I’ve been fortunate in my life to develop my love of hunting from my father. He had me in the woods probably even before I could walk with him. He taught me how to pick up my feet, step lightly on the leaves, and avoid the untimely snap of sticks. Well really, he politely corrected me as I did all of these things, over and over and over until I finally stopped shuffling my feet through the leaves.
The impressive thing about my dad is that he can walk for what seems like days in the woods. He’s been out walking me my entire life on hunting and scouting trips. I can specifically remember being a high school basketball player that ran sprints in practice every day for a couple months leading up to deer season and still being put to same by my “old” man. I was young cocky and in shape and yet he still would politely chuckle when I asked him if we could stop for a minute. Of course, I would try to pretend that I wanted to sit and watch whatever draw or hillside I ran out of gas on, but we both knew what was happening.
My dad grew up roaming the rocky hills surrounding the Buffalo river in Arkansas and I guess his freakish ability stems from that. He has initiated every new member of our deer camp by taking them on a “walk about”. Every time it happens he causally strolls back into camp followed several minutes later by an exhausted rookie gasping between steps and proclaiming that there is no way he’s going on one of Mitchell’s walks again…ever!
The great thing about hunting is that it can be so inclusive. People with physical disabilities can participate in the comradery and the thrill of the hunt. The other side of it is you can make it as physically demanding as you want it to be. As a “next” generation guy at my deer camp, I’ve always been on the receiving end of a radio call to help drag a deer out, and maybe it’s the explorer in me that always wants to see what’s over the next hill, but as I reach my middle-aged years it’s more and more important that I get my body in hunting shape leading into the fall. I don’t want to have to limit what I want my hunt to look like because I sat on the couch all summer watching baseball and eating chips! I mean I do that, but it’s time to start working on leg strength for the fall.
No matter where you are at physically there are some things you can do to help you get ready for your hunt, now the things I’m listing are not specifically an inclusive workout routine, but they are exercises that are good for you if you can do them. Do what you can and do what works for you, these are just some ideas for you to work into your routine.
How important is this? Very, if you don’t do anything else, do some cardo, try to recreate what your hunt will be. If you can jog, jog, if you can’t jog, walk. Walk around your property, your subdivision, your gym, or just on a treadmill. Cardo should be a part of our lives anyway, but definitely leading up to a hunt. If you hunt on public ground you significantly up your chances the farther you move away from the road. Most hunters don’t want to put in the effort to hike and then potently drag a deer out of the “bottom”. So, make sure you are in shape enough to go the extra distance.
Start your workout with 15 mins of cardio to get your heartrate up.
Work your lower body:
Squats will strengthen your legs. Do them using your body weight or with weights, holding dumbbells or on a squat rack.
Another great leg exercise is box jumps, or step ups. If you are capable of doing them as jumps go for it, otherwise stepping up and down on them will give you benefits as well.
Work Your Core:
Having a strong core will help you out tremendously in the woods. Walking over unstable ground will become much easier after you have strengthened your midsection. It’s so important to help you keep your balance and to keep you from wearing out on your walk abouts.
I won’t go into a bunch of exercises here, a quick google search of core exercises will certainly give your more ideas than you can handle, but start with crunches and leg crunches and as you get stronger start exploring more advanced core routines.
I hope this gets you started on a healthier lifestyle and a more enjoyable hunt this fall.