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man with backpack on hike looking at horizon

Hiking Tips For Beginners | What You Need To Know

girl with backpack hiking in woods
Hiking in elevation and with obstacles is much more strenuous than simply walking on a flat surface. Don’t push yourself too hard if you are a beginner.

Hiking is a great way for people to get some exercise while leaving behind the stresses of life. Whether it’s work or school or relationship problems, hitting a scenic hiking trail can help you forget everything.

However, unlike walking on a paved path, hiking is often more demanding and unpredictable. Hence it’s important that you know what to bring along (a walkie talkie, navigation tools, plenty of food and water…etc.) and the dos and don’ts while you’re traversing the trail.

So without further ado, here are 13 essential hiking tips for beginners:

1. Don’t Challenge Yourself Too Much

Make no mistake, just because you can walk 10 miles straight on a paved surface, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to do the same on a hiking trail. The latter is usually more challenging with elevations, descents, twists and even obstacles on the way. As a result it may take more time and energy.

In order to estimate how much time you’ll be spending on the trail, find the total distance and divide it by a speed of 2 miles per hour. Then, you’ll have to figure in an additional hour for every 1,000 feet you gain in altitude.

2. Get To Know The Hiking Trail

Experienced hikers always examine the trail before they set-out, and so should you. Once you’ve got a trail selected, get hold of a map and search online for any reviews and hazard reports concerning it. This will allow you to figure out things like whether the trail loops back or whether you’ll be required to backtrack through it.

You should also try to mark out the safest path on the map and perhaps pick out a scenic location or two that’ll make for great lunch spots.

3. Pack The Right Gear

man hiking in mountains with gear
Whether you are a hiking beginner or experience hiker, be sure you take the proper gear for every situation.

There are so many potential dangers you may come across while hiking. It could be a sudden, extreme turn in the weather. You could even lose your way. Having the right tools can help you effectively counter these dangers.

It’s more helpful to think in terms of systems instead of individual items when you’re packing. For instance, a navigation system that includes all the essential tools for finding your bearings.

Here are the mandatory hiking gear systems you need to take with you on any trail:

  • Navigation – this includes a GPS, a physical map and a compass. Don’t just rely on smartphone apps!
  • Food and Hydration – bring enough food and water to last for an unexpected overnight stay.
  • Shelter – make sure you bring along a small tent in case you have to camp out for a while before you backtrack. Be sure you have appropriate gear to stay warm in it.
  • First-aid – this includes things like bandages, gauze, band-aids…etc.
  • Light – bring along an LED lamp or a flashlight so you can still find your way around if you’re walking through the night.
  • Insulation – It’s going to get colder the higher you climb, so it’s important to try and retain your body heat.
  • Communication – a reliable two-way radio for hiking is a must-have. It can help you reach emergency rescue services in a pinch and be alerted to oncoming weather changes.
  • Campfire tools – if you plan on camping out, you’ll need a campfire to keep warm and even cook your food. This means that waterproof matches, and a fire starter or a lighter can come in handy.
  • Sun protection – sunburn is a serious risk if you’re hiking in the summer. So make sure you bring along a bottle of sunscreen and maybe a pair of sunglasses too.

4. Travel Light

beginner hiker looking out over mountains
Try to have everything you need for your hike, while also packing as lightly as possible.

Long, high-altitude treks can sap your energy fast. Hence, it’s best not to stuff your backpack with too many heavy items. Whenever possible, always pack travel-sized items.

5. Pay Attention To The Weather Forecast

Always stay up to date with the weather, even just a few hours before you set out on your hike. This will let you know what kind of clothes to pack and what extra items you may need to bring along. If the weather is going to be particularly terrible, you should strongly consider changing your plans.

6. Inform Someone Before You Go

It’s very important to share your hiking itinerary with a close friend or family member.

Make sure you establish a ‘worry time’, which is the maximum hours of radio silence that a person should tolerate before he/she alerts the proper authorities.

This way, you can still expect help to arrive if you find yourself in danger with no way to reach anyone.

7. Start Your Hike At The Right Time

person hiking in foggy mountains
If you like to hike alone, it’s best to start your trek early, before the hiking trail becomes more crowded.

