Hunting alone may be one of the most rewarding activities there is. You know that everything that happens is a direct result of your actions. So the rewards are so much sweeter than they would be if you did not put in all the work yourself. While solo hunting is fun and peaceful, it comes with certain dangers that you need to think about before you run out into the woods by yourself. Generally, hunting is not super dangerous if you keep your head on your shoulders and think about what you are doing. It can, however, quickly get out of hand if you are not prepared for a particular situation. So here I will go over my best tips for hunting alone that will hopefully keep you safe and help you become a better hunter.
1 | Have a Thought-Out Plan
If you are going to be hunting alone, it is important that you have thought about how you are going to do things. “Winging it” may work if you are hunting in your backyard, but if you are going on a long hunt, it is vital that you have a plan. For example, if you are going on a long solo elk trip, you need to think about how you are getting out there. Are you going to hike, drive an ATV, or ride a horse? What are you going to do with the horse when you get there? Tie it up at camp? Well okay then how are you going to set up camp? How are you going to bring in the supplies? What supplies do you need?
Do you see where I am going here? If you just take 15-30 minutes to sit down and think about each step of the hunt and possibly make a list of steps for your hunt, you will be much more prepared. I swear by lists, I make one for every workday. Here is a short checklist that I think covers a basic solo hunt.
- What weapon will you be using? Have you practiced recently? Is it in working order?
- What will you wear? Do you need to do a scent control routine?
- How will you be getting to your hunting spot? Does the ATV have gas?
- Will you be setting up a camp? What supplies do you need for your camp?
- What hunting tactic will you be using? Just simply going out into the woods may not be the best idea.
- What will you be hunting in/out of? Is your tree stand in working order, is your ground blind still good or is it covered in mildew? If you are hiking? Are your boots up to the job?
- How long will you be in the woods? A few hours or a few days?
- Do you need to bring food or just a couple of snacks?
- What class of animal are you intending to harvest? A spike or mature deer?
- How are you going to retrieve your animal? Do you want to use a Multus deer drag or deer sled?
- How are you going to clean your harvested animal? Where are you going to clean it?
- What are you going to put the meat in? Where will you go to get ice?
Did I forget anything? Send me an email at Patrick.Long@omegaoutdoors.net if I did.
The above list may be a lot to think about but these are all things you need to think about when solo hunting. If you are out in the middle of the woods and your rifle has a failure, you can not send your buddy a text and barrow an extra they brought. The more prepared you are the more ready you will be for any situation, which in turn will keep you safer and make you more successful.
2 | Let Someone Know Where You Are
The next piece of advice I have is just to let someone know where you are. Plenty of accidents could happen while hunting. So if you just send a quick text to someone saying “ hey I am hunting this stand today, here is a GPS pin to it” you will be much safer in the event that something bad does happen and someone needs to come to get you. For those of you that had a mini heart attack because I suggested sending a GPS pin of your hunting spot to someone, get better friends.
3 | Bring Emergency Gear
It is not a bad idea to bring along a small first aid kit with you. Something that has some bandages, alcohol wipes, gauze, and medical tape should be more than enough. You can get a simple first aid kit here from Amazon. It is easy for guys to get on the topic of “emergency” gear and then going out in the woods with a giant pack filled with everything they saw on your favorite survival show. More times than not the basics will do, leave the giant survival knife and firestarter at home.
Nowadays, most people never leave their house without their smartphones, hunting is not an exception. I highly recommend that you bring your GPS equipped smartphone out into the woods just in case you get a little too immersed and get lost. Most of the time your smartphone will suffice but if you are getting far out there, cell signal may be hard to come by, and maps do not load without signal. If you want a more precise and reliable GPS I would suggest getting a dedicated GPS system like the Garmin GPSMAP 64sx from Amazon.
4 | Take in the Serenity
For me, the best thing about hunting alone is just being out in nature and taking it all in. Of course, you can do this while hunting with others as well but for me, it just feels a little more meaningful when I am alone. It is a beautiful sight to just stop and watch the birds, listen to everything going on and appreciate God’s creation. So next time you are out in the woods alone, take a second to stop and smell the roses… or honeysuckles in this case.
5 | Watch for These Dangers
While nature is beautiful, it is also incredibly cruel. There are plenty of dangers that you should always look out for in the woods, especially if you are by yourself. There is always safety in groups, but facing the same dangers alone is a very different ballgame.
