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Joined: 10/29/2006
Posts: 1
Help, clueless newbie Small-Game Hunting...

Hey all, wannabe hunter here, looking for any advice/help from the pros here. Went deer hunting a couple times w/uncles when I was a kid, but that's been over 10yrs. Wanting to get into it, and take my 11 and 9yr old son's with me. Here in GA, they are not required to attend hunter safety yet, although plan is we are all going to go anyway, that's in a couple weeks. Target date is for us to go out Thanksgiving morning together. Wanted to go Deer, but since I don't know sh*t, and they've never been, figured maybe starting w/small game this year would be the best bet. Obviousely I would love to find somebody to show me the ropes but that isn't possible, so it's me winging it, and hoping I can trick my boy's into thinking their old man knows what he's doing!

So plan is we're going to go small game hunting, I suppose mostly squirrel and rabbit. Spent several years in the military, so know my way around a weapon, but really don't know much about hunting guns. I have a Mossburg 12 gauge (hasn't been shot in about 10yrs). What I'm looking for help with, is what type of gun to use???
Plan is to buy my son's something, they can share it, I'm assuming best for them would be a .22 or .20gauge or .410gauge??? What would be best for an 11 & 9yr old? What would be best for small game? Likely will be in the woods, not wide open terrain. Also would like to take into consideration possibly moving up in the future, hunting deer...I know a .22 would be too small, what about .20 or .410 gauge? Any suggestions? Advice?

Right now Dick's Sporting Goods has a 'Rossi' 'Youth Matched Pair' 22LR/410ga or 22LR/20ga or 802 Bolt Action 22LR on sale for $100(no scope)...Is this a good gun for them to start with? Whats the difference between the barrell options or the 802 Bolt Action option? They also have a 'Remington' Scoped .22LR (adult size) for $150...Would this be a better choice?
Should I really look at making sure whatever weapon I get them is a 'youth' gun and not an adult size?

Also any suggestions for how to actually hunt the animals. What to look for in picking a spot? Should we roll in pre-dawn and sit in a blind? Stalk them? How to judge good spots? Down wind, up wind, does it matter? I know these sound stupid, but I really have no idea where to start...

There are many WMAs here in GA, any tips on finding which one would be best to hunt? Terrain? etc.

Thanks for any help, advice, I know I didn't give any real specifics, and probably sound really clueless, but I am that's why just looking for any direction, suggestions...

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Location: Pennsylvania
Joined: 10/28/2003
Posts: 1637
Help, clueless newbie Small-Game Hunting...

You have the 12ga for tyou to use. I would look into a youth model for the 9 and 11 yr olds. 20 ga is good for small game and when you move up to deer you already have the right gun.
I think it's a very wise choice to complete the hunter education coarses together before you take them to the field. You will be amassed at all of the things that you will learn and use from there.
Good luck and keep us posted as to how it goes Thumbs up

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Location: Wandering the World, Currently at Ft. Campbell, KY
Joined: 10/05/2006
Posts: 205
Help, clueless newbie Small-Game Hunting...

I would say you have a good gun with the 12ga. and look into getting you kids a 20 ga. Maybe look into either a pump or bolt action instead of a single shot, since you are looking to hunt rabbits. Some good brand to look at are the Rossi, Winchester, Remington and Mossberg. Mossberg makes a good shotgun for the kids called a Maverick. If your looking at a new one they run around $200 or less. It is a light gun and you can get it with a shorter barrel. Just a thought. Thumbs up

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Location: Summit, IL
Joined: 10/22/2006
Posts: 705
Help, clueless newbie Small-Game Hunting...

