The “success rate” of an Outfitting concession or Outfitter himself is often judged by the successful harvest of a Trophy Animal. In many instances, the area and the Outfitter held up their end of the bargain, but it was the physical ability, or lack thereof, of the client who prevented everyone from going home happy. Throughout the years we have had numerous clients give up because they deemed the climb too difficult. It is not always the physical aspect that can prevent you from getting to your trophy, but sometimes the mental as well. We have also seen world class athletes sit down and give up on the side of the mountain, just because it’s a different sort of pain than they are used to and they could not cope with it mentally.
No matter the pain, a person can overcome it. After all, you WANTED to be there on the mountain by choice, searching for your game animal. Sometimes you just didn’t realize what you were getting into beforehand. We hope to prepare you for this eventual outcome, when your body and your mind want to give up, but your heart wants to continue.
To prepare mentally for any given hunt, watch as many “real” hunting videos out there as you can find. I know it’s hard to weed through the masses of “high-fenced hunts” and other useless nonsense out there on the internet, but do your best to find YouTube Videos and hunts where people have REAL smiles on their faces. The reason for this is usually due to the fact that they suffered, but in the end, came out on top and got the job done. Here are a few we recommend that show the real thing:
- Check out Donnie Vincent’s films. He doesn’t have a hunt where he does not suffer at least a little, or have some sort of misfortune befall him.
- Watch some of my full-length YouTube Videos. I try to do my best to capture what we actually go through on Northern hunts, and the work that goes into them.
- Brad Fry’s Guide Life series is great. He shows the real thing in the mountains as well.
Getting in good physical condition before your hunt is one of the most critical elements to success in the field. Whether you are preparing for a backpack or horseback hunt, the elements are the same. One often overlooked factor however, is the unusual muscles that will be used once you are ON the horse. Your core muscles will be engaged with every step of the animal, and your knees, hips, and legs will stretch in ways you didn’t even know possible. If you have a friend with a horse you could ride around a bit, please do so. Riding for an hour here and there a few weeks before your hunt will help break your body in for the longer rides we may encounter while out here. Your buttocks, knees, and balance will all greatly improve if you do a little riding prior to coming. Remember that even if you can ride a horse, that doesn’t mean that the horse can get you all the way to the animal. Many past hunters we have taken have become frustrated once we’ve tied up the horses for the day, as they came thinking we could ride right to the top of the mountain. Our horses are used to get you from Point A to Point B in the mountains, they are not our slaves. We will not take a horse into terrain they should not go in, for both your safety and theirs. This means that when we tie up, it is up to us to get the rest of the way to your animal.
On horseback hunts you should expect to carry 35-45 pounds per day in your backpack, 3-4 miles potentially. While backpacking, packs in excess of 70 pounds may be possible, and should be prepared for. Please remember that no matter how fancy or expensive your long-range rifle may be, it still won’t get you the final steps to your animal…only you do.
Here are a few suggestions for getting in better Physical condition for your hunt:
- GSP Rushfit is a total body workout that provides nutrition guidelines for regular training exercises. http://blog.gsprushfit.com.staging.pn.gl
- P90X is a 3-month long program that helps with your eating habits, food intake, your stretching abilities, core exercises, cardio and physical abilities, and practices yoga. It is one of the most complete workouts out there. https://www.beachbody.ca/product/fitness_programs/p90x3-workout.do
- Insanity is similar to P90X but more intense for people who are in better shape to begin with, but want to become even more so. https://www.beachbody.ca/product/fitness_programs/best_sellers/insanity.do
You can also try to book some help using a Fitness Trainer at your local gym. Tell them your plans and they will be able to help you prepare better than almost anyone.
- Walk around the block or in the nearby parks/countryside with weight in your backpack. Start with 20 pounds and as the exercises become easier and you don’t notice the weight, add more. Try working up to the weight you will be likely carrying on your hunt. (50-75 pounds) Try this at least 30-60 minutes a day, 3-5 times per week if possible.
- Try finding some local hills or mountains that you can walk going uphill, downhill, and side hilling. Side hilling seems to really challenge everyone in the mountains, especially when carrying weight in their packs, so please make sure you are comfortable walking in uneven terrain. Do this with weight in your pack for at least 30-60 minutes at a time.
- Run at a jogging pace for 20-30 minutes a day, or 2-3 miles. Or, walk at a brisk pace with weight in your pack on the treadmill for the same amount of time or distance. You can even increase the incline to make it as if you were climbing uphill. (Note though, that this will not engage the same muscles as getting outside and trying it on real, uneven terrain.)
- Ellipticals and Stair climbers are also great methods to get you ready. Again, 30-60 minutes a day if possible 3-5 times a week.
- Mountain or Road Biking is also one of the best exercises a person can do to engage their quad muscles. The pumping of the pedals will be similar to the exertion required while climbing up a mountain.
- Go to your local sporting clubs and play soccer, hockey, badminton, basketball, or any other sports you enjoy. This will really help your cardio and hand-eye coordination as well, allowing you to stay more alert and focused in the hills.
- **Remember that your body needs rest as well, and time for your muscles to grow and become accustomed to the rigorous activities you are putting them through, so take rest days when needed. It isn’t a bad thing. **
- ***And please also remember, that you need to do as many of these exercises as possible while wearing the boots you will use on your hunt. This will help break them in, and help prevent tired, sore feet on your next adventure. ***