Get Fit And Enjoy Your Big Game Hunt



If you are a big game enthusiast, July is that month when we all wait anxiously to see if we were fortunate enough to draw a permit.

Well, you were one of the lucky ones to draw a tag. After the excitement wears off and friends are called, then what should be your approach in making the hunt more enjoyable for everyone involved, and possibly successful by placing your tag on a big game animal?


Dean Pederson frequently climbs the Mogollon Rim from Pine as a way of staying in good physical condition for mule deer hunts.

We all should do the scouting, which in many cases is just as enjoyable as the actual hunt.

Getting one's equipment ready is also high on the priority list.

Trips to the shooting range or archery target are a must.

This preparation is essential and enhances your chances of taking a deer, elk, antelope or other big game animal.

The most often overlooked ingredient of a successful hunt is your physical condition. Getting yourself ready for the tough terrain of most western states requires a systematic approach to a conditioning program. In our youth, it was easy to go up and down those mountains and canyons, but as we get older, the hills get higher and the canyons get deeper.

What can you do to prepare for an elk, whitetail or javelina hunt? By far the best way is to start gradually with a walking program. Depending on your initial conditioning, a one-mile walk at a 10- to 12-minute pace is a good starting point. The purpose is to gradually increase the workload by adding inclines or hills, as well as the frequency of the workout. If you are a beginner, schedule three times per week at a mile distance. What you will find is that after a couple of weeks the course will become easier, which encourages you to increase your distance or your frequency from three times per week to five times.

As muscles tone up, the workload can continue to be increased to include more hills and possibly a daypack or pack frame. Western big game hunting has a common denominator, and that is most of it is up and down terrain and wide-open spaces. Strapping on a daypack or pack frame allows the hunter to go farther into places where vehicles cannot navigate.

I have often shared that being in shape allows me to separate one canyon farther from most hunters and that may increase the chances of tagging a big game animal.

I would say getting in shape for a hunt is as important as the preseason scouting. Increase your odds and enjoyment by spending a little time each day in a walking program, especially if you are in the "over-40" category. Chances are you will feel better, the hunt for big game will be even more pleasurable, and you will truly enjoy God's creation.

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