Sitka Gear
How long solo?
Elk
Contributors to this thread:
SBH 14-Aug-22
Treeline 14-Aug-22
Scrappy 14-Aug-22
Whocares 14-Aug-22
Kurt 14-Aug-22
Ziek 14-Aug-22
t-roy 14-Aug-22
Novembermadman 14-Aug-22
Huntsolo 14-Aug-22
Cheesehead Mike 14-Aug-22
Huntsolo 14-Aug-22
Huntsolo 14-Aug-22
ahunter76 14-Aug-22
groundhunter50 14-Aug-22
Dollar 14-Aug-22
Mule Power 14-Aug-22
Bowboy 14-Aug-22
MathewsMan 14-Aug-22
MathewsMan 14-Aug-22
MathewsMan 14-Aug-22
JTreeman 14-Aug-22
Norseman 14-Aug-22
JL 14-Aug-22
JTreeman 14-Aug-22
BOHNTR 14-Aug-22
greg simon 14-Aug-22
Beendare 15-Aug-22
pav 15-Aug-22
SBH 15-Aug-22
Cheesehead Mike 15-Aug-22
groundhunter50 15-Aug-22
badbull 15-Aug-22
swede 15-Aug-22
Ziek 15-Aug-22
nowheels 15-Aug-22
JL 15-Aug-22
BULELK1 16-Aug-22
DonVathome 16-Aug-22
DonVathome 16-Aug-22
elkster 16-Aug-22
Rocky D 16-Aug-22
stealthycat 16-Aug-22
Hackbow 16-Aug-22
From: SBH
14-Aug-22
What is the longest backpack hunt you've done solo? Not truck camping, actually packed in by yourself. So many different challenges come into play once you add that element in. I like to do at least one 2-3 night solo backpack trip each year.They aren't easy for me and I can't imagine doing 10-12 nights out solo. Once my kids are moved out I'm guessing I'll have more time alone and will start extending them a bit. Chuck Adams thread got me thinking. Curious what the averages are here on Bowsite.

From: Treeline
14-Aug-22
Longest solo backpack hunt was 8 days. Not sure I still have that in me….

To stay out solo for a month would take a lot of planning and be an amazing experience.

From: Scrappy
14-Aug-22

Scrappy's embedded Photo
Scrappy's embedded Photo
I always meal prep for at least 30 days every year. I usually carry in 5 to 7 days worth at a time. I've gone 20 something days total. Going back to vehicle for more food and or move to another area. I would hate to try and bring in more food at one time. I would have to give up on some of my luxurious.

From: Whocares
14-Aug-22
When I was still working and had to use vacation was 8-10 days I'd be back packed in solo if I didn't score sooner. After I retired I'd stay the whole month of archery if necessary hiking out to my truck for food etc every 8 days or so and sometimes spend the night at the truck before hiking back in. Absolutely loved it and needed it. First couple days you sense the quietness and lonesomeness but quickly thrive on it. When the hunt ended it was actually hard to leave. I camped in the same spot in a wilderness for over 20 years at 10,200 ft. Most years would seldom see a soul. Then it seems when OnX became widely used hunters would occasionally wander through. With that technology the backcountry became more visited and the secret honey holes began to disappear. I miss that. Was good for me.

From: Kurt
14-Aug-22
Solo backpack trip of 12 days in the Sangre de Cristo Range, CO sheep hunting is my longest. Funny part was one evening a group of "Outward Bound" folks came into a drainage I was hunting. They were doing a "Solo" that night which meant their tents had to be at least 50' apart! There was a decent sized group of them...maybe 10 or 12, can't remember for sure.

I've done a fair amount of solo stuff in BC, and grizzly country does throw a new element into the equation that you have to get used to...just you, your bow and your bear spray.

