Lessons Learned

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As I reflect back on the past year I wanted to share more of the lessons I had learned in hopes that another beginner may find something I type of use to them.

I had hunted in the past with minimal success. Deciding what big game species I wanted to concentrate on for my first time hunting in over twenty years was an easy decision for me. It was almost as if it was predetermined being that I chose the most abundant deer species in the area. Selecting an area to hunt was a little harder but not much harder. My state uses a lottery system and one has to get “drawn” for tags.

I had some local knowledge of the area, having been raised and worked here most of my life, I was familiar with most of the issues this country has. Water is the first issue, and a yearly one at that, being that we seldom get enough rain. That means it would be a “dry” hunt and the chances of getting rained on were slim to nonexistent. I was fortunate in that we did have a good summer rain season which occurred right after a forest fire took out most of the underbrush and dried and dead grass. It also removed a lot of the “cover” that these game animals use to elude us.

Lots of folks I talked with refused to hunt in this area due to the primary social issue in the area. That's human and drug smuggling. In my day job I am often around human/drug smugglers and sometimes even their victims. Take that issue and compound it with bandits that prey on both the smugglers and illegal border crossers and one can see why some would be reticent to hunt here. I certainly wouldn't want to be walking around out there after dark with a flashlight to give me away.

I have found that most Border Patrol Agents are good sources of information about an area once you break the ice. As I drove the roads, all dirt by the way, I would stop my truck as a BP vehicle was coming the other way. It seems that the guys that hunted would stop and chat. The city kids would “whiz” by acting as if they were in a race to the nearest coffee shop. Never be afraid to stop and chat with someone as you never know what nugget of information they may provide you. I've talked with locals, LEO's, and other hunters. Heck I may have even talked to a doper or bandit, I don't know. Once folks have you figured out, and where you fit in the scheme of things, they tend to be a little more friendly than if you just quickly wave and scurry on your way. I, and a buddy, talked with a local for almost an hour when he gave us information on a back way in to a water hole that wasn't on the map.

Ranchers can also be a great source of information. I tend to be friendly to folks until given a reason not to be. If I see a rancher going about his daily business I'll say hello and let him know what I'm doing. I'll also tell him of conditions I've found, like open gates, cut fences, and damaged water troughs that he may not know about. I'll also tell of what I did to correct the issue, if anything, and ask if this was the right thing to do. If not I'll offer to go back and undo what I did wrong. For example, there was a water tank with an open valve draining all the water on to the ground. I shut the valve off thinking it was probably illegal aliens getting a drink that caused this. It turns out the rancher had wanted to drain the water so he could move the tank. He wasn't mad, as I was doing what I thought was right, and my intentions were good. That little thing provided me with more information that was beneficial.

Listen to the locals and folks familiar with the area no matter where you are hunting. If an old timer, and everybody else, says the same thing the smart man or woman would call that a clue. See what people are saying, especially the locals. Ones who live and work in an area have a different perspective than someone that goes to that area for only a week or two every year.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. I'd much rather ask a “dumb question” than do something dumb. Besides, I was taught that the only dumb question was the one you didn't ask. Take other people's advice and tactics and develop them to work for you. That doesn't mean you are going to use every piece of advice you are given but think of it like cooking. A pinch of this advice, a smattering of this knowledge, and two spoonfuls of that method combines to create what works for you.

While two people may have very similar tactics, or methods, there will be slight or subtle difference. It is these difference that make each hunter unique. Good luck hunting and may all your roads be good ones.


Will_Hunt4Food's picture

In the NE

We dont have those problems up here in the NorthEast but it never hurts to stay friendly w/ law enforcement or the DEC


Ca_Vermonster's picture

Hmmmmm.... where have I heard

Hmmmmm.... where have I heard this before??? :wink:  Great recommendation Biker!  I can tell you that I agree, BP Agents are great people, role models, wonderful human beings, leaders in the community.... Oh, wait, who do I work for again???? lol

I have seen lots of animals while out patrolling, and I know the area like the back of my hand.  I have had some people come to me for advie, and I have no problem giving itnformation out in regards to general areas.  Where I am though, I have to be selective who, and how much I divulge.  There is a diference between hunting where I do, wher ethere are 3 million people in the surrounding areas, or southern Texas or Arizona, where you can never see anyone out there all season.  I could tell someone about one of my good spots, and then there wpould be 50 people there the next day.  It's an unfortunate reality.

Retired, if you ever get down this way, I'll point you in the right direction.  Anyone else on here, for that matter.

Retired2hunt's picture

  Biker - this story is very


Biker - this story is very valuable.  Your manner of hunter etiquette is true and an example of how a good hunter should interact with all people we come across in the fields and woods - especially those areas we know we will come into contact with the rancher or other local person.  I hunt a rancher's property but cannot get to one side of it unless I cross the Rio Grande river.  The rancher normally just drives his huge tractor right across but the water is a little too deep in most areas.  So I use a neighboring rancher's bridge to cross it and then come back to the area I have permission to hunt in.  The rancher said it was okay to use but I specifically made certain I spoke to the neighbor to ensure it was okay to walk his bridge.  It was approved as well as my right to cross his fence to retrieve any animal I have harvested.  So it is in your best interest to provide that hunter etiquette.

Your advice to listen and ask questions is spot on.  There is no other better way to learn and increase your ability at the task at hand - in this case hunting and harvesting.  Thinking of BP as an info provider is an excellet idea.  I don't come across these people where I hunt but if in sometime in the future I will take advantage of it.  The other same side of this is wildlife officers.  Many people are reluctant to ask them questions or to listen to them.  These are one of the best people to listen to and to ask questions of.

Your story is a great one and really appreciate you sharing your information.  Thanks.


jaybe's picture

I agree that taking the time

I agree that taking the time to talk to locals, law enforcement people and others is a valuable way to gain information about the area you are hunting.

 That sounds like a pretty interesting area that you hunt there. Drug smuggling, human trafficking, illegal aliens - those are all terms that most people out in the hunting woods don't even think of. It appears that it's pretty common where you are.

I applaud your ethic of asking, trying to do the right thing, and not being afraid to go back and correct a mistake. That's something we could stand to have more of in the hunting community.

Thanks for your story and pictures.