If you are like me and go hunting alone, you know what true freedom feels like.  I can move at my own pace and interpret the land around me, without distraction.  Hunting alone, there is nobody telling me to hurry up or slow down and nobody opposing my hunting plans.  Everything about my hunt is on my own terms.  If I fail, I have nobody to blame besides myself.  Do not get me wrong, I love hunting with other people, especially the people closest to me.  However, I learned more about hunting and myself when I am in the woods alone.  If you have considered hunting alone or hunt alone now, I encourage you to read my 10 Tips for the Hunter Who Goes Hunting Alone below and if you have anything you believe should be added to this article, simply contact me by visiting the About Page.

1. Spill Your Secrets

It is hard to give your secrets away, but you must let a trustworthy individual know where you will be hunting!  This can be your wife, grandma, or your favorite aunt!  Ensure that you give them critical information like the time you will be leaving and when you expect to be back.  Will you be in a tree stand?  Let them know details like this too.  What I like to do is send my fiancé a few screenshots from Google Maps of where I will be parking my truck and my intended destination.  The more information you give, the less likely concerned family members will be calling you.

I wrote a Hunting Quick Tip called The Most Important Thing to Do Before Hunting on this subject.  Feel free to give it a read!

2. Move Methodically

Moving methodically when hunting alone (and when hunting with other people in my opinion) is probably one of the most important tips in this article.  If you hurry, you increase your chances drastically of falling and injuring yourself.  Whether you are climbing into a tree stand or walking up a steep incline, you must take your time.  Being a few minutes late for shooting hours is better than rushing and falling out of your tree stand.

Another benefit of moving methodically is you start seeing things in nature that you normally would walk right by.  This includes tracks, scrapes, and new deer rubs you might have never seen walking with a hunting partner.

3. Avoid Wandering

Hunting alone is not the best time to wander off course.  Wandering leads to more wandering, which leads to being lost.  In isolated areas you will likely not have cell phone service and if you do not have a paper map or GPS in your pocket, you might find yourself in the dark, spinning in circles.

Wandering also diverts you from your original plan, the plan you sent into your trustworthy individual.  If you get hurt and are immobile, it will take first responders much more time to find you and treat your injuries.

4. Download a Voice Command App on Your Phone

In the unfortunate event that you are laying on the ground injured and without the use of your arms or hands, a voice command app might just save your life.  Voice command apps allows you to make calls without touching your phone. 

I own an Android phone and use the Bixby App.  If I am in an emergency, all I have to say is, “Hey Bixby, dial 911” and I will be connected to a dispatcher.  I encourage you to always store your phone in a pocket closest to your mouth and in your outermost layer of clothing.  I have several coats that have breast pockets that are about 7 inches from my mouth.  If I speak, my phone will be able to hear my commands.  A good time to test the placement of your phone and your voice command app is at home with all your hunting gear on.

5. Be Prepared to Camp

Adding a few extra pounds to your backpack is worth it, especially if you are hunting alone.  Anything can happen in the field that would require you to stay overnight or for several days.  Here are just a few of the items I place in my backpack before my hunt:

Are you a duck hunter who ventures out onto the water in cold weather?  Read this Hunting Quick Tip I wrote called One Item You Must Pack for Duck Hunting to keep you and your hunting partners safe on your next duck hunting adventure.

6. Pack Heat if Legal in Your State

I do a lot of bow hunting alone and trust me, I am no Robbin Hood!  I have come across some wild things in the woods including a camp where illegal drugs were being produced.  6-8 tents were erected telling me an abundance of people were staying in the camp.  At that time in my state, it was illegal to carry a concealed weapon and bow hunt at the same time.  This law has changed in the last year.  Luckily, nobody was around because all I had to defend myself was a bow and a knife! 

If you are legally able to do so, I would encourage you to carry a weapon large enough to take down the largest threats in your specific area.

7. Follow Your Gut Instinct

If something does not feel right, do not do it!

I learned this lesson a few years ago, hunting the last day of gun season.  I wanted a deer bad and started venturing back to the most secluded area I could find.  Moving through the woods, I came across a creek that was flowing hard from recent rains.  I found that ONE log stretched across it.  The log was huge and could easily support my weight.  However, the cold weather and rain made the log slick, and I knew this. 

Standing on the edge of the creek and putting my right foot on the log, my gut instinct told me to turn around and hunt somewhere else.  At this moment, a lot craziness started running through my mind.  I was thinking about hunting closer to my truck and likely not seeing any deer.  I even thought about those gymnasts who jump and flip on the balancing beam during the Olympics.  How the hell do they do that?  Their balancing beam is 4” wide and this log is about 14”!  I can do this!  As I started walking across the log and convincing myself this was a good idea, I immediately fell into the cold water.

Lesson Learned

As I stood in the garage that night cleaning my soaking wet gun, I realized how lucky I was.  I could have easily hit my head on a rock and been unconscious in freezing water.  My leg could have broken and with a wet cell phone, it would have been a long day watching the birds and fighting hypothermia.

