Photo: Lorraine Ebbet-Rideout

How the pandemic taught me the challenges and pleasures of solo hunting

Solitary refinement

How it took the COVID-19 pandemic for this hunter to fully explore the upside of heading afield alone

Photo: Lorraine Ebbet-Rideout

It seems no matter who you are or where you bunk or how you make a living, everything has stopped and we are all in holding pattern. Waiting, we watch for the tiniest sign that perhaps things will return to normal, only to be told we’re not out of the woods yet. Last spring, no one could have even dreamed a worldwide pandemic was looming on the horizon, but now the cards have been dealt and we must play the hand. And that extends to our sporting world, which remains just as uncertain.

Some of the best parts of any hunting experience have always been the camaraderie, the good-natured ribbing and the silent sharing of the sunrise. Whether it’s a deer, duck or moose camp, those are the places where lifetime friendships are formed, often across generations. Roaring log fires, stories bordering on bald-faced lies and shared meals on rough plank tables complete the picture.

But this season, it looks like the whole wonderful world of hunting is going to be very different. For some, it might be a year to hunt alone close to home and rediscover country from younger years, when leg power was about the only option. Others may still opt to head further afield to hunt, bedding down alone in their trucks, or mobile camps, if you will.

Whatever the case, it’s going to be eerily silent in the blinds and fields this fall on our own, or at best with a member of our safe social bubble. For some hunters, though, keeping their distance is nothing new, and now might be the time to embrace the ways of those solitary wanderers.

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