Jeremy Koerber, Fit To Hunt CEO and personal trainer
Deer camp food is amazing. Back in the day when I was a young pup, grandpa would come yank me out of the stand around 9am in the middle of the rut because he had a feeling that breakfast was being served back at the house. And we aren’t talking about Pop Tarts and burnt toast; the wives of these hunters knew how to cook. If the thought of a table filled with never ending biscuits & gravy, eggs, toast, bacon, sausage and fresh coffee puts a smile on your face and takes you to a happy place in your mind’s eye, you too have succumbed to an early exit from the woods to eat. I shudder at the number of big bucks we missed because we were back stuffing our faces then napping until the afternoon stroll to the stand.
Nowadays, we still yearn for the big breakfast but as more and more research shows long sits in the peak of the rut is what you do to kill mature whitetail deer, you are going to have to put off grandma’s biscuits until after the trigger is pulled but make no mistake; you still need sustenance and that is what this whole article is about.
Being a personal trainer who helps design performance based exercise programs and help clients improve nutrition, I know a thing or two about how to fuel our bodies for performance. To me it is a simple thing but for many others, they don’t know what to do so I am going to make it easy. First off, do not panic. There is plenty of room for the traditional, celebratory foods of deer camp but in order to stay in the stand long enough to knock down Mr. Big Horn, you are going have to keep your butt parked for the long haul. That is where the snacks in your pack matter and here is a list of five items that are in my pack for every hunt.
1. Fruit: I make it a point to pack an apple for every sit. There are numerous health benefits to eating apples from cancer prevention to improving heart health but one of the big benefits is apples are full of fiber. Fiber keeps you fuller for longer period of time so consider tossing one into your pack as you head out the door.
2. Almonds: Eating about 23 almonds a day will add more Vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and potassium in your diet but the main thing I am looking for is they are low in sugar, contain healthy fats and are full of protein. Protein keeps you fuller longer meaning you won’t be clamoring to climb down and head for camp mid-morning.
3. Protein Bars: There are a lot of bars on the market but do you know the difference between a solid product or a glorified candy bar? We’ll make it simple. Look for protein bars with less than 9 grams of sugar per serving and 20 grams of protein. Bars that contain high amounts of sugar will cause your blood sugar to spike causing you to crash and crave carbohydrates. And since the body can only assimilate 20-30 grams of protein at a time, bars that contain massive amounts of protein will not be used by the body and excreted out. Yes, the dollars you spend on those products will literally get sent down the toilet.
4. Jerky: I understand full well the reason you are sitting in a tree in awful weather conditions at times when the rest of the free world is asleep is to procure the meat necessary to make more jerky. I get it but don’t forget that besides the fact it is incredibly delicious, it too is loaded with protein. You’re a meat eater aren’t you? You have our permission to eat more meat. Albeit dried meat. Do pay attention to the sugar content. Cheap jerky uses more sugar to produce than higher quality products.
5. Water: Exercise performance is impaired when a person is dehydrated by as little as 2% of their body weight. Losses in excess of 5% can reduce performance by as much as 30%. Now let me ask you a question; if you have the buck of a lifetime within range and you have your weapon of choice (bow or rifle) in hand, isn’t something as simple as staying hydrated worth a large taxidermy bill? Of course you will say yes but many hunters don’t take water into the field because it’s cold and they don’t think they need it. Always have a water bottle with you.
Personally, I also keep with me several packets of Wilderness Athlete Hydrate & Recover and Energy & Focus mixes with me to mix with my water. Not only do they provide with electrolytes and muscle repairing branch chain amino acids, the taste prompts me to drink more. Back country hunters have figured out the Wilderness Athlete hydrate and energy products are the real deal when they are grinding all day on the mountain and I promise it will work for you whitetail hunters as well.
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Everything on this list requires no cooking, prep and is portable. All you have to do is pack it and eat. And if you are noshing like you should to keep up your energy and focus in the field, your pack will be a lot lighter on the return trip. Hopefully, the bed of your pick-up is a lot fuller upon your return which means you are ready for that celebratory meal of biscuits & gravy.
See….I told you there was still room for biscuits & gravy.
Hunt hard my friends, stay safe and as always stay Fit To Hunt!
What foods do you pack into the field when you hunt? Let us know in the comments!
Contributions made by Fit2Hunt Staff!