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Take a shot at one of America’s oldest games

In need of a new hobby that can provide a healthy, green food source? Want to spend more of your time in the outdoors with like-minded nature lovers? Well then, have we got a show for you.

Jake Ethington, International business major and hunting aficionado, gave several reasons to pick up the sport of hunting. 

“Fresh game meat is vastly superior for health. It has lower calories, less fat, more nutrients and no hormones or other artificial components,” he said. “It’s way better than even the organic stuff found in the store. I always feel really good after eating game meat.” 

Ethington also pointed out that hunting is “fun socially and helps you stay active from hiking. It’s really fun to discover new places and explore.” For him, the experience is a great stress relief away from technology and gives him a reason to be out in nature. 

So once you decide to give hunting a try, how do you get started? Ethington’s first tip is to talk to the people in the know.

“Going into the fish and wildlife services, forestry office, department of wildlife conservation or fish and game offices are good,” he said. “They’re usually not busy and will talk with you about whatever you want to know.”  

For those hunting in Oklahoma, Ethington recommended the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation website for information on hunting seasons, access to public land and state regulations. Government websites are also a great way to find out about hunting licenses and safety classes. 

Oklahoma native Frank Babb, who has been hunting for more than 40 years, also recommended getting involved in the local hunting community. 

“Attend a seminar hosted by the Duck Alliance, Elk Foundation, or Bass Pro,” Babb recommended. More than that, however, Babb believes that “young men and women who are interested in hunting should find an individual who has a lot of experience in hunting and ask them for guidance and glean from the experience that has been gathered over the years.” 

Of course once you are ready to hit the hunting grounds, you are going to need some gear. The first tool you’ll need is either a gun or bow. These can be expensive but can be worth the high price. 

According to Ethington the meat gain from hunting can quickly offset the cost, and Babb pointed out that he has used the same shotgun since he was 18, making it a worthwhile investment. The type of gun or bow will depend on the animal you are hunting and state and local regulations. 

Becoming familiar with your chosen tool, practicing with it, and making sure it is sighted before your trip is also crucial to a successful hunt.

One mistake newbies often make is not bringing gear like knives, binoculars, or bullets or not dressing for the weather. Babb recommended not only checking the weather conditions and environment before the trip but also documenting it afterward. 

“I truly believe in having a diary and writing down the weather, the visibility conditions and the way the animals are moving,” he said. “That way you can fall back on it if the conditions are the same and you can establish a baseline of knowledge.” 

Keeping a hunting log also provides you with a reminder of all your hunts and allows you to pass on your experience to the next generation, something that is important to Babb and the hunting community.

But the key to finding a happy hunting ground is patience. 

“Most hunts aren’t successful, and if someone doesn’t have the tolerance or temperament to be okay with that, it can be disappointing.”

Even though he has been hunting since he was ten, Babb is still is eager to learn and encourages others to do the same.

 “Never be afraid to ask questions,” he said. “Keep an open mind for new ideas and new concepts.”

Photo provided by Alex Schmitz