From: Ziek
14-Aug-22
There's solo and then there's solo. I used to do 5 - 6 day bivy hunts in a wilderness area. Following elk with everything on my back, only occasionally using the same camp for two nights. And that was before cell phones, electronic maps, and GPS with "come save me" buttons. If I screwed up early, no one would even start looking until a day/night after my planned return, and they wouldn't know where to start looking, past where I parked. It's amazing how really being solo in the back country focuses you. Hunters today will never experience that with their need for electronics and the safety of checking in regularly.

From: t-roy
14-Aug-22
I’ve never done a planned solo backpack hunting trip. I’ve done several short (2-3 days) bivy packs from a base camp, but no extended solo hunts. I think I could do a week to possibly 10days before going stir crazy.

For you guys that do (and have done) these types of solo hunts, which aspect of the hunt do you struggle with more? The mental side or the physical side?

14-Aug-22
I had a buddy back out of a planned elk hunt one year two weeks before we were supposed to go. I wasn't about to let that stop my hunt so I went alone. Transmission was going out on my pickup once I got to CO. Took truck to a transmission shop, rented a car and went hunting. Shot a bull on day six of being out in the wilderness solo. I've done plenty of short bivy style hunts also where you pack in for a couple days or until you are out of food. To answer T-roy's question it is the mental toughness that gets to me. I've always told rookie elk hunters that 90% of being an elk killer is being mentally tough and keeping the negative thoughts out of your head.

From: Huntsolo
14-Aug-22
I’ve solo backpacked for six days hunting elk in CO. The physical aspect of smelling myself was by far the hardest part!

14-Aug-22
9 days and then a hike out to get more food and change my underwear ;-)

From: Huntsolo
14-Aug-22

From: Huntsolo
14-Aug-22

From: ahunter76
14-Aug-22

ahunter76's embedded Photo
ahunter76's embedded Photo
I have solo hunted Elk for 10 days. Now, I have lived in a tent on a mountain for SIX MONTHS & never saw another soul for 6 weeks. I also spent 6 weeks in the Boundary waters alone, in a tent for SIX WEEKS. In BOTH of these long, alone trips I had a near death experience.. This was in the day b/4 cell phones. BE prepared is all I can say. A simple thing can make that fun time a nightmare.

14-Aug-22
The most days solo for elk, when I was young 16 days. this year I plan on a 10 day hunt, but again I hunt for a day or two, then I take a break, and sleep all day, or screw around in camp.......... The amount of days, no matter what you are doing, to me is no big deal,,,, it is how comfortable are you in your own skin,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Come fall, at 73, I stay disconnected. I leave the phone in the truck. I dont want to hear from anyone, could care less,,,, but that is just me..... Its great to leave bowsite in Sept, and check back in, in January..........................

From: Dollar
14-Aug-22
I used to go into the wind river range in Wy with my Dad for a week at a time.We would take some freeze dried food along with a bag of potatoes hand full of onions and can of crisko.Catch trout and shoot grouse.There were several lakes up there and the creeks and streams were all full of trout.Never went hungry but came close to running out of flies several times.Oh grouse were dispatched with slingshot.

From: Mule Power
14-Aug-22
Yuk! Not my bag. Every year I make two excursions to my elk spike camp which I setup a couple days before the season. I’ll hunt from a base camp with partners and take those trips at some point. Often on weekends when I know locals will be hunting from the road. I absolutely love those solo trips. But after 3 nights I’m ready to hear another human voice. Messaging via Inreach definitely helps.

I do like the fact that when I do that I’m in predator mode with no distractions. But I like to socialize a bit. I can’t imagine doing 10 or more days on a true backpack hunt.

If I was on one of those reality shows where they were actually paying me big bucks to survive alone for a month that’d be different. I’d laugh at them and ask if they do direct deposit. I’m right at home in the mountains and I could pull my mental game together. I’d just rather not. I don’t need to do that to kill elk either.

From: Bowboy
14-Aug-22
4-5 days

From: MathewsMan
14-Aug-22

MathewsMan's embedded Photo
MathewsMan's embedded Photo
The most terrified I have ever been was two years ago on Kodiak. My neighbor and I went to Kodiak for 10 days hunting goats and deer. I really wanted an archery Blacktail but he wanted a nice mountain goat. We set up base camp and then headed out a few miles to the goats in the photo.

