As I've mentioned before, I'm making efforts to transition my diet away from markets and towards relying on my landbase for food. This has involved some gardens (some failed, some successful), lots of foraging, and learning to hunt. Well, shortly after my hiatus from blogging began, I finally went on my first deer hunt. This was a huge thing for me, not just because I love well cooked deer meat, but because killing a deer would be a huge source of food for my partner and I (and the friends and family I share things with). I've also yet to kill any animal bigger than a crayfish for food. So I went into the woods one chilly November morning with a pack of essential gear and a shotgun loaded with slugs.
I explored for an hour or two looking for a good place to camp, and ended up finding a place where I thought there were signs of deer. I was in view of an old stone wall with a large collapsed section, which led down to a lake. I knew that deer went through there, so I set up my poncho to sit on and waited.
Turned out it was a pretty good spot. Within an hour after sitting down there, I spotted a deer. Unfortunately, she spotted me first when I shivered like crazy. It was in the single digits and, despite dressing in layers, I had failed to take into consideration how much colder it gets when you're not moving around. As the doe bounded off away from me, I knew I wouldn't see another one that day. I blew my chance. I spent another half hour building myself a nifty blind out of downed tree limbs, which I intended to go back and use but never did.
So I have two bits of advice for all new hunters out there. The first is to dress warmer than you think you need to. Wear socks that are at least 50% wool, and wear two pairs. Wear thermal long underwear, and pants of decent thickness. Basically, be very, very warm and layered. The other bit of advice is to get yourself someone to show you the ropes of hunting. Get a teacher if you can. Because damn, these lessons are probably easier learned by mouth than be experience.