Two videos of this archery target, from GC Archery
Last one is done by the people of Bearpaw
One thing that I learned quickly about going on hunts by myself is that the main limitation wasn’t my physical ability, but my mental strength. I didn’t think much about it before, but after spending a few days alone in the backcountry it started to wear on me. Luckily when I started doing solo backcountry hunts they were at the most three or four days long since all I could hunt was weekends. These short hunts helped me get accustomed to being alone and now I can go on longer hunts without it bothering me.
I know most people may think that this will not be a problem for them, but don’t underestimate this. If you have a solo hunt that you are going to go on and have never done it before I would suggest you do some short trips before to see how it goes. Even if you just have to go camping near your house for a weekend, see what it is like to have no human contact for a couple of days.
Now there are several things I do to keep my mind from thinking about leaving the mountain and heading home early. The most important thing I have found is to keep myself busy. This can be hard if the hunting is slow, and this is also when the mind games are the worst. So I do several things to keep busy. The main thing I do is to go on hikes in the middle of the day. I’ll take some water, some snacks and my bow and go check out new or different country. This sort of depends on what I’m hunting, since sometimes it is best to sit around certain places during the middle of day, like a wallow/watering hole for elk as an example.
Another thing I do is to keep a journal of sorts. Usually I have a map with me and when I have a break in the action I will write down what has happened and what I have seen. This also helps to remember little things that you may have otherwise forgot on a long hunt, and may provide invaluable information for future hunts.
For the past couple years I have packed a SPOT device with me on all my hunts. This allows me to send messages to some pre-selected people to let them know that I am alright. This has provides my family at home some comfort and also eases my mind while hunting since I know they are not worrying about me.
One thing that I have found to spend some time and is rewarding after the hunt is to do little photo shoots. I will spend quite a bit of time taking pictures of just about everything. Once home it is always nice to look through my pictures and have some of the entire hunt, not just a trophy shot if there was one. On a recent scouting trip I spent a couple of hours trying to get pictures of rock marmots. I love watching those little guys and listening to them. Even after a couple of hours I never got close enough for a great photo, but did get one of a baby marmot up on a rock.
If you are on a solo hunt and nothing else works, remember this. You have probably looked forward to this hunt for close to year, and there are a lot of people who would love to be in your position, so give it your best shot to not give up. Make it through your entire planned hunt and I guarantee you will be rewarded.
Most of my summer weekends are taken up doing short scouting trips. I think they are the best way to prepare for the season. You get to learn the animals you plan to hunt, find ideal places to camp or vantage points to glass from, you get in “mountain shape”, you get to test out gear and the advantages go on. I don’t know why everybody doesn’t do as much of this as they possibly can.
Most of my trips start out during the week, when I scour GoogleEarth in the evenings looking for potential hunting areas. Come Friday at 5, I know where I am headed and hit the road. Sometimes I get the trailhead late and pack in during the night so I am closer to where I want to be in the morning. You can cover a lot of country in a weekend and they can be very productive scouting trips.
Following are some pictures from my weekend scouting trips from over the years. These trips include multiple mountain ranges in Wyoming and Colorado.
Training is an important aspect, and it really pays off in the moment of true.
I live to bowhunt, so every day I try to reserve some time to train myself for the upcoming hunts. There are a lot of aspects you can improve on, and although the physical condition is an important factor, I give a lot of importance to other things like scouting, shooting the bow, or even reading.
It is really important to know the animal we will be hunting, and if we have time, go scouting the areas we will be hunting will help us a lot. You learn a lot of things by observing the animals, and in general when you are out in the moutains, no matter the purpose. If I have to decide to either go to workout in the gym, go shooting my bow or go out scouting, I would say I would pick my backpack and hit the mountains. Many people have the feeling the first day of the hunting season that all is a bit strange. The backpack dont sits right, it looks like you make a lot of noise, you can not spot the animals easily, too much gear on, … too many new things in the head for being a predator, you dont have to feel like an stranger when in the mountains.
Shooting the bow is really important, since it is imposible to be successfull if you cant shoot your bow properly. Periodically shooting the bow is the key. Get to know your equipment well, gain confidence and feel comfortable shooting it. Practice long distances, shooting with the backpack, on your knees, shooting quick,… 3D shoots are a great training, specially like we do in Spain, in which you combine them with timing, searching for the target, etc.. We all shoot in some way instictively, no matter the kind of bow, we just need to shoot the bow long enough.
Being fit helps a lot for hunting hard, and thats the reason I always include cardio and strength on my weekly training routines. Luckily, I can go hunting all the weeekends of the year, and thats for me the best. You hunt almost all day long, with the bow in hand, backpack, optics,… you are moving weight in steep terrain for hours and thats an outstanding functional training. When you go scouting you also bring gear, prepare hunting areas, hang on stands, … thats tiring!
We dont have time to do everything, since days only have 24 hours, we have family, work,… The best thing will try to combine everything, but one thing I have clear is that you can shoot at 100 yards and lift 200 pounds, that if you dont know the game you will hunting it will be useless. It looks like these days we all have the concept of the “athlete hunter”, but sometimes in my opinion we forget the important thing, knowing the game.
Here I share a video of Cameron Hanes, which is probably the hunter who promote the most the importance of training for hunting success. Beast Mode.
Good luck in the mountains