Verbal communications should be agreed on ahead of time and practiced outside of the field when it is not so critical. When trying to show a new hunter a game animal on the side of a hill in the timber, it is a good idea to have the basic terms you will be using gone over ahead of time. Decide if you will direct their view with directions referencing a clock face, or also use natural landmarks to direct them onto the game animal. Go over hand signals too, to acquaint the new hunter with their use if too close even for a whisper.
I remember taking my 11 year old after whitetail deer in Texas in the late youth season. We saw a small buck go into a scrub oak thicket. We worked our way within about 35 yards of the buck when we saw there where about 4 or 5 much bigger bucks already there. I spotted a large buck walking just inside the thicket. He circled then bedded down 10 yards inside the edge of the thicket. My daughter was having a heck of a time finding him. First, I directed her eyes to a larger tree, then to a smaller tree at 3:00 from the larger tree. Then to the white sticks at the base of the smaller tree at three o'clock. These, of course, were the antlers of the buck. Then, finally, I directed her to the ears and the head. She suddenly became very excited because she had put it together and realized THAT was the buck. When she turned to tell me she finally had seen him, she again had a hard time finding him. Coaching her back on did not take even a third of the time.
I like to remind the shooter to practice trigger control and breathing when making the shot. Sometimes this seems to help with calming down their nerves and overcoming the dreaded BUCK FEVER. At her first shot, using a post and barbed wire with a heavy mitten over the wire for a rest, my daughter hit a sapling next to the buck’s head. He jumped up, and in a frenzy of milling deer she got a second shot which put him on the table. It was a nice 135 class whitetail shot at about 45 yards, and even better, my best friend was along doing the filming. The stalk took about 45 minutes to cover about 150 yards to get to a spot where the deer were visible in the brush.
A last thought is to help the new hunter to put together a few things to be kept in their daypack. Some items may not be necessary if only a short distance from your vehicle or camp, but become more important the farther out in the hills you get from support. A first aid kit with extra blister meds, like New-Skin and moleskin, will keep you moving. They need a small amount of fire-making gear, like a metal match, and a waterproof container of matches. A fire starter stick is also a good idea, as well as a cable saw and 2 or 3 space blankets of the larger sizes. A multi-tool is good also. A compass and map are always my back up to a GPS. Bring a small flashlight with extra batteries and a second small light to be able to change batteries or the bulb in the dark.
Again, looking back in the past, being in the timber in the dark in a rain storm, it is mighty comforting to have a headlamp and mini mag on a string around your neck and a second in a pommel bag. The same thought applies to knives and a small axe. A 26” handled 2 ˝ pound axe is a great piece of gear if you are in the back country. If you are just walking a half mile to and from a stand some of this equipment is overkill, but still nice to have if you don’t have more than you can carry. I also found that a folding type saw with both bone and wood blades is handy for quartering and skull plating game, and for clearing branches from trees to allow hosting the head and cape to a safe place for the night in areas where bears and wolves roam.
A good friend of mine and a GREAT outfitter is Mike Richie and his wife Dawn (RichieOutfitters.com) who operate in the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness area. This is one of the most remote designated wilderness areas in the lower 48. Mike is a second generation outfitter in the Selway and uses a cut down double bit axe tied to his daypack. With it he can make a shelter, get a good size fire going and keep it that way, as well as quarter and skull plate game.
In closing, I hope that each of you get to introduce a new hunter to the sport this year. It is a blessing to see them develop and grow to have a love of the outdoors, and if they also happen to be your better half, son or daughter, you will have some special times that you can relive later on. I am also blessed in having great friends in John and his wife Kim Huot, who help me with these special hunts and have filmed several of them. We get to replay these great times with the rest of our family and friends on the big screen. Sometimes we get a good laugh at some of our moves and mistakes. Take care, and good hunting!
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