Weather once we got in on the goats turned to blizzard weather but he shot a goat with a rifle and I missed a huge Billy.

We returned to base camp and the big bucks were in the valley where we had spike camped, so knowing he was not up for it I headed back alone to try for the monster Billy I missed or a buck.

I got to the only campsite where we had previously been at dark, but where I had caped and fleshed his goat a free days prior.

I knew to keep my scents and food outside my backpack tent but the bear fence was additional weight and around the base camp where my partner was. Sometime in the middle of the night I was awoken to a bear about 2’ from my head sniffing outside the tent. It was terrifying and I silently got my 10 mm and prayed the bear would leave, it sniffed all around the tent and left.

To make matters worse the next morning I ascended up to the goats but was close enough to smell and hear them but it was blizzarding and 100 mile winds at the top and after 3 hours waiting getting hypothermic and frustrated I but crawled down the hillside to spike camp and headed back without getting on the big Billy. To make matters worse, crossing the large stream with my boots and pants off was extremely dangerous as the rains had increased the water to wast deep rushing water with a full pack and trekking poles and I was almost swept down.

I cannot imagine spending a month there alone like Chuck does… having a partner with makes a big mental difference to being on Kodiak…

From: MathewsMan
14-Aug-22

From: MathewsMan
14-Aug-22

From: JTreeman
14-Aug-22
I think my max was 11 days solo.

I’ve done 15-16 with guide/partner a couple times and 8-10 several.

I like to think I could do the 30 like Chuck, but I don’t know…

—jim

From: Norseman
14-Aug-22
Mental side

From: JL
14-Aug-22
I think if you planned ahead and stashed a cache of provisions, you could stay for an extended period.

From: JTreeman
14-Aug-22
JL- you said “you” I assume that you mean just people in general. I adamantly disagree. I know guys who “are hunters” and wouldn’t make it 2 nights. It ain’t for everyone, and like many said it’s mainly a mental game. Lots of guys just don’t have a strong mental game in that department.

—jim

From: BOHNTR
14-Aug-22
I did 8 days on a solo backpack mule deer hunt at 12,000’. It wasn’t too bad talking to myself, but when I started interrupting myself, I knew it was time to leave.

From: greg simon
14-Aug-22
I guess I’m the odd man out here. Most I’ve done solo is 8 days but I love being alone in the mountains. Due to work and family I’ve never been able to do more but I’m getting closer to that time.

From: Beendare
15-Aug-22
6 days solo is about my max. Logistically it’s hard to bring enough stuff for more days

From: pav
15-Aug-22
Like t-roy, I have never done a solo backpack hunt, just 2-3 day bivy hunts from base camps. Done plenty of solo 2-3 week base camp / bivy hunts over the years...and love it!

From: SBH
15-Aug-22
Jim I think you're spot on. The mental game is the hardest part.

15-Aug-22
Some guys can do it and some guys can't. It just depends on how you're wired. I've done 35 days solo and hated to leave. 9-10 days is the most in one stint packed in but that's because I was limited by my food supply. Could have easily done more but had to pack out and get food.

15-Aug-22
Yes its mental, and like Mike said, some can some cant, its how your wired. I was on my own by the time I was 15,,,,, With life you move on and charge ahead. Plus my military time, wired me for that also,,,,,,,,,,,, its been a great life, but some people, always need people, nothing wrong with that, just the way it is................

From: badbull
15-Aug-22
Mental for sure, I find myself talking to myself after a few days without any human contact. The not being able to share experiences is what gets to me as I am used to having a family member with me. Sharing those memories of the hunt together lasts a lifetime and means a whole lot to me.

From: swede
15-Aug-22
Solo backpack 3 days. Solo hunting from my base I don't know but would guess somewhere over 30 days. In that time, I saw people that would stop in, and I called home fairly frequently.

