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Getting in Shape For Elk Season

Getting In Shape For Elk Season

By now, many hunters have found out if they have been drawn for their dream western elk or big game hunt. If you have been drawn or are planning to hunt in an area with an over-the-counter license, it is time to start preparing your body for the physical demands western elk hunts can impose.

Recently, I had a friend of mine, an avid archery hunter, share his experience while elk hunting in Arizona. The first picture he showed me from his smartphone was of a giant bull descending a thick brush-covered hill. He stated that on the first evening of his hunt, he had spotted the mature bull from a long distance with a spotting scope. After making his way through the brush, he got within sixty yards of the bedded bull. Playing a waiting game, he stayed put, anticipating the bull to get up so he could make a shot. As daylight began to disperse, the bull stood and immediately started up the hill away from his seated position. “It was so thick, I never could get a shot; my heart was broken,” said my friend.

Getting In Shape For Elk Season

On the last day of his five-day hunt, he was able to spot a bull out in a meadow at first light. He begin his half of a mile journey, finally getting within archery range. He made a successful shot on a beautiful five-by-six bull, yet the work was about to get intense. As he told me the hunt details, he showed me photos of the thick and rough terrain and where the bull had fallen. Seeing pictures of him and a colleague with meat on their backs, trying to navigate the rocky glades and mountainsides, was enough for me to feel their pain. He then explained that getting the bull out of the woods took two days. He finished the adrenaline-filled story by stating, “I’ve got to get in better shape before I return next season.”

Getting In Shape For Elk Season

Getting in shape for elk season is not an absolute necessity for success. Many hunters achieve success each year without any special preparation. However, hunting in rugged, mountainous terrain can be physically demanding. To enjoy your hunt more and be ready for the challenge, now is the time to get to work and prepare for the mountains. The two essential components for elk hunters to focus on are cardio and muscular training. Chasing bulls up and down steep mountains requires lung capacity to handle the terrain and the thinner air that sometimes makes breathing difficult if you are not in proper shape. The challenge doesn’t end when you take down a bull. The most stress on your body occurs when you attempt to carry a heavy pack full of gear and meat up and down hills to get back to your vehicle or camp. Cardio and strength training are essential to meet this challenge with a smile.

Cardio Training

Cardio training is crucial for getting in shape and conditioning your heart to handle the most grueling physical tasks. Activities such as walking, running, biking, and many others fall under cardio training.

Why Cardio Training is Important

1. Endurance: Elk hunting can involve hiking through challenging terrain. Good cardio fitness ensures you can maintain a steady pace without becoming tired.

2. Adaptation to Altitude: Many elk hunts occur at high altitudes with thinner air. Cardiovascular training helps your body adapt to lower oxygen levels, making breathing and performing physical activities at higher elevations easier.

3. Quick Recovery: Cardio fitness improves your body’s ability to recover quickly after intense bouts of activity, which is essential when you need to move quickly after spotting an elk or when packing out your harvest.

Getting In Shape For Elk Season

Strength Training

Building muscle is vital for training your body for the most grueling elk hunts. Strength training, including lifting weights and other resistance exercises, helps prepare your muscles to carry those heavy bags full of your harvest and other gear. Hunters can also benefit from hiking and walking with a backpack full of weights to build the necessary muscles for a western elk hunt.

Why Strength Training is Important

1. Load Carrying Capacity: Packing out an elk means carrying heavy loads over long distances. Strength training prepares your muscles for this by improving their ability to handle weight.

2. Injury Prevention: Strong muscles and joints are less prone to injuries. Strength training helps build resilience in your body, reducing the risk of strains and sprains.

3. Overall Stamina: Strength training enhances your stamina, ensuring you can perform repeated physical activities without significant fatigue.

Getting Started with Training

To start your training, consider creating a balanced routine incorporating cardio and strength training. Here’s a simple plan to get you going:

1. Cardio Routine:

   – Start with 30 minutes of brisk walking or jogging two to three times weekly.

   Gradually increase the duration and intensity. To simulate mountainous terrain, incorporate hills or use a treadmill with an incline.

   – Add variety with biking, swimming, or rowing to keep your workouts interesting.

2. Strength Routine:

   – Begin with basic strength exercises like squats, lunges, and deadlifts, which target the lower body muscles crucial for hiking.

   – Include upper body exercises like push-ups and rows to ensure balanced muscle development.

   – Gradually increase the weight and intensity of your workouts. Incorporate weighted hikes with a backpack to simulate carrying gear and meat demands.

Preparing your body for elk season through cardio and strength training can significantly enhance your hunting experience. Not only will you be better equipped to handle the physical demands of the hunt, but you’ll also enjoy the process more, knowing you are ready to take on the challenge. Start your training now, and you’ll be ready to greet the mountains with confidence and strength.

Getting In Shape For Elk Season
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