. I have been at it for over 40 years and still learn something new all the time. You might want to try another site along with It is a very active site and there are a lot of members in your area. There is a swap tread there too and you might be able to work something out with a charter swap. In fact some were looking for a charter captain recently.
lead follow or get out of the way

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Re: Thirst for Knowledge

Postby VaSportsman » Sun Dec 23, 2012 1:46 pm

Hey guys and gals, just wanted to thank you guys for your response. I have gotten a lot of good advice from this forum and friends and family. It looks like I may be able to hunt the last couple of days of the deer season so I'm in no rush to go out and buy a gun. I hope to have something come spring turkey season. I would imagine I could probably find a good deal after the season is over.

So louis week I was able to hunt Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday out near Keysville, Va. We didn't get in until late Sunday night and didn't get to sleep until about 4am. My father-in-law and his wife's cousin opted not to wake up and hunt that morning, but guess who did? That's right. After about an hour and a half cat nap, I went to the first stand on the property. I wasn't in the stand twenty minutes before a nice doe approached from my left at about 50 yards in thick hardwood. A minute or so later I saw a young buck on her trail. A minute or so later, I heard the buck grunting at her, something I had only read about.

Long story short, they both walked straight to the doe estrues I had hanging about 20 yards directly in front of my stand. The doe moved off slowly and as the young buck and I had an intense stare down, I couldn't decide if I wanted to take him or hold out for a trophy. As the young 4 pointer turned to follow the doe he presented me with a perfect quarter shot, so I took it. What the heck, need some meat to get us through til next season.

In hindsight, I'm glad I took that deer because I never saw another one in the 5 hunts that followed. However, Wednesday evening my father-in-law saw a very nice 8 pointer that never made it within shotgun range.

All in all, we had a terrific time. Spending that much time in the woods was like an early Christmas present. We saw quite a few turkey, too, was a treat.

Now I have to get back to my game, Hail to the Redskins!!!!

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Re: Thirst for Knowledge

Postby HuntingFool94 » Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:10 pm

I been hunting serious for about the past 10 years - grew up hunting in the 80's went to college and the big city and never hunted - then a friend took me on a bear hunt in Canada - hooked ever since. One piece of advice (I too am a lefty shooter right eye dominate) learn to shoot right handed. I did so I could shoot trap, sporting clays and birds. Best thing I ever did for my deer hunting - I am now ambidextrous and that works wonders in the deer woods. I would advise same for all the righties in the world - sometimes it seems deer just know to approach a stand on the right side where a right handed shooter will struggle to get them - I just put the gun in my left shoulder and down goes the deer. I also clear lanes for left and right shots - where most hunters only clear to what they can shoot right handed. Also realize that a good day of deer hunting is seeing a couple of deer - lots of new hunters expect to see herds of deer everytime out - I often sit and only see a deer or two (or none) - you just never know with deer, right place, right time - another tip - hunt during the 10 AM to 2 AM window - I generally see more deer at that time than during the early morning - I am often going out when the new hunters are headed back in the morning - they are having coffee and doughnuts while I am gutting a doe or buck!
"don't stink, don't move, don't make noise"


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