That lil single shot rossi will be just dandy in 20 gauge. And I believe in single shots ESPECIALLY for kids learning...It will teach them to get it right the first time. Also Yes the Youth model...Length of pull really comes into play with kids. Now as to where to start....Since you are gonna be in the woods in November make sure you check out your deer seasons as you dont wanna be walking around small game hunting with your kids during deer season (gun especially) on game lands. Now...for tree rats (squirllies) Look for nut bearing trees (hickory, oak) And Have a lil sit all nice n quiet, within a little while you will see them start running around after its been quiet for a bit. And make sure your kids knows the maximum effective range of the shotgun. In 20 gauge for tree rats id use #5 or #6 shot shells... Same for your 12 gauge. Rabbits can be difficult without dogs but then again I dont know the area you are hunting...Some places you can kick them up outta cover easily, Look for fallen and piled up brush and kick around in it...If theres a rabbit in there they will take off in the easiest path thats furthest from the one kickin around. Just make sure your children watch BOTH themselves AND your location in thier swing paths. They generaly hold to thick cover. With them AND you being new I would shy away from taking the .22 out in the woods hunting untill they are well practiced with it on the range and are very safe. A 22 can travel a long distance unhindered so If it were me Id stick to the shotgun this year and let them practice alot on the range with the 22... Good luck

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Location: Pennsylvania
Joined: 10/28/2003
Posts: 1637
Help, clueless newbie Small-Game Hunting...

The winchester model 1300 youth pump shotgun comes with a plug that will prevent loading any shells in the magazine. That way you have your single shot and when the kids are ready you can take out a pice of the plug and have a 3 shot or remove it completely and have 5 shot capability. Remember that this model (youth 1300) is also the perfect size for a lot of women. A little more heft to the gun and it wont kick as hard either. I think the single shots kick like a mule!

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Location: Fredericksburg VA
Joined: 11/05/2006
Posts: 28
Re: Help, clueless newbie Small-Game Hunting...
georgiadawgs wrote:
what type of gun to use???
What would be best for an 11 & 9yr old? What would be best for small game?

Should I really look at making sure whatever weapon I get them is a 'youth' gun and not an adult size?

Also any suggestions for how to actually hunt the animals. What to look for in picking a spot? Should we roll in pre-dawn and sit in a blind? Stalk them? How to judge good spots? Down wind, up wind, does it matter?

There are many WMAs here in GA, any tips on finding which one would be best to hunt? Terrain? etc.

Picking a Gun is often the hardest point of the whole thing because everyone has their preferences on weapons, You should look for a Gun that matches your sons and that they can handle easily yet still allow them to grow into and still use, so your not out spending more to upgrade. Also consider that they may change their mind and not really enjoy the hunting just something to think about in the long run.

The easiest way to match a gun to the child is take them to a GOOD gun shop not Dicks or walmart or some chain store like that but someone that is very proficient in matching the gun to the person. Bass Pro is usually pretty good and so is Cabelas and Gander Mountain. But you do get some folks at these places that have no clue and just want to make a sale so just go looking before buying it's always best to look around because there is always someone that has a better deal.

As for Calibers hey that's almost as hard to figure out, you have a good one to start with. For the kids I recommend training them with a 22 at the range just to give them the basics, and get them out and having fun as well. After they master that 20ga or 410 is good for small game and the 20 will stop a deer too. 410 will do the job if the deer is close but it can be tricky at times especially with BUCK FEVER.

I hunt squirrels with a 22 myself keeps me in tune for the bigger critters not to mention I don't like picking shot out of my meals......Yuck!

For finding game go to your State DNR site they have loads of information to share with the public and if you have a DNR office close by stop by and talk with them and explain what type of hunting your doing and what you are looking to do they will help.

As for finding game for squirrels finding the OAK trees and Hickory trees with nuts on the ground also beechnuts and any fruit bearing type tree. I like to just sit down the squirrels will come around and they make some squirrel calls that work well I use the bark calls and never go home empty handed for squirrels.

Rabbits you'll find in hedgerows and thickets it is possible to jump them up you just need to play around an see what can be done.

Check around your office, church, clubs or place of employment for hunters ask question maybe you'll get invited to go out with them or they can show you some real basics, also some hunting clubs are a good source of info and some may be able to help teach you where to look and what to look for.

I could explain all kinds of things about deer but really you need to be out in the woods with someone that knows what they are doing and showing you what to look for and what to avoid.

Good Luck and have Fun

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