From small game and upland birds to big game, waterfowl and even the creatures that define the term “top of the food chain," hunting offers a priceless bond with the natural world, food for the table and a welcome respite from the world’s daily grind.Learn More
All About Hunting
From small game and upland birds to big game, waterfowl and even the creatures that define the term “top of the food chain,” hunting offers a priceless bond with the natural world, food for the table and a welcome respite from the world’s daily grind.
GET STARTED IN HUNTING
If just one in three hunters add one new person to our hunting traditions, we’ll secure a strong future for generations to come. Be the one. Ignite the passion that can change the course of someone’s life forever. For all hunting has done to enrich your life, join the +ONE movement and invite someone hunting. Share your experience with posts on social media. #PlusOneMovement.
+ONE Partner Organizations
Working together to encourage responsible mentorship in local communities.
FIND A RANGE
Hear the words “deer hunting” and you’ll likely think of the ubiquitous whitetail—and for good reason. You can find this species in 44 states, usually in plentiful numbers on private and public lands. In five of the six states the whitetail doesn’t call home, you can still deer hunt, but in Alaska and California it will be for the elusive black-tail, Nevada and Utah are home on the range for mule deer, and Coues deer have Arizona for an address. (Trivia: The only state that lacks a native deer population is Hawaii!).
With a helicopter rise at the flush preceding its zippy horizontal flight for yonder, a long tail that’s distracted more than a few hunters to miss and a cackle that mocks when you do, this gaudy bird reigns the world of upland bird hunting. So popular is this bird in the vast plains of the Midwest that opening day is legitimate cause to skip school, work, church and afternoon college football. If you’ve ever been to an opening day in Pierre, South Dakota, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.
Considered one of the most majestic animals on the continent, the Rocky Mountain elk is emblematic of western hunting. From the bugling of herd bull monarchs keeping their harems of cows in line to the breathtaking vistas and, oh, those towering tiers of antlers, this is a prized experience for anyone with the patience to hike the miles and put the hours in behind a binocular to plan a stall. Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah are always top destinations, but reintroduced populations in states like Kansas, Kentucky,
They’re not just for Thanksgiving anymore! In fact, America’s wild turkeys are as much a sign that spring is here as the Easter bunny. With eyesight that puts an eagle to shame and an all-too-often reluctance to come within range despite the lively “conversation” between bird and a hunter’s slate call, spring turkey seasons are a challenge that see camo-clad, shotgunners head to the woods and fields in droves.
Four flyways, colorful species small and large, the art of the decoy and the thrill of a Labrador retriever leaping over the boat’s bow to make an enthusiastic retrieve of goose or duck make waterfowling one of the most thrilling hunting sports around. It’s also one of the oldest—drawings of waterfowl have been found in Ice Age caves, Egyptian tombs and even the artwork of B.C.-era Peru. America’s earliest settlers from “across the pond” found their new home in the East boasted a nearly unlimited supply of ducks, geese and swans—good eating for starving Colonials.
Find a preserve
WHERE TO HUNT
Hunting preserves—private, regulated properties that stock game animals—are a great resource for hunters. They provide a controlled environment and an increased chance for success. Big-game preserves often include one-on-one guiding, great for novices, while upland bird preserves are a favorite for training young bird dogs.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Hunting Basics And Tips
Hunting safety is the first priority
Watch a safety video or take a hunter education course to learn more.
Read hunting laws and regulations
Hunting laws and regulations vary from state to state. Learn more.
Wear proper hunting gear
The more comfortable you are, the longer you’ll hunt and the better the chances for success.
Essential hunting equipment
Check out where to buy hunting firearms and ammo for your next trip.
Go with a friend
Invite someone new hunting. Check out the apprenticeship hunting program.
Obtaining A Hunting License
Hunting licenses can be purchased at various places, including local firearms retailers and angler supply stores, as well as directly from the local wildlife management departments online. States usually require hunters to take a hunter education course before they take to the woods, but many make exceptions if the hunter will be accompanied by a fully licensed and experienced hunter through an apprenticeship program.
Share your experience
Share your experience
Ways Hunting Can Bring You Happiness
Ever wonder why some hunters grow such an immense passion for hunting? Hunting takes time, work, skill, luck and so much more, but the benefits can far outweigh what is invested.
