Small Game Hunting Offers More Opportunity

Some of the rimfire targets I’ve gathered for practice.

My article about squirrel hunting earlier this year has led me down some rabbit trails of new information as I look into the possibilities for myself and my daughter.

I found this article to be full of good information for my beginner self.

What was really interesting is that I also found this article  – which discusses the almost heretical idea that introducing big game hunting in hunter recruitment efforts may create unrealistic expectations about expense and opportunity. Whereas small game hunting may offer more opportunity and more positive reinforcement, keeping the new recruits coming back more often than with big game hunting. 

It does make sense that in our zeal to set new hunters and youngsters up for success that we often create unrealistic expectations for the future.  Game commission sponsored youth hunts on lands with easy pickings that have been pre-scouted by somebody else, free gear, photos in the Game News magazine – none of that happens when you are ultimately out there doing it on your own. Ask me how I know. 

In several years of trying, the only times I have come home from hunts with meat has been on released hunts of pheasant and duck. Released hunts aren’t exactly real world conditions. Sure, you still have to make your shot, but you “know” the game is there, because someone put it out for you to find. Hunting wild game in the real world doesn’t work like that.

It seems funny that I found this article AFTER I had already come to the same conclusion based upon my own experience. But there it is. 

Some advantages from my own perspective to introducing small game hunting over big game hunting for attracting new hunters include:

-No special tags needed – just a basic license. No extra fees for doe tags, or lotteries for limited tags.

-No special equipment needed – no blinds or tree stands to buy. No dog to train. No boats or decoys needed. Maybe not even camo.

-A basic vehicle is fine. No pickup needed to haul out your deer. You can hunt squirrels or rabbits with a Prius (or a bicycle) and fit them in the game bag in your vest.

-You still get meat to eat.

-Taxidermy? Not really.

-You don’t need to spend months patterning the habits of rabbits and squirrels.

-You don’t need to spend hundreds or thousands on an outfitter and guide to go small game hunting.

-Ammo for small game is generally cheaper than the larger calibers that are required for big game. That makes practice cheaper too.

I’m still working on my own small game goals. I’ve purchased a rimfire rifle and already have a 20 gauge pump. I’ve purchased some little targets to practice with and renewed my hunting licenses for the year. 

Now I just have to carve out the time to practice. My gun club has rimfire silhouette matches, which I should probably investigate. That would give me practice AND mentorship this summer.

I might be getting ahead of myself, but I’m already looking at recipes for squirrel and rabbit for the Fall. I’ve gotten my hopes up every year for deer season and have been disappointed. Here’s hoping that THIS hunting avenue will net me some actual dinner this hunting season!