First Solo Backcountry Hunt - mental suggestions

Odell

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May 8, 2016
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169
Going on my first solo backcountry hunt which also happens to be my first western hunt. Will be in Unit 34 WY for deer.

Any suggestions what I should do to win the mental game?
That’s a great question and i think that it will be different for everyone. It also seems to be a thing you have to develop with experience in most cases.

I don’t have many solo backcountry trips under my belt but even with my friends the mental game is tough.

When i feel myself getting discouraged or talking myself off the mountain, I slow down and i set small goals. “Glass this for two hours then hike up there...”

I’ll do this to myself until I’m all the way back into my sleeping bag with a hot meal. Then think on my plan for tomorrow.

I keep telling myself you can go home tomorrow. And the minute you get off the mountain you’re gonna wish you were back on ot


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Joined
Nov 16, 2016
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Location
Colorado
Podcasts and music are a lifesaver when out solo in my opinion. After a hard day of hunting I genuinely look forward to getting in my tent, putting on a podcast, maybe taking a shot of whiskey, and making dinner.

It is also great to have an inreach or be in an area with a little service if possible to text. If you can talk to those back at home, it can help keep you on the mountain.

Not really mental, makes me feel better -bring a good first aid kit, mine is probably a bit overkill but when you're out there alone I'd rather have too much than too little if something crazy were to happen. Replaceable blades are scary
 

Mike Islander

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Aug 10, 2019
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Lowcountry, SC
I was raised by a very old school cowboy. His philosophy was basically "Don't be a pussy." It's a simple summary of a bunch of guidelines, but just using this simple (primitive) guideline works for me. Why make it complicated? I guess because culture today is so very different. This old school method carried humans through eons, and was enough. Don't overthink it. Decide you will do it, and then do so.

My wild-ass, old school dad and I dredging for gold in mid 70s. We lived in that 10-man army tent for most of the summer, eating fried bologna and drinking Coors...even though I was only 15.
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Odell

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May 8, 2016
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169
The other big thing for me is to stay positive. When the weather is crap and the elk are nowhere to be found gotta practice being positive and grateful


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Quicksilver

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Oct 27, 2018
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A day in the mountains is better than a day back at home or working. Good days or bad days you're out doing your thing so find enjoyment in the little things while you're out there.
 

wildbill34

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May 21, 2019
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A day in the mountains is better than a day back at home or working. Good days or bad days you're out doing your thing so find enjoyment in the little things while you're out there.
This,

I always think about the alternative and realize how awesome it is to be out there.
 

Steelhead

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Dec 20, 2016
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Idaho
You are building a legacy in being out there. Each hour of the day you stay out there you are chalking up more experience, more of a story to carry with you, more memories and less “what if”.
I remind myself of that when things get weird going solo. Plus the fact that I’ve got the time off work, specifically for this purpose, and if I walk off the mountain I have to wait a FULL YEAR to get that time again.

And I ask myself “how bad do you want it?” The adventure, the tale, the experience, the meat. Personally, I want it really bad. All of it.

The times I find it tough to not be able to bounce ideas off hunting partners I try to reframe the situation as a learning opportunity… do I really need to drop down into that draw? Your successes will be based on your actions alone. That is rewarding…or extremely frustrating. But there is plenty of frustration to go around out in the woods.

The idea of the Garmin/texting option is a good one. I’m lucky to have a wife that has prompted me to stick it out another day or so when I’m teetering on heading home. Plus she appreciates a full freezer.
 

jspradley

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Joined
Mar 16, 2016
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1,129
Location
League City, TX
All of the above, and keep your expectations realistic on the low side.

Dont beat yourself up and give up if you have to pull the plug after a few days, it's tough to be alone for that long. If you have to bail on the backcountry then call what you accomplished a victory, car camp for the rest of it and stay in the game. You still did something most people dont have the nads to do and you can always tough it out longer next time.

Oh yeah and carry some trauma gear.
 

