Hunting certain species of game in California can be downright hard. When first starting out, it’s important to learn the basics of hunting, stalking, spotting, and more. Oftentimes, these lessons are best learned with the easiest animals to hunt. Perfecting the fundamentals of hunting, such as hunter safety and etiquette, before moving on to harder in-depth hunts is critical.
Seeing photos in history books or on social media, hunters ranging from Daniel Boone to Cameron Hanes can intimidate new hunters looking to dive into the world of eternal pursuit. One thing to remember the guy that posted that grip and grin with that 140” whitetail was once a new hunter.
Before hunting any of these animals on our list, take time to find a mentor. This will help develop you as a hunter and make sure you aren’t practicing bad habits. So now, let’s dive into the easiest animals for beginners to hunt.
By far the most popular among new hunters, squirrel hunting in California offers a ton of action and a good chance of success. Depending on how you want to develop as a hunter, you can tailor to your needs when hunting these tree rats.
If you are working on your marksmanship, taking a .22 to pursue squirrels is a fantastic way to practice. Hunters such as Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett were just as famous for their small game marksmanship as they were for their big game hunting.
Although, if you are just looking to boost your confidence and bring home meat for the first time, a .410 shotgun should be your desired method of take. This is great for younger kids since the margin for error is much larger.
When squirrels are coming through the woods, even experienced hunters mistake them for a deer or other big game. This makes locating them incredibly easy. They are also not often spooked by people. Typically, if you are spotted by a squirrel, they will mark and climb to the nearest tree, often exposing themselves. This is what makes them such an easy animal to hunt for anyone, despite their skill level.
Hunting bullfrogs is a staple of southeastern culture. Catching these slimy critters in bug infested swamps on a sticky summer night might not be what some folks necessarily call hunting but ask a southerner who routinely fights the snakes and leeches off for the 2oz legs and he will beg to differ.
What makes bullfrogs so enticing for beginners is the excitement and comradery. You can also have an extremely effective frog hunt hopping from one cattle pond to another in case you have some snake fearing friends new to the outdoors.
The option to catch and release bullfrogs is a great way for someone who wants to ease their way into hunting without carrying something on their conscience. But if that individual is looking to bring home some food, frog legs will not disappoint.
Cleaning frog legs is arguably one of the easiest animals to skin. Which is another reason why bullfrogs are great for beginners. Give anyone a spotlight and a small net and watch them get hooked on frog hunting forever.
It is important to not that one will actually need a fishing license to take bullfrog in California.
Rabbit hunting in CA is a great activity for new hunters seeking active training from an experienced hunter. The fast-paced nature of the sport is engaging, especially for those who like to see dogs working. Like squirrel hunting, the number of opportunities to make a kill is what makes this animal easy to hunt for beginners.
A new hunter may not understand the concept of how to be stealthy, so luckily rabbit hunting can be done with noise. It is a perfect opportunity for someone to learn how to move through the woods with the least amount of noise possible.
Locating rabbits may be one of the easiest things for a new hunter to learn as well if they do not want to use dogs.
Finding an area that produced berries in the fall or small nuts in the winter will surely host some sort of a population of rabbits. After finding a good rabbit habitat, simply sit nearby somewhat concealed, and wait for the rabbit to appear. Since rabbits feed all day long, you can go out any time and have success.
In the world of wing shooting, this may be the easiest animals to hunt. Not only are they a huge flying target, but they are also a slow flying bird. When geese are cupping into decoys, they are virtually nonmoving targets.
If you are set up correctly, the distance of your shot can be anywhere from 5 to 50 yards. The easiest shot for a beginner to make on a cupping bird is 25-30 yards so new hunters keep that in mind. The difficulty of a goose hunt drops even further if the party is pursuing snow geese.
In an average snow goose hunt, there will be tens of thousands of birds swarming into gun range if you are there. The overpopulation of snow geese has loosened laws against them and oftentimes tactics are taken to make killing them easier.
Practices such as using an unplugged shotgun, buckshot, and lead shot are often used. If a new hunter is wanting to break into the world of wing shooting, this is the easiest bird to do so.
Hunting dove may not be as easy to hit as a cupping goose with a 4-foot wingspan, but the amount of effort it takes to effectively dove hunt is minimal. You can grab a shotgun of any legal gauge, find a cut corn field, sit on a bucket, and undoubtedly get a few shots off on some birds.
If you have land of your own, you can make your own dove hunting honey hole by broadcasting cracked corn or wheat seed over a small disked up plot of land. Almost everything that involves hunting doves is easy except for, you guessed it, hitting the dove.
Don’t get discouraged because there will be plenty of opportunities for you to make an effective kill. Another tip for new hunters is to try to find a place that has a barbed wire fence or a powerline near the field. Since it is very unsafe to shoot doves that are on the ground, the best opportunity to take a shot is when they are cupping to land on a fence or powerline. This is relative to hunting all birds.
Raccoon hunting is definitely a great experience for beginning hunters, though this will require going with someone who has hunted raccoons before. Some see raccoon hunting more as a dog training exercise since they are doing most of the work.
The actual killing part of the hunt is not thought to be significant. As far as actually dispatching the animal, there are two ways to do so, and both are easy for beginners. If the hide is not going to be preserved, oftentimes a shotgun will be used. If the hide will be harvested, a .22 is used to shoot the animal in the head.
Either of these shots will typically not be over 30 yards since you will be shooting them out of whatever tree they decided to climb up in. The reason raccoons are on this list of easiest animals to hunt is because of the lack of physical effort it takes and the fact that you will most likely be with someone who knows what is going on.
Racoon season is not open to all of California. Click here to view CDFW regs on raccoon.
Turkey hunting in California can be an easy species to target if done correctly. Simply getting your camo on and heading into the woods won’t cut it here. However, if you follow the right turkey hunting tactics for California, it may be easier than you think.
To start, turkey can see very well. Wearing camo that blends appropriately is important. The next thing to remember is they are not the smartest creature. No need to get fancy with tree stands or stalking. Most turkey hunters will call turkey using a number of different calls depending on the season.
Using a shotgun is the preferred method of take for these birds. When possible take the headshot, you will thank yourself later when the bird is on your table. Doing this takes practice though. Know your gun and the spread at each distance. These are all things that are learned in preparation for your hunt.
Do Your Research
When a new hunter decides he or she wants to start pursuing any of these animals on this list, remember hunting any wild animal isn’t easy. There is a lifetime of things to learn about hunting any animal on the planet.
The easiest animals to hunt have a simple concept to wrap your head around but that does not take away from the significance of the animal. So, if you’re a new hunter, do your research on the animal and make sure you’re abiding by state and federal fish and game laws before pursuing any animal.
After understanding which equipment is best to use for each scenario, you can begin developing from a new hunter to an experienced hunter. Before long, you will be the one mentoring someone who was once in your shoes. So, learn all you can so you can pass the knowledge to someone else.