If you like hiking alone, then the best thing to do is to start as early as possible. The later you start, the more likely the trail is going to end up crowded.

On the other hand, if you like hiking with other people, check what time is most popular for the trail, and plan to arrive at this time.

Just remember, you might have trouble finding a parking spot if you arrive too late!

8. Dress Properly

You want to dress for comfort, warmth and optimal movement, not to impress other hikers you meet on the way.

That means, first of all, swapping out the sneakers for a good pair of hiking shoes. And don’t forget socks!

While cotton is okay for everyday use, it’s certainly not cut out for hiking. Unlike wool or synthetic fibers, cotton tends to absorb a lot of body heat so you definitely want to avoid wearing cotton socks.

The same goes for clothes too: skip wearing anything cotton. If you’re hiking in cold weather, you’ll want to dress in layers. Base layers are very important, but make sure that they’re not so tight that they cut off blood circulation!

In high altitudes, a windbreaker or a fleece hoodie is most appropriate. You should bring along a warm beanie as well, because we tend to lose most of our body heat through our heads.

9. Watch Where You’re Going

Sprained ankles are the most common injuries with hikers. It’s very easy to get distracted by breath-taking scenery on the way, possibly causing you to step in the wrong spot and twist your ankle. Therefore, always watch your feet, especially if there are tons of trip hazards like rocks or roots.

10. Take Your Time

hiker looking over rock ledge
Be sure to pace yourself. You want to have enough energy to finish your hike and see what you came for.

A lot of first-timers start their hike at a really explosive pace and have all of their energy drained halfway through the trail. If you hike this way, you’ll lose tons of body heat very quickly which can make things really uncomfortable.

Always remember: hiking isn’t a race. Take your time, take in the scenery and most importantly: conserve your energy.

11. Don’t Litter

Hiking trails are for everyone to enjoy, so make sure you don’t dump things like candy wrappers or other waste on the way. Some trails will have garbage bins, but you should still bring your own trash bag for the trip.

12. Learn Proper Hiking Etiquette

Hiking etiquette can prevent you from making a total fool out of yourself or annoying other hikers. Here are a few important things that you should know:

  • · Always make way for those who are going uphill
  • Greet other hikers with a simple “hello.” You may want to have a quick chat with back trackers to find out what lies ahead.
  • Avoid talking too loudly to your friends or on the cellphones.
  • If you’re going to be listening to music, put on a pair of headphones.
  • Avoid taking unofficial short cuts; stick to designated paths
  • Make way for bikers.

13. Don’t Panic If You Get Lost

Getting lost on a hike is a fairly common thing, especially if you’re on your own.

If you feel like you’re lost, the first thing you need to do is to stop and consult your map. If you figure out where you are, start backtracking until you come across a familiar spot.

Backtracking almost always works, but on the off chance it doesn’t, try yelling out ‘HELP’. If no one answers, it’s time to take out your phone and call emergency services. If you’re out of cellphone range, then your long-range walkie-talkie should help you reach someone.

Conclusion

When the hiking season comes around, it can be quite tempting to throw a few things into your backpack and hit a trail. However, hiking is more than just walking and needs proper preparation. The above tips should help you make the most of your experience and keep you safe on your trek.

Happy hiking!

ester lavandyan
Ester Lavandyan
deer sounds N1 Moment

Deer Sounds and a Big South Carolina Whitetail

There are a lot of deer sounds and noises I like to hear in the woods. But, there’s one I usually don’t like to hear, especially when I’m walking to my hunting stand. More on that below…

This is the story of some deer sounds that led to a dandy South Carolina archery buck… It’s unforgettable moments like this one that spurred us on to start the N1 Outdoors brand

In this article, you’ll hear the following deer vocalizations:

  • Deer blow (snort)
  • Doe grunt
  • Buck grunt
  • Doe bleat
  • Estrous doe bleat
  • Tending buck grunt
  • Buck bawl
  • Enraged buck
  • Sparring bucks

Note: You can listen to the above deer sounds throughout the article as well as at the bottom of the page.