Predators are a bigger deal when you are alone versus when you are in a group. You need to be more careful since you are alone. When I was a young hunter, my father taught me that there are three main things to look out for in the woods: people, dogs, and snakes. In that order of importance. Though this list pairs with the region that we hunt (Southeast United States). Other regions may need to look out for other predators like wolves, cougars, etc. So I will expand my fathers list to people, predators, and snakes. In that order.
If you are hunting on public land, seeing another person on that property is not an abnormal thing and most of them will be friendly. Where people can get scary is on private property. People are crazy. Throw them in the woods where no one is going to be watching what they are doing and give them a firearm, then you will get a deadly combination. Especially if you catch that person trespassing, or if you are accidentally trespassing on their property. Long story short, people are unpredictable in the woods and there are no police, be careful if you plan to interact with them.
Predators are the next biggest threat, even a group of two or three domestic dogs are dangerous in the woods. Make sure you are always looking out for these predators. Though the risk of attack is low, it does happen from time to time. Avoidance is the best strategy.
Snakes are the last thing on my list. If you are a few hours from a hospital, a snake bite is the last thing you want. Though people will argue that there are good and bad snakes, I will not be taking the time to tell the difference. Again, avoidance is the best strategy to stay safe if possible, although a lot of times you may not see a snake until you are already too close.
6 | Don’t Be Afraid to Adjust Your Tactics
When hunting with other people, most of the time all of you will come up with a plan and stick to it. This is great. It keeps everyone on the same page and keeps you safe from each other. For example, this would prevent one hunter from deciding to do a spot and stalk tactic while running the risk of walking close by another hunter sitting in a tree stand.
When you are hunting by yourself, and specifically where you know no one else is, you can hunt however you want whenever you want. There are near-infinite situations that can happen in the woods but say, for example, you see a nice buck walking over the back half of a hill 200 yards away. You suspect he will stay in that general area for a sizable amount of time. If you are hunting by yourself, you could get down from your stand and stalk your way over there and get a clean shot. Whatever the situation may be, hunting alone gives you the freedom to get the job done however you see fit.
7 | Make Sure You Wear a Safety Harness
Wearing your safety harness is a necessity no matter how many people you are hunting with, but it is 100 times more important when you are hunting on your own. Falling from your stand without your harness can very easily make you go unconscious, then you will not be able to call anyone. Your friends and family may get worried when it gets dark but by then you could have been knocked out for hours. If you do not use a harness and do fall, just know there is a high possibility of brain damage and death.
Falling from your stand with your harness is also a big deal when you are alone. According to osha.gov, suspension trauma can cause death in as little as 30 minutes. So having someone that knows where you are is important, but if it takes 45 minutes for them to get to you it may be too late. You always need a plan as to what you are going to do if you do fall from your stand.
8 | Use Common Sense
I know they say that common sense is not so common, but if you are smart enough to be able to plan out a solo hunt, I would assume you have some common sense. What I mean by using your common sense is that maybe when you are alone in the woods, it is not the best time to see if you can jump across a hollowed-out creek. In other words, just do not do stupid things that could get you hurt. Take things slow and safe, you have all the time in the world while hunting.
Even More Reasons to Hunt Solo
Here is a great video from HuntStand about 5 reasons you should hunt solo.
Solo hunting is one of the most rewarding sports there is. Hunting alone also gives you the freedom to hunt however you see fit, and the option to change tactics at the drop of a hat. Although we saw that there are plenty of dangers you should look out for, you can stay safe by just doing a few things correctly. Start out with making a solid plan on how you want to hunt and everything you will need. Secondly, make sure someone knows where you are. If something does happen it is important that they know how to get to you in time. Also, make sure that you have your safety equipment. A first aid kit is always in my pack and I always wear my safety harness. Lastly, watch out for dangers in the woods and use your common sense. Hunting can be an amazing experience, but it can also be very dangerous if you are unprepared or careless.
Thank you for reading my article about hunting alone. I hope you enjoyed it and learned something you didn’t already know. If you like my content, subscribe to my weekly update. If you have any other questions about solo hunting or just want to connect, feel free to email me at Patrick.Long@omegaoutdoors.net.