Hunting Fitness

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We wanted to let everyone know what we’ve been up to and share with you some of the hard work that goes into preparing for another great season. The first three months of this year we’ve been very busy with scouting some great new properties, working deer trade shows, shed antler hunting, turkey hunting and mushroom hunting. Then, we usually take a little break around the months of April and May and then we focus on ordering our Iowa and Illinois tags.


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The preparation of our deer season usually begins around the end of May (Memorial Day weekend) because that seems to be the turning point where everything seems to happen. It’s hard to believe, but we are only three months away from opening day, it won’t be long and it will be here before you know it! This is such an exciting time for us, there’s so much to do and the following list is what we’re currently working on:




  • We’ve been preparing our video equipment, taping our introductions and working on capturing some early season footage. This is our second year videotaping our hunts, last year we took some great amateur footage for our demo DVD and we had so much fun documenting our trips.


  • Another interesting aspect of this time of year is that whitetail fawns are normally born in late May and we’ve been out in the woods trying to get some footage.


  • The Iowa license drawing is over, Illinois bow license drawing ended on June 30th and we still have the IL gun drawing, which starts on July 16th.


  • This time of year we start putting out trail cameras, which work so well in warm weather and it’s a great way to track antler growth. We were able to see a few bucks in velvet on the last weekend of our turkey season (May 13th) so we have to get the cameras out now.


  • This is a perfect time to shoot our bow, practice our form, check all of our equipment and shop for all those great new archery products. This gives us plenty of time to practice with the exact setup we’ll be using for hunting.


  • I just happened to buy another bow (used Mathews Switchback) that I’ve been busy shooting, setting up, fine-tuning and it will be the bow I’ll be using this season.


  • We are so excited about obtaining product sponsorship with Cuddeback digital scouting cameras, makers of the finest scouting cameras in the world. So you can look forward to seeing some great quality trail camera pictures and also see the quality of big bucks we will be hunting this fall. Of course, we are still proudly working with Huntingnet.com and our White Knuckle Productions team.


  • This is a great time to start an exercise routine, get in shape and be healthy for a good long season. Exercising makes a huge difference with hunting, it takes time to get in shape and we recommend you start today.


  • On our recent trips to the woods, we’ve done some preliminary scouting, looking for some new tree stand locations and have been clearing some shooting lanes.


  • This is the growing season for all the food our deer eat such as corn, beans, alfalfa, wheat and some food plots have are already been planted.


  • We will be filming all the way through August trying to get some velvet footage, maybe some hard antler bucks and then we’ll stay out of the woods until October.


  • Also, we are excited about receiving our first deer-hunting magazines in the mail (North American Whitetail) and the TV hunting shows have started on the Outdoor Channel as well.

Now onto the fitness part!


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Well guys, we hate to do it, we put it off, we always find other things that are more important, but this is an excellent time to start exercising to get in shape for deer season. The year is absolutely flying by, it’s already July and would you believe that we only have three months until deer season starts here in the Midwest!


It’s funny how we buy the best bow, arrows, broadheads, we practice daily, fine-tune our equipment to get in perfect shape, but we seem to completely ignore our health. I started an exercise routine six weeks ago that included walking, working out, eating better and hiking the woods to keep my mind focused on fitness as it applies to deer hunting. It’s really amazing how I’ve felt better & stronger almost immediately, I’ve lost some weight and I plan to do this for the remainder of the year. Plus, it’s another great excuse to get out in the woods, maybe see a few bucks in velvet while getting some exercise.


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Something I think about every year at the end of each season is how I could have been in better physical shape and what impact it would have made on my season. I think about how I felt while hanging stands in August, the physical demands of hunting, getting out of bed at 4 am, climbing hills in full gear, climbing trees, pulling my bow back when cold & stiff and how weak I felt when dragging out that big corn fed buck.


Just for kicks, I decided to weigh myself with and without all my gear to see exactly how much weight I’m packing into the woods in a worst-case scenario. I put on multiple layers of clothes, boots, hat, insulated coveralls, gloves, backpack, tree stand, climbing sticks, lots of accessories and my bow. I was shocked with the results, ending up with an amazing 57 pounds of stuff! Just imagine being in full gear, climbing a hill in 20-degree weather, climbing into your tree stand, getting set up and having the excitement of a big buck under your stand at daybreak. Our bodies take a beating and goes through a ton of stress before we even drag the animal out of the woods. Try this with all of your hunting stuff and you might be surprised at the results.


