Hunting Alone……Yes or No?
Ever since I was a kid, I have been going on hunting trips with my dad. In my teenage years, I would head out with both friends and dad. There came a point though, when I reached adulthood, where I wanted to spend more and more time in the field. I wanted to be out there more than just for the annual deer hunt or sporadic quail hunt. As we grow up our list of responsibilities keep getting bigger though. This proved difficult in being able to schedule hunting trips with friends and even dad. So, I had a choice to make. Either I don’t go out hunting as much or I grab my bow/rifle, put on my backpack, and head out on my own. I think you can guess what my decision was.
Even though I love when I have some company out in the mountains, be it a friend or family member, hunting alone has definitely grown on me. In the beginning, I am not going to lie, it was intimidating to say the least. Over time though, I found a peace that I have never known. When one is out there by themselves, one truly gets to know his or herself and the mountains they call home for the time being. I find myself slowing down more when I am solo. Not worrying about what to do next, just being there and taking in the experience one step at a time. Sounds pretty nice right? I can assure you that it is. There are some things that you want to keep in mind though when planning a solo hunting trip.
Remember how I said that this was all pretty intimidating earlier? Well, it was. Our minds can really get the best of us when we are out in these new situations. Just know that what you are feeling or have felt is completely normal. Panicking is not the solution to your problem or opportunity that we call fear. I indeed just said that fear was an opportunity. Facing your fears will make you grow as a person. For instance, I was scared of walking through the dark alone when I started out. I knew though that I had to be able to do this in order to do what I loved to do. The more that I did it, the less fearful I became. It’s OK to be scared. Having a little fright in us keeps us alert and aware of our surroundings. You don’t want to be scared to the point that it taints your experience though. You can be your own worst enemy.
ALWAYS have a GPS with you, even if you are with someone. This thing has saved me a few times after getting turned around, which sometimes takes little effort at all. I don’t get too fancy with these things. Mostly, I use them to set a waypoint for my truck or camp. After that, I turn them off and go hunting. They also come in handy to mark where you downed an animal or maybe where you left off on a blood trail. Having this piece of gear in my pack gives me the confidence to head out and focus on hunting. Along with my GPS, I carry a map, compass, and extra batteries. A word of caution though. Even though I have never had my GPS fail me, I have heard other’s stories of this happening. For that reason, you should always pay attention to where you are via landmarks and map just in case something like that happens.
Tell a Friend
Whenever I am venturing out on my own I always tell someone(my wife), usually multiple people, where I will be parked and where I plan on hunting. This is imperative in case anything should happen and you don’t return when you say you will. People will know right where to go to look for you. It isn’t worth keeping your secret spot so secret that nobody can find you in an emergency. It will give you a piece of mind and your loved ones a piece of mind as well. In my opinion, this is not an option.
Speaking of communication, it’s always nice if I happen to have cell service where I am going. When I do, I make sure to check in with my wife or friends on a daily basis. This not only lets people know that you are safe, it also will fill everyone in on how your hunt is going! Talking to someone when you are in a down mood can really turn things around for you. There have been a few times where I wanted to come home, but my wife told me to stay out there and see the hunt through. I killed a mountain lion that very way a few years ago. Had I left, I would have never had that amazing experience. You can read about that hunt here.
So, should you hunt alone? I can’t answer that for you, only you can. Going out alone is not for everyone and it doesn’t make you any less of a man or woman if you choose not to. In my opinion though, it can be the most rewarding of experiences, especially if you are lucky enough to take an animal. I took my first mountain lion solo and that experience changed my life. It was the first time that I had to track, take care of an animal on my own, and pack them out with nothing more than my own two hands. The feeling I got after I got back to my truck, loaded the lion in my cooler, and drove away, is a feeling that I will forever chase. I’d love to know your thoughts on hunting alone below, in the comments.