We all know the fitness debate when it coming to hunting. Does it really matter? Do you need to be a gym rat to harvest your next trophy? Honestly to each there own. The way I see it, anything I can do to get me farther, closer, and move faster I’m all in. I am a complete mule deer freak. I have hunted them at 11,000 ft in the high country down to the low desert. These animals live in some crazy country. When I am hunting mule deer my main tactic is glassing and moving to the next hill to glass more. I tend to cover many miles looking for deer. A normal day for my style has an average for me of around 10 miles a day. I’m sure many do more but this is what works for me. Now, has fitness helped me harvest animals? You bet it has. I am in no way a fitness expert or a gym rat. However, I do love to exercise as much as I can. Do you have to go to the gym to be fit? No! One exercise that I love more than the gym is taking my red tick hound for a run every night after my wife and I get our girls to bed. There are so many ways that a little extra moving will help you bring home the next one for the wall.
Let me share with you three examples of how fitness and hunting have come together.
The first is from my very first train to hunt event. I was at the International Sportsman’s Expo in Scottsdale Arizona when I met Kenton from TTH. He gave me the personal challenge to come to the event. The challenge was accepted and I decided to run the race in the team event. I had less than two months get ready for this event. I had no idea how much work was coming my way. At the time the meat haul event for teams was each person had 80 lbs of sand in the pack. I thought, cake walk. So I went to the local track filled my pack with 100 lbs of sand and off I went. When I started my first walk/run I thought man I hear so many people say they packed this bull off the hill 5 miles and had 100 lbs on the pack. So it can’t be that hard. Boy was I wrong.
The day of the event came. We were as ready as we could be. My teammate and I were ready to go. Our shooting was above par and I finished the first day in first with the highest score. Once everything was said and done we finished the event in 3rd. now, how did this help me? Right after this event, I jumped right into scouting for desert deer. I had not felt so good or ready to be hiking then I did after this race. Also just before this race, I had lost my hunting partner and father to a short battle with cancer. Training for this race helped me mentally take my mind off of the loss of my father. For this, I will always be grateful to the TTH team.
Dessert mule deer are by far my favorite animal in the world. I have been very lucky to have harvested some great deer with my bow. In 2017 I was able to take a buck solo in the low desert. Luckily I was only 1.5 miles from my ATV. Once the buck was cleaned I had 2 choices. 1 trip or 2. I opt for 1, I knew the pack out was going to be long and hot. With the heat coming I knew I needed to get this buck back to the processor asap.
I ended up loading the whole deer in the pack. The pack was heavy. Very heavy. But I knew that my training I could get him out without losing any meat. Without being in the shape I was I know I would have had to do two trips out. Yes, it was a suck fest but worth it. Hunting and fitness may not be for everyone but it is for me. I know that without having some sort of fitness I would have filled as many tags as I have this far in my life.
I would challenge all hunters to have some sort of exercise in your life. It will help you in the long run. From hunting the western rocky mountains climbing the giant mountains to packing your tree stand in the hardwoods fitness will help you bring the meat for the family and the rack for the wall.