Dragging a deer will let you know just how good of shape you are in

Luckily, we are in pretty good shape. Jack Koerber tagged a monster buck on our farm this past Saturday with his bow and knowing we had the ability to track, recover, and drag the buck back to the clover plot where we loaded it in the Tacoma was a great feeling. And that was after a 3:30 am wake-up to get to the farm before legal light. Next weekend, firearms season kicks off and we are back to the grind. Once that concludes, we switch to waterfowl. Early mornings, gas station food, enough coffee to put down a large horse and little sleep can take its toll on your body. Here are a few tactics we use to maintain our health and wellness while still spending as much time as possible in the outdoors.

The Maintenance Workout

We train all year to be prepared to chase whitetails and ducks. Some of you train to go after elk, mule deer or other large game, but the type, volume, and frequency of your training will likely need to change if you are spending more time hunting. In-season, I focus on getting 20-25 quality sets that focus on large muscle group movements two times per week. The workout design will not waiver. It will still include:

  • Active Warm-Up
  • Core Activation
  • Athletic Movement/Power Development
  • Strength
  • Cool-Down/Stretch

What will change is the overall volume and exercise selection. Remember, just like an athlete, we are working to maintain your strength & conditioning throughout the season. Not build. You may use similar movements but the frequency and volume change.

Jack using a pair of Game Cuffs to drag his buck to the truck

Base Nutrition

Let me be clear; I am going to tear up some Little Debbie snack cakes this season. Nutrition is important but you have to live a little. That being said, there is too much of a good thing and after a few weeks of pizza, energy drinks, and other gas station delicacies, the system begins to revolt. Here are some things that have helped me tremendously over the past few seasons.

Pack my snacks: Whether in my backpack or waterfowl bag, I make sure I have plenty of protein and energy bars, nuts, trail mix, and other healthier snacks to offset the not-so-healthy items. One of my favorites (and the kids love them too) is Wilderness Athlete’s Pack Out Bars. They contain roughly 240 calories, 20 grams of protein, and 11 grams of fat which will keep you full and performing for your entire hunt.

Hydration is key: I LOVE my coffee but that only works for so long. Always make sure you have water with you. Even mild dehydration will cause a dip in performance, so whether you are working on tagging a buck with your bow or shooting mallards, dehydration may cause you to lose focus which could mean missing your target. Plus, your body performs better when hydrated.

Practice the 85% Rule: This one is simple. Eat the best or healthiest food choices possible 85% of the time and that gas station pizza 15% of the time. An 85% is a B+. If your nutrition is a B+, I like your odds of performing well and staying at a healthy weight.

Quality Sleep

Notice I did not discuss quantity? I am constantly preaching sleep but I know that early morning waterfowl draws or trips to the farm to chase whitetails means running low on the sleep meter. When I know the amount of Z’s will be low, I focus on quality. This means doing things like:

  • Turning off devices 1-2 hours before bedtime
  • Sleeping in a cool room
  • Limiting caffeine in the afternoon

And on the odd day when either work calls or I don’t go hunting, try to fit in a nap. It is not possible to “catch up” on sleep that you have not been getting but giving your body extra rest when you have that opportunity is important. Be mindful of your schedule and if you can get more rest, find a couch, pull the hat over your eyes, and go horizontal.

This is arguably our favorite time of the year. I bet it is yours as well. I look at times like the whitetail rut or a cold, hard northwest wind that brings in new ducks as my Superbowl and friends, I am going all in. These are the tips I use to maintain my health and fitness from September through January. They work for me and I promise, they will work for you too.

Give these techniques a try and if you have questions, shoot us an email at info@stayfittohunt.com. You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel which has over 420 exercise videos or join our exercise of the week email.

Thanks for reading, good luck this month, and Stay #FitToHunt!