It is officially spring and time to start thinking about conditioning for your fall hunts. Waiting until you are a few weeks out is no way to prepare and is costly in the backcountry. We don’t expect you to run marathons, but being in good shape is a big help on our backcountry hunts. We use horses to our advantage in Montana and Alaska but you still must walk steep hills and be prepared to chase game across rugged terrain. When you can manage a steep mountainside littered with deadfall, your chances of scoring a big bull elk increase.
Here are a few simple tips to get on track for the upcoming hunting season.
Flexibility prevents injuries and helps your body perform at an optimum level. Stretch every single day to keep your body healthy. You can even join a yoga class a few times a week. It doesn’t sound like a natural association with hunting but yoga is difficult and it will increase flexibility and core strength.
Hit the Trails
Start hiking at least one day each week on rough terrain. Ideally, you will hike 2-3 days a week. Hikes ranging from 1-5 miles are a good start for the spring. You can train on pavement and treadmills but they do not build the same muscles as uneven terrain. Go explore, climb steep hills and walk on uneven ground. Take your time and build stamina throughout the summer by adding a few longer hikes.
Wear a Load
Get an idea of the load you will carry while hunting and wear it on your hikes. On our horseback hunts, you won’t need a huge pack. We recommend something in the 1,500-2,000 cubic inch range. Wear the same pack you are bringing to get used to the straps and load placement. You can make adjustments while training and be comfortable on the hunt.
Break up your training routine by staying active in different ways. Monotony is the enemy when it comes to staying in shape. Do a trail run, join a pickup basketball league, play flag football or hit the racquetball court before work. Staying active in a fun social environment will boost your energy and enthusiasm.
Short Workouts Rule
Short on time? We all get busy and it’s easy to put off your workouts. Don’t underestimate the power of short, intense workouts. You can join a CrossFit gym or go do sprints on the high school track. You will get the blood flowing and keep in shape with workouts that last less than a half hour.
Load Up on Nutrition
You don’t need a special diet or a million supplements to get ready for a hunt. Simply eat healthy and listen to your body. Enjoy a diet full of vegetables, healthy grains and meat. If you have some game left from last year, you are eating some of the healthiest meat on the planet. Lay off the sugar and junk and you’ll be just fine.
Avoid overtraining and get plenty of sleep each night. You want your body to recover after hikes and workouts. Ideally, you can go to bed early and exercise first thing in the morning. Your hunts have early starts and it’s nice to have your sleep schedule aligned with an early morning routine.