A New Deer Hunting Property

The 2010 deer season in South Carolina held some great memories for me. I had been granted permission to hunt some new property that was only 3 miles from my house!

The catch? It was bow only property. No guns allowed.

The South Carolina archery only season was already over and we were getting some consistent colder weather. But, the truth is, I really wasn’t disappointed to be hunting with my bow during gun season, because deer hunting just makes me want to say “Bowhunt Oh Yeah!” In fact, I hadn’t even hunted with my rifle since 2009.

Deer, sound the alarm!

It was a chilly, November 18 morning, and the rut was in full swing. I had seen a fair amount of rutting activity, but had not seen any bucks that got me very excited. But, when you love to bowhunt, it’s a great time to be in the woods.

I had parked my truck and was making the walk to my stand on the downwind side of where I would be hunting.

My stand location was in a head of hardwoods that contained several white oaks. I’ve always loved hunting locations that contain white oaks, especially in early fall, as the acorns are falling. But although the deer love them, by now, there weren’t any left for them to enjoy.

Nonetheless, it was a good location on the edge of a fairly large clear cut that the deer would typically transition through on their way to the other side of the property.

There was a gate opening that I needed to walk through to enter the woods where my stand location was.

The Deer “blow” or “snort” Sound

I had gotten about three steps through the gate, when the head of woods I was about to enter exploded with the sounds of deer blowing. It was still too dark to see, but it sounded like a small army of whitetail had just left the building. I stopped and listened, as the sounds of their escape got farther and farther away.

PRESS PLAY ABOVE TO HEAR WHAT A DEER BLOW / SNORT SOUNDS LIKE… Deer will blow (or snort) to alert other deer of danger. Deer often blow as a result of seeing or smelling something perceived as dangerous. Sometimes deer will blow and stomp to try and get a predator (or person) that they believe is in the area to move and thus reveal their location. It’s important to be as scent-free as possible and pay attention to wind direction when hunting, so you can avoid a blow/snort that ruins your hunt! MORE DEER SOUNDS FURTHER DOWN PAGE!

I was pretty disappointed to say the least. I had taken such great care in paying attention to wind direction when walking to my stand. Yet, here I was, not even in my stand yet, and the deer already knew where I was. I was already wondering what I could have done differently.

Regroup

Well, there I was (and they knew it). I had that sick feeling that might have made one want to just go back to the truck. But, this was the rut, and I love to hunt whether the deer blow me up or not!

I found my tree and got in my stand and got settled. By now, it was first light but the sun was not yet up.

The whitetail doe grunt

After sitting for 10 minutes or so, I thought it might be a good idea to give my grunt call a soft doe grunt. My thinking was, “maybe if they hear this, they’ll think things have settled down and are safe again.”

So, I blew on my grunt call softly, making a “social grunt” noise.

PRESS PLAY ABOVE TO HEAR WHAT A DOE GRUNT SOUNDS LIKE… Does use this sound as a “social grunt” as a way of communicating with each other. It can be a useful call when hunting to attract does closer to your stand or hunting location. MORE DEER SOUNDS FURTHER DOWN PAGE!

A fast appearance

It had probably been only 10 seconds after grunting, that I could see a deer appear about 100 yards away, on the field edge. Even at that distance, I could see his horns and I was interested!

No sooner than he appeared, he began running toward the head of woods I was in. He got to a well traveled path at the edge of the hardwoods and slowed down, turned, and began walking toward me.

By now my heart is racing pretty good, because I can see this deer is a shooter, and I have gone from heartbroken to hopeful in a matter of minutes.

This is where I have to say that the buck walking toward me had one of the better set of antlers I had seen in my area of South Carolina. In recent years, SCDNR bag limits had been high. Many believe that these high limits, coupled with poor deer management, had resulted in fewer mature bucks in South Carolina.

All I knew was, the age and size of the deer walking toward me was not commonplace in my area.

I had my bow in my hand, but didn’t feel I was going to be able to stand up without messing something up. My archery stance on this deer was going to be… sitting down. I sat and watched him inch closer.

