The making of a female solo hunter… Part One!

One thing I have found in the hunting industry is there are lots of shows and people that are into solo hunting. The one thing that is rare to these shows and people, are women. What I want to do, is blow that wide open. I want to show other women, who may be afraid or think they can’t do it, that they can! Being a solo hunter wasn’t something I had really thought I would want to do when I started hunting. I always enjoyed the company of having people to hunt with and be able to share everything as I went along. Solo hunting isn’t something that you go out once and master. It takes time and definitely some patience. I can’t even count the amount of times I wanted to just throw my bow off a cliff. It’s one of those things that you learn as you go along and the more mistakes you make, the more you learn. It will push you to limits to where you want to just give up. It is not only physically enduring but mentally as well. But it is also one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. It will give you feelings that you can’t even explain, no matter how hard you try. Believe me, I have sat here for over 5 hours trying to think of some way to explain how amazing it all is. I’m no solo hunting expert, I’m still learning, I just want to share my experiences from past and present with you.
I am lucky enough to have grown up on a ranch in North Central Wyoming. I have always been involved in the outdoors. It was something we always did as a family when I was growing up. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I took things into my own hands. As most of you know, Wyoming is a great state to hunt. Between the plains and the mountains, there is no shortage of animals.
My first solo hunt experience was mule deer in 2009. This was a pretty easy way for me to start because I started out by hunting on my parents ranch which I knew very well. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a high fence ranch so it’s not easy to hunt mule deer there. I just knew the land and so I was not worried about getting lost or anything like that. It seemed like I had blown stalk after stalk after stalk. I went home each night and watched mule deer hunting videos to try to see if I could figure out what I was doing wrong. I was used to hunting with my other half,Travis, and he would tell me what to do and how to do it. I wasn’t used to making decisions on my own and coming up with my own “game” plan. I got frustrated and felt defeated. I started questioning my hunting skills and wondering if I was really cut out for this. I really put myself down a lot this hunt. I thought that I would be able to go out, find a deer, stalk up and shoot it. I was finding this was much easier said than done.
After hunting several days with no success, I actually gave up. I decided that I just needed some more help and more time to develop my hunting skills. It was a real wake up call for me. I knew that even though I felt like I was a great hunter and was very confident in my skills, I still had so much to learn. I vowed to myself to continue researching and teaching myself new techniques, shooting my bow more and doing everything I could possibly do to make myself a better hunter. I knew that this was my passion and what I wanted to dedicate my life and time to.
I gave it almost a year before I decided to try hunting alone again. Archery antelope had rolled around and Travis was in Oregon salmon fishing at the time. I decided to make the 4 hour drive to where I antelope hunt and try the whole solo thing again. This time I had one more obstacle I had to overcome. I was 6 months pregnant and not small at all! The area I was hunting opened for archery on August 15th. August is the hottest month in Wyoming and for any of you that have been pregnant, you know how uncomfortable the heat is. Now add on trying to put on stalks. I am lucky there was no cameras around at that time. Trying to army crawl up on antelope was probably one of the funniest looking things ever. My stomach would get in my way and basically trip me to the point where I found myself constantly face planting. I stayed and tried to hunt for a week. I was unsuccessful and went through all of the same emotions again. I was mad at myself and extremely frustrated. I kicked myself the whole way home. I felt once again, like a failure.
September finally came around and I decided to be persistent and try archery mule deer hunting again. I kept telling myself to not get so depressed when a few stalks didn’t go the way I wanted them to. With each unsuccessful stalk that I did, I started a new routine. Instead of beating myself up about it, I started reviewing the stalk over and over in my head and trying to figure out what I could learn from it. This made is so much easier when I saw those horns running the opposite way and my arrow still nocked.
Then, it was almost a picture perfect stalk, even with my huge pregnant stomach in the way. I had seen this buck a few times. He was a 4 x 5 with eyeguards. I have a definite “thing” for mule deer with eyeguards. He had kickers off each side and was just gorgeous. He was with only one other doe and they were both walking across the top of a hill, feeding on some sagebrush. Every once in awhile they would feed in on the hill a little bit and disappear from my view but I could tell where they were heading. I watched them until they fed over a little bit and I couldn’t see them anymore. I checked the wind one last time and then, I ran. Which I’m sure wasn’t much as a run as I was thinking it was, probably looked more like a fast waddle to anyone else that may have been watching. I got ahead of them a little ways and got set up. Then, just as I had hoped, the buck made his way back over to the side of the hill where I had a clear shot of him. I ranged him at 18 yards, a shot that I practice probably a few thousand times every year. He stopped broadside, we locked eyes as I drew back. I got my anchor point and then placed my 20 yard pin, right where it needed to go. I slowly slid my finger onto my release trigger and pulled……
To be continued…

4 thoughts on “The making of a female solo hunter… Part One!

  1. Ashley Swafford

    I started hunting about 6 years ago. I have never done any stalks but, you had my adrenaline start pumping reading your story!! Can’t wait to hear the rest!! I more recently got into archery and even worked at an archery shop for about a year before having my baby. I loved teaching it. I dedicated myself to just learning technique and although we’ve been hunting a couple of times with our bows, I feel confident that I will soon have my first bow kill!! You give me a lot to look forward to!! I have a couple of hogs on our property that we noticed about a month ago. I think one will be stuck soon with one of my arrows!

    Reply
  2. Kaylee Jackson

    I have been hunting since I was 5 years old. And I turned 50 yesterday. I learned on our farm growing up to hunt solo. I love the fact that I can and that I was taught how to do everything from field dressing to processing my harvest.
    I do love hunting with other hunters and the bond we share. But I dont have to to be able to hunt.
    KAYLEE

    Reply

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