GH 6: Condition Your Body and Mind for the Hunt

Hunting is My Exercise Program

On today’s podcast, I want you to understand that you don’t need to be in amazing physical condition to be a hunter. But you do need to be conditioned for the hunt you plan to do. Hunting is a lifestyle more than it is a sport. So don’t think for a minute that in order to experience true hunting you need to workout 3-5 days a week. For me, hunting has been my lifetime exercise program.

Hunting is an activity you should enjoy not an activity that puts pressure on you to perform. I’m saying these things because I feel it has become some standard that every hunter needs to get into better physical condition. Well, that all depends on what kind of hunter you want to be. 

Where are You Going Hunting?

You see, if you plan to go on a rocky mountain backpack hunting trip for 7 days, you’re going to need to be in good physical condition. But if you just want to hunt from the truck every day and stay close to the road, it may not be as physically demanding. Maybe you are going to sit in a treestand on a 10-acre piece of land, definitely not much different than walking to the mailbox and back.

My greatest concern is that you would allow your current physical condition to stop you from hunting. If you can shoot a gun, there are opportunities for you to hunt. Now maybe it’s your dream to someday hunt the rocky mountains or go on an Alaskan hunting adventure, fantastic. But let’s start right where you are and make a plan that will get you in the woods this hunting season.

Be Honest with Yourself, Are You Conditioned for the Hunt?

I want you to be honest with yourself and decide if getting in a better physical condition is going to be a requirement for the coming hunting season. Do you think you can currently meet the physical demands of the hunt you have planned?

Now I don’t want to give you some perception that I workout regularly. It’s just been the last couple of years that I started putting a little more effort into my conditioning a couple of months prior to hunting season. The biggest reason is that I’m getting older and my endurance just isn’t what it was when I was in my 20’s. So a couple of months before hunting season I start riding my exercise bike and get my lungs and legs ready for the mountains.

As an electrician for the last 27 years, my job has kept me pretty active. I typically work at a steady pace all day which I think has helped keep me stay in decent physical shape. But maybe you have a desk job. Your daily routine will certainly affect your endurance. 

Go Where the Animals Are

Here is the thing, you do need to be conditioned for the hunt based on the area and the level of intensity you intend to hunt. Nothing will ruin your hunt faster than not being ready to go where the animals are. I just want you to plan a hunt and have a realistic expectation of how to prepare for that hunt.

But with all that said I want to talk about what kind of hunting you are planning to do. If you only have a 10-acre parcel of land that you will be hunting from a tree stand, this is not something you need to get into peak condition for. So for that kind of hunter, I say be active, go for a walk regularly, and spend some time looking for other hunting opportunities. If this is you, it will take a lot more mental strength and patience then physical endurance. We will talk about the mental aspect in a little bit.

If you plan to set a base camp near a road and hunt from it daily, just consider the terrain. As I said earlier, you need to go where the animals are. Be ready to get to the animals and back every day. 

Your Exercise Plan is up to You

Depending on what type of work you do, you may or may not need to exercise regularly. My brother and I hunted this way for years when we were younger. He worked out every day and still does. That is just his lifestyle. I on the other hand just sucked it up the first couple of days, took some Ibuprofen, and kept going. It really just helped me to have a hunting partner that pushed me to hunt harder. But like I said, now I need some cardio workout to keep up.

If this is your plan, I suggest you spend a few months prior to hunting season riding a bicycle and walking. When you leave the truck every morning and head out for the day’s hunt, you never know what challenges the terrain you are hunting may require of you. Sometimes the animals dictate to us where we need to go. Just be ready and don’t let physical unpreparedness be the reason you aren’t successful on your hunt. 

Are You an Extreme Hunter?

Then there is the extreme hunter. You are putting everything you need on your back and heading off to some remote location. The plan is to backpack the animal out after you kill it along with all your supplies. This type of hunting is not for the mentally weak or physically unfit. But it is a way to find animals that are less pressured. If you are considering this type of hunt, then it’s going to take some effort and dedication. 

I suggest you get yourself on a regular workout routine. You really should be doing a cardio workout and strength training with weights 3 to 5 days a week. This environment will offer challenges that you weren’t expecting. Those mountains don’t care one way or another if you come home or not.