Prior to getting in the tree stand, I had put some estrous scent on a tree limb about 20 yards away. He walked right past it. But, the worst part was that in about 3 more steps, I knew he would be downwind of me, and be gone!

Come on daylight!

I couldn’t believe I was about to watch the biggest South Carolina buck I had encountered leave my life. But, unfortunately, it was all but over.

Just as I thought this hunt was coming to an end (for the second time in minutes), he stopped, turned around, and walked back to the tree limb where I had put the estrous scent.

I knew this was my chance. So, I quietly went to full draw. I thought, “ok, aim small, miss small.” But, there was just one, really big, problem. I looked through my peep and saw, well nothing. It was still too dark in that head of woods to clearly see the buck.

If this buck would stay for a few minutes, there would be enough light through the trees to see his vitals clearly. But, I knew with chasing does on his mind, he probably wasn’t staying much longer. And, I knew that in that particular location, the wind had a tendency to swirl from time to time.

The prayer, the draw, the release

I can’t remember everything that was racing through my mind at that point, but I know I probably prayed a few fast words. It’s amazing how fast I can get to a prayerful state of mind when a big buck is nearby (amazing and shameful!)

As I was still at full draw, I moved my eye outside of my peep, so that I could see the buck through my site pins. Then, I slowly looked back through the peep and could see the target… barely.

I released my arrow and he gave the ‘ole donkey kick. He bolted down the draw and out of sight. I sat for two hours, wondering how this whole story was going to end.

The wait and the search

So far that morning, I had heard deer blow and deer run… now, all I wanted to hear was, “wow, that’s a nice buck there in the back of your truck!”

During those two hours, I scanned the ground endlessly, hoping to see a bloody arrow. I saw nothing. Of course, then the doubts set in… “did I make a good shot? How far did he go? Will I ever find him?” It was agonizing.

Finally, I decided to get down and go look. I walked out 20 yards to where I had shot him and I saw my arrow lying on the ground, the arrow shaft and my broadhead half-covered by the forest floor. My arrow had been Just Pass’N Through!

I picked it up and immediately got some encouragement… bright pink, frothy blood on my fletches. Things were looking up!

I followed along the faint blood trail. It wasn’t significant, but it was enough to keep me moving to the next spots of blood.

After 150 yards or so, I reached a small creek that ran through the property. I was till intently focused on the ground near my feet, checking for any small clue I could find. The blood trail had stopped.

I looked up and about 30 yards away, in the creek, was the buck. I held both hands high and thanked the Lord for answering my desperate (yet somewhat shallow) prayer.

The shot turned out to be a double-lung pass through. (We love pass throughs so much, we even made a shirt about them!)

deer sounds dead deer pic
The morning started with deer blowing up the woods… but it ended with a solid buck down.

The drag

I was by myself with no one to help me drag this deer out. I could either drag him about 200 yards uphill, or try to drag him through the muddy, swampy mess of a creek. So, I chose option 2.

I was able to use the shallow creek as assistance and slide the buck through the area for the long 300 yard trek back to the truck.

A short drive and a few pictures later, I had officially sealed the deal on one of my most memorable N1 Moments.

Deer sounds: The key to this N1 Moment

Looking back, I’m glad for the deer noises I heard that day… the deer blowing, the deer running, and finally, the deer sliding through the creek bed on it’s way to my freezer and my wall.

LISTEN BELOW FOR MORE DOE AND BUCK NOISES…

Buck Grunt Sound

PRESS PLAY ABOVE TO HEAR WHAT A BUCK GRUNT SOUNDS LIKE. Much like a doe grunt, the buck grunt is a noise a buck makes to communicate socially with other bucks in the herd. It can be a useful call for a hunter to get a buck’s attention as an attempt to lure him closer into shooting range.

Doe Bleat Sound

PRESS PLAY ABOVE TO HEAR WHAT A DOE BLEAT SOUNDS LIKE. Does use bleats to communicate with each other, especially in the presence of their fawns. Fawns will also bleat when in danger, which will often attract adult deer to come looking for the fawn in distress. The bleat is a good deer noise to have in your calling arsenal when hunting, as it can draw does toward your stand location, which can also lure bucks in search of does, especially during the rut.

