You don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to participate in outdoor sports, but there are several benefits to getting in better shape if you’re a regular hunter.
The approach of winter brings the holidays, which often spur on some well-deserved relaxation and weight gain. But winter also has some prime hunting and fishing seasons, and getting in shape may make the difference in being successful on your next trip.
Many people may think hunting is simply pointing at something and pulling a trigger, but it is in fact a workout as intense as any sport. It may involve walking miles at a time in extreme heat or cold, lugging heavy gear and ammo, or dragging or carrying a heavy animal. Mentally, it requires a mix of strategy, patience, and precision that rivals any sport.
So if hunting is a mentally and physically demanding sport, why don’t you hear of hunters training for the season like any athlete? The truth is, they should.
Spelling it out
Hunters chase some of the fastest and most tireless creatures of Earth, but don’t often emulate those qualities. Hunters should work on endurance by running or doing regular cardiovascular exercises. With dedication, you’ll notice on your next trip that it is a lot easier to keep up with your hunting partners than it was last year, and you’ll have a lot more energy for the more fun parts of the hunt.
You’ll also notice that with regular exercise comes balance, reflexes, and flexibility. As an added bonus, you won’t breathe or sweat as hard, and thus won’t leave as heavy of a scent for your prey to pick up.
Strength should also be something for a hunter to work on. You don’t need to be Schwarzenegger, but a stronger hunter can more easily and accurately swing a weapon towards his target or pull back a heavy-draw bow more quickly and steadily, allowing a shot that someone weaker may have missed.
You’ll also be able to more easily climb a tree, lift a dead animal after a successful hunt and transport gear to and from the hunt site. A little weightlifting will not only only get you more jacked, but can make a noticeable strategic difference the next time you’re in the field.
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There’s also another often-overlooked benefit to fitness: its effect on your mental state. People who regularly exercise are often happier, more alert and more patient. A hunter with these abilities can often wait longer and notice signs or animals they’d otherwise miss. You’ll also be able to focus on the task at hand and develop a solid strategy for taking down game.
A hunter is only as good as what he eats. Most hunters are already aware of the health benefits of lean protein in wild game, which should inspire you to improve your all-around nutrition. A well-balanced diet will help progress your physical fitness and make you a stronger, faster, and more capable hunter, giving you a better chance of supplementing your diet with food you’ve provided yourself.
Hunting safety is constantly stressed in terms of firearms, but many more hunters die each year from heart attacks and poor health than from gun accidents. So whether your hunting involves stalking prey for miles or simply waiting in a stand, look to get in better shape this year to enjoy the experience more and keep yourself a little safer.
Not only will you have a lower risk of heart disease and greater life expectancy, you’ll have a better chance at a fridge full of protein, a mounted buck to hang in your home (or gym), and a better looking hunter in the mirror.
And in the worst case scenario, you’ll be better able to outrun a bear, although as the joke goes, you’ll only have to outrun your slowest friend.