The Mountains Don’t Care

The reason I know this is because my first major backpacking adventure was an eye-opener. My brother, a friend, and I when we were in our 20’s went off to a high mountain lake for a 3 day weekend. I had never been 16 miles from a road before in remote wilderness, but what’s the worst that could happen? 

Well, we left the truck on the first day and the weather was beautiful. We enjoyed the hike in and even got there with time to fish that first day. The next day it rained all afternoon, but we still caught a few fish and enjoyed the adventure. 

But that evening it started pouring rain in buckets. We eventually decide to stay in our tents and head out in the morning. But I’ll tell you I didn’t know if morning would ever come. All night long it poured rain and the wind blew at crazy speeds. 

Eventually, my brother’s tent collapsed and he had to come into the 2 man tent my buddy and I was using. But the wind was blowing so hard the walls of the tent were laying on us and we were all soaked to the bone. That was probably the longest night of my life.

At daylight, we got up and stuffed all our wet gear in the backpacks and headed out. Only 16 miles to a warm truck and dry clothes. It rained the entire walk out.

I just want you to understand that if you decide to go hunting with a backpack and a dream, be prepared. That mountain didn’t care that night whether we got home to our families or not. It was just another day in the mountains as far as the animals were concerned. I hope that makes sense.

Go Hunting and Return Safely

Remember you are trying to get there, have a great experience, and get back with no major complications or injuries. You also plan to bring home an animal as a result of your efforts. Getting yourself in physical shape will provide you with the best experience once you get to the woods. 

I’m just issuing this warning. If you plan a hunt like this and you get there not ready to tackle the physical and mental demands of the hunt. It will be one of the worst experiences of your life and a tremendous disappointment. 

Mental Hunting Strength

So let’s talk about the mental aspect of hunting. It’s probably one of the biggest things that separate the successful hunter from the not successful hunter. And the sad thing is that mental strength in hunting is something you just need to build over time. Kind of like working out your muscles, you need to work out your mind when you hunt. 

If you are sitting in a treestand for several hours and haven’t seen any bucks to shoot, it’s hard to stick it out when the temperature starts to drop. But what if you push yourself to stay longer. You know there are big bucks in the area. Finally 2 hours later one steps out and you shoot him. Now you have exercised your mind to stick it out even when you start to get uncomfortable. That will help you mentally fight through the cold temperatures next time.

Another part of the mental strength you need as a hunter is to keep going out even when you are unsuccessful. Hunting isn’t easy. It takes perseverance and consistency. If you expect every hunting trip to end in success then you should probably just forget this whole thing and play golf on the Xbox. Your favorite football team doesn’t win every game, but they show up every weekend expecting to win. You need to pursue your hunting adventure in the same way.

So let’s tie the physical and mental strength together. You see, without a certain amount of mental strength you won’t push yourself to be ready for the physical demands of your hunt.

I personally feel your mental strength starts with determination. How determined are you to do these activities and give yourself the best opportunity for a successful hunt? I can’t answer that, but I want you to stop for a moment and be honest with yourself.

What is the Reason You Hunt?

There is a reason you want to hunt. What is that reason?

Use that to push you to go a little harder and get yourself ready for the challenge of your next hunt. Success in hunting can be a little about being in the right place at the right time. But hunters who are consistently successful, it is more about being prepared and ready for whatever the challenge requires.

Now I hope this podcast gets you thinking about your next hunt. Where is it you want to go? What are some of the challenges you could encounter? Do you need to start working out more regularly?

Are You Going to get Conditioned for the Hunt?

Well, you can start today or tomorrow it’s up to you. But what I really wanted to do here is get you thinking about how demanding is your hunt going to be. As I stated earlier, I just don’t want you heading out on this big adventure with high expectations and disappoint yourself because you weren’t ready for the physical challenges of the hunt. 

Do what you can now and don’t focus on negative thoughts. if you need to get in better shape for that dream hunt, let’s put it on the calendar for next year and start working toward it now.

On the next podcast, we will talk about planning for your hunt. We will discuss all the things you should consider now before the opening day gets here. Everything from buying your license to putting the last item in the truck and heading out to the woods. If you need a list like I do to keep you from forgetting something, you’ll want to listen.    

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