Solo Hunting: One Perspective - Initial Ascent

Solo Hunting: One Perspective

            I'm not going to lie to you, I used to be very unsettled about heading out on a hunt or scouting trip by myself, solo.  It is not easy at all. It not only requires physical toughness, but more than anything, it requires mental toughness.

Hunting As a Committee
               For years, you've talked about hunting with buddies and family. For years, you've hunted and scouted with friends and family constantly doing things "together".  Hunting as a committee is fun most of the time whether you're talking two people or ten piled into a camp.  Everyone goes through the ups and downs together, shares responsibilities of preparation and work. Groups can share in the memories of the hunt and share the stories for years to come across generations.

By Yourself
              Solo hunting is obviously hunting alone. EVERYTHING is left up to you from the preparation to the work to the success or failure. It's all on your shoulders. It's all your responsibility. It can be freeing and at the same time unnerving. You make a solo hunt or scouting trip your own because it is. You must rely on your abilities, your physical and mental preparedness and toughness, your instincts, as well as your luck.

              I'll be honest, I haven't done a ton of solo hunting or scouting until the last several years, but I've probably done more than most. Let me tell you about my struggles and maybe you can relate or learn something. 

             The number one thing that I've battled while going out solo, is my mind. Mental toughness. It's not that I'm scared of anything out there or that I'm afraid I can't pull it off physically. First, I've always had trouble leaving family behind, and I still feel guilty when I hunt whether I'm by myself or not. The majority of my family doesn't hunt and sometimes I don't think they realize what it takes from a commitment standpoint. I always miss them greatly when I'm gone as most do. Second, it's very hard for me to leave work behind since what I do is so heavily based on customer service and consultation. My mind always wants to think the worst could happen and that's simply not a good place. 

How do I handle these two very important items?

         For me and my family, I have to make sure that I am more present when I'm here. This means physically, mentally, and emotionally. It may take getting things done super early or super late so I don't cut into valuable family time. I make sure to spend extra time with them days before and days after a trip so that I continue to hone my skills as a husband and father. Now, I'm human and I do make mistakes. Most of the time it is in the form of robbing time with my family while stacking too much on my plate or trying to juggle too many things. I find if I keep my priorities in order and communicate with them while gone (using the phone or sat communicator), I can go hunting or scouting with a clearer mind. They appreciate it too.

         Work, work, work. We all have responsibilities with work. That's nothing new. Some have jobs where you earn vacation time and once that takes effect, you don't have to worry. Some own businesses and have "people" taking care of things so they can relax and may not have to worry. Others have businesses they run themselves making it very hard to get away. Even when they get away, they never really "get away". I can relate. It's always been really hard to shut it down. Your mind is always at work, and it really takes a unique approach to let it go and relax. Some say to themselves, "It'll be here when I get back." Others say, "Nothing is too important that it can't wait." You just have to try to prepare things as best you can before you leave. Get all your affairs in order so they say. This typically helps to ease the mind while your gone. Part of what hunting does is help recharge the batteries for everyday life. Solo hunting can really do that if you just let it. 

          Loneliness and the wild animals are other concerns to some people while hunting solo. if you normally require lots of social interaction, the solitude could be an issue. It's all about how your mind wants to play it. Maybe you could use a break from all the social stuff? I think we all can at times.

Not Really Alone
          But, think about it, are we REALLY alone while hunting solo? Not really. There are lots of animals and things that might go bump in the night, but rarely are any trying to eat you. Now, don't get me wrong, there are definitely places to hunt solo where EVERYTHING is trying to eat you. You can't let that fear ruin your hunt though. Being prepared and being smart will help ease your mind when lying in your tent at night trying to go to sleep. 

So, how do you get started hunting solo?

           All it takes is a one day, one night at a time approach. Do a full day by yourself first. Get accustomed to that. Then spend one night out by yourself relatively close to home knowing you'll go home first thing in the morning. Get comfortable with that and then do two and three nights. Before you know it, you'll be spending a week's vacation hunting solo. I can't begin to explain the sense of accomplishment you're going to feel when you fill that first "solo" tag. It's better than the "first deer" experience you had as a kid or adult for that matter. I promise.

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Dennis, I love your perspective on the topic, specifically the part about missing your family when you are on hunts. I totally get this and have these same thoughts often. Thanks for a great read!

Zach Bowhay

Great post! Those solo hunts really bring me back to life spiritually. Just a great way for me to connect with God and focus one the life he has for me. Then the rest of the hunt just seems to always fall into place.

Jeremy Williams

Terrific article. Not starting to learn to hunt until my early 40’s. With the help of a few buddies I’d met through church. Who’d invited me to tag along on their rifle Elk hunt many years ago ( I’m now 65). I was very much an outdoors kid growing up around mtns and timber. But had never been introduced to hunting. So I had a lot to learn. Shortly after getting started I was introduced to Archery hunting and just couldn’t go back to hunting with a rifle. Even though my success rate dropped off considerably. I was determined to try my best to conquer this new exciting way of hunting. Still not up to speed on all that goes into good hunting skills and how to call in game. I had a couple of friends to share this journey. But their lives changed and I found myself a solo hunter with a lot of passion to continue learning and striving to get better. And just enough hunting knowledge to not throw in the towel. But going at this solo year after year was, I’ll admit, tough to stay motivated. After some time, I crossed paths with a couple of guys who, though quite a bit younger than me. Our passion and chemistry just work great together. Which brings me to a topic you may want to tackle if haven’t already previously. Where does a guy/gal find good quality hunting partner’s. If someone finds themselves, like me, that wasn’t mentored at hunting early in their life by fathers, uncles or grandfather’s. Where do they go to gather together a group of quality hunting buddies. With the same passion and chemistry. Once their current group of hunting buddies suddenly disappears? Look forward to your thoughts.

Marv Knox

Great topic. I typically hunt with one other person. Not for social, but for safety and sharing of the experience. I am intrigued by the accomplishment and feeling killing a bull or buck alone would provide. I’ll think about it. Thank you Dennis.

Chad Almjeld

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