Photo credit: Lindsey Mulcare

The 6 Best Books for New Hunters

So you want to go hunting for the first time. Or maybe you’re dusting off that bow and heading out again after years of missed hunting seasons. Now’s the time to dig in and do your research. These books will help beginning hunters get in the field safely, legally, and successfully.

It’s always nice to lean on experts when jumping into a new hobby. For hunters, it can be hard to find a real-time mentor or expert to lean on.

But thankfully, a few of the best have lent their wisdom to the reading type. If you’re interested in learning how to hunt, rely on these resources for a helping hand.

The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game‘ Series by Steven Rinella

'The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game' Series by Steven Rinella

This series is hard to beat. In two volumes, Rinella covers “Big Game (Vol. 1)” and “Small Game & Fowl (Vol. 2).” Out of all the books, these two are the most comprehensive when it comes to prep, the hunt, processing, and recipes.

I’d suggest starting with Volume 2 because small game has long seasons and wider availability. But the big-game primer sure comes in handy once late summer hits.

Read ‘The Complete Guide to Hunting’

Becoming a Backpack Hunter: A Beginner’s Guide to Hunting the Backcountry‘ by Josh Kirchner

'Becoming a Backpack Hunter: A Beginner's Guide to Hunting the Backcountry' by Josh Kirchner

Kirchner is not only a hunting author but also one of GearJunkie’s fabulous contributors. And I was excited to see him release a book on backpack hunting for the rookie hunter.

This book aims to bridge the gap between the new hunter and the backcountry, offering up advice on everything from gear to food to packing out. If you’ve ever dreamed of setting up camp with bugling bulls all around you and a bow at your side, this is the book to pick up.

Read ‘Becoming a Backpack Hunter’

The Beginner’s Guide to Hunting Deer for Food‘ by Jackson Landers

'The Beginner's Guide to Hunting Deer for Food' by Jackson Landers

A bit more specific, Landers’ book focuses on hunting — you guessed it — deer. The food focus takes a bit of the machismo out of the typical deer hunting books (antlers! Big ‘uns!), and I like this shift.

Deer give your freezer a lot of bang for the buck. One deer can easily provide 40-60 pounds of meat, if not more. And if that’s your focus, this is a great place to start.

Read ‘The Beginner’s Guide to Hunting Deer for Food’

Hunting Made Simple‘ Series by Scott Dawson

'The Hunting Made Simple Series' by Scott Dawson

Dawson covers a wide and somewhat odd range of critters in his “Hunting Made Simple” series. From turkey hunting to squirrels to hunting peccaries, Dawson covers it from a complete beginner’s perspective.

The books tend to be broad and provide an overview of hunting a particular species. These are certainly not books for experts, but they’ll get a brand-new hunter started in navigating regulations, gear, and the basics for each species covered.

Read ‘Hunting Made Simple’

Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast‘ by Hank Shaw

'Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast' by Hank Shaw

A lauded chef in the sporting community and beyond, Shaw came to hunting as an adult. And, as such, his stories echo that trajectory. This book is both a reader and a bit of a guide, and it encompasses more than just hunting.

Three separate sections covering foraging, fishing, and hunting for a variety of plants and animals. If you’re looking for a more holistic first go at connecting to the edible world around us, this is the book you need right now.

Read ‘Hunt, Gather, Cook’

How to Hunt Everything‘ by Andrew McKean

'How to Hunt Everything' by Andrew McKean

More of a broad overview of a wide, wide swath of species than a specific how-to, McKean and the Outdoor Life crew give readers a global view of hunting in this big and pretty book. Think of it as a snapshot series of hunting specific animals, with pointers on gear, gun choices, and timing.

This is the kind of book I’d buy for that diehard hunting kiddo with big dreams, or for a nice setup on the coffee table. It’s a veritable glance at all the opportunity beyond our backyards — and a fun one at that.

Read ‘How to Hunt Everything’

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Nicole Qualtieri
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Based in Montana, Nicole Qualtieri is GearJunkie's Hunt + Fish Editor. When she's not writing or editing, she's likely hunting, fishing, or on the back of her little brown horse with a border collie named Butch Cassidy on heel in the mountains. Find her on Instagram at @nkqualtieri.

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