As you get into hunting, the challenge can seem overwhelming. It is sure to challenge your learning abilities, but persistence and perseverance truly set accomplished hunters apart from the rest.
No matter how much you hunt, here are a few ways that hunting might positively impact mental health:
- Connection with nature: Hunting often involves spending time outdoors in natural environments, which can promote feelings of calmness, relaxation, and connectedness with nature. Research has shown that spending time in nature can reduce stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression.
- Physical activity: Hunting often involves physical activity, such as walking or hiking, which can promote physical health and also release endorphins that can improve mood and reduce stress.
- Mindfulness: Hunting can require a great deal of patience and focus, which can promote mindfulness and help individuals stay present in the moment. Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress and improve overall well-being.
- Sense of accomplishment: Successfully hunting an animal can provide a sense of accomplishment and boost self-esteem. This can be especially beneficial for individuals who may struggle with feelings of low self-worth or lack of purpose.
10 New Knives Coming in 2023
This year retailers will see a renewed focus on innovation.The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “Change is the only constant in life.” That just might be a fitting theme for the knife companies that are launching new designs at this year’s SHOT Show. Many companies are releasing knife designs that have moved away from the standard three-inch EDCs that were so prominent a few years ago. Look for innovative designs, out-of-the-box thinking, and new ways of capturing a customer’s attention with many of this year’s new releases. Of course, there are still plenty of the tried-and-true designs that will never go out of style. Because not everything always has to change.
Bear & Son Cutlery
CamillusCamillus is presenting its new line of knives from a different location this year in Booth #13660. One of the standouts of the 2023 line is a knife that will no doubt be unlike anything else featured at the SHOT Show this year. The Swedge is part fixed-blade knife, part chisel, and part file. Created to handle a wide range of campsite chores, Camillus describes the Swedge as a cross between a “bushcraft knife and a small hatchet.” The 8.75-inch knife features a thick 4.3-inch titanium-bonded 420 stainless-steel blade with a textured ABS plastic handle. SRP: $24.99, which includes a molded sheath with a belt clip. Check these out on: camillusknives.com
Columbia River Knife & Tool
Ontario Knife Company
You may also be interested in: Find more articles like this in the 2023 SHOT Show Day 3 SHOT Daily:
10 Tracking Tips to Help Find Your Deer After the Shot
You shot your deer, but it took off. Now what? Follow these 10 tracking tips to recover your deer and make your hunt a success.By Bryce M. Towsley [caption id="attachment_51384" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Very rarely do deer "drop in their tracks" at the shot. Once you make your shot, stay focused on the deer noting where it was when you fired and the direction it took off in.[/caption] Despite what we may see on television, deer usually do not drop in their tracks at the shot. Sometimes, too, “stuff” happens and the shot is less than perfect. That’s when you have to unleash your tracking skills and go find them. Here are 10 tried-and-true tracking tips that have served me well over the years in finding deer after the shot.
1. Stay FocusedAfter the shot, stay as calm as you can and stay focused on the deer. Watch it as long as you can then listen even longer. Often you will hear the deer long after you can’t see it anymore. Before you leave your stand, pick a clear landmark where you last saw the deer and another where you last heard the deer. Also, pick a landmark noting where the deer was when you shot. Have these landmarks firmly in your mind before you exit yours stand. If you have a compass, take a bearing to each of these locations. Snap a few photos with your cell phone or use a small notepad to note the locations or draw yourself a little schematic that shows these three key landmarks. [caption id="attachment_51385" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Before you leave your stand, use your phone to take a photo of where the deer was standing when you shot and the landmark where you last saw the deer before it disappeared.[/caption] Go to where you last saw the deer and look for blood and tracks. Remember to look on the bushes as well as on the ground for blood. If you fail to find any, go to spot where you shot the deer and search for blood and/or hair. If you still don’t find a blood trail of any kind, go back to your stand and double check to make sure you were looking in the right places. Next, start where you last saw the deer and walk to the location where you last heard the deer. Watch for blood and other sign along the way. Sometimes it takes a while for the blood trail to start.
