One of the best bits of advice I can give the hunters new to this way of life is to start with small game. A lot of hunters start their careers whitetail deer hunting, which is o.k. for most but remember there is a reason the whitetail buck is a trophy animal, they're tough to hunt. Many new hunters go out for several years hunting just deer and never make a harvest. Some of my best hunting memories and adventures have been hunting squirrel in the big woods, stalking moving limbs and listening for barking quarrels in the dim morning light or kicking brush piles until the frantic rabbit loses it's sanity and dashes through cover like a madman.
The real hidden benefit of stalking small game is not only the fun had but also the lessons learned. To be successful takes work; scouting, planning, rigging stands, watching seasonal movement, etc. While I'm out on my small game hunts I'm taking in the outdoors and finding new trails and sign almost each day I'm out. Understanding your territory is key to your success and spending time in the field waiting for squirrels or searching for rabbit/pheasant/quail/grouse is a great way to learn more about your hunting grounds. Thats never a bad thing.
Hunting for Deer
No hunter ever forgets the first time they see the whitetail deer in the stand. The first morning I ever sat in a stand my dad took a nice basket rack. I sat in an opposing stand quivering with my bb gun in hand, I'll always remember it.
Your absolute most important task now is to select where you'll hunt. You need to pick your spot based upon cover, resources, trail use, learn all about this through my tracking series. The new hunter usually at least starts out on public land, no matter what you've heard about how bad public land is over-hunted believe me you can still be successful there, your just going to have to work harder. This means your going to have to get up earlier and walk farther than most others will be willing to do. It would also be a good idea to have 4 or 5 spots picked out for when other hunters are in the area. Lets talk about your set-up.
Buying a tree stand of some sort is going to be extremely important especially for the beginner. I tend to have much more success out of sight and out of scent higher up in a tree. You also get a better viewpoint and more shooting range being higher up than your game. This should probably be tackled in another post but I'm going to leave it to you to research how to safely climb and navigate your stand (Just be sure to buy a safety harness). You have a couple options: A climbing stand (one in which you "shimmy" up the tree, and a ladder stand. I'm going to suggest the ladder stand. It's easier and you'll feel safer and beyond that you can put the ladder stands in more trees/spots. If your on public land check the wildlife area laws to see if fixed stands can be left up, if not keep in mind you may be lugging the stand in and out of the woods each day. This is why light ladder stands are popular.
Learning to make every trip successful
You won't bring home a deer each day. Thats not failure, a day hunting is a success in itself. But your going to have to pump up your patience. There are days when I'm in a prime spot with all the right sign and never see a thing. It's just the way things work, nature isn't man-made it plays by no rules so expect to sit and wait. The key is making those trips a success each time you go out. Mentally or literally you should be charting: was it warm or cold, what lunar phase is it, what time of the year is it, pre or post rut, was there another hunter or noise, is your scent covered? (click to learn more) It's like piecing together a puzzle and the more time you stare at the pieces the closer the puzzle comes to completion. You may even have to try a new location.
And finally, once you've done all your homework in selecting your spot and noting movement through your areas you will see what your after, it will probably sneak up on you like a ghost in the night. Just another day of sitting in the cold becomes something more when you notice that buck that has just walked up, silent as a stalking cat.