I follow a bunch of hunters and the main theme that I come across with the majority of them is that they work hard to stay in shape.
There’s all different kinds of hunting; backcountry, high fence, guided, in a blind, spot and stalk, etc.
Regardless of how you may personally feel about any of the above ways to hunt, they are all legit.
So what is required to be prepared for a hunt? In all of those circumstances, the bare minimum preparation would be to know your equipment and area. To get your bow or rifle sighted in, to find camo that works for your climate, to know how to call in those animals or to track them (if necessary) and so on.
But very few people actually talk about the fitness aspect of it.
Mental preparation is definitely important, in my opinion. Whether it’s your first time or 100th time, you are about to go out into the wild to kill an animal for susentance. Many variables might happen out there and you need to learn to keep your mind calm and focused. You need to learn to control your nerves, too, so that your shaking hand doesn’t mess up your shot. Or if a bear climbs the tree that you happen to be sitting in, you’ll be able to stay calm and work out a solution.
I have learned that physical fitness plays a key role in preparing for the hunt. When I got my Eva Shockey bow, I realized that I simply was not at the level of strength that I needed to be at in order to just hold the bow up! Practicing with your bow definitely helps, but what really took me to the next level was weight lifting.
I wasn’t hardcore about it, I got a couple 5 pound dumb bells and did some basic weight lifting for about 10-20 minutes on a regular basis (about 3-6 times a week, depending on schedule, etc). The very basic weight lifting that I was doing took my archery game to the next level. I not only am able to hold the bow for a longer period of time without my arm getting tired, but I’ve been able to up my weight on my bow, too because I can pull back more.
Also building up my endurance through running and training with my BOB, really helped me be able to carry more weight on my back and to not get as tired, as quickly. I’ve seen some hunters take their backpacks out filled with rocks and go run up and down some stairs. Now that is some hardcore training! But for those hunting the backcountry, it’s definitely the type of training they need to be doing.
Since I became pregnant, I stopped weight lifting and doing any real hardcore workouts. But, my strength has really remained the same and even though I do train a lot with my bow, I still feel great.
It really works, though. My husband doesn’t do any weight lifting for archery and his arm gets tired almost immediately after just a couple shots, while I can take 30+ shots and still not feel tired yet. It really makes a big difference!
Now, do hunters need to be super amazing athletes? Maybe not. But if they plan to pack out any amount of meat on their back, even if it’s just for a short 1/2 mile, that is strenuous work and you need to be physically prepared to handle that. Also, have you ever seen those videos where some bowhunters have to be at full draw and hold it there just to get the right shot? That’s where physical fitness comes in, too.
There are lots of ways to train and you need to take into consideration which ways are going to benefit YOU the most for your particular hunting needs. Maybe you just want to do some basic weight lifting like me, or maybe you want to be The Rock. It’s completely up to you and your needs.