Congratulations, you made one of the most fulfilling and exciting decisions you'll ever make: Taking up the challenge and tradition of hunting wild game. There are so many resources available but for some it may seem like an impenetrable fortress, relax it's not so bad. Most hunters carry on the hobby as it was passed down from their father like a bloodline; they've simply grown up in the field learning the craft, and that's what it becomes. No one knows everything, nature has no set rules to ensure success or in some cases survival but thats part of the adventure your after.
Ok, it's time for step one:
Step 1: Safety
This is absolutely the most crucial step in the transformation. I have seen many things that's made the hair on my neck stand up from folks who bought a gun and headed straight for public land ready to kill.
Saw a cow mistaken for a deer, strapped to the hood of a car.
Once, talking with some new hunters on public land they had told me they didn't see any deer that day but got a couple of good "sound shots" off. (Meaning they just shot into the brush when they heard something moving)... Insane.
You must possess common sense when carrying a tool that can do serious harm to yourself or others.
I'm not going to cover the basics of how the gun works.
--You can click here to learn more specific details on the actual hardware
I'm going to go over the mindset of handling a firearm safely. Safety minded hunters follow some simple common-sense guidelines that ensure safety for all:
It's important to take a hunter's safety course before hunting. Getting into an actual classroom and taking a legal course will give you the information you need to be safe while in the field, something everyone wants.
Step 2: Practice
Just like a football team would never take the field without going through practice you should feel the same about your hunting trips. Specifically with firing a gun or shooting a bow practice is essential. Not only will you become precise and accurate with your weapon but just as important you will gain confidence and be familiar with your hardware thus being more safe. People who are scared of guns tend not to focus on what they're doing and accidents happen. Remember: A gun is just a tool. It does what you make it do and you're in control of it, don't fear it, but above all respect it. If you respect your firearm and follow the safety guidelines you learned during the hunter's safety course you will be just fine. Common sense is essential.
Step 3:Planning your first outing
You've learned your firearm, you practiced your shooting and safe gun handling skills, you probably are feeling pretty confident with your new firearm. Heres what to do next:
Step 4: The Big Day
So you've gathered your gear, found a spot, maybe scouted the woods to look for sign or a place to set-up. Now comes the moment of truth. It may be your first time hunting but I can assure you this, you will have great time. Your legs will be tired, your toes cold from the weather, you will be physically uncomfortable in many ways. Be prepared for this, many hunters fail because they lose focus due to the elements. Move slowly and take everything in. If small game hunting try not to constantly stare at your feet, it sounds silly but those not use to traversing the forest floors will tend to fixate on what they're stepping on. Be safe and don't trip with a loaded firearm but move slowly and look a few steps ahead to see if any obstacles are in the way.
Be ready. Shooting a gun at a non-living target is easy. There is a reason that "buck fever" has a nickname. When or if you see your harvest you will notice a strange feeling when the muzzle lines up on the heart region of your deer. Battle through the intense feelings of butterflies/excitement you feel wallowing in your guts and either pull the trigger or lower your gun. Take the shot when your ready to take the shot.
This was a pretty general article but summarizes the activity from start to finish for the beginner, remember it's just part 1.
I'll go into more specifics for the complete beginner soon. Be safe and enjoy your new way of life.