I was working out last night with Zack from Whetstone Habitat who was in town to do a consult for a new client.

Zack is a wildlife biologist and if you are not familiar with his work, he travels the county creating in-depth, habitat improvement plans for whitetail deer, turkey, and quail. He is also a workout fanatic.

As we finished up a solid lift that had some fun athletic movement/power development sets sprinkled in, we talked a little about how arduous habitat work can be. Set aside the simple act of walking your property to identify projects and you will be tasked with actions such as:

  • Removing invasive species such as bush honeysuckle or multiflora rose
  • Running chainsaws to improve timber stands or clear logging roads of fallen trees
  • Planting trees
  • Creating food plots
  • Spreading fertilizer
    • Caging trees to protect them from deer browsing them off
    • Hanging stands

    And these are just a few possible work projects you might encounter as you prepare to chase whitetails in the fall.

    Broadcasting clover is the easy part. Prepping a hidey-hole plot takes WORK

    When we first purchased our Northern Missouri farm, we did not even have a pick-up truck which meant we hauled gear in and out. Our 40 acres is a perfect square, so if you walk from the road to the opposite fence line, the distance is a quarter mile. That is equivalent to one lap around a high school track. Without a pick-up or ATV, we logged a lot of miles carrying chainsaws, 50-pound bags of fertilizer, and deer stands which demanded a certain level of physical fitness to be productive, work efficiently, and not get injured.

    How hard should you work out?

    Instagram reels might have you believe if you aren’t deadlifting 400 pounds or working until you either puke or lay exhausted on the floor, you did not work out. There are also a lot of “influencers” and companies who promote the same and those beliefs do more harm than good in recruiting people to exercise regularly. 

    So how hard do you need to workout? It depends on the demands you place on your body. When we did not have a logging road or way to transport gear, we were the pack mules. I remember a day when we hauled 50-pound bags of fertilizer on our shoulders in the creation of a hidey-hole food plot.

    One of our foundational principles is to build the workout around the activity and if done correctly, we will stair step volume, exercise selection, and intensity around the desired activity and adjust accordingly. This is fancy talk for we build an exercise program, you do it, you also perform habitat work, then compare notes such as:

    • Were you able to run your chainsaw more effectively and for longer time periods?
    • Were there any weak spots (low back, hip, shoulder, knee)?
    • At the end of your work project, did you have more gas in the tank or were you exhausted?
    • The next day, were you sore from the habitat work or could you perform other activities of daily living without issue?

    You know your program is working when you can clearly answer the questions above and your performance is trending up.

    Where should you begin?

    Coach Jeremy overlooks a permanent forest opening that was seeded with clover

    Now. The answer is now because spring green up is here. Once you tag a turkey or two, it is time to ensure plots are planted, invasive species like bush honeysuckle are terminated and any timber stand improvement is done. The longer you wait to deploy a workout program reduces the luxury of being physically prepared to work more efficiently on your property.

    Other considerations

    Athletes do not wait for the first game to practice or train, but many of us roll right out on the first warm day and expect our bodies to perform. As I get older, I have recognized the importance of physical fitness to not only help me get more work done on my property but to truly enjoy the work. I like sitting on a log after a long day just to take in the work that has been completed. It could be taking in the beauty of the pollinator plot we established last year or experiencing the satisfaction of the fallen bush honeysuckle skeletons after a day of cut stump treatments. The bottom line is if you are in better shape, you will fend off father time and will get more enjoyment out of your habitat projects.

    It isn’t magic

    If you are struggling with what kind of exercise program to utilize, shoot us a message at info@stayfittohunt.com. We consult with people all over the globe and would love to answer your questions. You can also consider a program such as our Base Conditioning workout which is chock full of movement patterns you will use in your habitat work, but no matter what option you choose, if you are not consistent with your program, it will not produce the results you desire; it is just more work. Add in three days of intentional movement each week, and you may be shocked at how well you perform on your next work day at the farm.

    If you are chasing turkeys this spring good luck! If you are rolling right into spring habitat projects, tag us in your outdoor pics and connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We LOVE seeing properties transform into wildlife havens! You can also get a lot of FREE exercise ideas and see some of our habitat projects by subscribing to our YouTube channel!

    Thanks for reading, let us know how we can help you and Stay #FitToHunt!