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I would be your mentor if I wasn't at the other end of the country. As is, the best I can do in response to your post is to give you what I think are the basics of getting started in hunting.

- get a good deer gun (anything from .308 to . 300WSM is a good deer gun)

- get proficient with that gun from 100 yards to 4-500 yards, to where you can put three rounds within 3-5 inches at 4-500 yards

- when you are confident in your shooting skills, go out and monitor the habits of deer in an area where you could hunt when the season comes (find a water source and go out really early, find a place to hide, watch and have patience)

- learn to read sign (animal foot prints and other evidence of their passing through) by inspecting the ground and the bush after you've seen them pass through

- figure out how close you can get to them before they can smell you and hear you and build a strategy on that ( you can use soaps for your body and clothes that eliminate most human odor)

- for gutting and skinning skills, practice on smaller things at first and then increase their size. For example, start with squirrels, move on to rabbits, then coyotes, etc.

- understand that there are at least two types of deer hunting: sitting still in a blind for hours, patiently waiting for a shot or actively seeking deer in the bush and stalking it. The second is much harder but it is more enjoyable.

Like you said, no one can really teach you beyond giving you a few pointers so you can start. As you get into it, you will make mistakes, figure out better ways to do it and eventually get really good at it if you enjoy it and stick with it.

I personally enjoy hunting alone or with someone I can count on to take the same approach as me. Hunting alone is like a form of meditation for me and it always fills me with peace, whether I get something or not.
 

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Declan,
do you mind if I call on you with questions from time to time?
Any time bud...

One thing I should have also mentioned...get yourself a decent range finder and learn to estimate distances. When I hunt, the three things I always have on my are my rifle, my range finder and my binos.
 

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Declan,
Could you point me in the right direction as far as range finders go, what features to look for, reliable brands, and so on.
Just about any current model range finder is good enough for what you'll be doing with it.

I have a Bushnell Scout 1000 Arc. I paid $300 for it last August and that was a good price.

Here is the exact one I have and it can be had for an even better price- $239 Shipped.

Ebay-Bushnell Scout 1000 Arc

I've used it this hunting season and I am very happy with it. It has a whole bunch of features but I'll be honest with you; I don't use any of them. None of my friends use any of the fancy features on theirs either.

The only thing you really need a range finder to do is tell you how far a target is. If it does that reliably, it's a good range finder.

The only thing I'd suggest is that you get one that is supposed to range out to 1000 yards, at least. The maximum range of a range finder works on really big targets, like a barn or a house.

A range finder that is rated to 1000 yards will read a deer reliably at 500 yards and that's good enough. Not many people will take a shot beyond that.

Of course, you can spend a lot more and get a major brand but in the end they'll do the same thing.
 
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