Regardless of the game that your pursuing on your first solo hunt, always remember that the backcountry is unforgiving.
Choosing to plan and execute a backcountry solo hunt is not for the occasional adventurer.
Aside from figuring out travel logistics, licenses and gathering up some new gear, there is an extreme amount of preparation needed in order to set you up for a successful backcountry solo hunt.
Let me also say that those are sincere words of encouragement, not intimidation. Reaping the rewards of a successful solo hunt will rival the feeling of taking a picture with your first deer.
1. Get Ahead
First things first, when planning your first solo hunt it’s important to leave yourself enough time to prepare, train and get organized.
Trying to rush a hunt leaves you open to a number of errors. Like most things, preparation is the key to being successful and any seasoned hunter knows, being prepared only allows you to be that much sharper in the field.
Gather all of your licenses, topo maps and make your travel arrangements first. Once you get the “paperwork” out of the way, you can spend your time focusing on a promising area to hunt.
Using applications like Google Earth in tandem with topo maps like HUNTERRA will help give you the ability to understand a ton of land knowledge before arriving on your hunt. Keep in mind that if you’re hunting a large piece of public land you’re probably not the only one looking at the same map, so be smart and think outside the box.
2. Beat the Crowds
Think of trailheads and parking lots as the narrow end of a funnel. The further you trek from that point, the less people you’re likely to encounter over the course of your hunt. It might be more work to get out into the backcountry, but in theory you shouldn’t be running into a bunch of hunters and pressure will be lighter.
3. Shape Up
Depending on the terrain and altitude, being in good shape will only help you be more successful pursuing game over the duration of your hunt.
If you’re wearing new boots, you better be sure to wear them everywhere you go prior to your trip and definitely make sure that they are well broken-in.
Walking a few miles on a treadmill each day with your pack is also a good idea. Fill it up with gear or free weights and throw that machine into hill climb mode. Yes, it might cause a few people in the gym to look at you, but who cares?
4. Gear Wisdom
Now, let’s talk about the really important stuff: your gear.
Weight is everything when you’re on your own. More than likely you won’t have a vehicle to get you into your area, so having the right gear is essential.
Choose a backpack that allows essentials to be easily accessible in case you need something in a hurry. Items like rangefinders, binoculars and wind indicators should always be attached to your clothing while walking.
Packs like the Badlands Ox Pack is a great example of a lightweight bag that can hold all of your hunting gear and can be easily reconfigured for day hunts in the backwoods.
Aside from packing appropriately for the weather and game, always bring layering clothes and packable rain gear. Hiking in the backcountry can get hot even if it’s the fall or winter. Remember that sweating causes moisture and moisture can lead to hypothermia.
5. Something to Remember It By
You’re going to want to preserve the memories of your first solo hunt (as always) and need to have good filming equipment with you.
Now is definitely not the time to skimp on reliable camera case and memory-card holders. There is nothing worse then going to take a photo or film a scene and realize that you have broken equipment or a memory card that doesn’t work.
Make sure that you also are taking extra batteries with you because cold weather drains battery life and you’re not going to have a wall charger. In the event that you’re going to be out of electrical connections for a while, picking up a Venture 30 Recharger will help to charge items in an emergency situation.
Getting ready to set out on your first solo hunt is an exciting time. It’s also really easy to get wrapped up in all of the excitement and forget about some important things.
Take your time planning and prepare for one of the most exciting hunts that you’ll ever experience.