Are you fit to be a hunter?

Sidney Raper
Hunting Insider Feature Writer

The news is replete with articles lamenting that America is fast becoming the land of obesity.  If you want to sanity check that for yourself, just go to the mall on any given afternoon and people watch for a bit.  Do a quick count of those patrons that appear healthy and those that appear overweight.  Once you start paying attention, it is astonishing.  The cause of the problem is really twofold.  First is the overabundance of processed foods that are readily available.  Second would be the sedentary lifestyle that most Americans lead.  Let’s take a look at these…

Hunters can have a leg up on the processed foods because we are out there getting the freshest, organic, hormone free, free range meat that is available.  Many hunters will cook the backstraps the day of the kill.  You can’t get much more fresh and unprocessed than that.  Where we are let down is by the choice of sides and snacks.  Think about what you take with you when you hunt.  Are you taking snack cakes, candy bars, chips and the like?  They are fun to eat and tasty – plus they come prepackaged in convenient snack sizes.  The problem is that they are horrible for you.  Fruit is snack size, plus the smell of the fruit is more natural to the animals.  The sugars in food give you energy without the spike of the processed sugars.  Another thought is the wrapper.  An apple has a convenient built in wrapper that you eat.  A Twinkie has a loud cellophane wrapper that announces your location for a quarter mile radius.  Venison Jerky is always a hit with me when I hunt.  Think through your choices and how you can impact your own weight and your hunt.

The second point is the sedentary lifestyle.  There was a time when still hunting or stalking were the preferred methods of hunting.  Now most hunters are stand hunters.  Stand hunting is effective – especially if you have done your scouting and know the game trails and movement patterns well.  It just isn’t very active.  Still hunting (walking very slowly) is more active even though it is slow.  The fact that you are supporting your body weight goes to burn calories – it takes more to stand than to sit.  When you do shoot the quarry that you are after, you have to move the carcass.  If it is a big animal (wild hog for example) it takes a lot of energy to drag it out.  Are you in shape to do that?  Do you rely on your ATV to drag the animal out?

If you hunt really rugged terrain, an ATV may not be much help until you get it to a road.  Perhaps some off season training is in order.  A weight sled as used in many crossfit gyms is an excellent training tool to get you in shape.  Lifting weights helps with the strength needed to load the animals.  Cardio or aerobic training will get you in shape to do the long hike in and to endure the retrieval of your game.  If you can afford a personal trainer, talk to them about what you anticipate needing to be prepared for when you go out.  Obviously if you are a small game hunter, you don’t need to start slinging around the Olympic weights.  If you hunt in a small lot, you don’t need to be able to hike for hours to get to the stand.  Getting in better shape will help you be a better and more efficient hunter.  It will help you think more about your needs and goals.  Keeping active during the off season also can give you a reason to be outside – which is where most of us really want to be.  Get fit – fit to be a hunter.

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