It’s early November and the first day of deer rifle season. You have been waiting for this weekend all year long, 51 weekends have come and gone since your last deer hunt and you have been playing last year through your mind that entire time. Last year you shot a small 6 point buck and it dropped 50 yards away from your blind making it easy for you to gut it and drag it out. Over the past year you know you have let yourself go a bit getting into that baby rut, putting on some sympathy weight with your pregnant wife and not going to the gym as much as you know you should have because life got pretty stressful with a new born baby. Unfortunately, you have failed to make the connection between your physical health and your ability to hunt.
At 10:00 AM on the dot a beautiful 8 pointer walks up the game trail toward your blind making a quartering turn at 70 yards. You pull your rifle up to your shoulder, take aim, exhale and squeeze the trigger. The bullet flies true and makes the tuft of hair right behind the shoulder jump as it enters the buck and exits the other side. The buck runs…he takes off like a bat out of hell running into thick brush and down a hill. You’re so excited you didn’t even realize him running down the hill has made quite a hard workout for you later.
This is a familiar scenario for most hunters, everything leading up to and including the tracking of the animal is the fun part. Dragging the animal out is hard. Now you are faced with an up-hill drag for about a quarter of a mile to your truck. That’s a pretty daunting task for most if not all hunters. The following are three things you can do now in the gym to make this task seem not so scary.
Work Capacity Training
Work Capacity is as simple as it sounds. Your body’s ability to “do work” or preform a hard task for an extended period of time. This is vital for all athletes and hunters alike. Increasing your work capacity will make that uphill drag of a 160lb buck a lot easier. There are many ways to increase your work capacity. The easiest is to just work. For example I conducted work capacity training last night unloading a 17 ft moving truck by myself, yes it was hard and not a whole lot of fun but I do enjoy hard work. Long walks with a heavy pack are another good way to increase your work capacity, so is walking or jogging while pushing a stroller. Dragging sleds designed for asphalt are getting pretty cheap, you can pick one up for $50-$100, load it up with a few 45lb plates and walk for 100 ft or so, repeat this for 4-6 times and you’ll be ready for that uphill drag. As you can see pretty much any long hard work will make your body’s work capacity increase.
If you have ever gutted an animal you have seen a diaphragm. Your diaphragm is a wall of muscle between your lungs and stomach attached to your rib cage. This helps you breathe, as this muscle expands and contracts it allows your lungs to open up and receive more air. While breathing try to push your stomach out as you inhale and bring your stomach in while you exhale. This is how your body was designed to work, because of “society’s view on belly fat” people try to puff up their chest to breath in and try not to show a fat gut. Belly breathing is the exact opposite to that, although you may look a little fat, you will be able to calm down quicker. This is important for when you are out of breath and have to take a shot, or you need to rest for a second before you continue to drag that deer to your truck.
Interval training is short bouts of intense exercise paired with longer bouts of rest. You can do this with anything from body weight squats to sprints to jumping jacks. Do the exercise for 30-60 seconds then rest for 60-120 seconds. Your rest time should be roughly twice as long as your exercise time. The purpose for interval training for hunters is to teach your body to calm your heart rate fast, this will be easier with belly breathing. This will help when you run down the hill to retrieve your deer and he jumps up and continues to run. You’ll have to finish him off with another shot, but if your heart rate is at 170+ beats per minute, there is a good chance you will miss. Teaching your body to calm your heart rate will also help with recovery after you have drug the deer all the way back to your truck and now you have to load it into the back. Taking a second to calm down and relax will allow you to produce more force to lift that deer into your truck.
These are just a few things you can add to your workouts now to help make sure you are ready to go once the season starts! Visit this website frequently to see more fitness tips for the modern day hunter. #CelebrateMan