I recently bogged about an awesome website concept call Huntclubber.com.
Esentially the website connects hunters together for hunts. This raises a good question though; what qualities do you look for in a hunter or how do you go about determining if a hunting partner will work out. Most people don’t want just anyone on a hunt with them. Hunting is a serious matter which requires a level of trust in their partners. After all your shooting guns and injuries can happen easily if your not carefull.
1) The Initial Meeting (s)
The first step is establishing who your hunting with. Knowing their name, age, address, contact info and occupation are essential and will give you a basic understanding of the person. These are the first things I discuss when meeting someone new for the first time and I can tell you from experience, this is best done over a cup of Joe or a cold beer. To start things off I would suggest a quick meet at a local public establishment like Tim Hortons or a Pub. Having a meeting in a public location can take some of the pressure out of a first meeting and a public establishment offers a more relaxed atmosphere. Why have an initial meeting? Easy it allows you to take a reading on the other hunter prior to revealing your favourite hunting spots.
If all looks good I would get right into more detailed questions regarding their hunting and fire arm experience. I enjoy sharing my experiences with others as I am sure most hunters do so this part should be easy. You want to establish that they know how to hunt the target species, how to use their specific equipment and that their hunting objectives are inline with yours. The easiest way to do this is to just come right out asking questions but be sure to offer information about yourself and encourage questions. After all, you want the prospective hunter to be comfortable with you as well. If your not an experienced Hunter, I suggest being upfront about it. Be honest and let the other party know that you are new and are willing to learn. Sometimes the best way to learn is work up from the bottom rung of a camps totem pole.
Finally I suggest posing a philosophical question in a meeting prior to going into the field: What is your reason for hunting? New hunters are going out of their way to find places to hunt and this is usually indicative of passion for the sport. This passion should show through in their response.
2) Field Visit + Hunting Terms
Once everyone is comfortable with each other, the terms of the hunting should be discussed. These details may be better discussed during an actual visit to the proposed hunting property. This allows for a tour of the hunting grounds and the option to discuss any boundaries or issues the land may have. Be sure to explain any special details about the land for instance if they can expect to see other hunters in the area, hikers, farmers etc. This will allow the other hunter to be prepared. Some additional details to cover include: access agreements, hunting camp rules, fees, time requirements and expectations. These are all specifics you will want to make clear to prospective hunters before hand. If you expect hunters to follow certain rules, it is best to make them clear up font.
3) License Check
Although awkward initially, it is always a good idea to check licenses and tags before actually heading out. Confirm the type of license they have (POL vs PAL and tag type). I do this for anyone I hunt or fish with. Id rather not be caught on the wrong side of a CO with a fellow hunter who is hunting illegally. I usually introduce this check by offering it as a double check prior to heading out. It is always a good idea to check your papers prior to heading out to save yourself the embarrassment of having to drive back for a lost tag (trust me on this one!).
Remember if for some reason your suspicious that the prospective hunter may not be completely above board, don’t feel bad about cancelling the hunt. Hunting is supposed to be an enjoyable activity and its pretty hard to do that if your worried about illegal hunting practices in your party. Pretty soon every twig snap will feel like a CO!
These are just a few talking points off the top of my head that I think would be useful. Regardless of how many questions you ask, I recommend meeting the prospective hunter many times before actually hunting and try to hunt in groups for your first hunt if you don’t know the prospective hunter that well.
I for one am all about making connections and getting into the outdoors with new people. In fact I love fishing/hunting with folks new to the sport. The satisfaction of passing on knowledge is a great feeling, however, safety is paramount in all situations and even more so when firearms are involved. Remember, hunting Safety is everyone’s responsibility and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Cheers from the Wild