How to go hunting?

I live in Texas and suppose I want to go hunting for rabbits and squirrels. What do I need to do to do that? Do I have to get a lease? I know that deer leases can be very expensive.

Just considering,
Rob

Relevant info

What not to do: Never wear white mittens in the woods. Your hand may be mistaken for the backside of a deer.

A young mind sullied by the songs of a previous generation . . .

You can probably get all the info you need at your local sporting goods store. Around here you’d need a small game license, a .22 caliber rifle and a map specifying what land is public and what is private. Always ask the landowner before hunting on private land. A hunter safety class would be an excellent idea, especially if you are a beginner.

Do not eat Coco-Puffs while wearing white mittens in the woods…

If he wants to actually hit anything and he’s a novice, a shotgun would be a better choice. .410 would be cheapest to shoot, but 20, 16 or 12 gauge will work. Low brass loads (think they’re also called “field loads”) with 7 1/2 or 8 shot should do the trick for rabbits and squirrels. Depending on the weapon and local regs, he may need to install a hunting plug.

When I used to do that sort of thing, we only took head shots. A shotgun would ruin much of the meat. But if you’re not hunting for food, by all means use whatever sort of cannon suits your fancy.

Most states require a hunter safety class before you can get a license. My dad has taught the class for over 20 years. It’s not difficult. They’ll cover most of the questions the OP had.

Your best bet is to have a friend with private land that will let you hunt. You still need a license and can only hunt in season.

A shotgun really shouldn’t ruin much of the meat at common shooting ranges, with the loads I described. At least it didn’t in my experience. Granted, if you somehow get real close, a shotgun could be a problem, but squirrels are usually up in trees, with branches for cover, so there aren’t usually that many shot in the meat. Just have to chew a little carefully, same as with ducks. Rabbits will depend on available cover, range, and whether he’s using dogs, I suppose.

I have actually hunted before (twice for dove and once for white tail), but not since I was 19. (I am 40 now). I had already looked up the TPWD site and know that rabbits have no closed season and no bag limit and the same is true of squirrels in the southern counties. I think you still need a license, though. I am very comfortable with guns and own several (which fell off a boat). I am just old enough to be exempt from hunter safety courses, although if I went, I would probably take one anyway. My main issues are where to go (and I don’t want to spend a lot of money) and how to stalk. I have only ever hunted from a static position. I also want to learn how to tell if the meat is safe to eat.

We just drove slowly on rural roads looking for bunnies. They are rather stupid and will freeze in place hoping they won’t be seen. Typical range is from 20 to 80 feet. For squirrels you’ll have to go walking in the woods. They’re more wary than bunnies and will scurry to the far side of limbs where they feel safe. Sometimes you can catch a glimpse of tail, but with experience you can tell where they stop from the sound. A .22 will go through a small to medium size branch.

In this vicinity rabbits taste way to sage-ey for me. Squirrel is quite good (and crispy if cooked properly).

Hunting from public right of ways is illegal in Texas, unfortunately.

Rob

Texas requires the Hunter Safety Course if you’re under about 38 years old, but you can get a one-year deferment, if you agree to only hunt within speaking distance of a trained and licensed hunter.

Here’s the best info (it’s the online version of the 09-10 Texas Outdoor Annual published by TPWD and put in every sporting goods and gun store in the state. There’s everything you need to know in there on licensing, seasons, regulations, etc…

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/annual/

Be vewy vewy quiet.

With rabbits, be careful of Tularemia. This site says that cold weather has no effect on Tularemia, although other sites and popular opinion (possibly old wives tales) indicate that you should not deal with rabbits until after the first frost.
http://www.surviveoutdoors.com/reference/tularemia.asp
http://beaglesunlimited.com/rabbithunting_tularemia.htm

As far as the expense of shells goes, a .410 is a great and fun way to hunt squirrels and allows the shooter to take the occasional running shot, but .410 shells were not less expensive than 12 gauge, last time I checked. They used to be, but are not any more. All shotgun shells have gotten very expensive, it seems to me, but that may just be age speaking. Most squirrel hunting is not on a running animal, though, and a 22 works pretty well and allows a head shot - but a .410 or even a 12 guage at reasonable range won’t damage the meat much. If you are a fan of squirrel brains, as was my gpa, you won’t ever take a head shot, though.

A .410 can be used to hunt rabbits, but I think you will find a 12 guage (if hunting with a dog when most of your shots will be on the run with the dogs chasing) or a 22 (if not using dogs, when most of your shots will be on rabbits that are not running) will be preferable. Hunting rabbit over a beagle is an incredibly enjoyable experience. Beagles are not the brightest, as dogs go, but when it comes to rabbits they are dedicated, singleminded, and in their medium, clearly loving life, and it rubs off.

Oh, and in Texas, there is a terrible shortage of public land where hunting can be done. If you know someone who has land, they probably won’t mind you hunting bunnies and squirrels there, even if they jealously guard their deer leases - which in Texas can be quite lucrative, partly because of the lack of open hunting land. But there are precious few public hunting spots in Texas.

And regarding stalking, hunting for squirrels pretty much means sitting quietly in a place where squirrels will come. You can walk and try to stalk, but in my experience sitting quietly is usually more effective, especially if there are leaves on the ground, in which case you cannot walk at all without making way too much noise. Many people do hunt squirrels by walking quietly through the woods, though. In Tennesee, dogs (usually a local breed called “feist”) are used for hunting squirrels. The dogs tree the squirrels and bark, then you just walk to them and shoot the squirrel. The dogs are sometimes trained to go to the other side of the tree and bark to drive the squirrels toward you.

Even if you know the landowner, it’s best to check in with him before beginning to hunt that day. He knows if his kids are out there, and you don’t.

If you go hunting, and you didn’t kill anything, or even take a shot, you’ve gone hiking, which is okay, too.

I don’t recall. Does frog gigging require a fishing or hunting license?

I haven’t gone gigging in at least thirty years. Man, there’s nothing better than fresh, fried frog legs. :wink:
The ones you get at restaurants aren’t nearly as tasty.

  1. Treat every firearm as if it is loaded, even when you KNOW it is not.
  2. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
  3. Never point a firearm at anything you’re not willing to kill or destroy.
  4. Always be sure of your target…and beyond.