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The Athletic Hunter

By Russ Van Orman

Please check with your doctor to insure your well-being before starting any type of physical exercise program.


This is the first of a four part series that will establish a baseline of physical fitness; then proceed through core, cardio and strength training.


Summer is approaching so it is time to start thinking about next hunting season. What is the most important element in getting ready for next season? Sighting your gun in? Finding a place to hunt? Purchasing hunting gear on sale? Locating an outfitter? Nope. Your well being is. After talking with a number of different outfitters, one of the main reasons people have just an ‘OK’ hunt versus a great hunt is the physical level of the individual hunting.  Not to mention, do-it-yourself hunts usually require even higher levels of physical fitness.


What does this mean to you? Does it mean you need to run a sub-6 minute mile? No. However, based on your age and health it does mean improving your overall health thus improving your hunting experience.  Packing an elk or dragging a deer out of the woods can be a strenuous activity. Not to mention the hike back into the wilderness in search of that trophy.  One outfitter, I talked with told me about a client that refused to walk the ¼ mile up a hill where two bull elk were bedded down. The client went about 100 yards and refused to go any farther. The outfitter continued up the hill and sat down next to a blow down with the two bull elk less than 200 yards away.


Okay let’s get started! First, this time of year that we have lots a bad weather. Therefore, in order to start your baseline program you will need to have a place to work out. A reputable gym would be a good place to start. There are many different types of gyms, from large to small.  Some gyms are even non-profit. Before you join any gym, talk with the current clientele to find out if the equipment is well-maintained. Is it kept clean? Are there any hidden fees?  Most athletic facilities have month-to-month payment plans or yearly dues. Some of the non-profits will charge you based on your income. Most gyms will provide you with a trainer that will give you an orientation of how the equipment is used. A home gym is a great idea if you have the room and are self-motivated. One thing about home gym equipment is, you will get exactly what you pay for. Usually the less expensive the equipment, the higher the level of maintenance required.


The first day of your workout you should familiarize yourself with the equipment, the cardio machines, and the area where people stretch out. Bring some water, a pad of paper and towel for sweat.


Start your routine with lightly stretching.  Try touching your toes. Stand with your feet about hip width apart and slowly bend forward at the waist. Go as far as you can with out pain. If this doesn’t feel comfortable, sit on the floor and bend forward at the waist and try touching your toes. Go as far as you can and hold this position.  Then, slowly come back to your starting position. Repeat two sets eight to ten times.  If this is easy, find a rail or a bench and put one leg up on the bench.  With your knee slightly bent slowly bend at your waist touching your chin to your knee. Repeat with the other leg.


After you’re done warming up, head to the stationary bike. Based on your level of fitness, start out slowly at a low level. This isn’t a competition, so don’t worry about what the person next to you is doing. You’re here to accomplish your fitness goals and get ready for next years hunting season.


You should ride the bike 5 to 10 minutes without stopping at a low level. Increase the time by ten to twenty minutes and the level if this is easy.  When you’re finished, drink some water and write down how long you rode and the intensity then proceed to the treadmill.


Once on the treadmill, start walking then set the speed so you’re comfortable. The goal here is distance, so start out slowly. Try walking ¼ to ½ mile and then work your way up to a mile, etc… Again, if this easy or as it becomes easier then set your pace faster and increase the incline of the machine. Remember to drink some water and write down your accomplishments in your fitness diary. 


After you’re done on the treadmill, it is time to stretch again. When you stretch it should be slow and easy. Don’t bounce since this could cause injury.  


The total time of your baseline workout should be between 45 and 60 minutes. In order to increase your base line, you should repeat this workout three times a week for two weeks. Then four times a week for two weeks. The next two weeks you should start to increase your distance, time and incline on the treadmill. Remember, when starting out with any exercise routine it is important not to become so sore or injured that you quit. Therefore, go slow and easy when starting out then increase your intensity when it feels right.


The two most important things to remember are to be consistent in your workout and diet. If you workout one day then wait two weeks and workout again, you will have little, if any, benefit in setting your baseline.


The best diet is one low in fat, low in carbs, and high in lean protein. There are many books written about diets. I advise reading one to point you in the right direction. Ninety percent of your workout and achieving your goals is directly related to what and when you eat.  It is far better to eat four or five smaller meals a day than eat two or three larger meals. Your body is biological machine.  Treat it well and it will take you to many adventures into the Deep Countree!