By: Michelle Harmes - Blogger at MH Outdoors and pro staffer for Martin Archery, Backwater Outdoors, LLC and Clean Shot Archery
When does your hunt start? Hunting isn't just about walking into the woods and walking out with an animal. Your hunt starts long before you ever slip on your camouflage. Trail cameras, maps, weather forecasts and practicing with your weapon of choice are all part of your hunt. However, your hunt starts every morning. Every single day you make choices that will determine your success in the field. Exercising and eating right can actually help you sit in a tree, alert and ready when your prey steps out.
To many hunters, sitting in a tree seems easy, all you are doing is sitting there. To those with chronic back pain, just sitting there is anything but easy. The excitement of hunting season is often paired with stress and anxiety thinking “what if back spasms hit while in the tree.”
My 2015 bear hunt began in April of 2015. I spoke with Jeremy of Fit to Hunt about my concerns with my back and the upcoming season. On my own I was in a trap of feeling better, over doing the workouts and experiencing setbacks where all progress on the road to recovery was lost. With Fit to Hunt I began by taking baby steps, not over doing it. New exercises and stretches were added slowly, building muscles and creating flexibility. I had been going to physical therapy but it wasn't working as well as it should have. Fit to Hunt trainers understand that both the physical, mental and emotional sides of health have to be addressed. Going from being strong and being able to sit and hunt all day to being stuck in bed all day takes a huge toll on you and it's very easy to want to give up.
Thankfully, through hard work and the help of my trainer I was able to sit in the stand and enjoy the hunt with no pain even after driving over 20 hours to Maine. I successfully took a bear with my Martin Alien bow during the 2015 season and I know that none of that would have been possible without Fit to Hunt. Back pain is still a daily battle but now it's a battle I can accept and win. Next season I will be even stronger since I can focus on fitness in addition to recovery.
Please consider Fit to Hunt, they can help you no matter where you live and what your fitness level might be. You can even work out at home. Huge thank you to Jeremy my trainer for helping me on my journey to be Fit to Hunt!
Read more of Michelle’s work at www.mhoutdoors.com.
You can also follow her on Twitter at @MHoutdoors.
I recently read excerpts from an article in an outdoor publication that threw a slight shot at celebrity bow hunter Cameron Hanes. If you aren’t familiar with Mr. Hanes, he is a beast. An endurance runner who looks like he could step on a stage as a professional bodybuilder or play middle linebacker on any given Sunday, his passions are bow hunting and fitness. In the article, the author gave credit to those who improve their cardiovascular function for high mountain experiences but called Hanes out by name in stating his “bodybuilder” physique would do little to help him in the field. Our first reaction was “huh” because if you have followed us for anything length of time, you already know our opinion: you need to be Fit To Hunt.
I’ll state for the record that body builders train in a fashion that isn’t functional. I often reference a story from my childhood where a family friend (who curled beer cans instead of barbells) worked side by side with a body builder doing manual labor work and stated that while this guy could bench press the moon in the gym, his fitness did not translate to real life. I would imagine this is where the functional training movement was born.
At any rate, I have to believe the author in the aforementioned article is either:
A. Jealous of Mr. Hanes
B. Doesn’t want to work as hard as Mr. Hanes
C. Doesn’t understand how the human body responds to specific types of training
Any of these explanations are plausible, but we are going to focus on the how the human body responds to training so you have a better idea of why you should be working out to prepare for your outdoor adventures.
Fitness comes in all shapes and sizes. Very few hunters look like Mr. Hanes. Shoot, we run a fitness company and we don’t have his type of physique. Ultimately, the goal should be to prepare for the type of activity you participate in so you can get the most out of your experiences. If you want to look good in your camo that’s great but what we are saying is you can still be overweight and improve your ability to hunt, fish, hike, etc. And most of our clients agree and thank us profusely when they return from a hunt and were able to perform at their physical best throughout the trip.
Also understand that the human body responds to the principle of specificity. This means that if you dig ditches for a living and you improve the muscle groups involved in digging ditches, you will become a better ditch digger. Same can be said for all the turkey, duck, big game and high mountain hunters along with our friends the fishermen. If you are in better shape, you perform better but if you train specifically for the activity you will be engaging in, you will have the hunting experience of a lifetime. Or just be in the shape to hunt for a lifetime. Either is fine with us.
There are five key areas of fitness and you should have routine that focuses on every one of them. For example, the stronger you are the more weight you can pull back on a bow increasing the speed and knock down power of the arrow. If you possess a high level of aerobic conditioning you will cover more ground in the field and recover faster. Greater levels of power allow you to burn fewer calories over the course of a hunt because you muscles are generating more force with each step making you more efficient. Flexibility will allow you to twist, bend and contort when called upon to make the kill shot or
simply to get into position to make the kill. And while we don’t focus on creating wash board abs, reducing body fat will allow you to make all of the previously-mentioned components even better. Case in point, it is easier to hunt weighing less than you do right now. Even ten pounds will make a tremendous difference.
Then you get specific. For bow hunters we will focus on a lot of upper back, core and rotator cuff movements. For elk or mule deer hunters, core strength with an emphasis on aerobic conditioning and power/endurance exercises for the legs. Duck hunters get core movements along with hip and balance exercises to wade through duck marshes.
Can you train to perform at high levels and look good?
Absolutely you can. Is it necessary? Not really. The key lies in doing a routine that will help you perform better for the types of hunting you do.Now, will being physically fit and prepared automatically earn you a trophy bull, buck or bear? No. You still have to practice marksman skills, learn how to play the wind, understand the biological needs of
your quarry and perform in the heat of the moment. All fitness does is enhance your overall abilities. You still have to practice shooting your bow or gun, but if someone laughs at you for training to hunt a whitetail ignore them. If you get prodded because you are jogging to prep for your upcoming elk hunt vs. having beers with your friends, keep running. It’s true that you don’t have to be fit to hunt but we can promise you that if you are Fit To Hunt you will wonder why you didn’t start an exercise program years ago. And you’ll leave your buddies in the dust.
Be Fit To Hunt friends and grow the Tribe!
Contributions made by Fit2Hunt Staff!