By Dan Staton
Work, family and hunting is one complicated balancing act. If left to our own devices, there would be no off-season. We love the fall and all the big game hunts. Then there’s waterfowl and predator hunting in the winter. Next, there’s application season that coincides with shed hunting and spring bears/turkeys. We have scouting season that stretches all summer and of course, that addiction to trail cameras. Throw some shooting practice in there and I’d say there’s always something to do when it comes to hunting.
Working out probably doesn’t come up first on most of your lists. We let weakness whisper in our ear that we don’t have time to train and it gets put on the back burner. So, this is a friendly reminder as to why fitness and hunting go hand in hand. Discipline is not seductive. It is difficult. It is inconvenient. It is also necessary when it comes to accomplishing your fitness goals. Get used to choosing the high road and make yourself the best version of yourself. Get in shape and you will have more going for you when it comes to hunting.
Packing weight around on your back is par for the course when it comes to hunting. Daypack or backpack, there’s weight on your back that you will lug around the mountains where the animals call home. You do not call the mountains home. Yes, your couch and fridge are a few feet away from running water and a warm bed. You are not an animal, you’re not hunted and a life of convenience is at your fingertips. If you could drop 10-lbs off your waistline, I bet you would hunt better. You wouldn’t have to rest as much on those steep ascents. I guarantee you would recover faster and enjoy your hunt even more. Fitness never gets in the way of your hunting, it only makes it better. Cutting the end off of your toothbrush to save an ounce on a backpack hunt makes zero sense to me if you are dragging around unwanted weight around your waist. Rather than try to lighten up your back, lighten up your waistline.
Fitness does even more than make you more efficient in the mountains. Fitness can extend your hunting years well past retirement. Longevity should be everyone’s trajectory. I want to hunt as long as possible, especially if I ever get a chance to retire. Don’t you want to take your grandkids hunting, spending more time in the woods and passing along our hunting heritage to generations that desperately need to spend less time on their phones and more time outside? No doctor will ever tell you that there’s a correlation between health and being overweight. It’s just the opposite. I can also tell you that nobody gains weight on purpose and it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a series of less than ideal decisions that compound over time and you don’t fully appreciate the consequences until you roll out on your first big hunt of the year. Don’t be nearsighted, look towards the bigger picture and understand the consequences of your current state of discipline. Nobody has ever said that they’re in too good of shape for a hunt.
Enjoyment in the mountains for me comes down to being able to hike whatever distances over whatever topography in order to have an opportunity. I have a finite number of days in the field per year and I don’t want to squander a second. I work too hard and think about hunting way too much to be stuck having to take a day off from hunting because my body or mind wasn’t up to the task at hand. I want fitness that enables me to adapt to any hunting situation and get myself in the position of being successful. Success to me means hunting to the fullest and enjoying the ups and downs of the hunt. I cannot control the weather or hunting pressure, but I can control my attitude and effort. I cannot control the outcome, but I can control my preparation and determination. Fitness can lead to a stronger mindset and the discipline required will lead you to a more fulfilling hunting season.
After reading this, maybe you rolled your eyes a few times, but in your heart of hearts, you know I am right. Fitness will never get in the way of your successful hunting, it will only improve your overall experience. Hunting is a privilege and we all have to come to grips with the fact that we have a limited amount of time in the field. The season will be here before we know it. If you are carrying around a few unwanted pounds, go ahead and start moving the needle in the right direction in the next few months - you won’t regret it.
About the Author:
Dan Staton is an avid bowhunter from Spokane Valley, WA. Dan has a Master’s Degree in exercise physiology and owns and operates CrossFit Spokane Valley and ElkShape.com