Noobs: Start Here!


Oct 16, 2012
San Diego
Hey welcome to the sport. We get a lot of new hunters around here, especially in November during the hunting seasons. We tend to field the same questions so here’s a guide for getting started.

When to start: ironically, the middle of the hunting season (Fall) is the wrong time to start hunting. That’s because it takes time to get started. If you want to learn to fish, you can go to Walmart and buy a license and a rod, and be fishing within the hour. Not so with hunting, it takes a bit of paper work and a bit of time; typically at least a month. If you want to hunt the fall you should start thinking about it in spring or summer

Where to start: Start by reading the hunting regulations at California Fish and Wildlife (CA F&W formerly DFG). Don’t worry about memorizing or even understanding all of them. But you will get a feel for dates, species, and some of the finer points of the law. Next take a hunter education course. They will cover some of those rules and which end of the rifle goes up. You must have a hunter education certification before you can buy a hunting license. The good news with hunter ed, is it’s for life and applicable in any state (if you have a hunter ed cert from another state you can use it here.) Hunter ed usually takes 1 day, but some places offer a 3-day with more safety, technique, etc. You can also take half the class online, then attend a half-day class somewhere. Both end with a 100 questions test. If you already know everything, you can simply visit DFG and take the 100 question test.

For regs, lists of hunter ed courses, and online license purchases here is a link to F&W:

How to start: Use this forum. Go to the ‘Newbie Den’ and introduce yourself. That works much better than a random comment on a thread full of people you don’t know. Until people know who you are, and what you’re like, they’re less likely to listen to you (the same as I.R.L.) Ask questions, search prior threads, and ‘listen’ more than you ‘talk.’ If you want to learn something it’s more expedient to pretend you know nothing than to pretend you know everything.

Please, please, please don’t come on here and ask people for a spot to hunt; especially if it’s your first post! That’s stupid and borderline offensive. Hunting spots are hard won in SoCal. The combination of short time frame, large numbers of hunters, and relatively little game makes hunting extremely competitive here. Also Google is your friend. If you want to know something generic (What color are deer? What is the rut? What is a gun? How do you spell rifle?) Try google, don’t waste people’s time asking questions that can be answered anywhere. If you have a question about the regs, try reading the regs before asking. We are not game wardens. Feel free to ask people’s interpretation of some of the finer points, but don’t ask easy stuff (When can I hunt? What can I hunt? Can I sell/buy meat?)

Gearing up: Now that you’re educated, an expert on the regs, and know the wildlife you hope to harvest it’s time to buy some gear. If you’re brand new, that probably means buying a gun. Here’s where the forum is an excellent resource. From there you can gauge specifically what people are hunting and what they are hunting it with.

People love to talk about their gear. And there are some classic never-ending debates. Try asking if a .270 is better than a 30-06 and you’ll see for yourself. Once again, you could google some of this stuff (i.e. “What type of rifle to use for mule deer?”) but here local knowledge is better than the generic brand. When you go to buy a gun, bear in mind that there is a 10 day waiting period. You can’t buy a gun and hunt with it the same day, so plan ahead. Guns are expensive, and they require maintenance. So do your research. You’re also going to need all kinds of crap: boots, camo, cleaning gear, hats, ammo, everything. Don’t feel like you have to buy it all up front though. Many people start with just the gun and pair of jeans. That’s enough for simple stuff like rabbits and dove.

Where to hunt: This is really one of the hardest parts. As mentioned above, people will generally not tell you their spots. But you can hunt most lands held by the National Forest Service (NFS or FS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). State and local parks are a non-no. If you want to hunt private property, you must have written permission from the landowner, on the specific forms provided by CA F&W.
You will quickly learn that there are no secrets in Southern California. There are just limited roads and how far you are willing to walk. Hunting on weekdays, or far from the road, reduces your chances of seeing other hunters.

One bright spot: In Imperial Valley there is an unwritten rule that you can hunt farms that are not ‘posted’. Posted means it has signs saying No Trespassing or No Hunting. If possible though, it’s nice to still ask the people if you can walk over their lands shooting. In all situations, for Pete’s sake, clean up after yourself. Don’t leave trash or shells. Don’t clean animals (or leave carcasses) on someone private property. Watch out for and be considerate of other people hunting the area. The best we all can do is learn to share the lands that we all share.

For some reason the FS and BLM have not caught up with the digital age. They want you to buy paper maps, through the mail. Those are good when you need to know the exact location of a boundary, but for a general idea of public lands this website is handy:

Get out there! The best education in hunting is time in the field. You will see cool things and learn the behavior of animals. Then read some stuff; there are loads of books, magazine, and even threads on this forum about finding game and coercing it into your sights.

Courtesy: It is difficult to comprehend what people are thinking or trying to get across in their posts from time to time. Best to take the high road when reading posts you may not agree with or completely understand. Play nice and use common sense when posting. Opinions are great but don't impose your will on others. This is an amazing forum and is seldom moderated. We want to keep it that way!

SCH Sponsors: The sponsors are the foundation of SCH and pay for the day to day expenses as well as all of the cool events and prizes. We are all very lucky to have the support of these companies and ask that if at all possible, help support them. As SCH grows, so will our sponsorship. Please keep that in mind.


New Member
Jul 19, 2014
Thanks for the post. I was looking at the map and on the 94 south of the Dulzura label and what looks like is the otay open space preserve. Is that yellow for BOR or USACOE? Secondly what are those abbreviations for? Googling USACOE autocorrects it to US core of engineers but not sure. Thank you.


New Member
Dec 23, 2014
msteiger said:
For some reason the FS and BLM have not caught up with the digital age. They want you to buy paper maps, through the mail. Those are good when you need to know the exact location of a boundary, but for a general idea of public lands this website is handy:

Thanks for posting that map link. I am the developer of the Gmap4 enhanced Google map viewer that is displaying that map.

Earlier today I started the following thread in the Open Discussion forum. That post explains about a project I am doing to produce online maps that show public land boundaries plus all kinds of recreation related information.

Since California is one of the states that I have finished, you can see lots of SoCal data layers useful to people that play outside.,7003.0.html

Joseph, the Gmap4 guy


Rut - Me worry?
Jan 27, 2013
Joseph, that is fantastic. Thanks for the post and the link. Back in the day I was a big USGS topo map user, but these days their process of "print on demand" turns out maps that aren't usable. I returned the last maps I purchased from them. Too bad for those of us raised on paper, but it was inevitable. Just not cost effective for them to print high quality maps as the market shifts to digital. Thanks for your work with the overlays!


Sep 11, 2014
That's funny, I knew his broadheads were named that but I've been using the tag for a few years so it didn't click.
Glad to be here!!


New Member
Aug 29, 2015
ops, I should have read this first. My bad I just posted something and ask for hunting areas in IV.. Im sorry...


Staff member
Aug 3, 2012
smhunter said:
Oops, I should have read this first. My bad I just posted something and ask for hunting areas in IV.. Im sorry...

No problem, asking for spots will bring you generalities.......Reading old posts will give good ideas on where to start.


New Member
Oct 25, 2015
Hi everyone,

I just wanted to introduce myself as a new member of SCH. My name is Tyler and I have a little bit less than a year of hunting experience. I am hoping to get my first buck this year in D16 with either my bow or rifle. So far all I have is trail camera photos but have yet to see a deer in person. I am looking forward to reading through all the posts and learning from the wealth of experience in this forum and becoming a better hunter myself.



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