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So, you have bought your new hunting rifle complete with a Steiner scope, and you think you have everything you need to head out into the bush. While it can be exciting to start dreaming of the fun that you will have in the wilderness, it is important to be prepared before you jump in. Solo hunting trips are not something that should be entered into without proper planning.
Naturally, there are certain challenges and risks involved with hunting by yourself. However, there are also unique rewards that come with taking on these challenges while soloing. Whether you are interested in trying your hand at solo hunting as an experienced hunter or a total novice, it is essential to know what you are getting into and how best to prepare for the adventure.
Let’s look at what you will need to do to prepare for your first solo hunting trip.
Anyone who is thinking of hunting by themselves, or with anyone else, for that matter, needs to qualify for a hunting license first. This usually requires taking a hunting certification course. These courses will teach you the basics of firearm safety and, often, basic backcountry skills.
If you are planning on making a solo trip, however, it is worth investing in more courses if you have the budget. Basic wilderness first aid and survival skills are useful when you are in the bush. You can also teach yourself, but some skills need to be practised to master. With experience, you will become more comfortable at applying your knowledge in the field.
Be Physically And Psychologically Prepared
Any hunting trip requires a reasonable level of physical fitness. This requirement is even more pronounced when you are hunting solo. While you may be able to get away with a lower level of fitness when you are hunting with a group, this is not the case here.
When you hunt solo, you will have to carry all of your supplies on your back. You will also have to summon up the energy to take care of your basic needs like eating, putting up a shelter, and the like, all on your own. Expect to feel tired after a full day of intense concentration and hiking.
If you are only planning a one-day solo hunt, then the psychological effects of isolation are usually easy to overcome. You might be in the bush, but you know that you will be home in the evening. However, multi-day trips that will take you into remote wilderness areas take a bit more mental preparation.
If you have never spent long periods on your own, you might find that the silence and darkness of the wilderness are extremely uncomfortable. Without cell phone reception, you will also be unable to speak to anyone, potentially for days at a time.
While these challenges can be faced with the right mindset, they are not for everyone. Make sure that you are up for the task before you plan an extended solo hunting trip.
Have The Right Equipment
When it comes to rifles, ammunition, and accessories, every hunter has their configuration that works best for them. The more experience you have as a hunter, the more familiar you will be with what works. And it is important to know what works before you head out into a solo hunting trip.
Once you are out in the bush, there will not be a chance to stop for equipment repairs or resupplies. It is important to know what you need and what tools and gear will work for the type of hunting that you are planning to do.
If you lack experience, talk to other hunters who will be able to give you advice. Explore other sources of information online to learn about the best firearms and gear. And make sure that you experiment and try out everything that you plan on bringing with you before you head out.
Safety equipment is another important consideration. It is always a good idea to have a basic understanding of orientation. GPS is a standard tool for many hunters these days, but sometimes reading a map off of a device can be confusing or problematic. Carrying backup maps and a compass will come in handy too. Taking a first aid kit is a must. And, because warmth is essential for survival, and comfort, in the backcountry, make sure to take along some fire-starting equipment with you.
Finally, having the right clothing for all kinds of weather is essential. You do not want your elaborate planning to fall apart because you forgot to bring raingear. Hunting requires you to sit still for long periods, so you will need to be comfortable. It can also get cold in the evenings and nights, even in the summertime. Think of all possible scenarios and balance your clothing pack appropriately.
Plan How To Get Out Of There
Most game is heavy. Simply by the weight of a big animal, dragging it out of the wilderness can be next to impossible for some. Make sure that you know how to dress an animal to avoid problems with getting it out of the backcountry.
Know where you should park your vehicle to minimise the distance you will need to carry it. As an alternative, you can also have some contacts waiting for your call who will drive in to meet you once you are successful in your hunt.
While many of these points touch on the challenges of a solo hunt, it certainly is immensely rewarding to pull off one, especially for the first time. The feeling of accomplishment that you will have from thriving in the backcountry will keep you coming back again and again. You will also have stories to tell, and more experience gained. All of this makes you a better hunter and able to complete solo hunts easier in the future.