Estrus Doe Bleat Sound

PRESS PLAY ABOVE TO HEAR WHAT AN ESTRUS DOE BLEAT SOUNDS LIKE. Does will give estrus bleats to indicate to bucks in the area that they are ready to breed. This is a good deer sound to use when calling during the rut.

Buck Trailing Grunt Sound

PRESS PLAY ABOVE TO HEAR WHAT A TRAILING BUCK GRUNT SOUNDS LIKE. Bucks will use this call when following an estrus doe. This grunt is in short bursts and sometimes is in cadence with each step the buck takes.

Buck Bawl Sound

PRESS PLAY ABOVE TO HEAR WHAT A BUCK BAWL SOUNDS LIKE. Bucks get lonely too! Bucks will make this sound to signal other deer for company.

Enraged Buck Sound

PRESS PLAY ABOVE TO HEAR WHAT A BUCK RAGE GRUNT SOUNDS LIKE. Bucks will make this noise when a doe they want to breed will not cooperate.

Sparring Bucks Sound

PRESS PLAY ABOVE TO HEAR THE SOUND OF BUCKS SPARRING AND GRUNTING. Bucks will clash antlers to establish dominance for breeding rights.

-By Giles Canter

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stephen tucker and world record tucker buck

Non-Typical Days | What It’s Like Owning A World Record Buck

It was the second week of September, 2016. My uncle and I had just finished shelling corn in Sumner County, Tennessee.

While I was headed to the truck, my uncle called me and said, “Stephen look at this deer, he’s on your right. He is going to come out from behind the bushes right in front of you.”

I stopped, and the deer walked out, looking at me. I stared at him and could not believe what I was seeing. About 20 seconds went by and then he ran back into the thicket.

tucker buck trail cam pic
Trail cam pic of the Tucker Buck, which became a new world-record non-typical buck in November of 2016.

Over the next couple months, I got some trail cam pictures of him. I had actually seen him twice while hunting.

Then, on November 7, after hunting him off and on, he walked out for the third and final time. But, before I tell you about the day I shot him, let me tell you a little bit about what happened leading up to that special day…

The Months Before The World Record Buck

The first time I had the opportunity to shoot this buck, things did not go the way I had planned. I had everything ready and had been mentally preparing myself for my chance at this buck. 

I saw him coming at about thirty yards away.  He stopped, and I decided this was it!

I called some of my family members to share the news, that it had in fact happened… I had shot “him”.

I went to fire my muzzle loader and… it misfired. I could not believe what had just happened. I thought, “Is this it? Did I just lose my chance? Would he ever show himself again?”

I decided I could not let that setback stop me.  All I could think about was having another chance at him. I couldn’t sleep or focus on too much after my misfire, but I knew I had to keep tabs on him and wait for another chance.

I had not told many people about this buck, but my family and close friends knew.  They kept telling me not to give up, and that he would show himself again. I just needed to be patient and wait. I continued to pray that I would get another chance.

So, then came the morning of November 7, and things started to change.  That morning everything went in my favor. He came out at forty yards after working a scrape. I told myself “you cannot mess this up!” All the while, I was shaking with nervous excitement. My adrenaline was pumping like never before.

A Magical Morning

I saw my chance and I took it. I shot him with my muzzle loader from my ground blind.  All I could see was smoke, and when it cleared, I saw him running back into the thicket. I could not believe I had been given the opportunity again. I sat there for what seemed like an eternity, with excitement and a little bit of anxiety.

tucker buck world record buck
The “Tucker Buck” was harvested by Stephen Tucker in Sumner County, Tennessee.

I knew I was about to engage on my big search and I had to figure where he went. Then I called some of my family members to share the news, that it had in fact happened… I had shot “him”.

Within a few minutes some of my family and a few close friends came to the field to help me begin the search for him. Within thirty minutes, we had found him. A sense of relief and joy came over me, once I was able to lay eyes on him and touch him.

Although I was overjoyed, I still did not fully realize what I had killed. I just knew he was a giant and a special deer… at least special to me.

