Solo Hunting: 5 Things to Keep in Mind
Hunting is safest as a small group activity, especially if you’re new to the sport. Once you’ve gotten a feel for the basics, you may find that you want to hunt more often than your friends or want to pursue different game.
Solo hunting can be safe if you take extra care to be fully prepared for any possibility and wear the right layers for any weather. Even if you have a cellphone and aren’t going far from civilization, it can take emergency responders a long time to find and reach you in case of an accident.
The best practices for solo hunting are similar to those for group hunting, but instead of dividing the responsibilities, you’ll have to do everything yourself. Here are the five most important things to keep in mind while planning your solo hunting trip.
Research and Plan More Carefully
Without a second person to consult with while hunting, you’ll need to know your routes and tracking skills much better. This will be easier if you’re local, but you’ll still want to put extra effort into studying maps and terrain ahead of time.
This also means planning how you’re going to properly field dress and transport your kills. Dressing and moving deer by yourself can be a challenge, even if you’re physically fit. If hunting deer or other big game, stay close enough to your truck or ATV so that it will be easier to haul up your game onto the flatbed.
Research rivers, hills, fields and other topographical features to reduce the amount of time you spend checking maps while in the field. Staring down at a map takes your eyes away from what’s around you and could result in you missing out on valuable prey or stumbling into a hazard.
Tell Someone Where You’re Going
It may be tempting not to tell any of your hunting buddies where you’re going in case they try to invite themselves along. However, it would be best if you told someone where you’ll be as a safety net. If you fail to return home, your loved ones will need to know where to send someone to look for you.
Give someone details of your planned route, including approximate boundaries of the hunting area. Also, cover all your bases and let them know where you plan to park your truck or ATV. Once you’ve established your area, don’t change it at the last minute or wander outside of it without telling someone. Keep your boundaries in mind, using rivers, hills and other landmarks as stopping points.
Change Your Technique if Needed
When hunting as a group, there are more potential sources of noise. Even experienced hunters inevitably make some noise when tiptoeing through the undergrowth of dense woods.
Hunting solo makes it easier for hunters to stalk prey as far as they can. Solo hunters don’t have to worry about communicating or staying with the group so they can change direction entirely without worrying about safety or waiting for others. The only real limit is your stamina.
Techniques like calling and using deer blinds still work and should be used if you’re comfortable with those approaches. However, it may be worthwhile to take advantage of your newfound freedom and enjoy the thrill of stalking woodland game.
Bring the Right Clothes
Having the right hunting clothes is essential on any outing, but it’s even more critical when you’re going out alone. If you’re going alone, you won’t be able to borrow hunting gear from friends or have someone to help you in case you start showing symptoms of hypothermia or heat stroke.
Bring more layers than you think you’ll need in case one gets wet. Additionally, you should invest in performance apparel that regulates your temperature. Check the weather carefully for rain, snow and extreme temperatures and plan your base layer accordingly.
In winter, pack a fleece-lined pair of outdoor gloves and an extra pair of socks, even if you don’t think you’ll need them. The consequences of frostbite are too severe, especially when there’s no one around to help you.
Anytime the sun is out, bring a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Even if you’re in the woodlands, the sun can cut through tree cover and cause severe sunburn. Wearing lightweight layers also guards against ticks, poison ivy and other hazards, so use long sleeves whenever possible even when it’s hot.
Invest in Survival Gear
A full set of emergency equipment is essential when hunting alone. If you get injured, there’s no one else to go and seek medical help for you. If you get lost, you’ll be solely dependent on your own eyes and ears.
A durable satellite phone is a must-have, even if you think the area has cell service. Sometimes, getting stuck in a valley or behind a large hill can cut out cell service. Look for a satellite phone that is fully waterproof and shockproof so that it will still work if you fall or get stuck in bad weather.
A first aid kit is also essential, and even though it’ll add weight to your bag, it’s wise to get a complete one. A field trauma kit with a clotting agent could save your life if a serious accident occurs. If your backpack is already packed to its limit, get a kit that clips onto the outside.
If one of your hunting buddies is usually responsible for carrying survival gear, ask them for a recommended brand or features. However, instead of borrowing from them, it is now a good time to invest in your own kit. That way, you’ll be ready to solo hunt whenever the right season and weather comes around.
Enjoy the Challenge
Many hunters find solo hunting stimulating, and it’s a great way to hone your skills and try new techniques without having to follow the group.
However, it comes with unique risks and challenges—even for veteran hunters. By using these tips, you’ll maximize your chances of success and stay safe. The right gear and clothing paired with thoughtful planning and preparation can give you the edge you need to make the most of your time and energy.