Are you looking forward to your first time as a solo hunter?
Don’t go in unprepared. With travel logistics, new gear and licenses, there is plenty to figure out before you take your first outing as a solo hunter. But don’t let the beginning prep deter you. Being a solo hunter has its benefits. Sitting in the quiet in the waking hours of the day can give you a sense of peace and freedom from the busy world that is well worth the extra hassle. Also, you’re on your own time. Hunting solo allows you to come and go as you please. If things are happening out in the woods you can choose to stay longer without affecting anyone else’s schedule.
Tips for Your First Solo Hunt
Give yourself enough time to prepare and train for your first solo hunt. If you try to rush it too soon, you might end up leaving important materials behind or making significant errors on the trip. Being prepared allows for a more successful hunt.
Do your paperwork and planning first
Get your hunting licenses, maps and travel arrangements figured out before you do anything else. Once all the paperwork is out of the way, you can focus more on where you’ll be hunting.
Use apps such as Google Earth or HUNTERRA to learn about the land you’re going to be hunting on. Having some knowledge about the space will make you more confident when you get there.
Separate yourself from the crowds
Make the effort to trek out into the backcountry, far away from the trailheads and parking lots. The further you go out, the fewer hunters you should run into.
Get in good shape
Training ahead of time will help you to endure any terrain or altitude along your hike. The more physically fit you are the more successful your hunt will be.
Make sure you break in your boots before your trip. Wear them everywhere you go beforehand so you get comfortable in them.
It’s also a good idea to walk for a moderate distance each day with your backpack on. Fill it up to match the weight you’ll be carrying with you. This might sound like a pain, but it will help you prepare for the real-time solo hunt.
In addition to these pre-planning tasks, be prepared with the essential gear for a solo trip.
Essential Gear for a Solo Hunter
Having the right equipment is critical to backpack hunting. It doesn’t hurt to spend extra on the good stuff. If you plan to hunt regularly, the best equipment can keep you safe.
When choosing a backpack, be thinking of size, durability, and comfort. Something lightweight that can hold all of your gear but can also be easily reconfigured for a day hunt is ideal.
In terms of durability, your pack should be strong enough to hold at least 30-50 pounds. You don’t want your pack frame to break or fall apart while you’re hunting. Make sure the frame is sturdy but lightweight.
You likely will be doing some hiking out to your hunting spot, so you definitely want a pack that is comfortable to walk with for a while. Look for packs that you can adjust for your comfort.
You also want to be able to access the essential items in case you need them in a hurry. Instead of storing your rangefinders, binoculars and wind indicators in your backpack, keep them attached to your clothing while walking.
Pack appropriately for the weather and game. Also, bring layering clothes and rain gear that will store easily in your backpack. Some things you might want to think about bringing include:
- Fleece jacket
- Down vest
- Wool pants
- Fleece gloves or mittens
- Wool oversocks
Layering clothes are essential because of the changing temperatures in the backcountry. Sweating in the heat can cause moisture, leading to hypothermia. Be sure to bring layering clothes you can peel off when it’s too hot.
For an overnight solo hunting trip, you’ll want a good setup for sleeping. Your setup should include some sort of shelter, a sleeping bag and a sleeping pad.
A good sleeping bag, while expensive, can go a long way. A down sleeping bag, paired with a waterproof bivy or tent, can allow you to sleep comfortably and keep you warm.
You might find a bivy sack to be more effective than a solo tent. Tent poles and setup can be a hassle when it’s dark and you’re ready for some shut-eye. A bivy is quicker to get ready.
Bring a rain cover for your backpack. Keep your clothes in your pack and lay your boots sideways over it. The rain cover will keep dry all of the things you need.
To save room in your backpack, consider using a packable down jacket as your pillow. You will likely need it anyway when the chill comes in the morning.
Food and water
Pack enough food to keep you fueled on your hunt. Obviously, you need items that pack and keep well. Quick, filling snacks are key.
Listed below are a few ideas for packable snacks and meals:
- Instant oatmeal packets
- Energy bars
- Venison jerky
- Trail mix
- Dried fruit
- Freeze-dried dinners
Carrying water can prove to be difficult when hunting and hiking. Test out different water bottles, hydration bladders or soft bottles to see what works best for you.
When it comes to equipment, remember to pack the following essentials:
- Spotting scope
- Folding saw
- Medical kit
- Fire-starter materials
- Extra batteries
If you plan ahead of time, you’ll feel confident in your game and reap the rewards of hunting solo. Take the time to prepare and set yourself up for a successful hunting trip.