By Kurt Schirado, Ultimate Outdoor Adventures TV
The annually anticipated deer rifle season has finally arrived, and many have spent months preparing for what some outdoor enthusiasts consider to be a 16 ½ day holiday. Preparation oftentimes begins with landowner relations followed by various scouting trips, studying maps, organizing clothing, and keeping marksmanship skills in check. But even after checking off the final item on the “big game” checklist, way too many big hunters are forgetting a very important factor when planning for any hunting adventure…being physically prepared! I know what you may be thinking, “It’s too late to worry about it now,” wrong! Just because the fall hunting season has already started, that doesn’t mean we can sit in the rocking chair every evening or let our backsides melt to the seat of a tree stand. If your physical fitness level is up to par, then keep it that way; otherwise, get off your duff and do something about it. If you’ve drawn that once in a lifetime elk tag or just want to enjoy this year’s hunting season without being winded after climbing every hill, don’t wait until it’s time to go and then assume a few days of jogging will whip you into shape.
Allow us to encourage you to make physical fitness part of your lifestyle, not just something you do because the doctor said it’s time to start exercising, and maybe use the current big game season to help begin your new lifestyle. Performing some type of physical activity should be something you do on a regular basis. There are numerous ways to get into, or stay in shape. Find an activity you like and go for it.
Exercise shouldn’t be a chore or something you dread. Exercise actually increases your energy level, so if you feel sluggish while walking to and from your tree stand, you don’t necessarily need more sleep, but rather, you may need more physical activity. Remember, the idea is to make this part of your lifestyle which will enable you to enjoy the outdoors that much more. Start slow and be careful…You may get hooked!
CHOOSE AN ACTIVITY YOU ENJOY…
Did you catch the word, activity? It means just what it says; be active. But the fact is you need to do something that will increase your heart rate and work your lungs. The general rule to maintain your current level of fitness is to exercise three times a week for at least twenty minutes. Make sure you’re doing something that increases your heart rate and respiratory rate.
Start slow, if you’re not usually active, then it is important to find a variety of activities in order to keep from getting bored. Take a walk through the woods (put your back pack on for more intensity), jog, combine the two, bike (it’s easier on the joints), roller blade. More outdoorsmen/women take to the field during the deer season than any other time of the year; therefore, there is no better time to kick off your new lifestyle.
Thank God for endorphins! These are your body’s natural pain killers that produce what you may have heard some refer to as, “the runner’s high”. When you finish your activity and you feel good, that’s part of the reason. Another reason you’ll feel good is because you have the satisfaction of knowing you did something productive and healthy allowing you to spend more quality time in the field chasing a big whitetail or stalking mule deer in the badlands.
Resistance training is another way of saying, “lifting weights,” without the idea of having to look like Arnold what’s his name?! This area of training is important because it helps to keep your bones strong.
As we age our bones can become weak, especially if you lead a sedentary lifestyle.
There is proper technique involved with weight training, so if you’re unfamiliar with it, get some
assistance from an expert… Gold’s Gym is an excellent place to start, and their professionals are
trained as well as experienced when it comes to establishing a program that will work for you.
If the only weights you’ve lifted recently are your rifle and fanny pack, take it easy as you get
started. The first time you begin any type of new activity you will use strange muscles and in
different ways; therefore, expect to get a little sore. But, if you end up so stiff that you can’t
move for three days, you better ease up. You can lift weights and combine your cardio workout
at the same time by limiting your time between exercises.
MONITOR WHAT YOU EAT…
I don’t want to use the “D” word (diet) because then I’ll lose you for sure. To me, a diet is something you go on and then go off. It’s a temporary fix. Remember, our goal is to make fitness part of our lifestyle so that we can continue to enjoy our outdoor passion. We’re in this for the long haul, so we’re not going to go on a diet, instead we’re going to monitor what we eat. If your goal is to lose weight, you must expend more calories than you consume. Sorry, that’s nature’s rule, not mine. It doesn’t help that as we age our metabolism slows down causing our body to burn less fat. I would encourage you to eat foods that are low in fat, especially if you want to lose the spare tire. You know the foods; fish and chicken (not always deep fried), turkey, and venison are all very low in fat if you don’t add any when you prepare it. You need to get your share of fruits and veggies which supply your body with essential vitamins. Your body does not produce vitamins on its own so you need to get them from foods or supplements.
Be aware of how much fat you’re eating and don’t gorge yourself at every meal. Eat until your satisfied, not stuffed.
Your body needs fluids. It needs water, and more than you think. Your thirst response is actually slow, so by the time your brain tells you you’re thirsty, you’re behind schedule. A good way to monitor your fluid intake is to observe the color of your urine. If it’s a dark yellow or amber color it’s too concentrated and you need to drink more water. The clearer your urine the more hydrated your body. Sports drinks are good because of the additives, especially during or after your workout. Just keep drinking water throughout the day. This will help to decrease your appetite a little bit at meal times, resulting in fewer calories consumed.
When you’re in the field – especially while hunting rugged terrain such as the ND Badlands – use a hydration pack instead of a water bottle while hunting or hiking, it allows easy access to fluids keeping you more hydrated throughout the day.
This is probably the most overlooked aspect of fitness. Stretching should be done daily to prevent soreness and even reduce tension that builds up in the neck, shoulders and upper back area. It will decrease your chances of tearing muscle tissue and tendons. Think of your muscles as rubber bands. If a rubber band is cold, it won’t stretch very far before breaking, but if it’s warm, it will stretch a lot farther. Same goes for your muscles.
If you’ve never done any stretching get some assistance. Some people are naturally more flexible than others so don’t try to obtain the flexibility of an Olympic Gymnast. Don’t bounce when you’re stretching, instead, breathe easily and try to relax as you slowly try to increase your flexibility. Stretching can be done at the end of your workout, to help you wind down and relax. The same is true when heading into the field, stretch first, and then hunt.
This new “lifestyle” shouldn’t become an obsession or take up all of your time. We can all spare twenty, or thirty minutes a day, three to five times a week, for some type of activity. It’s good preventive medicine. It’ll keep you in the woods longer and enjoying your outdoor adventure.
Don’t go overboard when you start, this will only lead to burn out. Start slow, this is a lifelong commitment, so enjoy the journey.
You can make your own decision. Every choice we make has a consequence. I can almost hear some of you saying, “I’ll live the way I want, it’s my life.”
That’s right…it is your life!