a good way to beat the lonliness is to bring in a little ipod with speaker or little transitor radio. i prefer the radio because you hear the dj talking. my little radio also has the noaa weather station on it. Handy little piece of equipment. Also if you don't like doing other mountain activities solo you won't like hunting solo. Getting game out is a big deal, but it is very manageable if you don't over do it. And one guy can get an elk out, parachute cord goes along way and also. the biggest thing an indvidual needs in backcountry solo hunting is self confidence. Not cocky, but make sure you know you can do it. And it helps if you have done it. Start with a simple overnighter and work up from there.
My father and I have been hunting partners since I was 10 but now I moved further away and my interests are changing. He loves driving around in his jeep and stopping on every hill to glass. We killed a lot of deer that way but I always found myself getting out and hiking off the road (killed a lot of deer that way too). I have an intense calling to start back country hunting which he has no interest in whatsoever. I believe that makes me a solo hunter come this season as I'm going to start doing short backpacking trips in D8. It will be interesting and hopefully rewarding.
Hunted with my dad from 52 to 82 when he passed. I've hunted alone ever since. Going to be 70 this year, and still doing it alone. Probably safe to say i'm not going to change.
Clean living, lots of exercise, and a good attitude will get you there. I'm hoping to have another 10years of hunting in me.
In California you can hunt deer with ONE dog in certain zones, but not in others. The D zones are doggy zones, X zones are definitely not. Much of California is just a massive brush-pile due to poor logging practices and fire suppression. I hunt D3 which is basically just one huge tangle of impenetrable brush unless you are in a clear cut, above the tree line, or down in the central valley. I have two rat terriers that I use (one at a time) and they can be very helpful. It's kind of like pheasant hunting, you better be pretty fast on the draw when Sparky's nose meets Bambi's butt. And the mutts come in very handy if you have to track a wounded deer. Those noses they have are something else. And as a certified solo hunter, I enjoy their company and like listening to their stories when they haven't been drinking.
I went out on my first solo trip this past fall. My family are all back east and I haven't ran into anybody I that I know well enough to hunt with.
I went up planning to head out and stay in the backcountry, but ended up staying back in the camp where I parked and heading out each day by myself to hunt.
The first night up there, I was at a little camp site just off the road and it was completely dark before I started to set up camp. I'm used to going places for my job or the reserves and being by myself, but this is a completely different kind of alone.
The second night, I found a camp where another guy was based out of and stayed there. It was nice having a little human interaction when I got back to camp at night. I also didn't bring anything stronger than gatorade and coffee. He had some Patron and was generous with it. A few sips of that definintely takes the edge off and I will be getting myself a flask for next year.
When I was out during the day, awesome only begins to describe it. Eating lunch on the top of a mountain, looking out to the north and west the Sierra Nevadas. Walking down to the edge of a meadow and seeing beds...sitting behind a tree and hearing branches breaking as something moves through the woods off to my side. Feeling my heart rate pick up.
It's nice not having anybody else around then... you set your own pace, you don't have to worry about somebody else moving or making noise or wanting to go back to camp.
I'm making some equipment changes and from now on, I have to plan on going up and spending a day getting acclimated to the altitude (9,000') before I head out.
But, since going up, I can't stop thinking about wanting to be up there, how I'm going to pack, how I will pack out an animal, where I will want to go next year.
I didn't read this whole thread so I don't know what has already been discussed completely and what hasn't, but I wanted to comment and didn't have the time to read 6 pages, so I will enter into the conversation here.
For me it is incredibly hard to hunt with people anymore. Outside of my dad who I hunt with some still, most people become more of a hindrance than anything. It is hard mostly because everyone has different expectations. Some guys like tents, some guys like bivys, some guys go without shelter all together. Other times guys camp in the bottom near water, while harcore mulie hunters may go 2-3 days without a water source at a time. It just is hard to find someone on the same page with you in every aspect, and then have them want to hunt the same place, at the same time, for the same animal where only one of you will probably get a shot at best.
My very first trip solo was when I was probably about 16 or 17 for a day trip, and just after I got out of high school I branched off and started doing backcountry hunts for 4-5 days at a time solo. I had always hunted deep with my dad up until then, but after high school I just had a different schedule so I went on my own. I remember my first trip out was just a one nighter, and it was different but I just pushed myself to get to sleep and not worry about it. The next year I did a 4 nighter and never thought twice and I've never looked back since.
I work for a forestry company so I am also in the woods 5 days a week for 10 hours a day, and about 97% of that work is all timber cruising that is done 100% by myself, so being in the woods is nothing new for me. However, the overnight stay by yourself when you are a long way from the truck can be a bit intimidating, but I think once a guy just bites the bullet and tries it, you will really learn to like it. I dont really have any tips for making it easier other than increasing your experience and exposure with it.