2. First BloodWhen you find blood, note its location. Is it high up on the bushes and far out from the trail? That might indicate arterial spurting. Does it seem to be in the center of the tracks, even though you took a broadside shot? That might be lung blood leaking out of the nose and mouth. Is the blood in the track? Maybe it’s running down the leg. Is there green gunk on the ground with a little blood? That’s a gut shot. Resist the tendency to keep tracking that deer. Leave quietly and come back in the morning, or at least six hours later. A gut shot deer will lie down very quickly and if you leave it alone, it will die in that bed. Usually it will be relatively close to where you shot it. But if you keep pushing and jump the deer, they can turn into the Terminator, unable or unwilling to die and they can run for miles. [caption id="attachment_51386" align="aligncenter" width="650"] When looking for a blood trail, heavy signs higher up on bushes or spurts off the trail may indicate arterial bleeding, which means you should find your deer shortly.[/caption] Did you find pieces of bone? Trust me, it’s not ribs as so many people think; 95% of the time it is pieces of leg bone. You may get that deer, but it’s not going to be easy. A lot of blood at the start that turns into a few drips and then stops in a ¼ mile or so, is usually a low hit in the brisket. You are in for a long day with that deer. With a leg or brisket hit, the deer is very mobile and will keep moving if pushed. If you can get some help, it’s best to place hunters along the escape routes and hope the deer comes by as you track the blood.
3. Mark the Way
4. Watch Your Step
5. When the Blood Stops
6. Get Low
7. When All Else Fails
8. Light the Way
9. Become the Deer
10. Turn Off Your Brain
Tracking with TechnologyI used a thermal imaging unit in Zimbabwe a few years ago to watch for lions while the PH and trackers cut up a buffalo I had shot just before dark. Back then they were very expensive. Today, there are several affordable units designed for tracking. [caption id="attachment_51388" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Photograph Courtesy of Leupold® & Stevens, Inc.[/caption] I have been using a Leupold LTO Quest. This is their entry-level unit and it has a camera and flashlight built in with the thermal sensor. Leupold claims the LTO Quest can detect heat signatures out to 300 yards. Deer season is closed as I am writing this, so I am finding alternatives to test it with. It easily can find my dogs even when they are out some distance. I couldn’t find a blood donor to help with the test, so I spit on my walkway on a cool night. The unit could easily see it, even after several minutes. This unit is sensitive enough that when I stood on my deck in my socks, the unit could detect my foot prints for several minutes after. This technology may well be a game changer for tracking and finding wounded deer in the years ahead. About The Author Bryce M. Towsley has been writing about guns for 36 years and has published thousands of articles in most of the major firearms magazines. He has hunted all over the world and is a competition shooter in several disciplines. Towsley has several books available on guns, shooting and hunting as well as an adventure novel, The 14th Reinstated. Signed books are available on his website.
How to Read the Land for Deer Hunting in Different Terrains
Here’s how to find deer in woodlands, farm fields, and mountainous terrain.By Andrew McKean Most how-to deer hunting pieces tell you how to set a treestand or how to trim a shooting lane. Some may even offer some wisdom on setting up between bedding areas and food sources. And if they really provide value, they’ll tell you how wind influences your stand locations. This is not that kind of how-to article. Instead, it’s one that takes a larger view of the problem most deer hunters face, which is figuring out how to hunt various types of terrain. I’m talking specifically about the sorts of landscape types that dominate the public land that you and I hunt because we can’t afford a private-land deer lease where we control the variables. Public land from coast to coast has one common denominator: It’s marginal. These lands entered the public domain because they weren’t valuable for agricultural, residential or other private commercial use. Consequently, the best public deer ground is often steep, rocky, weedy, and raw—all factors that can improve the hunting if you know how to read the terrain. On public land, the variables are too numerous to mention, but they tend to fall into three themes: accessibility, landscape type, and hunting style. We’ll pick apart three different-but-common landscapes, and then apply the other two variables—accessibility and hunting style—to each. I hope you recognize your local public parcel in these descriptions.
