Unlike deer and bear hunting, where you’re lucky if you fire a single shot on a hunt, small game hunters are liable to see multiple rabbits and squirrels during a hunt. Small game hunting also requires less equipment. It’s the perfect way to get experience as a hunter without a huge commitment.

But, that aside, you should know what to expect as a first-time small game hunter. Here are a few tips for your first hunt.

1.  Choose your weapon and equipment wisely

Before you do anything else, it’s important to have all of your hunting equipment in order.

First, take some time to decide on your hunting weapon. Options range from a classic rifle to a high-tech crossbow and even a slingshot. Prior to making a decision, research all of your options and consult with store employees to find your best fit.

Once you’ve chosen your weapon, it’s time to focus on your equipment. Start with clothing. Get camouflaged gear that matches the environment where you’re planning to hunt, whether it’s the forest or plains.

When you have the right gear, you’ll feel confident heading into your first hunt.

2.  Perfect practice makes perfect

One of the main challenges of small game hunting is right in its name: You’re trying to hit a small target from a distance. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to practice.

After you purchase your weapon and any other hunting equipment, hit the shooting range. As you practice, make sure you’re routinely checking your accuracy. Don’t continue to fire if you’re off-target. Make adjustments to your aim and posture. Test out any scopes or laser sights you’ve attached to the weapon as well to ensure they are properly calibrated. 

It’s also important to practice shooting from different positions. Try shooting standing up, sitting down, and on your stomach. You never know what you’ll need to do during a hunt to avoid being spotted by the game you’re stalking, so make sure you’re ready to fire from any position.

3.  Master your (small) game

Hunting isn’t based on luck. Hunters understand the behavior of the game they are pursuing. They know where it typically lives, what it eats, and how it responds to disturbances. Make sure you do the same before heading out on your first hunt.

Start by selecting the game you plan to hunt. For your first hunt, it’s wise to go after species that are plentiful in the area so you get experience using your equipment. Once you have landed on the game you plan to pursue, do your research. Read as many articles as you can about its environment and how it spends its days. And, if you can, scout out the area before your hunting trip to get a sense of how the animal interacts with the environment around it.

By knowing the game you’re stalking, you’ll limit the number of surprises on your hunting trip while positioning yourself to bag more games.

4.  Coordinate with your hunting buddies

It’s always a good idea to hunt with others who are more experienced your first time going out on a hunt. They can share wisdom and give you encouragement throughout the hunt. But the benefits of team hunting don’t end there.

Rabbits, squirrels, and other small games are easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention. By hunting in a group, you increase the likelihood of spotting the game you’re stalking since there are always multiple eyes scanning the environment.

Work on a system of communication so you can alert your buddies whenever one of you spots your prey. Teamwork makes the dream work.

5.   Keep it quiet

Small animals have adapted to being preyed upon. They often have strong senses of smell and hearing. Don’t give away your position.

Move deliberately throughout your hunt. Avoid trampling on sticks or on dried-out leaves as much as possible. If necessary, find a position in the overgrowth and remain there until your prey comes to you.

You can even take it a step further and place an extra set of socks around your boots to minimize stomping. Remaining silent is impossible out in the wild, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sneak up on your prey if you’re careful.

Enjoy the rush

Your first hunt is an unforgettable experience. Enjoy every minute of it and use it as a learning opportunity — you’ll be happy you did!