I went on my first solo hunt this past week, and man, was it hard! I typically hunt public land because we have a lot here in New Jersey, but I didn’t really know what to expect from going out by myself. To be honest, I’d planned a solo hunt or two before and backed out because I was scared to go through with it.
I started by camping out in my car at the Wawa nearest the WMA I planned on hunting. I’d found where I planned to park and enter the area, I had my call and hen decoy, and my turkey vest. Should be easy right? Not quite. I got up the next morning, donned my camo, and proceeded to go into my newfound hunting spot. Within minutes, I heard turkeys gobbling from my car! Jackpot! Heart racing, I bounded into the woods. I only had one problem, there was no trail! So I spent about 30 minutes trying my best to hike into a suitable hunting spot until I realized I had no reception to update my hunting apps with. *insert face palm emoji* I didn’t think beforehand to download any maps, so I decided to turn around before I got lost. And get lost I did! I started getting slightly nervous when I couldn’t navigate my way back out of the labyrinth of timber I’d spent so much effort getting into. My phone’s compass wasn’t much help, and I couldn’t help but think about the creepy serial killer that was bound to be living in one of the dilapidated abandoned houses on the property. After a good 30 minutes of trekking, I found my way back to my car, and decided I’d try to find another trail somehow.
Fast forward 2 hours, and I see behind me the ever-welcoming flashing blue and white police lights. Great. I’d been driving back and forth on the same road for hours trying to decipher the private land notices without figuring out how to gain access to the public land I was trying to hunt. Apparently, people don’t take too kindly to you creeping up and down their street. Luckily for me, the police officer was also a conservation officer, and he ended up escorting me to the giant parking lot I’d passed 15 million times. In my defense, the parking lot had the same sign as the neighborhood across the street, so I wouldn’t have known any different unless someone had told me.
Now, I was happy. I’d finally found the land I was going to hunt, which happened to be an old golf course with trails! I had the happiest pep in my step as I found a nice little tree to set up under and call. I heard zero turkey sounds the entire time but I didn’t care, I’d started to figure it out!
Sometimes you just have to do what you’re afraid of, and dive into what makes you uncomfortable. It’s the most gratifying feeling knowing that you’re out doing something others are afraid to, and succeeding at it, even in the least. I get so many DMs and comments on social media about how much of an inspiration I am for female hunters to hunt solo, and I’m grateful for that, but there should be more women who are empowered to get out on their own. I believe there is an opportunity to impact the future generations of hunting through the women who will eventually become mothers of hunters. There is also a need for the state programs to make accessibility to public land easier for those going it alone or trying to figure things out.
Overall, this was my favorite hunt to date. Simply because I took every obstacle that was thrown at me and overcame it, with th help of God and a wonderful conservation officer. I still haven’t harvested a turkey, but I’m building up the experience to become one of the fiercest female bowhunters out there, and I’m proud of myself for persisting.