I love the many challenges of the hunt. The mental challenge and the physical skills needed to hunt. The whole process of setting up, making the correct sounds, receiving and interpreting the responses, and reacting correctly to make a clean kill is what it’s all about. I also love the competitive challenge. I like hunts where heavy pressure requires me to hunt smart, after all, hunting isn’t easy. It’s work. It takes knowledge and it takes practice. When it comes to hunting, plenty of things are “nice to have”, but few things are absolutely necessary. A healthy and functioning body and mind are one of these necessities. For me, fitness is a passion, not only to stay healthy but to keep fit to make hunting easier.
No matter what kind of outdoor activities you may enjoy, whether it’s hiking, fishing, hunting, mountain biking, nature & wildlife photography, or any other pursuit, being healthy and fit will no doubt help you to enjoy your time in the outdoors or on the water all the more.
I am a firm believer in doing grueling workouts to help with your mental game in the field. Think about it. When you are powering through a nasty workout, you are pushing through something both mentally and physically. In a lot of cases, this is you doing something that you don’t necessarily want to do, which I think is great. I think exercising this area of your mind is what will help you push through tough situations and hunts.
Every hunt is different within itself just as each game species requires different hunting tactics. Each hunt will push different parts of the body – cardio endurance, leg, and core strength is the forefront of most of my workouts. I like to vary my training over the weeks – with boxfit and trail/hill running for my cardio endurance and high-intensity training. Pack training and gym weight work for my legs, core, and strength work.
You don’t have to hit the gym – When you hear the phrase “get in shape or get fit,” I think it is only natural to jump right to the thought of going to the gym. The gym is great and I love it; however, you don’t have to hit the weights to get in shape for your hunt. In fact, you can more easily simulate what you are going to encounter out there by not hitting the gym. By loading up your pack and hitting the hills, you are working on all of the muscles that you will be using on your hunt because you are doing the exact thing you will be doing out in the hills. Throw in some air squats, push-ups, and step-ups at the top of the hill? Now, you’ve got yourself a workout.
A few key workouts/exercises that I use to get hunt fit are:
- Weighted step-ups – preparing your legs for those steep climbs
- Running/Trail Running – for cardiovascular endurance
- Pack Training – getting your body used to what you’ll be doing out in the hills
The earlier you start working on your fitness, the better prepared you’ll be both physically and mentally when the first hill presents itself. Hunting is hard so why make it harder than it needs to be. Aside from the challenge of the chase, your body should not have to be the reason you struggle to bag an animal. Being ‘fit’ will not only make your hunt physically easier it will also greatly reduce your chances of injury, and you will be able to make better calls in the hills. Being tired and worn out really impacts your mental judgment. Put in that extra effort to get hunt fit early – after all, what we put in is what we get out!
Make a fitness plan, be consistent, stick to it and most of all make it enjoyable! Fitness is supposed to be challenging, but enjoyable all at the same time. When you strike that balance, then you have something special.