LONE HUNTER

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Feb 25, 2018
Messages
147
Iv'e given up early a few times from hunts I had planned for months. There isn't a feeling that I hate more than thinking about the bucks I gave up on early because I was lonely, tired. discouraged, sad or whatever. As long as you are healthy and not in danger DO NOT GIVE UP! Take a day off and sleep in your tent, hike up to get cell service, bring extra food to gorge on, hike out to your truck for a day and go to town and then go back.... whatever it takes to get back in the game but don't quit and drive home. It might take a few tries to get it right and it isn't the end of the world if you do but it sure is a painful experience once you are home and happy again to think about what you are missing up there.
 

mireland62887

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Oct 8, 2013
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Vacaville, CA
This is a great thread. The mental game is a tough one, and I've lost before and gone home early. But I've learned from those trips. You look forward to these hunts for days, months, and sometimes even years. When the discouragement sets in, remind yourself how much you were looking forward to that hunt. Lastly, my most memorable hunts were always the ones that were the toughest. A long pack out, an animal on the last day....those are the ones that mean the most.
 

Rich M

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Jun 14, 2017
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468
Location
Orlando
You are conditioning, spending all kinds of money, anticipating the hunt - probably losing some sleep, and taking your vacation to go.

For me, the opportunity and the adventure keep me going the full 10 days or however long. It's a fun time. The time period is short, the revitalization to your soul is rich. If you aren't having fun, take a break, fish, sit by a brook, just soak it all in. You only get so many of those.

I hope you figure it out and have an exceptional time.
 

Foldem

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Feb 25, 2012
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418
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Arvada, Colorado
Just refuse to give up, especially if something goes wrong like a miss. Also, a good buddy with a positive attitude makes a HUGE difference. Consider taking a good friend that's up for some adventure.
 

bmcbeain

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Sep 28, 2016
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Location
Colorado Springs, CO
I say think about your mindset come March-April-May when your giddy as a school girl during tag season and as draw results post. During that time you’d give anything to have a tag in the pocket or be out in the mountains chasing game. You don’t want to have the regret of “what could have been” or not taking full advantage of your time outdoors or off work.

To reiterate couple suggestions above; podcast (Hunting focused - MeatEater, The Hunt Backcountry, Eastmans Elevated, Wired To Hunt and Kifarucast; Entertainment focused - The Joe Rogan Experience), backcountry treats (Cliff Blocks energy chews, etc.) and InReach to take others along with your hunt - their excitement/jealous will fuel your mindset.

Good luck and stay strong.


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casey.draper

Newbie
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Feb 11, 2019
Messages
8
I think one of the hardest things about hunting solo is not having anyone to bounce ideas off of. So, I debate back and forth with myself on making a decisions. One tip Brian Barney from Eastman's Elevated drives home is making a good hunt plan with multiple options. Having a pre-determined written hunt plan has helped me win the mental battle especially when I'm tired and a little beat up.
 

DavePwns

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Dec 9, 2017
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209
Location
CA
Each morning before first light, I'll open up my Bible app and read a chapter, thank God for the opportunity to be in the woods, enjoy his creation and hunt. Gives me a bit of perspective for the day and keeps my thoughts positive. Hunting solo is one of the best things a man can do in my opinion. It creates self discipline, grit, and solitude. The reward of a harvest and solo pack out is unmatched to anything IMO
 

gburk

Junior Member
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Jun 9, 2019
Messages
28
Missed shots, bad weather, gear failure, hunting pressure, lack of game, bad sleep, all of it should be expected and taken in stride... you are the implacable hunter.

For me, I know that feeling guilty about leaving wife and family is my weakness. It will bring me back to the vehicle before anything else. So if you have any obligations like that, you should get in front of it, somehow. Have them tell you they don't want daddy to be a failure and come home empty handed, and by all means don't come home early. In reality, my wife is generally happy to have the break from me, but that's not how I'll see it when i'm falling apart and subconsciously looking for excuses. :)

Enjoy the adventure!
 
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