Solo Hunting Works for Some Hunters: Captain’s Column 9.22.16
By angelamontana

Posted: September 22, 2016

When it comes to spending time hunting and fishing in the great Montana outdoors some folks like to be accompanied by a partner to enjoy the adventure with them. For me fishing is enjoyable with or without a partner but I would rather hunt with someone than go it alone. That is especially true when it comes to archery hunting. I am much more comfortable going with someone. And because of my lack of experience in the sport of archery hunting it’s a necessity to go with someone that knows the ins and outs of how to be successful.

imageJosh Stewart from Missoula is an archery hunter that actually likes to go it alone. In a recent radio interview on Hunters breakfast Stewart explains why he prefers to go solo, “ I like to archery hunt elk alone because I don’t have to worry about my partner being quiet, not wanting to go where I want to go, and because in archery you need to get close to get a quality shot so it just seems to be much easier if I am stalking and setting up by myself”, added Stewart, “It also easier to plan a hunting trip when you go by yourself”. A week ago Monday Stewart decided to head out elk hunting in the early morning hours and explore a new area that he had a good feeling where there might be some elk. Here is how Stewart described his solo hunt that Monday morning,

“After a couple hours of moving and calling I finally hear something. It wasn’t the answering bugle of a hot bull, but was definitely an elk.  Ahead of me in the timber, I can hear the crashing and breaking of large sticks, branches, and downed trees.  I check the wind, it’s in my face.  I think to myself, the bull is coming in.  I move up 20 plus yards or so and knock an arrow.  Listening, the sound gets more intense but the elk doesn’t seem to be getting closer. I rush in another 20 plus yards to an opening that is about 40 yards across from the bull.  He’s just inside some timber and brush.  

I sat momentarily thinking of what to do next and checking the wind again, to see if I could run in and ambush him.  Suddenly he stops racking the bushes and steps out walking towards me.  He’s on a path slightly down hill and heading directly toward me.  As he approaches he walks behind a tree and when he does I draw back.  He steps out from behind the tree and stops at about 20 yards and stares down and ahead. I let my arrow fly.  

It hits the mark, slightly above and behind the shoulder.  He spins a 180 and takes off as I cow call.  I can’t believe it, I just smacked a bull!  I checked my watch, its 9:17 A.M.   I wait and continually check my watch.  It’s been 20 minutes now and it’s time to find my bull. I push through the brush and there he is a nice 5×5 bull, my second bull with a bow.”  

I asked Stewart who packed his elk back to his pickup by 5:38pm that afternoon if he had any pointers for hunters that have a desire to hunt alone. He gave me four basic steps:

  • “Number one-Call a lot using a combination of cow and calf calls and occasional bugles.  If you get an answer or you hear something coming in, close the gap, move ahead 40-50 yards and get ready.
  • Two-Move a lot.  Cover a lot of ground and don’t stay put after calling, move 20-40 yards.
  • Three-Keep the wind in your face.
  • Four- Be aggressive, close the gap. If you are successful be prepared to make three or four trips packing your elk out.”


(Written by Mark Ward – aka the Captain)