I’ve been reading about getting in shape on Internet hunting forums for several years now. The self proclaimed expert advice can be overwhelming and varies from one guy to the next, but one thing is for certain, there isn’t much applicable advise for the whitetail folk. It seems that the iconic magazine/TV personalities are pushing hunting fitness that primarily pertains to out west (mostly elk), but no one is focused on the whitetail guys. I believe whitetail folk want to be in shape for health and wellness benefits, but also to make things easier when hanging stands, dragging out deer, and scouting responsibilities. We can agree that whitetail fitness and out west fitness is not the same thing, but it’s time to step up and finally offer some light on the subject. Not all whitetail hunters are fat, lazy, and don’t need to be in shape, in fact there are plenty that are limited to primarily whitetails and would agree that being in shape is going to help their season. So if you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering why do fist-pumping fitness freaks keep getting ink in my favorite publication. Look, I know you need takeaway information that will make you more successful at hunting so, my aim is to come up with enough compelling reasons for you to revisit fitness one more time from a whitetail hunters perspective. Here’s what you need to be in whitetail shape and why.I believe to sit in a tree-stand all day, on full predator alert, like your next meal depended on it, that you have to be in good shape. A guy that doesn’t have a well-rounded fitness portfolio can easily succumb to feeling sleepy at certain points of an all day sit, maybe even in a two hour sit. If you space off or feel sluggish, you just might cost yourself the one opportunity at a mature buck and squander a potential encounter. If you’re overweight, weak, stressed, or distracted, do you really care what you ate for dinner the night before a hunt? Does it matter that breakfast was gas station donuts and coffee? What you eat, how you train, and your overall discipline determines how well you feel and how well you perform in my opinion. This can and will apply to whitetail hunters. A fitness minded heartland bowhunter needs a predator mindset, which takes some mental strength. Mental toughness may come natural to some, but for most it could use some improvement and I believe demanding workouts and the discipline that fitness yields just might put you over the top when it comes to full alert mode. Motivation to hunt as hard as you did opening day as you do the last day, even when the action is slow. This is the art of mental toughness and I want to share 5 ideas that will better prepare the mind through fitness.
- Be vested – more time and energy invested, the more drive, the less quit you possess, a recipe for success. You knocked on doors, gained access, discovered bedding and feeding areas, uncovered funnels, old rubs, and even picked up some sheds. You hung stands and cameras, cut shooting lanes, brought supplemental feed, and even constructed food plots. Effort like this is what it takes. Why not add to the pot some weekly strength and conditioning, up the ante by dropping a few pounds, develop more discipline by cooking healthier meals, and spark a better attitude by employing some endorphin driven workouts a week.
- Preparation – luck is where preparation meets opportunity. The military puts our forces in the worst case scenarios. Football coaches drill a 4th quarter two minute offense, preparing their soldiers/athletes for all scenarios. If you’ve been there and done that you’re less likely to fail. Know your limitations, test the waters, don’t wait for the season to convene adversity, shake hands with it before you step into the field. Get comfortable with uncomfortable.
- Add up the cost: how many miles did you drive, how much was your tag, license, and conservation stamp. How many years did it take you to draw that tag, or save up the money to afford this hunt. How many hours did you spend doping in your weapon, swapping gear, studying maps, and lurking Internet chat rooms to gather intelligence.
- Don’t coach yourself. A third party can help see chinks in your armor, provide breadth and depth knowledge in a five minute conversation that would take you years to learn. A coach can offer a non-biased approach to your approach.
In closing, if I only had whitetails to hunt, I would gravitate towards all day sits no matter the weather, no lunch breaks, no stand naps, just the most disciplined hunting allowed. I would have a dozen stand set-ups (which, takes some fitness to do correctly), and an attitude that perfection matters. Hike the extra few miles to get the wind right, be fit so a quarter mile hike doesn’t leave you soaked in sweat which, will eventually be your demise if you get cold and have to get down, etc. Whitetail hunting is one of the hardest pursuits when done correctly and with passion. Plus, have you ever had to get a whitetail back to your truck without the aid of a four-wheeler or a buddy, etc? I’m sure you have, but I’d be worried about most overweight hunters trying to drag a 150lb buck even a quarter mile in some hilly country. Predators that are fit, survive. Whitetail shape needs no distinction from elk shape or sheep shape. When you’re fit, healthy, you hunt better, you hunt harder, and you probably get to hunt longer in life.