WoodlandsThe types of public land in this category include swatches of state forest in the Northeast, some overgrown game lands in Pennsylvania, the hardwoods along the spine of the Appalachian and Blue Ridge mountains, and much of the logged-over forests from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula down through the white-oak Ozarks. [caption id="attachment_51374" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Dense timber can be hard to hunt, because there aren't many defined edges. In these places, look for tracks, scrapes, and rubs, and set up downwind of those signs.[/caption] These public properties tend to be grown over and fairly sterile in terms of wildlife value. But they serve as productive transition zones for whitetails, providing bedding areas, mast production in good acorn years, and terrain that rewards hunters who get away from the easy access spots and work the interiors. Accessibility: You’re likely to see lots of vehicles at the access points and trailheads, but don’t let that deter you. Prepare to hike, maybe only a few hundred yards or perhaps as far as two miles, to get into the best hunting terrain. If possible, you’re going to want to hike a ridge, maintaining your elevation as you work into the interior. Keep your eyes peeled for deer sign—maybe a rub or a scrape, or a well-used trail. If you’re packing a treestand, the very best spot to erect it is on the nose of a distinct ridge that overlooks a saddle. Bonus points if you can find a good tree that commands the spot where two major ridges meet. Some access points will be at the lower margins of the property, in which case you have some climbing to do. Find the dominant ridge of the parcel and hike up it, keeping your eyes peeled for sign. In areas where water is abundant, look for mast-producing trees. In areas where water is limited, look for little seeps and springs—places that might concentrate deer. Hunting Style: Your hunting style in these woodland habitats will likely be from a treestand. Many public properties don’t allow permanent stands, so think about bringing a climber and setting up over a defined trail. Alternatively, try making a mock scrape, and see if it’s being tended. If it is, that’s the spot for your stand, just downwind of the scrape. This is the perfect terrain for stump-sitters, folks who simply plop down and watch. It’s an old and very effective method for woodland hunting. If you intend to hunt from the ground, plan on using deadfall and slash vegetation to build a ground blind. No need to bring in a commercial blind, especially if it limits your mobility.
Farm/FieldsAccessibility: Most huntable properties that fall into this landscape type are private grounds enrolled in a walk-in program. That’s because, as mentioned, farmland is generally too valuable to be devoted exclusively to the public domain. For the purposes of this piece, we’ll assume that farmland is private and that usage restrictions limit the style of hunting on these properties. [caption id="attachment_51375" align="aligncenter" width="650"] A killer spot to set up for ag-land deer is just inside a timbered edge overlooking a field.[/caption] These landscapes range from the monoscapes of the Great Plains wheat belt to the corn and soybean country of the Midwest to the smaller pastures of the Southeast. What they all have in common, however, is very productive edge habitat, the line between cropland and nearby woods, or pasture and brushy cover. You should be hunting that edge. Hunting Style: Prevailing wind direction can make or break your hunt. Walk that edge, looking for places where deer routinely jump a fence, rub a cedar fencepost or where they scoot between hiding cover and feeding areas. Because deer tend to be equal-opportunity foragers, it can be hard to tell precisely where they feed, but you should be able to identify these movement corridors. If you can’t predict wind, identify stand locations on either side of a corridor. But if there’s a prevailing wind, set up downwind of the crossing and plan to be in place in the evenings. These are typically not morning spots, but they are good places to intercept deer moving from cover to feed in the evenings.
It’s the Rut! Now What?
How to hunt every phase of deer season’s most magical time.By Andrew McKean The main thing you need to know about the rut, which has been studied and defined to within inches of its death, is that for a few magical weeks every year, it finally puts you on even footing with deer. For the rest of the year, deer have the upper hand. They smell you coming. They see and hear you long before you spot them. They are equipped to survive in landscapes that are mostly foreign to us. And, despite our technological advantages, they manage to avoid us. Then the rut erupts, and everything changes. Bucks lose their well-honed inhibitions. They get careless. They get single-mindedly focused on breeding. And we get the rare chance to encounter bucks with their guards down, and this includes the oldest, most nocturnal, and savvy bucks in your area. That’s the magic of the rut, which (with some exceptions) starts around Halloween and continues through Veteran’s Day. If you have the chance to choose when to hunt, it should be between those cardinal dates. Here’s how to make the most of each phase of deer season’s best days. What The Rut Really Is If you’re the sort of hunter who wants just a little bit more information to inform your decisions, however, then it may interest you to know why the rut happens at such specific and predictable times every year. It’s because whitetail deer have a roughly 200-day gestation period. As a prey species, deer are engineered to give birth all at once, so that the area in which they birth is swamped with fawns, the better to ensure that at least some survive predation. The prime fawning period coincides with good forage, both to feed lactating does and to hide young fawns. So, if you backtrack 200 days from early June, when vegetation growth is at its peak across most of the whitetail deer range, then you’re looking at mid-November. And it turns out, that’s precisely when most does are bred across their range. The rut is simply the preamble to breeding, the fortnight in which bucks roam widely looking for ready does, and the urge to breed makes them vulnerable to human hunters. We’ve already established that this is the time to drop everything and hunt, but how do you know where and how to encounter bucks? Adjust your tactics to the varying phases of the rut.
