Small game hunting through winter is a great way for hunters young and old to develop their skills and confidence without breaking the bank. You don’t need specialized or expensive gear to hunt them, just a .22 long rifle and/or any shotgun, warm clothes and boots suitable for hiking. The skills learned while small game hunting – including tracking, handling a firearm, field dressing and cooking the animals you harvest – harken back to the early days of the sport and later translate directly to big game hunting.
In particular, learning to process and clean small game helps new hunters understand the basics of field dressing before they move to larger game. Seeing the woodlands blanketed in snow and pocked with fresh game tracks is like following a treasure map, and instilling in these young minds the habits and patterns of various small game species is a great way to connect youth hunters to the land, animals and hunting.
Here are three of the most commonly found (and exciting) small game species to hunt this winter.