The results are now in from the Arizona Game and Fish Department lottery drawing for deer, turkey, sheep, and fall javelina hunts and are available on the Internet — go to azgfd.gov and follow the directions posted.
Elk and antelope tags have already been determined and those lucky hunters now have those precious permits in their hands for the 2013 season. Getting a big-game tag is the luck of the draw, but now it is your turn to do your part and prepare for the rigors of the fall hunt in the wilds of Arizona.
The inter-mountain west topography of canyons, mountains and plateaus creates the perfect environment for the extensive use of optics by hiking to a distinct highpoint where a person may see for miles.
Oftentimes that particular spot will require a hike up a steep incline that may be a mile or two from the nearest road. This could be an obstacle that will keep some hunters from ever seeing that trophy elk or deer.
The other possibility is seeing those big antlers in the spotting scope and then the reality is that it will require a two- or three-mile hike in some of the most rugged terrain Arizona has to offer.
After the first couple of days of a season, most trophy game animals find the deepest canyons as far from a road and hunting pressure as possible. You can penetrate these areas if your legs are in shape and your heart and lungs have been conditioned to make the rugged hike.
This may require a change in a person’s daily routine, in order to find time in a busy day for 30 minutes of exercise that will pay big dividends.
With the long summer days, there are ample daylight hours for the introduction of a simple walking program. Now is the time to get out of your favorite TV chair or leave the porch swing and put that body in motion!
Good physical conditioning is often overlooked as a determining factor in western big game hunting whether that tag is placed on an antler or is thrown in the garbage after the season has ended.
Being able to leg an extra mile or cross one more major drainage can greatly increase your odds of harvesting an animal.
I had this experience a few years ago on the last day of a rifle deer hunt where we crossed one more major canyon after seeing very little in the first mile from the road. The last high point created a vantage spot where we saw six different bucks in a secluded canyon that no one had penetrated during the first days of the hunt. The successful shot made the lung burning climb all worthwhile.
Start now with a simple walking program with the initial goal of a 15-minute mile at least three times per week. This routine, if carried out for two weeks, will become easier. When this occurs, it would be advisable to increase the workload by adding another mile, which will extend your workout to a 30-minute program. The body responds favorably to gradual, safe exercise with the ultimate goal of being in good hiking shape in time for the fall hunts.
In the second month of the program start to add some of Payson’s not so friendly hills, which will also be beneficial to the heart muscle and lung capacity to take in rich oxygenated blood. If you have a big game tag in unit 22 or 23 the hills in town can get you ready for the more strenuous climbs in the Tonto National Forest. No matter what kind of shape I am in, it still seems like I am “huffing and puffing” up the mountain to get to the next vantage spot.
Sometime during the second month of the walking program, add a daypack for one or two days. Most day hunts will require a tripod, spotting scope, and other equipment that could weigh 15 or 20 extra pounds and simulating that on your back can get you more prepared.
Once the body is accustomed to a systematic walking program, your overall quality of life can improve by making it a part of the daily routine.
There are so many different walking routes and a variety of trails in and near town offering different levels of difficulty.
The body will respond favorably to a consistent exercise program. If physical conditioning has not been a part of your lifestyle, it would be wise to consult a doctor before establishing an exercise routine. The results can be life changing and remember, that trophy animal may be on the next ridge or across that canyon so get ready for the coming fall hunt, this summer.
Start with an intentional walking program and enjoy the surrounding Rim Country, God’s creation.