By Dan Staton
All elk hunting is hard. Elk simply do not want to die. In fact, they reside in areas that do not get disturbed and are able to disappear from danger at a moments notice. Wherever you find elk, there will be challenges ahead – that I guarantee you.
Fatigue usually comes knocking on ‘Day 3’ of the hunt, after lots of elevation gain/loss and rubber worn off your boots. Fatigue warning signs are subtle, such as choosing to sleep in, moving a lot slower or becoming less surefooted. Fatigue will rob you of your confidence and diminish your predatory instinct. Fatigue is a liar, so to ward off the ravages of fatigue, you should get into Elk Shape before the season rolls around. Nutrition, training and supplementation can help you become fatigue’s worst nightmare. Here’s how to get started:
Become One With Your Hunting Backpack
A few fortunate elk hunters live relatively close to their hunting unit. They will make bomb-runs to scout, hump the hills, glass basins and leave trail cameras littered across the country. Meanwhile, others will be forced to study maps, beg for information on hunting forums and try to make things happen when they arrive in the fall. Whether you’re a veteran or greenhorn, you will hike to find elk and hustle to get into position on them. A backpack will likely never leave you throughout the hunt. You have to carry food, water and game bags every step of the way. So getting into Elk Shape requires that you wear your backpack loaded down while you train to simulate what elk hunting has in store for you.
Step-ups With Backpack
Use a step or box with a height of 16” at the minimum and wear your hunting backpack loaded with at least 30 pounds of weight. Add a few pounds to the pack each week leading up to the September opener. I always train with a pack that is heavier than what my actual set-up is, that way I feel light and mobile on the mountain come September. Step-ups are designed to use your legs and torso. Perform by stepping up onto the box with your lead leg, minimize push off with your back foot and pay close attention to perfect posture as you step up and down. Alternate legs each step and keep track of your reps.
Eat Real Food
With so much advice out there on nutrition, how do you decipher fact from fiction? Let’s cut the crap and stick to the basics. Eat to live, don’t live to eat. Food is medicine, food is fuel. Food is not your emotional support group. Having a bad day is no excuse to sit on the couch and eat ice cream. Strive to treat nutrition with some respect and due diligence. Search for foods that can be found in nature, not man made packaging and processing. If you can’t kill it, pick it, or dig it, then don’t eat it. Look for real foods and fill your plate with a rainbow a day. What I am saying is, eat colorful foods such as fruits, vegetables and lean sources of meat from fish and wild game. Your main source of carbohydrates should be from vegetables, not sugar. Nobody ever put on fat from eating too many salads.
Fuel Your Body With Proper Nutrition
Proper nutrition boils down to planning and preparing food. Being cognizant of eating small, balanced meals throughout the day will ward off fat storage. Every time you eat there should be a lean protein source – a fruit and/or vegetable and some healthy fats like nuts or seeds. The second you let your guard down and eat fast food or gas station gut rot, the weight gain quickly ensues. Any weight you put on in the off-season will work against you once you step foot into your hunting unit. If I put a rock weighing 10 pounds in your hunting backpack without you knowing, you wouldn’t be happy about it. It would slowly work against you as you hunted. On the contrary, if you don’t mind lugging around an unwanted 5, 10 or 20 pounds all day, everyday of elk hunting season, then go ahead and continue to eat poorly. Most folks want to lose weight and some want to put on muscle or do both. So here are two Mtn Ops Conquer Combos:
Conquer Weight Loss Combo
This system promotes a healthy diet with supplements and meal replacement products that deliver amazing nutritional properties. When combined with consistent exercise, you will see results. Whether you want to lose 5 or 75 pounds, maintain a healthy weight or improve your overall nutritional well-being, the Conquer Weight-Loss Combo is your premier weight loss transformation solution.
- Enduro – This will aid your cardiovascular endurance and stamina, as well as recovery and fatigue resistance.
- Blaze – This one does everything – you don’t even have to train (I’m kidding). Blaze improves overall health and suppresses appetite.
- Renu – Time to gently clean and detoxify your body. This will get the ball rolling and boost your overall metabolism.
- Ammo – This will come in handy for a meal replacement and/or post workout shake. I take one immediately after training and you should too. Don’t waste your workout.
- Yeti – Pre-workout (take it up a notch).
- Ox – Increase testosterone naturally, faster recovery between workouts and muscle gain to aid in metabolism and strength.
- Phenix – Amino acids (BCAA’s) for lean muscle maintenance/gain. This one is critical for keeping all your hard earned gains.
- Magnum – Meal replacement and/or post workout that packs a big protein punch.
Nothing can replace training, specifically humping the hills with a loaded backpack. If you have the choice of either pounding a treadmill or scouting in the mountains, obviously choose the latter. Make some small changes in your nutritional decisions. Small moments of self discipline will eventually lead to big changes in your body and attitude. Endurance and confidence go hand-in-hand, so make the most of the off-season to tame the mountain. Step up your game and invest in Mtn Ops supplements, they will aid in your recovery and performance. When fall arrives, you’ll be in Elk Shape, which means you’ll be ready to conquer fatigue and conquer your unknown.
About the Author:
Dan is an avid bowhunter, holds a Master’s Degree in exercise physiology and owns CrossFit Spokane Valley. Follow him on Instagram @danthefitnessman and tag any of your training photos with #ElkShape