Solo Elk Hunting

Solo Elk Hunting

I think if anyone told me when I first started hunting I would eventually find myself hunting solo in the backcountry and wilderness areas…I would have thought they were crazy. Yet here I am, hunting solo with greater and greater frequency. I have found myself driving solo to trailheads, heading into the backcountry with my gear and a headlamp, and even venturing into new hunting areas to explore.

I have learned so much from these endeavors! I have learned to trust myself. I have learned to trade fear for fascination. I have learned to strategize my gear even better. I have learned that there is literally nothing I cannot do! Admittedly, I also learn from the school of hard knocks. A lot. I believe I learn more from mistakes than from successes. So here are some of my insights!

  1. Check your headlamp BEFORE you go out. Seems simple enough. But alas…I did drive 40 minutes to a trailhead so I could start hiking at 5:30 only to find my headlamp had burned out. I was committed. The moon was almost full, so walking wasn’t impossible but it also wasn’t fast or fleet-footed! I now keep an extra battery in my pack. Sigh.
  2. I’ve said it before…I am indeed the MOST directionally impaired person I know. I literally struggle with it! Even more, telling is the fact that my husband definitely knows this about me. This sweet soul Google Earthed where he felt I should hunt and literally walked me through every hill, trail, and stream I would encounter. It definitely helped! But would have been more helpful had my headlamp worked.
  3. Pack strategies. I am very concerned about efficiency and am constantly tinkering with ways to make my pack a well-oiled machine. Over the course of the last season, I was thrilled to have it down to a science. My suggestions…spare ammo needs to be readily available and on the dominant side of your body for easy access. The range finder MUST be at the ready. Shooting sticks should be on the outside of the pack on your dominant side so you can easily reach back and pull them out without removing your pack. Reading Glasses are a must at my age as I cannot read my scope dials at all without them…they are ALWAYS in my chest pocket…and that pocket remains partially open so I can get them quickly. I don’t typically pack water, but do pack some high-protein snacks. I keep those in my coat pocket. My goal is to never remove my pack unless I kill something. It’s a good philosophy!
  4. Silence your phone. We’ve all learned this the hard way.
  5. My lucky socks got tossed in the trash. #falsehope
  6. I came across a lot of areas in my hiking (32 miles of it) this year that looked very promising. I do have a Garmin and marked my points with quick notes so I could find them again. Remember…I DO need a breadcrumb trail. Refer to #2 above.  
  7. I did learn that if I had an elk tag…I would see deer. If I had a buck tag…I would see elk. Oh, the irony.  
  8. I did learn that paying attention to daylight savings time change was somewhat crucial. Dang, it. But I am also sure I am not the only hunter to learn this!
  9. Clothing. Clearly, hunting apparel is my life. But I always find ways to make my layering efficient for the climate. I build my layers and accessories to strip and stow quickly. Again, my goal is never to remove my pack so stowing gloves, hats, and vests on the sides of my pack, in my waistband and pockets kept me moving but also allowed me to get those items again when I cooled off.
  10. Photos! I’m not talking about the beautiful scenery shots. I learned that taking a lot of pictures of the geography around areas I planned to come back to, as well as images of where I shot my animal were super helpful for return visits and animal retrieval.

So with that, I have learned some great lessons over the last few years when it comes to being a woman hunting alone in the backcountry. My hope is more ladies can find the courage and inspiration to give it a try! Push your envelope. Exchange your fears. Attempt what you previously thought was unattemptable!

About the Author

Kirstie Pike

Kirstie Pike is the founder and CEO of Prois Hunting & Field Apparel for Women, the leading edge for women’s performance hunting gear for nine years and running.
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