1. Staging Phase
2. Chase Phase
3. Lock-down Phase
4. Post-Rut Phase
Modern Rifle Hunting Photo Challenge
Submit a hunting-related photo including a modern sporting rifle for a chance to win a hunt!
How to Enter via Instagram:
- Take a photo while hunting using a modern sporting rifle.
- Post the photo to Instagram including #LetsGoHunting in the caption.
- Submissions are reviewed to ensure they meet requirements.
- @letsgohuntingusa may reach out via Instagram to request permission to share the photo on its pages.
📸 Post to Instagram 📸
-- OR --
Modern Sporting Rifles and HuntingHunters have been utilizing the latest advancements in technology and tactics for centuries. Today's hunters have a wide array of tools to choose from when it comes to weapons, concealment, lures (decoys, calls, scents, etc.), and scouting. Modern sporting rifles (MSRs), today’s very popular semiautomatic rifle designs, are used by more and more hunters and offer a number of benefits that can suit most hunters. These rifles’ accuracy, reliability, ruggedness and versatility serve hunters well. They are true all-weather firearms and their modularity often allows them to be configured for various applications and body types. For hunting use, these rifles are utilized for many different types of hunting, from varmint to big game. The NSSF encourages hunters to share memorable moments from the field when using modern sporting rifles through its #LetsGoHunting with MSRs Photo Challenge. There are many photo styles that can be submitted including selfies, trophy photos, group photos, and firearms in the field. Modern sporting rifles are semi-automatic rifle designs, including the AR-15, AR-10, carbines and similar variants. We challenge you to share a snapshot or video from the field while using your modern sporting rifle for a chance to win a Mississippi deer or Louisiana hog hunt. Prize options generously donated by: Instagram: @theconfluencegroup
WIN A 2023 MISSISSIPPI DEER OR LOUISIANA HOG HUNT
|Fall 2023 - Prairie Wildlife Whitetail Deer Hunt
Gallery of Submissions
More About Modern Sporting RiflesAR-style rifles are no more powerful than other hunting rifles of the same caliber and in most cases are chambered in calibers less powerful than common big-game hunting cartridges like the .30-06 Springfield and .300 Win. Mag. Despite their popularity, modern sporting rifles are widely misunderstood. Why? Confusion exists because though these rifles look like military rifles, they do not function the same way. Also, groups wanting to ban these rifles have for years purposely spread misinformation about them to aid their cause, including using the terms “assault rifle” and “weapons of war.” MSRs have been utilized by law-abiding Americans since the 1960’s. They are functionally similar to any other semiautomatic rifle and the cosmetic misnomers do not change that fact. MSRs are not machine guns and are subject to all local, state, and federal regulations including the 1968 Gun Control Act and the 1934 National Firearms Act. These rifles are used by hunters, competitors, millions of Americans seeking home-defense guns and many others who simply enjoy going to the range. Help NSSF combat attacks against these misunderstood firearms by participating in this photo challenge.
Win A 2023 Mississippi Deer or Louisiana Hog Hunt
Submit a hunting-related photo including a modern sporting rifle (MSR)
for a chance to win a hunt donated by The Confluence Group!
How to Enter:
- Take a photo while hunting using an MSR.
- Post the photo to Instagram including #LetsGoHunting in the caption.
- Submissions are reviewed to ensure they meet requirements.
- @letsgohuntingusa may reach out via Instagram to request permission to share the photo on its pages.
All valid entries must include a photo with an MSR in use, which is, by definition, a semiautomatic rifle, including the AR-15, AR-10, carbine and similar variants. Please read the official Photo Challenge Rules for more information.