From: Ziek
15-Aug-22
Neither a mental nor a physical issue. I guess if your only goal is to kill something, it might be different and some people are just not comfortable, or maybe not confident enough to be comfortable, alone. For me, it was more about wandering around the mountains, which is enjoyable in itself. No pressure to do much of anything, except poke around looking for elk. You need to be in shape for the hike in to where you want to 'start' with all your provisions, and the pack out, but that was never a problem for me. (Usually could get horses for meat packing.) Spend enough time enjoying being in the mountains, close to elk, and most years you'll kill one. It was always interesting having to talk again after 5 or 6 days alone.

From: nowheels
15-Aug-22
Like you, most of mine have been 2-3 days. Part of that was due to limited vacation time, but it definitely takes some getting used to. I’ve always been somewhat of a loner, but even people are still around. Like others have said, I think it takes a few days to get “reprogrammed” and to really get in the rhythm of being in the backcountry.

From: JL
15-Aug-22
Jim.....yes...I was broadly speaking. Doing a cache of provisions would work for folks who are use to or at least comfortable being on their own. I'd think anyone doing the cache is already expecting to be on their own for a period of time or has previously done it and is doing the proper planning. I did a 9 day bush bear hunt in Canada by myself. That was a truck hunt. I seen 3 other people and that was it. I was always busy doing something so I didn't have much idle time. I had a blast and plan on doing it again.

In survival situations, you're supposed to assign yourself chores to keep busy and have a schedule. This is to manage the psychological side of your situation. If you're idle....ya have too much time to think and your mind will wonder. That can lead to panic and bad decisions. If I was on a true extended, OYO solo trip, I'd do it like I did the bush hunt....stay busy.

An interesting FWIW.....when I was doing MIA work in Greenland, the Air Greenland helo pilots would do remote caches along the coast so they had a place to land and refuel, food, etc should the need arise. The ones I worked with were hardcore flyers operating in some remote spots in no-man's land by themselves.

From: BULELK1
16-Aug-22
I would take two/2 of my 4 llamas and go solo for up to 7 days, but that isn't the same as Solo backpacking.

Good luck, Robb

From: DonVathome
16-Aug-22
7 days for elk, 9 days for sheep. I only need 1.5# of food per day so 5 more days is 7.5# - but I often tag out or come out early to move.

From: DonVathome
16-Aug-22
Also I used to get homesick, miss family, miss human interaction. That is not the case now and a friend said he thinks it is because of cell/sat phones. I think he is right. Being able to communicate, even just a couple minutes, makes a big difference to me.

From: elkster
16-Aug-22
I pack enough food for 3 nights = 5 days.

"Devices" make a difference for me now (your friend is right, Don), but I used to solo before they were available for the same number of days. Although I don't use my in reach daily, having it reassures my family somewhat. I suppose they could be considered a "compromise" between me and my family after the stents.

From: Rocky D
16-Aug-22
I have done up to nine days and I didn’t really find it a big issue as far as being alone.

As far as missing family that really doesn’t happen either but I’m always glad to get home! I have learned to enjoy time alone!

Actually, one of my goals is to either live in a cabin in some austere environment or a tent for a couple months alone basically with the bare essentials supplemented with small game and fish.

From: stealthycat
16-Aug-22
when I was younger I drove from Arkansas to Colorad.. . I solo hunted DIY for 7 days for mule deer, drove back to AR, picked up a buddy, drove back to Colorado and we elk hunted DIY backpacking in for a week then drove back to Arkansas, dropped him off, drove back to Colorado and finished the season DIY solo hunting and killed my first 5x5 on day 6 IIRC

From: Hackbow
16-Aug-22
18 days* The asterisk is due to the fact I shared a sort of communal spike camp area with some other hunters and even hunted a few days with a couple of them. Had 2 x 3 day excursions and 1 x 4 day in that 18 where I never saw another person except for some muzzy hunters across a drainage. Packed provisions for 21 days, the pack-in was not fun, lol. Still the best hunting experience of my life for many reasons. Would love to do another that long or longer.

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