A Boone And Crockett Buck… And More

That night a TWRA officer that was a certified Boone and Crockett scorer, came and green scored him. We all waited with anticipation to see what this monster would score.  I thought I would be the new Tennessee record holder, but I had no idea what else was in store for me.

When the officer finished scoring, he told me that it would give the world record non-typical whitetail a run for its money.

Finally, they told me they had their final score. It was 312 inches. I was ecstatic!

During the following weeks, I became overwhelmed from all the phone calls, messages and companies that were contacting me. Everyone had an opinion about what I should do or not do.

I received a lot of backlash from animal rights advocates and others. I decided to take a break from social media and let things die down before I re-entered the social media playground. In the meantime, I gave many interviews and traveled a few places while waiting on the drying period to come to an end.

In January, the sixty-day drying period was over. I then traveled to the Tennessee TWRA office to have him scored.

I just remember waiting with my brother-in-law and nephew wondering what the score was going to be. Finally, they told me they had their final score. It was 312 inches. I could not believe it. I was ecstatic!

tucker buck official boone crockett score sheet
The Tucker Buck scored 312 inches Boone and Crockett

The Year After The World Record

The next year I went to nearly twenty shows. Now, I am just a farmer from Tennessee. I was not used to traveling that much, nor was I accustomed to all the attention. However, my appreciation for the outdoor industry grew after every event I went to.

I began to develop many wonderful relationships and grow friendships. Killing this buck also grew my relationship with the Lord. It even prompted me to make the greatest decision of becoming baptized. I also began travelling to speak at churches and wild game dinners.  These opportunities would have never been awarded to me had I not had the chance to take this deer.

Stop Hunting?

Many told me that I might as well stop hunting, because I would never be able to top it. They were wrong… it made me hunt even harder the next fall.

I was so nervous, that when I walked off stage, I knocked over Jimmy Houston’s fishing pole!

You see, to me it is not about the size of the buck. Now, don’t get me wrong I love big deer, but what I love more is figuring them out.

Being able to take a world record whitetail made me look at deer hunting in a different way; not just how I look at hunting for myself, but for others as well. No matter what size a deer is, if it makes you excited or happy, I’m going to be just as happy and excited as you are about him.

Another Year, More Opportunities

The 2017-2018 season came and went with no buck being shot that was close to mine. In 2018, I went to many more shows and speaking engagements.

At one of the appearances, I had to speak in front of 3,000 people at a church’s wild game dinner. I was so nervous, that when I walked off the stage, I knocked over Jimmy Houston’s fishing pole!

During the summer of 2018, I scouted harder than ever before. By November, I had already tagged out in my home state with a bow.

A Challenger Rises Up

On November 1, 2018, I was scrolling on my Instagram and saw a giant buck on a page that I follow. I thought, yeah maybe it could be bigger, but I wasn’t sure. I hadn’t heard many conversations about it.

Then in January 2019, I was on the way to the ATA show in Louisville, Kentucky. I knew that deer would be there and had heard the score would be released. To be honest, I was worried about it, because I wanted my deer’s score to remain number one.

I won’t lie, I was upset. But hey, records are made to be broken. So, I decided to make the best of it.

A New World Record?

I was about an hour from the show and a buddy called me and said North American Whitetail just went live on Facebook. While I was on the phone with him, they announced that the Illinois buck’s net score was 320″.

I won’t lie, I was upset. But hey, records are made to be broken. So, I decided to make the best of it.  

I met the guy that shot the new pending record and he seemed like a great guy. He was also a Veteran, so I couldn’t think of someone more deserving.

We will both take our record bucks to be scored this summer at the Boone and Crockett Big Game Awards. That is when we will both find out what our final scores are and will be given our ranking.

Looking Back

The two years following my world record buck were a whirlwind. So many great things have happened in my life as a result of harvesting this once-in-a-lifetime buck.  Whether or not I remain the number one record-holder, I will always have a buck over 300 inches… from Tennessee.

I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity to kill the “Tucker Buck”.

stephen tucker with world record tucker buck
The Tucker Buck officially scored 312 inches, breaking the world record for a non-typical whitetail deer.

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