With January in full force everyone is starting to wake up from their holiday hangovers of food, family, and lots of napping. Cold weather is here to stay for a while, and hunting seasons are winding to an end. Some ambitious hunters who aren’t ready to call it a year try to fill a last minute muzzleloader or archery doe tag. This time of year brings a lot of reflective thinking and excitement and motivation. What went right this last fall? What did you learn? What can you do to better yourself as a hunter for 2018?
I can’t answer some of these questions, but in the light of a new year and resolutions flowing like a raging river why not make it a goal to physically make yourself better. Yes, that means the “Big E”, Exercise. Easily the most common resolution made year in and year out. It’s easy to say you’re going to do it, but many fall short after only a couple weeks. It’s in our best interest as hunters, the way the sport is evolving to be in the best physical condition we can be.
It was 2012, I had just drawn my 2nd elk tag in South Dakota and was heading to Spearfish for the season opener. We spent 2 days before season scouting and locating bulls in a very casual manner. Finally the morning had come; it was a pretty crisp morning. Not cold, but cool enough that the air burnt your lungs a little. As we began to venture into the dark ponderosa timber we heard a bugle not far up the ridge. We hunkered down until the visibility improved, not long after we caught a glimpse of the bull just cresting the top of the ridge. In a hurry to make it to the top to try and stay as close to this bull as we could we hastily made our way up the hill. This is the part I wish I could say we crested the top and there he was standing in an open meadow looking back, and I put a nosler right through the boiler room. That was far from the situation. After only making it a third of the way up the ridge my legs were fried, and I was gasping for air. Just as a reference a third of the way up was maybe 100-150 yds. I was physically shot after a half hour of hunting! For someone in their early 20’s this should never be the situation. I toughed it out, had missed opportunity after missed opportunity mainly due to being just a couple minutes too late to where I wanted to be, and ended up going home with a tag in my pocket and a 11 year wait wasted.
Can I 100% say that my weight and condition was the true limiting factor of me not tagging out? Absolutely not, but I do know that it sure didn’t help me. At that time I had enough. I went through a little mental breakdown on my way home, and said enough is enough! Since then I am down 140 lbs and in the best condition of my life as I patiently wait for my next opportunity to chase elk. I know this time I will not let the terrain, my weight, or condition limit my success.
So where do you start? Well first off, if you’re about to embark on complete transformation please consult your doctor or physician to make sure you’re in good enough condition to begin a rigorous workout routine. After all of that you really need to focus on what motivates you, and figure out why you’re about to embark on this journey. For me it was mainly hunting. I wanted to be the best I could be on the plains of South Dakota, to the mountains of Wyoming or Montana. Once you find that “why factor” harness it! If that means wearing your favorite camo hat, mossy oak or realtree cutoff to the gym, and watching the outdoor channel while on the treadmill by all means do it! You have to keep that motivation in focus!
Set attainable small short term goals. You’re more likely to fail if you say I want to lose “x” amount of pounds by the end of the year than you will if you just commit to losing 5 lbs by the end of the week or something along those lines.
Once you do that, you’re ready to dive in and start. I recommend finding a workout plan on www.bodybuilding.com and follow that. It provides some structure so you’re not just winging it, also every exercise has how to videos in case you’re unsure of how to perform an exercise. If you’re just starting a new gym, I can almost guarantee you’re going to feel out of place and intimidated. My only advice is to flip that switch in your head to “don’t give a dang.” Don’t worry about other people looking at you or anything, just stay focused and keep hammering! To add on to this if you want the best results don’t limit yourself to either cardio or lifting. Mix both into your workouts!
Now everyone thinks exercise alone is the answer, this couldn’t be anymore wrong. Your diet is the most important part of all. You can run a mile every day but if you’re filling yourself with junk you’re doing no good! Do a lot of research on this one. I can’t stress enough the importance of a well-balanced diet. Cut out any processed foods (boxed, microwaveable, ready to eat.) Instead switch to whole foods (ex. fresh meat, vegetables, brown rice, oats, eggs.) Once you find a diet that suits you, pick out a good daily multivitamin from your local drug store. And it’s in your best interest especially while on a workout routine to start using supplements. This does get a little expensive depending on the brands you buy. Do some intensive research on what supplements you should take and why!
Last but not least, you need to bust your ass! If you’re not in it 100% you’ll never get to where you want to be. But when you do finally reach your goals, set new goals and keep going! There really is no end to bettering yourself, there’s always room for improvement. But that’s what keeps you driving!
I am not a personal trainer nor a dietitian, so what I say isn’t necessarily the answer for everyone. My experience came from many hours reading studies and research done by others who are professionals. But if any of you have any questions regarding workout programs, a diet regimen, or supplements, I’d be more than happy to give you my input and maybe guide you in a direction. Feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Good luck to everyone, and happy hunting!
Brennan "Bucky" Borah