Hunting is an adventure and you do have to take some risks, but do not take those risks when you are hunting alone.   

Learn more about predicting the weather with my Quick Tip How Far Away Is That Storm

8. Combat Curiosity

Hunting alone is a great opportunity to learn new things about the wilderness around you.  You will realize when you are alone and with no distractions how much more observant you are of everything around you.  Seeing more when hunting alone, you will come across objects and landmarks that spark your curiosity.  It is important in these moments to stop and weigh your options.  Ask yourself, is it beneficial to climb this large hill to investigate that small cave?  What would I gain from doing this when I am hunting deer?

Exploring the wilderness is exhilarating and I do it myself, but not by myself.  Lewis and Clark had a whole team and so should you.  And never forget that old saying, “Curiosity killed the cat”.

9. Be Fit

I honestly hate to put this as a tip to hunt alone.  It is cliché and everywhere we turn, someone is telling us that our lives would be so much better if we were just a little more fit or lighter!  With that, I do think hunting is the ultimate test for the human body and I believe many poor incidents are avoided when we are physically strong.  Better decisions are made when the body is less exhausted.  Bones are not as easily broken, and muscles are less likely to be pulled when we are strong.   

I have hunted with a beer belly and hunted being fit.  When I joined the military and turned my body around, I made it my mission to never be out of shape again.  I now enjoy hunting so much more and use that enjoyment as motivation to keep hitting the gym.

10. Defeat Distractions

If you want the ultimate experience hunting alone, it is important to cut out all distractions, including your cell phone! I would definitely bring your cell phone but keep it on silent and only use it to check in or for emergency purposes.  Checking social media sites or reading the news will only bring unnecessary stress to your hunt.

I thank you for reading this article and visiting White Buffalo Outdoors!  To read more hunting, fishing, and trapping articles, visit my Articles Page. 

The White Buffalo Outdoors Community 

For this article, I asked the White Buffalo Outdoors Community on Facebook and Instagram if they had any of their own tips when it comes to hunting alone.  Below are some of the tips sent in.  Feel free to contact me with your tips or post them below in the comments.

Laura Tirado – Bring toilet paper, knife, GPS, and a first aid kit.

Brandon Hudson – Safety harness when in a tree stand and always have phone for emergencies. 

Cliff Bohling – Always let people know where you are hunting.

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Hoss Thomas – Sit still and do not smoke or fart.  Just watch and listen.  You will see alot of game.

Jeffrey P. – Be observant and make stealth your number one priority.  Do not be loud and bring quiet snacks.

public_ducks_wi – Always let someone know where you are going when heading out alone.  Whether it is a duck blind or tree stand.

Bentley M. – Let people know where you are going and be safe and careful with every move.

Joe and Zoe – So hunting alone can be tough especially when it comes to getting lost or turned around.  We’ve all done it at some point!  Can get pretty scary!  The biggest trick I have up my sleeve for hunting alone is I always put my flashlight on the ground, pointed in the direction I have to walk out.  I hunt out of a climber 99.9% of the times, so things get turned around pretty quick.  I also hang a flashlight off a nearby branch in the event that I harvest a deer.  This helps me gat back to my tree in the dark.  

Warren Chetek – Keep 3 ways to make fire in your pocket (lighter, matches, striker and tinder) and a compass.  Fresh lithium batteries in everything.  Top quality headlamp too.  Pain killers and a hemostatic bandage in your kit.  Break your boots in properly.  Do not take stupid risks.  If it results in an impact or dunking don’t do it.  Learn how to gutless/debone your kill and use a pack that can move heavy poundage comfortably.  Use trekking poles.

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arizona_diy_hunts – Resist the urge to give up when you are not seeing a lot of game.  You will be lonely with nobody to encourage you.

md22228 – Be aware of your surroundings.  Observe landmarks before leaving your truck or camp.  These definitely depend on the terrain and weather conditions. Do not give up. What you are after is just over the hill.

Dustin Gilbert – Always look at the weather forecast before heading out.  Weather can always get worse.  Always carry fire, water, and shelter.  Slow down, think about your next move and take the time to assess risks before doing something stupid.  It’s easy to die alone when nobody is around.

Katelyn Johnson – Make sure at least one person knows the general area of where you are hunting.

Daniel Lillard – Make sure you have everything you need.  Don’t forget your knife, drag rope, and pen to fill out your tag.  

Brandon Fowler – Always tell someone where you will be and the time you should be back.  If you don’t make it back, they know where to start looking.  Also, carry something like a whistle so people can hear you from a distance.  Have a way to start fire, have shelter and clean water.  Something like a purification tablet.  Know the area you want to hunt and land marks so you can get out in a pinch.  Maybe even have a satellite phone in your truck or camp so you can call for help if you need it.  Have common sense.  If you have to ask yourself if you should do something, the answer is probably no. 

Bill Woods – Make sure you put bright eyes on both sides of the tree…to and from.

Justin J. Lind

January, 2020
White Buffalo Outdoors

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