How many of you have made plans to go on an outdoor trip and decided not to go when your friend canceled? A simple fear of the unknown, being alone in the middle of nowhere, can be intimidating for many.
A large percentage of women are introduced to the outdoors by a male relative/friend, and are taught to rely on a mentor when it comes to adventuring into the wild. Many outdoor programs and articles written for women in the outdoors blatantly warn women not to go into the woods alone.
Whether you are an experienced woman in the outdoors or are fairly new, there are a few simple steps to help you safely venture out on your own.
Staying safe in the outdoors simply means using common sense and being aware of your surroundings. I have always felt far more intimidated at the thought of humans than animals, as animals tend to mind their own business.
Carrying some sort of self-defense weapon and knowing how to use it is a must, whether it be pepper spray, a knife, or a handgun (handgun laws will vary from state to state). Be familiar with the area you are going to, and carry a map and GPS if need be.
Always tell someone where you are going in case of emergencies. If you are planning on climbing into a treestand, wear a harness. If you are going to be in a boat on the water, wear a life jacket at all times.
It is important to bring the right gear along for your adventure. Nothing is as miserable as getting blisters on your feet a half hour into your hike, or getting dehydrated halfway down the river.
Check the weather forecast and dress accordingly. Always bring water with you, and a snack if you're going to be gone awhile.
Over the years there have been many situations, particularly with hunting, that someone has said to me, "Oh, you don't need to learn how to do that you're a girl."
Gender should have nothing to do with it, if you are going to learn how to do something you should learn as much as you can. The more you learn about the outdoors and the activities you are interested in, the better you will become and, in turn, more comfortable going out on your own.
If you are a hunter, it is crucial to be familiar with your weapons before going out alone. Know how to disassemble and reassemble your weapons, as well as making adjustments to things such as scopes and bow sights.
It's important to be comfortable and enjoy yourself; going out a few hours at a time is a great start.
At the age of 14 I started going on hunts by myself. I would only go out for a few hours in the woods behind my parents house, but as time progressed I became more and more comfortable. Now at age 26 I have hunted alone all over the United States and have grown to love the solitude that comes with being independent.
Lastly: Always bring your cell phone.
Take your time, breathe, and enjoy the outdoors. Remember, you've got this.