Conditioning for your Hunt & Life Beyond

There is no doubt about it! The presence of Covid-19 has changed how we are currently living our lives. These days of social distancing absolutely have their downsides. I can’t help but appreciate, however, the heightened perspective that it has brought to many. I see people dialing in on what is truly important to them; faith, family and our health. Projects that have gone untouched for months, or even years, are getting checked off to-do lists. Local outings with our children are on the rise and new goals are emerging. This is great!

Unfortunately, I have also seen the quarantine have a negative impact elsewhere. There are countless posts circulating about lack of exercise and over eating. Gyms are closed. We are at home snacking. Are bad habits taking a hold of you? Sheltering in place is not easy! We had a blog ready for you readers about “conditioning for your hunt”. The blog’s suggestions were more easily accomplished before these days of isolation. Or were they? Many of us are finding ourselves with a bit more time on our hands and motivation to step out of the house into the spring weather. Maybe we can shift some of the ideas to be applicable now and dare I say, even helpful as we cope with our current lifestyle of isolation.

a sweet bunch of mule deer cross the hiking trail

Hunters revel in the preparation phase. The hunt is booked. The licenses are purchased. Travel plans are in place. You have been researching and buying all the right equipment. Some of you eat, sleep and breath this stuff. You know who you are! You take the time at the range to perfect your shot group. Maps are memorized and you have all the right apps downloaded on your phone. Day and night you are consumed with visions of your next great adventure. And now you’re just waiting for open season.

Some would say, that’s all it takes! There is a key element though, at times, which goes untouched; Conditioning for your hunt. If you were to ask any SNS team member about goals for our clients, you would hear words like; “safety, ethical, memorable, good times, successful…” We all want you to have the hunt of a lifetime. Every time! Lack of physical preparation will be reflected in your hunt, potentially impacting your enjoyment, experience and even results. Make no mistake about it! You do not want to show up out of shape to traverse Wyoming’s wild country side!

Now, you may be pumping the brakes. Physical fitness can be a sensitive subject. I really do understand. We see all ranges of a physique, strength, stamina and age for that matter. This blog, by no means, comes with any unrealistic expectations. Instead, it is meant to be a friendly reminder. Make healthy choices. Put in the effort. Prep yourself and you will discover greater pleasure in the hunt.

Self assessment time!
Identify strengths/weaknesses, What do I need to work on?  Goal setting: find attainable, realistic goals
Action Plan: plan ways to achieve these goals
Implementation: Progress: not perfection
Reap the benefits: enjoy your next hunt to the fullest

Let’s get REAL. Take a moment to self reflect. Wash away any temptations to make excuses or be dishonest with yourself. You are doing this for YOU after all. Assess your level of fitness right now. Can you climb into the saddle on your elk hunt? Could you hike the hillsides glassing for mule deer? Are you ready to hunt at this elevation? Would you be able to crouch in or even crawl through the sage to hunt antelope? Can you withstand Wyoming’s drastic weather changes?

If you are not quite ready for such tasks, not to worry! Instead, now is the time to set goals! While focusing on what you would like to get out of your hunt, set some attainable goals to get you 100% ready. These may include; I’d like to be able to climb into the saddle without struggling. I want to hike without gasping for air. I hope to avoid sore, stiff muscles. I’d like to increase my walking distance and stamina.

Take action. Different goals will obviously have very different action plans. The beauty is in being able to adapt. Keep in mind, maintaining a routine is tremendously healthy for you. Incorporating in some time to exercise has the ability to positively impact your whole outlook. If you are working from home, or drowning in homeschooling your kids, try taking a periodic break to walk around the block. Additional benefits can be found in moving your routine outside. As days are getting longer and the weather is warming up, a jog or walk could be the best medicine for you. As you progress through conditioning for your hunt, increase your distance, speed or the amount of hills you tackle. Bring along some water, sunblock and extra layers in a rucksack to get you used to carrying the extra weight. “Flat landers” have less access to hills but try out your local high school stadium stairs to fill the bill. A few reps climbing those can make all the difference! If you happen to have access to a treadmill, experiment with increasing your speed and/or incline in intervals. If you tire from the routine, a jump rope can be purchased very inexpensively and is a heck of a workout. Don’t forget to add in calisthenics and stretching. The web has been flooded these days with online workouts. Many of which are free or offering free trials. All you have to do is surf and find what best suits your fancy and skill level. If you don’t have weights or equipment at home, get creative! Go ahead, curl that gallon of milk!

Troy Gilmore, camp manager & expert pronghorn guide for SNS, reminded me the average person walks at a 3.2 mph pace. Pushing yourself to up your rate by even 0.2 mph or greater will increase your heart rate and help you work on your lung capacity. Troy also suggests wearing your hiking boots while you walk or jog. This will break in any new pairs and the extra weight will help build and condition legs. Troy asks you to “focus on what you want out of your hunt.” Whatever your skill level use caution. Be sure you mix it up and keep it fun.

Your action plan may include making improvement to your dietary intake. This is a perfect time to cut out “fast” food and find some new favorites. Cooking at home can be quite the savings on calories and your pocketbook all at once. If you have already filled your freezer with venison, try a delicious, wild game recipe. Find fun in fixing a non-starchy vegetable to pair with your meat. Replace that colored sport drink or soda with water. Decrease the amount of alcohol consumption and kick the smoking habit once and for all. Just imagine how amazing you could feel come this time next you with adopting solid healthy habits like these!

There is nothing wrong with starting small, but now is the time to implement. Do not put it off! If you wait until August to make improvements, it will likely be too late. Experts say writing a goals down makes you 60% more likely to follow through. Who knows what else you may discover about yourself journalling your progress.

I recently decided to practice what I preach. I treated myself to a day on the Wyoming’s mule deer country. Hiking through the sage, smelling the pine, feeling the sun on my neck was far more therapeutic than I had anticipated. It was a different kind of workout than I am accustomed to, but feeling the fatigue in my thighs that night was rewarding. Better yet, I inhaled a good dose of fresh air and vitamin D. I found such enjoyment climbing the hillsides, I already have plans to return!

As I mentioned before, sheltering in place has its challenges. Our day to day choices effect our ability to thrive. Now may be the time to renew your efforts for physical fitness, mental health & your overall well being. Making the time and effort to condition ourselves will pay dividends, both in your next hunting adventure and in life beyond. Stay Well & Stay Active!

Reminders: Please be sure to consult your physician prior to starting any new exercise regimen. Hydrate! Start slow and progress lightly. These are simple suggestions, not information from a trained professional.