As a hunter, no one expects you to be able to out-sprint Usain Bolt or be able to deadlift as much as Arnold Schwarzenegger in his heyday. But ask an outfitter what the most common cause of failure on a hunt is, and nine times out of ten, they’ll say a lack of physical preparation. Bow hunting is not a triathlon sport, but it requires a fair bit of endurance and strength both mentally and physically. Terrain will not always cooperate, giving you a flat plain to navigate. There will be hills, rocks, and all sorts of twists and bends in your trail. Being adequately prepared to deal with these conditions is integral to a successful trip. What can you do to be prepared for your next hunt?
Know What’s Required
Being aware of the challenges in the are where you’ll be hunting goes a long way to helping you understand what will be required of you physically. The type of hunting you’ll be doing also plays a hand in that. A bow hunter may need a bit more preparation than a rifle hunter, as bow hunting generally requires a more healthy and skilled person.
How To Prepare
Wheezing and whooping is probably not the best way to get around on a hunt. That buck is going to hear your stomping and whining a mile off, making cardio a pretty integral part of your hunting season preparation. In fact, good lung and heart health is arguably the most important factor of both a hunt, and just in daily life.
If you’re new to fitness, start with a daily walk. Just a few blocks is fine for the first week, to help you get used to moving and being on your feet for longer periods of time. Each week aim to add a little distance to your walk to start building your endurance. Once you can go a few miles without being winded, incorporate jogging and running. A good goal to start is turn 15% of your walk time into a jog, and working up gradually from there. Finding the target maximum training heart rate for your age will help you gauge how you’re doing, and it’s not very hard either. You can do a simple internet search to find the numbers, or use the old tried and true formula for measuring it: (220 – your age) x 0.8. So for a person who is 45 years old, (220-45) x 0.8 = 175 x 0.8 = 140.
Strength training is a great way to get your body up to snuff, and the fastest way to shed pounds, if that’s something you’re wanting to tackle. It is also generally a bit more enjoyable than cardio. You don’t need a gym membership or a fancy weight set, just your bodyweight will do wonders. Try these exercises:
- Squats. Squats are a multiple-muscle workout that uses your legs, glutes, and core, making it a very efficient means of getting fit.
- Push Ups. We all remember these terrors from gym, but they’re great for a reason. Working your chest, arms and abdomen all in one smooth move makes this an excellent exercise.
- Wall Sits. Stand against a wall and slide down into a “sitting” position, until your rear is parallel to the ground and your knees are bent to a 90 degree angle. Sound too easy? Hold it for twenty seconds and then see how you feel!
Nothing fancy here, and nobody’s going to try and get you to eat kale all the way up to hunting season either. Think before you eat. Is that fried twinkie with two scoops of double chocolate chip ice cream going to make you feel good on a five mile hike? Probably not.