Fall prep: Getting in shape for hunting big country
The countdown is at 16 days. A general OTC elk tag is en route to my house from the Colorado Parks & Wildlife. My house is in disarray, as is my hunting gear. I’ve never done a bivy hunt in the mountains, and it has been eight years since I’ve hunted the high-country. I’m excited and nervous.
I’m excited for obvious reasons. I’m nervous because I don’t believe it’s possible to fully prepare for the elevation and the sheer butt-kicking the mountains can deliver to just about anyone. This isn’t to say I haven’t been working out, I have. For more than two years I’ve been going to gym to lift and run, and I’ve also been racking up the miles on the roads and trails near my home. In fact, I’ve been averaging about 80 miles per month just from running.
The app I use to track my progress reveals a major hole in my elk-prep game, however, by showing me how much elevation I gain during each run. Even though I try to map my runs to take advantage of the available hills, there just aren’t very many. I’m lucky to climb 100 feet of elevation during an eight-mile run. When I’m in the mountains, I’ll climb nearly that far for a bathroom break outside my tent at night.
It’s going to be brutal, I know, but being physically shot at the end of the day, or a few hours into the day for that matter, is a price worth paying to spend 10 days in the high-country. I hope some of the muscle fatigue comes as a result of packing out a bull (or a cow), but I also know the reality of bowhunting elk. It’s not easy, and there’s no such thing as a guarantee. At the very least, I’ll get to spend some nights without cell service in a place where wild still means something and if I’m really lucky, the work I’ve put in will pay off.
Scratch that, I know it will. I just don’t know if it will pay off with fresh backstraps or simply the feeling of having gone after it as hard as possible. Either way, I can’t wait.