Elk fever…it’s a thing. I grew up with a hunter. My dad would go every fall for elk from eastern Oregon. I have gone with him several times over the years and the one thing that always caught me off guard was all the hiking. The terrain of eastern Oregon (and most places elk like to roam) is hilly and full of obstacles. We would follow the elk sign cross country so there would be lots of logs, brush, and unstable terrain to navigate to get to that perfect spot. Once we knew where to hunker down and wait for our bull, we would return there in the very early hours of the morning. That means we are hiking in the dark. All of this while being as quiet as possible. Sounds like a lot? It is. If you have been enjoying your summer lounging or busy at a desk job, this physical demand can be a shock to the system.
Here are a few tips to get yourself ready for your hunt:
Get your body in motion! The recommended level of physical activity for adults is at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity each week according to ACSM. To achieve this, plug in extra activity into your day. Park away from the office or store and walk in. Set up a tv in front of a treadmill or exercise bike and enjoy your shows or football games while getting in some activity. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
Give your nutrition a tune up. You wouldn’t fuel your diesel truck with gasoline or propane. Same goes for the body. See food as fuel! Avoid simple carbs like sugar, desserts, or over processed foods. A good rule of thumb is to stick with lean proteins, vegetables, fruits and complex carbohydrates.
Hydrate well. This is water my friends. Don’t wait for thirst to clue you in that you are dehydrated. Make a habit to take in water throughout your day. Your intake will depend on your sex, weight, and how you sweat. Some people need more water than others.
Learn to lift safely. If you have a successful hunt, you will need to pack that animal out. Most of us don’t have a mule train which means the tough work must be done on your own back. Having a strong back, legs, and core is crucial to off-season preparation. Work on squats, lifting with the lower body. Avoid twisting and turning your back. Keep the load close to you. Engage your core. Train by walking/hiking with a weighted pack.
Don’t forget flexibility and balance training. Bosu, balance disks, and yoga are great to prepare you for unlevel conditions and packing out game.
Your body shouldn’t be the reason you struggle to fill a tag. Train for your hunting season so your time in the wilderness will be an adventure and great time not a burden on your body.
Good luck out there!