The Five Stages of Hunters

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Nevada's big game tag draw is still weeks away, but as hunters get ready to send in their tag applications they may want to ask themselves, "What type of hunter am I?"

Natural human instinct, the personal challenge, a relationship with nature, and sport are just some of the many reasons millions of hunters take to the field each year. While each hunter has his or her own reason or purpose in taking up hunting, there are five basic stages that each hunter will pass through at some point during their hunting career: the shooter stage, limiting- out stage, trophy stage, method stage, and the sportsman stage.

"This movement from one stage to another is triggered by several different factors: introducing a new member to hunting, being a role model, age, the experience a hunter has had, and his own view of success," said Martin Olson, Hunter Education Coordinator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

The Shooter Stage is just that. A person finds satisfaction in getting a lot of shooting in during the hunt. Success is defined by the number of times the trigger is pulled during the hunting process whether or not he bags his quarry.

In the Limiting-out Stage a hunter still talks about satisfaction gained from shooting, but success is measured through the number of birds or game animals taken. Limiting out, by filling a big game tag or harvesting the legal number of game birds, is the absolute measure.

"All hunters go through this stage, but it's important that hunters not their desire to obtain their limit become stronger than their need for a relationship with nature or overpower safety concerns," said Olson.

The Trophy Stage hunter is so termed due to the selectivity he exercises when choosing game for harvest. A duck hunter may select only greenhead mallards while a deer hunter may pass on several bucks while hoping for a particular deer in size or character. They may go home empty handed but find success through the hunting adventure itself.

In the Method Stage, the hunter's focus is on how game will be taken and he spends an enormous amount of time researching different techniques and strategies to successfully harvest game. At this stage hunting is very important in a person's life. Laying out extra decoys for the duck hunter, and tracking or calling for big game is the satisfaction, even when unsuccessful in harvesting game.

During the Sportsman Stage, as a hunter ages and after many years of hunting, he tends to "mellow out." Satisfaction comes through the total hunting experience and in sharing that experience with others. Being in the field, enjoying the company of friends and family, and seeing nature outweigh the need for taking game.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, and promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW's wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen's license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing, or combination license. For more information, visit