Things First-time Idaho Hunters Sometimes Forget
Hunting is one of the biggest pastimes in Idaho. Very few people are out on the land hunting to keep themselves alive like humans used to do in the time before grocery stores and fast food, but that does not mean the fun and excitement has gone out of the practice. As long as you eat what you shoot, there is no reason you should not hunt within the guidelines that have been set by the law for harvesting animals in Idaho. And you might think harvesting is something of a euphemism for killing animals, but it really is harvesting. Without human intervention, a lot of animal species would become overpopulated in Idaho and that could lead to serious trouble for the balance of the local ecosystem. So, there are some very good reasons to get involved with hunting in Idaho, but there are a few things that first-time hunters need to be reminded of (Or taught) when it comes to hunting. There are some very simple things you can do to improve your chances of success and there are some very simple concepts that you should understand if you want to get the most out of your hunting experiences.
One thing a lot of new hunters tend to forget is where they are standing and the image, they are presenting to all of the animals around them. Animals have better senses than you and so you want to do everything you can do limit how much you are exposed. One of the most important things to do is avoid silhouetting. If you are just staying in one place that is low and covered over for blind-hunting, you do not have to worry about this as much. If you are moving around and going over and around high places to reach your prey, you want to be aware of how well you blend in. If you are standing on top of a hill with nothing behind you but air and sky, every animal for miles around is probably going to notice you if they look in your direction. If you stand straight up but move a few meters down the face of that hill, the trees and the hill itself will be your backdrop and you will blend in. Try to avoid high places where you will become a silhouette and if you have to go up high, keep your body and profile low.
You should also be aware that most kinds of hunting involve a whole lot of trekking. If you are not physically in shape, you might find yourself getting exhausted and then getting into trouble. Most hunting grounds are in places where roads do not go and even if you can get to the animals with a vehicle, you probably want to leave the vehicle behind. Loud engines and burning gasoline tend to spook animals into running away from you. Even if you are hunting with an emplaced blind, you still have to get to that blind and then trek back when you are done. Every other type of hunting demands that you to journey farther and even farther out. A good example of what I mean involves the wind. If the wind is blowing through you towards the animal you are hunting, they are going to smell you and run once you get close enough. That means you need to trek a wide circle around the animal until your scent is blowing away from your prey. As you might imagine, hunting involves miles and miles of trekking and you are going to want some very good gear/light to keep you warm and comfortable while you are going.
Hunting also tends to take you to less than comfortable environments that might even be hostile to humans. Idaho is well-known for its cold climate and things only get colder when you head out into the mountains and the wilderness. There are many things you can do to prepare to survive for a day or two (Or longer) in this kind of environment and they are all very important and good for you but there is one ultra-important thing you should do before you leave to hunt in the wild: always tell people where you are going and when you will be back and discuss what you'd like them to do if you haven't arrived back on schedule. If someone knows what you are up to and knows when to expect you back, they will be alerted when you do not check in with them. They can then send emergency services after you to save your life, though, don't expect anyone to assume this is the plan without fully discussing it in advance. All of the preparation in the world will not save you in some circumstances. What could save you is a trained professional in a helicopter flying out to your last known location and spotting you from the air. It is not a fool-proof solution because it is easy to lose yourself in the wilderness and be impossible to find, but it will definitely improve your chances if someone can send help after you.
A last point I want to cover is the point of gear and what you buy for hunting. You are probably going to be tempted to purchase all sorts of cool toys to improve your hunting experience. While a lot of these toys can be really useful at times and in certain circumstances, they are no substitute for time spent in the field, practicing your new hobby. No piece of gear is going to make you an expert hunter. What will make you an expert hunter is a lot of experience hunting with tools that you are familiar with. All you need is a weapon that will work for you and the right equipment to keep you safe and moderately comfortable while you are about your business. Any more than that is probably just going to weigh you down and rattle around while you are trying to sneak through the brush to find your prey. Research the essentials and find out what you really need that you do not already have. Then get out and do some hunting, preferably with professionals who can teach you.