A Beginner's Guide to Hunting

8 Steps for an Ethical and Authentic Wilderness Experience

I will never forget my dad having his arms wrapped around me and whispering in my ear, how to aim that old 1950s pellet gun. Patience was clearly a virtue that he possessed, as there were two boys younger than me in the family. One at a time he would sit, explain and teach us to shoot that old pellet gun. Then from there we were not satisfied, so into the woods we would go, cut down our own cedar bows and make a real bow and arrow. What a memory in that back yard with dad, Paul, and Kevin shooting for hours on end and chasing every poor critter that lived within a mile of our country home. Memories I will cherish forever and experiences I value and now work hard to re-live with my four kids.

Preparing for the Hunt

Now, I make a living as a hunter, and the same passion and love for it has never left. You see, if you were to ask any hunter why he hunts, it’s never about “killing” an animal. In fact hunters don’t even call it that, we “harvest” them. The word hunt conjures up all kinds of ideas, but for me, it’s the journey, the adventure and the chase! That same chase that can turn your world upside down, and pump your adrenaline levels through the roof just at the sound of a single duck quack, moose grunt or twig snap.


It's surreal. Hunting is being one on one with nature. It’s a moment in time where you truly go back to your roots, the same roots that generations before us and thousands of years before them have been experiencing. Once there, it’s the smells, the sights, the sounds and the hunt, the hunt of the animal you are pursuing and trying to outsmart.

If you're considering hunting, I urge you to do so because simply put - it’s amazing experience. Hunting is an experience for all walks of life, ages, genders and communities. I've listed a few of my recommended first steps to becoming a hunter below, to get you started. 

Firsts steps to becoming a hunter;

  • Partner Up

    If you can learn about hunting with a friend or family member, it's always more fun that way. It will be a great motivation to have someone else there.


  • Get Licensed, Learn Regulations

    Call the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and find a list of hunting course instructors in your area. Once you find one, call and see about scheduling your course. A hunting course is a must to hunt, but the firearms course is an option if you are choosing to hunt with archery gear only. I recommend getting both courses at the same time; you then have them for life and can then hunt what gives you the best opportunity later by choosing gun or bow.

  • Find Your Post

    Select the area and region you want to hunt. For example, the Northeastern Ontario region is one of the finest. It has an abundance of deer, moose and bear. They also have an amazing small game, waterfowl and upland bird population. The benefit of this region is that many species can be hunted during the same time of year, which makes for diverse and exciting hunting.

  • Research The Area

    Call local tourism groups, and local outfitters to find out all the information you can on the area, hunting seasons and wildlife. If you can afford an experienced guide I highly recommend it. If not, go anyway, rent a lodge or a cabin and talk to the local people in the area. 

  • Choosing a Firearm: Gun or Bow?

    Knowing what and where you will hunt will be the key to the next step - choosing a firearm, bow, or both. When big game hunting, choosing a rifle that can ethically harvest all three is advised. For archery, choosing between vertical and horizontal is a very personal choice and both take big game animals ethically. For upland birds, small game and waterfowl, a shot gun is what you need, just different ammunition for the same gun for different species is all that is required. I suggest visiting a local store and hearing all your options from the employees for getting the right one.


  • Dress Wisely

    Meeting the legal requirements of hunter orange learned in your course will be key, but when not required and what to wear under it will be determined by what time of year and style of hunting you are doing. I recommend finding a good outdoor store and speaking to the employees there to get their suggestions. Try on lots and be comfortable, warm and dry!

  • Get Out There

    Once ready for the field, get out there and enjoy nature. Learning tricks and tactics will take a lifetime, we are all still learning. Do not let inexperience keep you from the woods. A few simple rules, waterfowl trust their eyes and ears, so great camo and little movement is key. Big game have great eyes and ears but will beat you with their nose long before seeing you. Always make sure the wind is blowing in your face when hunting big game and you are facing where the animal is expected to come from.

  • Have Fun

    Enjoy the adventure and remember, if you go home empty handed that’s part of the experience. Enjoy it.

Now, as a professional hunter along with my two brothers we love to see people start hunting. Year after year, we get to hear the great stories of people’s first hunts.  Having just returned from filming an amazing bear hunt with Olive The Lake Lodge in Marten River, ON, we can strongly encourage anyone to look into the Northeastern Ontario region for a great hunt. The animals are plentiful and the chance for big moose, bear and deer is very realistic. But even better than the great hunting experience, is the great meat in the freezer to feed your family for the winter.


Happy hunting!

About Keith Beasley

Keith Beasley was among the first Canadians to be elected to sit on the prestigious Board of Directors for the U.S.-based Quality Deer Management Association, and in addition to his field experience as a whitetail hunter, the insight and educational exposure he has had to whitetail deer and whitetail deer management through the QDMA is second to none.

Recommended Articles

Complete Guide to Moosonee & Moose Factory Island

12 essential experiences for visitors.

Welcome to Moosonee

"Oh my god, it’s salt water. We’re in the ocean!’” 

Northern Lights in Northeastern Ontario

5 great spots in The Seven to find the Aurora Borealis.

Ontario's Secret Lagoon

Discover paradise just outside of Sudbury

A Guide to Mushroom Hunting

How, when and where to go, and what to look for

Moosonee Guide: Exploring The Northern Shores of Ontario

James Bay offer travellers a chance to explore the ocean, spot marine wildlife, and camp under the stars.

Fish for one of the World's Rarest Species of Trout

Found only in 12 remote Ontario lakes–and nowhere else in the world–the aurora trout is a special fish.

Spectres of the Past: A Ghost Town Field Trip

Follow this trail of abandoned communities on a road trip through the history of Northeastern Ontario

Looking for a unique train-in Vacation? We've got you covered.

Check out this list of all the train-in experiences in Northeastern Ontario.

Cochrane: Wonderfully Unexpected

One of Canada's top 50 small towns!

The rare and beautiful White Moose

Foleyet's Mysterious White Moose Population

A Moosonee guide to fishing on the Moose River

A local fishing guide knows every nook and cranny of the upper Moose River

Increase Your Odds

Visitors to the region often wonder, how do I see the Northern Lights?

An Insider's Guide to Manitoulin Island

12 communities, sights, hikes and experiences that most first-time visitors miss!

Best Things to Do in Kirkland Lake: The Town that Gold Built

Check out a self-guided gold mine tour, a northern chateau museum, and get some beach time!

The Lake Nipissing Loop

From french bakeries to trading posts, museums to winter hiking—add this epic weekend road trip to your bucket list

Lake Nipissing Fishing Hot Spots

Nipissing is one massive lake with plenty of fishing opportunities to keep anglers exploring.

Mattawa's Sid Turcotte Park

A flood can't keep this campground down.

Legendary Joe LaFlamme

Gogama's very own wolf and moose tamer was a figure larger than life—and completely real.

How to Properly Hold and Handle Fish

Techniques & Tools