Last week, I made a brief mention about physical fitness for the upcoming hunting season. Hunting fitness is a subject often taken for granted, particularly among adult sportsmen and women who have been hunting for years. It doesn't matter if the hunter is an excellent shot with a well-sighted-in bow or rifle. Having the best equipment on the market for this activity could end up being all for nothing if one is not in shape for this physically demanding sport.
In West Virginia, more hunters succumb from heart attacks and tree-stand fall injuries than by shooting accidents. This is the time of the year to start an ordinary walking program to increase cardiovascular strength that could possibly prevent a middle- or senior-aged adult from having a heart attack while they are out in the woods.
When figuring out a hunting fitness plan, the hunter needs to think about their own overall body strength, not just their legs. As adults age, they lose body strength. I found this out two years ago when I was dragging a deer out of the woods. It almost took me to the point of total physical exhaustion. When a successful hunter gets that deer, bear, elk, etc., they must be physically prepared for the work of the harvest, not just the hunt itself.
In just about every hunting season, I will admit that I usually fall at least once and sometimes more. The more fit a body is, it is easier to prevent an unexpected slip from becoming an injuring fall. Even when a hunter does fall, being physically fit could mean the difference between a small abrasion, bruise, or even a chuckle to an injury that requires emergency room treatment.
Walking for fitness will not only prepare the heart muscle, but the lungs and leg muscles as well. All seasoned hunters in this state know the terrain can be very demanding. A properly fit hunter must not only be prepared to walk further than day-to-day life. They must be ready to walk on steep and rocky surfaces. Walking across a slant or steep slope puts tremendous pressure on leg muscles. Here is a situation when senior-aged hunters often end up having an injuring fall. Walking in deep snow causes people to raise their knees higher than they are used to. In order to prepare yourself for this, try putting together a series of exercises such as stair stepping or bench step-ups that can be done every day or every other day.
During inclement weather, there are several ways of staying with a hunting fitness program right in your home. Find an old wooden chair or something that can be used as a high bench step up. Added height is more demanding than a simple stairway.
If one is not used to doing full-length push ups, there is nothing wimpy about being knee push ups. It all depends on an individual's own body weight and strength. For a senior hunter, simple knee push ups can be strenuous. For the young hunter who feels energetic, they might like to try doing advanced push ups. This is done by elevating the feet about 6 to 10 inches against a strong wall and doing push ups keeping the legs straight.
For overall body strength, add some body "squat thrusts" to the routine. Adding this to the regular walking session, one should find it easier to tramp around in the hills of this area during any hunting season.
Don't let failing to become physically fit ruin a deer season you have planned on for several months. Try to avoid being the hunter left behind at the camp to where you are a burden to not only yourself, but your hunting friends as well.
To make a long story short, unfit hunters are putting themselves at greater risk for having a heart attack than the ones who have taken the time to condition themselves during the summer and early fall for the hunting season. Now is simply the time to start that conditioning.