Game Hunting 101: Beginner’s Guide

| Last Updated August 16, 2021

Every hunter dreams about the big game they want to hunt but there are a variety of animals you can hunt for. Deer aren’t the only animals worth pursuing.

Here we will discuss some common types of game and provide helpful game hunting tips to help you on your journey.  

If you are looking for information on a certain game type, use our table of contents to get you there faster. 

Table of Contents

Deer Hunting

Coyote Hunting

Elk Hunting

Turkey Hunting

Duck Hunting

Conclusion

Deer Hunting

Hunting deer is definitely popular. There are many great places to hunt these creatures and while most areas require a hunting license, these aren’t difficult to obtain if you’re in the right place and for the right season.

Deer can be hunted with both bows and rifles, but no matter which you choose, be sure your ammo and draw weight are sufficient to make the kill. If you want to attract deer, scent control is a vital component. You can sit in a stand all day but if a deer can smell you, you’re unlikely to encounter one. 

There’s nothing more satisfying than waiting in your blind or stand for the perfect buck to come along, bagging it, and adding it to your trophy wall. There is an art to hunting deer, though, so be sure to read more about it in our deer hunting article.   

Where to Hunt Deer in the U.S.

No matter where you live in the United States, you likely don’t have to travel very far to find a place to hunt deer. Deer are the most common North American mammal and are prominent in many areas. However, some places are better for hunting than others due to regulations, the number of deer per square mile, the amount of public land for hunting, deer hunting seasons in the state, and how dense the hunters are.

Here are the top 10 states for hunting whitetail deer:

● Texas

● Iowa

● Kentucky

● Pennsylvania

● South Carolina

● Mississippi

● Kansas

● Illinois

● Indiana

● Ohio

While other types of deer like mule deer are often hunted, whitetails are still the most popular type of deer to hunt in the country. Be sure to research the regulations, permits, and seasons for the area you will be hunting in. Also, check your equipment to be sure your weapon of choice is capable of taking down these fast, powerful animals. 

Deer Hunting Equipment

Deer hunting is a whole event. You will need to be sure to have the right equipment for hunting deer.  Here is the gear you simply can’t leave home without.

Layers of Clothes

Deer hunting can take long hours of sitting and waiting. This means you’ll need to layer your clothes to protect yourself. Remember that blaze orange is a requirement for many hunting locations and should be included in your attire. 

Scent Control

If you want to be successful, you will need to control your scent either with scent control clothing or a good scent eliminator spray.

Deer Call

A deer call will draw deer to your location and make it more likely you’ll get a shot.  Hunting without a deer call is doable but just increases the difficulty. If you’re okay going home without bagging a deer, leave the call off the list. 

Weapon

You need to bring a powerful rifle to hunt deer. If you prefer to hunt deer with a bow, choose one with a high draw weight capable of taking down large prey. Also, be sure your ammo or broadheads are the right types for deer.

Decoy

Bring the best decoy(s) you can afford to help stage the area for your trophy buck. This gives you a leg up on the competition and allows you to draw the deer to you instead of going to them.

If you are new to deer hunting, here is a beginner’s guide to help you out.

Elk Hunting


Elk are some of the largest game animals and can weigh up to 700 pounds. These massive beasts are generally only found in the United States although other countries have introduced herds and have hunting opportunities. However, the best elk hunting definitely occurs in North America.

Where to Hunt Elk in the U.S. 

When you think of hunting elk, the most likely association you’ll have is elk hunting in the Rockies. While this is a very successful place to hunt, there are other states where you can hunt elk as well.

Here are 8 states that have great elk hunting:

● Colorado

● Idaho

● Wyoming

● Arizona

● Oregon

● Montana

● Utah

● Nevada

Elk Hunting Equipment

 Hunting elk requires regular hunting equipment but also some specialized elk hunting gear that is able to pierce the animal’s thick hide. Here are some basics you’ll need. 

Clothing

Layers of clothing are often necessary because the weather can vary and change quickly. This includes base layers, outer layers, multi layers of socks and long underwear. Also have a sturdy pair of hunting boots that can protect your feet. 

Items for a Kill Kit

These include a game bag, very sharp knife, rope, flagging equipment, and tags. Be prepared to put an injured animal down, as these animals are large and powerful.

Weapon

This will likely be a rifle or bow. Be sure you have the right type of ammo and broadheads to penetrate the hide and make an effective kill shot. 

Photo Credit: IDFG.Idaho.gov

Elk Hunting License

This will legally allow you to hunt and dictate how many elk you are allowed. Make copies and keep them in multiple places in case one gets damaged or lost.

Scent Control

Elk can smell you coming so be sure to mask your smell in order to make a successful hunt. Nothing is worse than planning for weeks, only to forget to hide your scent and losing out on the kill you were expecting.

Elk Call

An elk call will draw the prey to you and is a vital component in your hunt. 

There is a near-endless amount of gear you can use on a hunt, just be sure all your gear is tailored to your prey. 

 Duck Hunting

Duck hunting is a very popular sport and can be done nearly anywhere in the United States. This is not the easiest sport but can be done with minimal equipment for a basic hunt. However, the real fun comes in when you really get into the game and take it to the next level. 

Where to Hunt Ducks in the U.S.

Though duck and other waterfowl are found across the country, there are some locations where you’ll find larger groupings that are easier to hunt.

Here are the 9 most popular locations for duck hunting success. 

● Arkansas

● Louisiana

● California

● Maryland

● Utah

● Washington

● Kansas

● North Dakota

● Mississippi

Duck Hunting Equipment

Having the right equipment can be the difference between a successful hunt and going home empty-handed. Here is some gear to bring with you on your next duck hunt. 

