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Hunting Fitness Preparation
May 01, 2018

Hunting Fitness Prepration: Start Now!

Here's your annual encouragement to get started preparing your body and mind for the rigors of hunting in big game country! Yes, your thinking process gets weak, right along with your body when you stop "training". (Our energy supplement recommendation is below.)

I still run long distance competitively and I do find that my mind agrees with my body when I am out of shape. When I start training again, my mind remembers what I can do and I begin to train well again.

"I'm Too Old for That" Really?

It's disappointing to hear people who are getting up in age say, "I'm just not as young as I used to be. I can't do... anymore." At some advanced age, that may well become true. If a disease weakens the body, that can certainly take its toll. But, if you stay in shape, or get back into shape, you can do much more than you "think". (You don’t even have to be thin to do it!)

I'm almost 62 and I can still out hunt most younger people. I know what I can do. I expect to be able to do it. I train for it and I don't let myself get out of shape. Regardless of your age, you can get in better shape, barring some serious health condition or debilitating injury. (Make sure your doctor agrees that you are healthy enough.)

I realize many people don't "train", workout, exercise, whatever you want to call it, year-round. But, now is the time to get back in shape if you let it go through the winter. If you are in pretty good shape, there are plenty of reasons to take it to the next level for big game hunting. Especially for elk!

Start easy and slow, but expect to improve, if you keep it up. Don't be discouraged. You can keep improving, as long as you don't quit or injure yourself by overdoing it.

Specific Exercise Drills for Hunting

Determine today that you will still be training for fitness one year from now! But, for now, let's build up some endurance, more strength and what I call "endurance-strength". Check out our Hunting Fitness page and select some things that you are willing and able to do. Start easy. Build up slowly and add some more of these exercises later. I just added the "Hill Drills" again for the first time since last fall.

There are plenty of endurance-strength exercises to choose from and build with on that page. Add those to regular, gradually more strenuous hikes with a pack on and you'll enjoy your hunts so much more when the time comes! It might even get you into some "close encounters of the herd kind" that you wouldn't have been able to reach without the training.

I don't think I've hunted harder in my life than I did last year at 61. Twice I turned on the afterburners to get in front of, or alongside some elk. Both times I had to push at full bore back to where I had just come from!

The first time I was coasting out on a relaxing downhill mountain bike ride after bow hunting four miles on foot all morning. I heard and saw a huge, noisy rutting elk herd. I ditched my bike and proceeded to hammer up and down hills to get out in front of them.

They were moving toward a bedding area on private property where I would not be able to follow. They were headed right where I had come from. I got within 100 yards several times, but with a bow that’s like a mile!

They crossed the no-go fence just ahead of me at the point I had left an hour before. I pushed so hard, I occasionally had to put my hands on my knees and suck air. It takes a lot to get this seasoned marathon runner to have to do that. I think if I had dropped my pack, I could have been successful in getting out in front of that herd. Next time I will.

The second time, I hiked 3 miles from my truck and thoroughly covered a rather long, high ridge up and down on both sides. I was on my way out when I saw a herd of around 100 elk coming toward the ridge. I hammered to the top and over to where I expected them to cross into the next drainage.

I was concerned that I would be too out of breath to take a calm rifle shot, but being in shape allows you to recover more quickly. I rested the 300 Win Mag on my shooting sticks and dropped a nice cow elk to add to my second elk harvest that year.

I dropped everything after field dressing the cow and jogged out to meet a friend who offered to help. After packing that animal out to the truck, I was whipped, but it was made feasible because of strength work and endurance-strength training I do year-round.

Fuel Your Body Before, During and After

Take it from an experienced endurance athlete and sports nutritionist. Remember to fuel well when training and hunting. Afterall, elk hunting IS an athletic endurance and strength event!

I usually start off with something like sweetened oatmeal with raisins and sausage for breakfast before a hunt. I use Tang for liquid fuel in my hydration bladder, dried fruit products, jerky, nuts and Rice Krispy Treats for snacks.

After several hours of hard hunting, feed your muscles as soon as you can. Despite the expensive array of post-exercise recovery drinks, chocolate milk is well known as just the right combination of carbohydrate, protein and fat for that purpose! That is my go-to recovery drink after running a marathon, or a long workout or hunt.

Start now to get fit for hunting season.

Performance Supplements for Hunting?

Since I’m a registered dietitian, big game hunters sometimes ask me what supplements I recommend for hunting. Here is my honest best advice: A natural combination of herbs called Protandim! (You can purchase it here.)

When it comes to diminishing strength and energy caused by aging or just hard living, we are talking about "oxidative stress”. Oxidative stress happens to everyone everyday in all of our cells and starts to increase around age 20. It is caused by free radicals that are not neutralized by the body's own gene expression. I know, that sounds complicated, but it's really not.

Decreasing that unavoidable oxidative stress will improve performance through improved energy production. Read more here. What Is Oxidative Stress?

Update on Camo HECS Suits

We still have a few small and large camo HECS Stealthscreen suits available. When those are gone, dealers won't have any more. We have plenty of HECS Base Layers. HECS does work for ungulates and game birds!

As always, feel free to Contact Us here. Or, call or text 1-406-431-0876. We'd love to talk to you.

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The springtime view of the mountains near our home in Garrison, MT

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