We never promised to make you an expert hunter. There are experts out there, and part of your job as a newcomer to the sport is to find them and learn everything they are willing to teach. We don’t want you to pretend to know more than you do.
We also don’t want you to come across as a babe in the woods. Hopefully, if you learn some of the words on this list of hunting lingo and vocabulary, your future mentors will be willing to meet you halfway.
Action: The design of the mechanism for chambering ammunition and ejecting spent cartridges or shells.
Afield: The term used to describe being actively hunting.
Bag limit: The number of a specific type of game that an individual hunter is allowed to kill. This is set by Fish and Wildlife to ensure healthy population size of game.
Ballistics table: Lists effective range of cartridge and bullet drop at different ranges of a specific firearm.
Cover: Any type of temporary concealment for game which ideally includes access to food, water, and an escape route.
Habitat: The geographic region occupied by an animal. Examples include grasslands, brushlands, and mixed forests.
Caliber: A bullet’s size or diameter. Measured in decimal fractions of inches. Thirty caliber is .300.
Carbine: A light rifle with a short barrel, popular for hunting in heavy cover.
Compound bow: Modern bow which utilizes moving parts and a longer cable to allow archer to shoot with more force using less effort.
Cuttings: The remnants of nut shells found around trees that indicate the presence of squirrels.
Decoy: An imitation of a bird or animal used by hunters to attract other birds or mammals. Some examples of different decoy types are wind sock style, silhouette, large shells, and floating.
Decoy Spreader: A device which connects multiple decoys, generally ducks, from below in such a way that they can be manually separated from one location. The connecting piece is below the surface of the water and invisible to birds.
Driving/flushing: The technique used by hunters to force game out of hiding. It is common for one hunter to flush while another waits for game to be flushed and vulnerable.
Edge habitats: The geographic zones that exist where natural habitat overlap. These locations share vegetation from both habitats.
Field dress: To perform the most basic part of cleaning your killed game in the wild. This generally includes gutting but not necessarily skinning. This is performed quickly to avoid meat contamination or the attraction of predators and scavengers to a fresh kill.
Float hunting: Any use of floatation devices or boats to approach or hide from game on the hunt.
Flushing: Redirecting game through noise or movement toward a fellow hunter.
Glasses/glassing: Glasses are another term for binoculars. Hunters who scan an area using binoculars are said to be glassing.
Hitting power: This is the force with which a bullet strikes its target. Measured in foot-pounds, it is determined by the weight and velocity of the projectile. The faster and heavier the bullet, the more hitting power it delivers.
Hunting blind: A cover device designed to reduce detection by game. It may be extremely complex or simple depending on the circumstances. Waterfowl hunters will even build floating blinds.
Jerk string: A string attached to decoys on the water. When “jerked” by a hunter, it causes the decoys to move and appear more realistic.
Kick or recoil: The backward movement of a firearm against the hands or shoulder of the hunter firing. The larger the weapon, the greater the kick.
Lead distance: The distance fired ahead of a moving target to compensate for the change of location of the target from the time of firing.
Longbow: The oldest style of bow, this is dependable and consistent but requires an archer to use more effort than the modern compound bow.
Racked buck: Any male deer with telltale horns which can be counted to determine the age of the animal.
Reticle: The lines or crosshairs inside of the scope mounted on a rifle. These allow the shooter to aim with precision over distance. These Rifling: Grooves present within the barrel of a firearm which cause the ammunition to spin as it leaves the weapon. This creates greater velocity, range, and accuracy.
Rough sighting: Adjusting the sights of a rifle through trial and error. Shooting at a target from close range and adjusting the scope until a bulls eye is achieved. Then, backing up an repeating the process.
Rutting: The behavior exhibited by males in nature during which they are sexually active.
Scat: The droppings of a wild animal. Their location and makeup can be used by hunters to help determine location and diet of the game animals that left them.
Scattergun: Another term for shotgun.
Slant range effect: Due to the effects of gravity, a bullet will hit high when fired uphill or downhill.
Spurs: Found on the lower legs of male wild turkeys and ring-necked pheasants, these inch long appendages are sharp and pointed in adults.
Stands: Any man-made camouflaged resting perch for hunters to sit and wait for game. They can be elaborate structures built into trees, or simply a spot to lean are rest while waiting.
Still hunting: One of the purest forms of hunting. This requires the most discipline and patience as the hunter attempts to move slower than the game.
Stalking: Hunting game
Swing through technique: Also called sustained-lead. This shotgun firing technique requires the hunter to swing the barrel of their gun on an imaginary line starting behind their flying game and ending ahead of it. When done properly, the shot is taken with the correct amount of lead distance and the bird is hit.