Duck Call

A duck call will draw flocks toward you, making the hunt easier and more productive.  There are various types available and they take some practice to learn.

Decoys

Duck decoys are an excellent tool for setting ducks at ease while you are making the shot. Having a good spread is the best way to set the stage. 

Duck Hunting Gun

Use the right gun with the right kind of ammo, like steel shot, to ensure you aren’t over or under-powered when taking your shot. A 12-gauge shotgun is the most commonly used weapon for duck hunting. 

Waders

Ducks will always be in or near water sources. Being able to enter the water to take your shot or retrieve your target will require a good pair of waterproof waders. 

Also, consider a kayak or other watercraft to make it easier to get to the right position. If you are a duck hunting beginner, start with basic gear and work your way up to a full set of premium gear. 

Coyote Hunting

Coyote populations have grown greatly over the past several decades. These super-adaptable creatures reduce populations of other prey animals and often cause population problems for those animals. Deer, small game animals, livestock, and domesticated pets often fall prey to these hunters. Therefore, keeping the number of coyotes under control is vital to the balance of animal life. 

Where to Hunt Coyote in the U.S.

Although coyotes are located everywhere across the United States, some areas are more densely populated with these animals than others. Here are some places to consider if you want to hunt coyotes. If none of these are close, look up locations in your area. If there are mice and small wild animals, there are probably coyotes.

Check out these 6 states for hunting coyotes:

● Kansas

● Nebraska

● Wyoming

● Colorado

● Pennsylvania

● Nevada

Coyote Hunting Equipment

Coyote hunting is even more challenging than other popular animals because these predators are very smart and cautious. If they sense a human nearby, you’re unlikely to catch more than a glimpse. Here is some equipment you’ll want to bring along on your coyote hunt.

Weapon

Almost any hunting weapon will be sufficient. If you have a rifle for other game, it will likely work for coyote. If not, choose one of these rifles that are suited to coyote hunting. The change you may need to make is in regards to the ammo. Be sure your ammo is capable of making a quick, ethical kill. Rounds that immediately expand upon impact are recommended. 

Optics

Coyotes are most active at night, so if you want to bag several kills, hunting at night will be the most lucrative. This means having an optic that can both target out to 100-200 yards, but also one with good night vision capabilities.

Photo Credit: WildernessMastery.com

Hunting Light

A good quality green or red hunting light will light up a coyote’s eyes without alerting them to your presence. This is an easy way to scan for activity in a larger area than looking through your optic. 

Coyote Call/Lures/Scents

A coyote call will bring your targets close enough for you to see even if they started out far away. Lures and scents will draw coyotes who believe a prey animal is nearby, bringing them into range. 

Chair/Rifle Rest

Hunting coyotes can take time. Moving around too much will startle them, so finding a comfortable position and having a place to rest your gun will keep you stationary and ready when your target approaches the area. 

Camouflage

As coyotes have very sharp eyes, some kind of camo is necessary to avoid being detected. If a coyote catches sight of you, you’ll have a difficult time attracting one to your location. 

Turkey Hunting

Hunting turkeys is popular in the springtime. Many states open up and invite hunters in by the droves. Public lands are rife with turkeys and ready for the pickin’s. With plentiful turkey populations, you are sure to bag a bird or two. 

Where to Hunt Turkey in the U.S

You probably don’t have to travel far to find a good turkey hunt near you. When you find a good area, be sure to find out if it’s public or private land. For public land, it’s open game for turkeys (literally). If you are on private land, you’ll need to ask permission.

Here are the top 10 areas for turkey hunting.

● Alabama

● Kentucky

● Nebraska

● Tennessee

● Kansas

● Florida

● Texas

● Missouri

● Maine

● New Hampshire

Turkey Hunting Equipment

Having the right equipment sets you up for success. If you are a turkey hunting beginner, you may not know what you need. Other than a license, here are some tools you should be sure to bring along. 

Weapon

You will need a suitable bow or shotgun for turkey hunting. Also be sure to bring along the right ammo or broadheads for your weapon to make your shots count.  This includes a choke tube if you use a shotgun. 

Camo

Staying hidden is the key to allowing turkeys to come up close to your location. If you wear the wrong color or stand out, you’ll likely be spotted before you have a chance to take a shot. Use as much camo as possible but be sure it blends in with your environment. 

Photo Credit: GameAndFishMag.com

Turkey Calls

Turkey calls come in a variety of types. Finding the right one and knowing how to use it properly can make your trip the most successful one yet. 

Chair

Turkeys are always in fight or flight mode. The moment they hear you shift your position, they send out the alert and take off. This might mean you’ll go home empty-handed. Having a comfortable chair or seat will ensure you don’t give yourself away prematurely. 

Decoys

A decoy or two can set you apart from other hunters. With turkey decoys becoming more and more realistic, you can set the scene with a tom and a hen to draw in jealous birds.

Blind

In a blind, you have the complete advantage. You and your equipment are essentially invisible. Again, be sure your blind blends in with the area and does not make any abnormal noises in the wind or the rain.

Conclusion

With so many great game animals to hunt in the United States, you can choose your difficulty level and challenge. For beginners, turkey, duck, and other waterfowl are great options with plenty of locations, so you can surely find one nearby. You can also hunt pesky varmints near your home.

Photo Credit: EliteArchery.com

For more advanced hunters, challenge yourself with the game listed above or try a bear, sheep, boar, or cougar. Just be sure to know where the best opportunities are for your animal of choice and bring along the right equipment. There is plenty of information available to help you out, if you just take the time to look for it. 

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My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at admin@biggamelogic.com. Read more about Big Game Logic.