I was not exposed to hunting when I was young. I was out in the woods a lot, starting about age 10, but I was more of the collector/amatuer biologist. I did not start hunting until I was an adult. For starters, I only had outdoor magazines like Outdoor Life to guide me. I had started with OL when I was six, reading it in the barbershop.
When I was in my early twenties, I fell in with some old farts who let me tag along. One was a vet from The Bulge, another was a ex-Marine armorer who could boast 2 weeks at Khe Sahn prior to TET . Another was the retired editor of a gun mag. One guy owned a gun shop. That was where I got my real upbringing as a hunter. Prior to all this, I had been a caver in the National Speleological Society, and been in on some heavy trips underground. The caving had taught me self-reliance, team work, and how to deal with survival situations. It probably got me my bones as least as far as the vets in the group were concerned. I was the baby of the bunch, and they were more than happy to remind me of that. I think they enjoyed having a willing student and some young blood in the group.
It didn't take long for the group to start falling apart, and within 10 years there had been several guys that had passed on, and it was just myself and Bob. Bob's legs went shortly after that, and although I talk to Bob regularly, his days afield are long past him.
For the past twenty years, I have been trying to find the intelligence, wit, and comraderie that I lost when those guys checked out. I spent many years alone in the field. It made me go out and have three sons, build a deer camp and do it all as a DIY project. 2 of the 3 hunt with me, and I treasure the time I have with them. Now that I am beginning to resemble my old buddies, that is really important to me.
What foundation did they leave me?
1) You ain't getting any younger sitting on your duff. Go hunt before its too late.
2) It all ends way too fast. No one gets out alive. Cherish each blessed moment
3) What you do in the field is the ultimate test of you, you among men, you before your God.
4) Treat it all as deadly important, and carry it as light as a feather.
Regarding Gun Safety: There are only two state of a gun. Loaded, cocked and aimed downrange and unloaded with the action open. Safeties aren't. The barrel of the gun will be pointed willfully at all times, either at the target, or in a safe direction away from what you hold dear. All firearms are loaded until proven conclusively otherwise and all present concur. There are negligent shootings and there are suicides; there is no such thing as an accidental shooting.
Regarding Hunting: One shot-one kill is a dream for sofa jockies. Be prepared to take the first best shot you can. Shoot. Re-acquire your target, and keep firing in a controlled fashion until you are either a) out of ammo, b) the target has disappeared c) the target is down d) the target has moved out of position. There will be no golfer's syndrome in the ranks. The ideal shot is one where the animal falls dead in your sights with the second round loaded and the rifle returned to battery. The second best is an empty magazine, a smoking rifle, a steaming carcass on the ground, and three shots into the boiler room before the deer got 10 yards. Also: if you like what 30-06 can do at 100 yards, you should see what it does at 10 yards.
Regarding Shooting: One can only throw a ballon so far and so fast. You can optimize for velocity, bullet diameter, or recoil. Pick two of the three. The cost of reducing the group size is a curve logarithmically propotional to the proposed reduction in size. Death Rays are science fiction. Walnut figures bear no relation to downrange effectiveness.