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Deer Hunting Fitness | Off Season Conditioning

Troy Thomas

deer hunting

It’s the off season and I’m not talking about football. I’m talking about deer hunting. It’s eight months till hunting season, so you won't be able to head into the woods with your hunting bow. With that bruiser buck you saw on your trail camera last fall still on your mind, now’s the perfect time to get your body in shape for next deer hunting season.

This nice buck had to be dragged out almost two miles. Photo: J Furlano

This nice buck had to be dragged out almost two miles. Photo: J Furlano

  I’m writing from the perspective of an older hunter (I’m 53) As we all get older, I’m assuming, you’ll want to continue to deer hunt well into those golden years? Hunting for whitetail deer isn’t easy. I hunt public conservation land here in my county and in 2014 my tree stand was just under a mile from where we could park. Add snow, freezing temps, a pack, your bow, hills (maybe mountains where you live) and you're in for a workout! I know you’re always thinking of ways to lighten your backpack, well, how about taking 5 or 10 pounds out of that pack you call your belly. How about getting rid of some of that junk in your trunk? The average gun ways 12.5 pounds. That might not seem like a lot but once you’ve carried it for a mile or so that 12.5 pounds may feel more like 30 lbs? The modern compound bow doesn't weigh much but if you're hunting elk or bear you're gonna want a draw weight of 70 to 75 lbs. Thats not easy to draw back. Now, you’ve harvested a nice buck, even after you’ve field dressed him, he may still weight 170 lbs on average!

First You’ll Want to Develop a Plan:

  You just don't walk into the woods and hope to shoot a deer. You scout buy studying topographical maps and walk the property for deer signs. Well, you need to scout out a plan for your fitness needs as well. Your off season hunting strategy should be two pronged. Weight lose is a critical part but eating right needs its own plan but in this post I’ll concentrate on the exercise.

  First, for all you should schedule a visit to your doctor for a checkup (whether you’re over 50 or not). You need to know if your hearts healthy enough to begin an exercise program. Once you’ve started exercising, you should still go yearly or every other year at least for a physical. (timing is up for debate according to WebMD, so consult your doctor). During this first visit you should focus on your BMI (Body Weight Index) and heart rate. If you're a typical american, your BMI number will probably scare the shit out of you, but it will help you set some fitness goals.

What Type of Exercise Plan/Schedule:

  Google “fitness” or “exercise program” and the number of choices will make your head spin! Which to choose, XP90, spinning (stationary cycling), TRX or Boot Camps? You could bike, run or swim! Join a fitness center if you can and try two or three activities to see what you like? If the gyms not for you, maybe you would like tennis or golf once it warms up? Try a few of the online fitness programs on Youtube (plus they're free). I still play basketball three days a week for a great cardio workout.

My hunting partner pulled the ladder stand, plus two tree stands out over a mile - pays to be in shape!

My hunting partner pulled the ladder stand, plus two tree stands out over a mile - pays to be in shape!

  For anyone over 50, you're going to want focus on cardio, strength, and mobility. I believe mobility exercises are especial important for those of us over 50. The joints and tendons are only going to get tighter as we all age.

  I personally take crossfit classes. There's a variety in the exercises that focus on both building muscle and cardio for the heart. I also like classes for the same reason I like playing basketball. I like the social interaction and being part of a community. Being part of a group keeps me motivated. We all support one another to help reach our goals. Over the years I’ve worked my way up to 1.5 to 2 hours per day (my day starts at 5), five days a week to train. Saturday and Sundays, I try and walk or stay active but they are also days to rest my body. Simply starting (or ending) with a daily half hour walk, is a goal that will head you in the right direction.

  Remember, your plan should include being patient as well as being persistent. Set a goal keep you on track and motivated. Being fit will help you be the best deer hunter you can be!