Keeping Your Body In Shape For Hunting

As we begin to turn the corner, hunting is popping up in conversations with local sportsmen. In fact, this past week I watched a young man watch whom I assume was his father shooting his bow on Southwestern Drive.

We were able to get a sneak peak of this special time between family members, and it makes one think that it won’t be long before we all don camo and head into the woods.

It’s important to check out your equipment throughout the year, but it seems the end of July first part of August is when the majority of local sportsmen begin to switch gears into the fall mode.

This is also a great time to fine tune any new equipment. Over the past week I have been part of several conservations with a young man who is getting back into archery hunting. This hunter spent several years hunting with stick and string years ago but life got in the way and he had to set the bow aside. Now the time is right for him to start swinging from the trees.

With the help of friends and relatives this rebooted hunter is picking up the sport again. While there is a learning curve ahead of him, his excitement is easily seen every time he talks about shooting his bow. After taking part in 3-D shoot he already has gotten pumped up for Oct. 1.

For me to sit back and watch the thrill in his eyes when talking about “hunting” again makes me happy and full of wonder. Happy because I enjoy watching folks discover or rediscover the outdoor sports. Wonder because I know that when he experiences the first snap of a twig on a fall morning everything will be new again.

For many, hunting is a year-round passion. While our preparations may take a back seat to fishing or family activities during the summer, checking field edges and reading hunting magazines is a never-ending responsibility. For many of us it makes hunting a great sport.

Preparation is the key to a successful hunt. Knowing your equipment and taking care of any problems with your equipment before opening day makes your day in the field more enjoyable. There is nothing worse than having an equipment problem or failure in the field. Whether it’s a newly discovered hole in your favorite waders or a semi-auto that wouldn’t cycle another round, the feeling of irritation when you’re a couple miles from the truck is indescribable.

Each season I watch clients from across the country come into camp to either hunt waterfowl, turkey or deer and the majority of them are more interested in a place to get away from it all than walking away with a trophy for the wall, and seldom are they in shape.

And speaking of walking, let’s discuss something that should be at the top of all our minds; our own well-being. Keeping your body and mind in shape should be a year-round project but more so before hunting season begins.

While being safe in the woods should be at the top of the mind for all sportsmen, every fall there is something else that many of us aren’t so used to thinking about; our physical health.

Whether it’s my age or I’m just getting smarter — my children tell me it’s my age — being in shape to hunt each season has been gaining a top spot on my hunting to-do list over the past few years. Each season, I spend more time getting my body into hunting shape.

Now, I am no physical fitness nut — one look at me will tell anybody that — but I do know what physical challenges my body can handle and what it has difficulty with.

It was many years ago that my lack of physical fitness was highlighted when I was wrestling with one of my sons — I won’t mention his name for fear he would get a big head — when I noticed that after our front yard match I couldn’t catch my breath. It wasn’t a major thing, in fact the folks around me didn’t even notice, but it really got me thinking.

That very night I started walking. I know it sounds simple, but a doctor client friend of mine told me that walking is some of the best exercise that folks can do. For those of us that haven’t been staying in shape, walk around the block and working your way up to 1 mile then 2, will do more for your physical well-being then anything.

While walking may not be the way to drop a bunch of weight or give you a six-pack stomach, it is a great way to stay in physical shape.

Walking four to five times a week during the summer will help begin to get us ready for fall strolls. For me, the past year has been spent checking my step counter at the end of the every day, with my goal being 10,000-plus steps five days a week and 6,500 steps two days a week. While this may seem like a weak goal for some, for me this keeps me in fairly good shape year-round. Starting Aug. 1, I begin working up my steps to 15,000 steps for five days and 10,000 steps for two days a week.

Again, this wouldn’t work for ev­erybody, but for me it works well. By the end of August I am joined on my early morning walks with a backpack. My backpack is loaded down with all kinds of weight, but in it are the things I generally carry with me for a hunt. This gets me in some sense of shape for my fall walks in the woods.

While I’ll never make it to the Olympics or run a race, since I started my hunting training I am more comfortable in the woods. I don’t work up such a sweat going to and from my stand or hunting location anymore. Carrying decoys and game aren’t such a chore anymore either. I am still not too excited about dragging a deer 2 miles to the truck, but I feel comfortable with the thought. If I have to, I can, if I take my time.

While I started this walking several years ago, I am not too naive to realize everybody is not in the same shape. Most folks don’t have or take the time to get into hunting shape. If this is the case and you haven’t had the opportunity for a pre-hunting physical routine, understand your limitations and don’t push the limits of what you can do.

There is no shame in knowing that you can’t do the same things you used to do 20 years ago. It’s all apart of getting older. The shame comes when you are 5 miles off the main dirt road and get yourself into trouble that you can’t get out of.

More and more hunters are having physical problems every season in the woods, it’s just as important to get your body ready as it is your equipment.


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