Shape up for hunting season – and a physical isn’t a bad idea, either
Paula and I have been doing a lot of walking lately ahead of her moose hunting trip to Newfoundland, in addition to time at the shooting range. There’s virtually no way of replicating the terrain we’ll be traversing on The Rock, where most of the time you feel like you’re walking on a big sponge. But we’re out there logging the miles, me toting my Mystery Ranch pack with a couple gallon jugs of water to load it down a bit. Hardly a moose quarter I’ll hopefully be packing out in September, but it’s a start and I’ll add more weight as the hunt nears.
Regardless of whether you’re planning a big hunt – such as elk out West, where you’ll need to be in superb physical condition to help tip the odds in your favor – now is a great time to prepare for the upcoming fall hunting seasons. And it’s not a bad idea, too, to make an appointment with your doctor for a quick physical that could potentially turn up a health issue (heart) that could save your life. Don’t laugh. I had a good friend who didn’t fill a deer tag a few years back and I’m glad he didn’t – he underwent bypass surgery shortly after the season and his doctor said he would have died in the woods dragging out any deer he shot.
I’m also a firm believer that the better shape you’re in physically, the better your mental focus will be during a long and sometimes cold day in the deer woods. And let’s face it, we’re getting older, we’re typically putting on a few pounds during the winter and they’re becoming increasingly difficult to take off.
I’ve also modified my eating habits, although admittedly I slipped up a bit last week when my sister and brother-in-law were in town. None of my locally-famous chocolate chip cookie binges these days; instead, it’s one ice cream cone (mint chocolate chip, small) per week. As a result of being diet-conscious and walking regularly, I’ve dropped 8 pounds, which is pretty good for a small-frame guy like me. I went 14 weeks either losing weight (usually a pound or just a half pound) or maintaining my weight, and after tacking on 2 pounds last week I’m sure I’ll be heading in the right direction again.
I’ve already set my sights on a big, nearly two-mile-long hill I’m planning to tackle Saturday morning, donning the pack and heading up the long slog before turning around and hiking back to the truck. To be honest, I’m pretty confident I can log some serious miles in Newfoundland and get up and do it again the next day.
But my fitness plan goes beyond this year. In 2019, I’m booked for a British Columbia mountain goat hunt, one I know will require a serious commitment in preparation for the vertical challenges that lay ahead. The calendar is not in my favor; I’ll be 63 next year, so I need to start next year with a solid physical baseline and improve from there. I know it’s a hunt that will hurt, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. But I figure if I make it hurt now it will hurt a little less when I’m climbing the mountain next year.