Knowing what it takes to lug a trophy buck for miles or reel in a fish for hours, we had to ask: Do hunters and anglers need to be fit?
While the cultural image of anglers and hunters is not generally one of intense fitness, many looking at these two sports from the outside don’t realize just how much strength – both of body and of mind – is needed to find success.
An angler who scored a huge, record-breaking fish didn’t get there by being a weak couch potato. On the contrary, to catch a sizable specimen, a fisherman can frequently find himself in an hours-long battle, trading off the rod and reel with buddies, but still bearing the brunt of an immensely exhausting catch.
Similarly, hunters spend long hours in the woods, trekking miles to their hunting spots, tracking deer, and hauling their kills back to the car or all the way back home.
In short, someone who says hunting and fishing are sports where fitness isn’t essential is flat-out wrong.
In order to be a successful hunter or angler, you must not only have immense patience, expert marksmanship or baiting skills, but your body must also be ready to take long hours of abuse. From the early mornings to the long hikes, outdoor sports may not have the consistent cardiovascular intensity of something like soccer or hockey, but it is hardly less tiring.
Trust us: a fit hunter or fisherman will kill more deer and catch more bass than someone who spends most of their free time on the couch eating junk food.
So now that we’ve confirmed that fitness is of pivotal importance to hunting and fishing, how can you get fit as you prepare for a summer full of fishing or a fall spent searching the woods for big game?
Truthfully, each hunter and angler will want to adopt a slightly different fitness routine depending on their age, weight, and other related health issues. A middle-aged, overweight hunter will have an entirely different route to fitness – and, for that matter, a different idea of what being fit constitutes – than a young, healthy and fit twenty-something looking to optimize their hunting or fishing performance.
In most cases, gym exercise machines are good for getting you in shape for hunting season. From stair climbing machines to bikes, a gym has most of what a hunter will need to build up stronger muscles without damaging bones or joints, as well as build stamina and develop cardiovascular health. For older hunters especially, the consistent pound of jogging and running on pavement can take a huge toll on the back, the knees, the hips, and the lower body in general, which is why lower-impact exercise machines are ideal.
The most important thing is to build up endurance – you will need it during long hunting days, especially in hilly or mountainous areas – and to strengthen your lower back – you will need that for lugging a kill back to your car.
For anglers, a strong back is also important, as is a powerful core and upper body. Plank exercises, “Supermans,” push-ups, sit-ups, and other common fitness exercises, including stretches for the sides and the back, do a lot to strengthen key muscle groups important to both hunting and fishing.
Lifting light weights is also a good idea, but focusing on reps instead of size is important. Again, it’s a matter of stamina, not necessarily strength.
Bowhunters, on the other hand, can definitely benefit from lifting, and can increase muscle to perhaps increase draw weight.
Finally, a hunter or angler needs to treat their body like an athlete would, and that means a balanced diet. Meat and protein are fine, but plentiful fruits and vegetables are essential as well, and meals low in fat and cholesterol and high in nutrients can help a hunter or angler reach their season goals more effectively than empty carbohydrates or fatty fast food.
Getting and staying fit is just one way to improve yourself as a hunter or angler, but it will improve your overall life as well.
Do hunters and anglers need to be fit? The answer is pretty simple.