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It seems like everything I’ve read lately talks about how heart attacks are the biggest killer among hunters, even more than careless hunting practices. Things like falls, being in remote areas, environmental stresses (heat, cold, wind, rain or snow), body abuse, heavy clothes, greater load and poor diet can all contribute to heart attacks. With all the gear we carry and dragging out a deer can cause more stress than the heart can handle. Then, if you are not physically active, smoke, over 50, have high blood pressure, heart condition, elevated cholesterol or other problems it can be a huge problem. Plus, hunting is so much more fun and safer when you’re not tired or out of breathe. It’s like any other sport; you play better if you are in shape.


Check out Statistics from the National Safety Council on accidents and the leading cause of death in this country. Also, please read Volunteer Hunters Study for an amazing study by the Department of Exercise and Sports Science. The study found 16 volunteers and hooked them up to heart rate monitors and a ventilator that analyzed oxygen use. The 20-28 yr old healthy men were required to hike through the woods with a shotgun and, later, drag a 125-pound deer carcass about a quarter-mile. The researchers found that during the dragging test, the heart rates of the men jumped to as high as 180 beats a minute, about 95% of their maximum heart rate, after just five minutes of dragging. Their breathing rates exceeded their ventilatory thresholds, meaning that they were taking in oxygen faster than they could use it.


Being in good physical shape will help you cover more ground, get that buck out of the woods easier, make you a better shot and shooting while you’re of breath is jut not productive or fair to the animal. It’s a good idea to start something before the season starts, any activity is good and it only takes a few minutes a day to start strengthening your heart and lungs. If you’ve been inactive, you still have time, start slow and build your way up.


With our outfitting service (BowhuntingWhitetails.com) we make our clients wear a safety belt or harness at all times while positioned in a tree stand. We think it’s very important to keep all hunting equipment (bow, hanging stands, climbing sticks or climbers) in good safe working order. Also, every hunter needs to know his or her physical limitations and it is recommended that you be in good physical shape. Our clients have the freedom to hunt at their own pace and are not forced to stay on stand all day if they don’t want to.


CRAIG’S EXERCISE ROUTINE


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I started my exercise routine back on May 15th, weighing in at 218 lbs and in just the first six weeks I’ve already dropped 12 pounds! My plan started with doing those “little things” such as cutting out sweets and fast food, reading labels, drinking more water and taking lunchtime walks while at work. The nice summer weather has even energized my activity level to include swimming and playing basketball. Lastly, I’ve been very consistent with going to the gym, lifting weights and working on my cardiovascular.


My main fitness goals were to improve my energy level, strength, stamina, ability to carry my hunting equipment easier, be able to climb hills & trees without getting winded, loose some weight and just feel better in everyday life. I know that you’ve all heard this before but your health affects every single thing you do in your life whether it’s with your job, family, keeping up with your kids and of course, deer hunting.


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Exercising for me started with going to Bally’s and includes stretching, strength training on the machines, progressing towards free weights and doing cardio machines such as bike, treadmill, stair climber and elliptical machines. Of course, with lifting weights it’s so important to properly fuel the body before and after each workout with healthy natural foods, protein, vitamins and lots of water. Many experts will tell you that nutrition is 75% of the battle and you should try to keep track of calories, protein, carbohydrates and fats. After working out, it’s very important to let the muscle rest before your next workout. At my age, I found recovery very important and getting plenty of rest and adequate nutrients (protein) was essential. The supplements, vitamins and recovery products that I’ve been using are from Beverly International (http://www.beverlyintl.com/), which are truly world-class products that professional bodybuilders have been using since 1967.


Everyone has their favorite workout, you know your body better than anyone else and remember to mix up your exercises. Try to trick your muscles by doing different machines so you can continue tearing down the muscle. It’s good to do a quick warm up before your workout, alternate between upper & lower body with machines or free weights and don’t forget to do a cardio workout at least once a week. My favorite cardio routine comes from the Body for Life program, which is only 20 minutes and is more effective than doing a long workout at one constant intensity level. Basically, you gradually increase your intensity level through four timed cycles from an intensity level of 5 to 10 in a total of twenty minutes.


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It’s probably not a bad idea for you guys to pass this article on to your spouse or family members so they can encourage you to be fit this year. We want you to hunt safe, know your limitations and be able to enjoy this obsession for chasing big bucks for many years to come, just like our great grandfathers did.


To learn more about the author, visit http://www.bowhuntingwhitetails.com


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