By Nick Simonson
Stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan once remarked in one of his shows that he normally doesn’t eat a burger a bratwurst AND a steak in the same meal, but on the Fourth of July, he just wouldn’t feel like an American if he didn’t. I know I did my part to keep the beef, pork and odds-n-ends-in-a-casing industries going over the holiday, and I’m confident you did too. After all, with the political back-and-forth dominating our daily lives these days, it’d be a strike against your stances if you were deemed unpatriotic.
I’m also pretty sure as a result of your food-and-fireworks binge that like me, you’re wondering how it is possible to gain eight pounds over a three-day-weekend. Even if you didn’t overeat this weekend (which means you’re probably an ISIS operative) now is a great time to start thinking about upcoming fall activities and getting in shape for hunting along with shedding a few of those holiday pounds.
Walk it off
The best way to start shedding a few pounds from a sedentary spring and summer of sitting in the boat is by taking a walk. Walking is one of the easiest and healthiest ways to get active. The exercise provided by just a half-hour of walking can burn more than 100 calories, increase metabolism and prepare muscles for more strenuous activities. If you don’t get out much or don’t have the time to take a walk in the morning or after work, there are other ways to get your steps in.
Try parking farther away from your workplace and walking to the door. Walk to the store for that item you forgot. Drink your coffee on break while walking around your office building or through a nearby park. Get creative and think of other ways to get an extra mile out of your day. Putting a few more steps in now will definitely help when you’re chasing roosters on the prairie or lugging your tree stand into the woods. This fall, you will be able to focus on the deer in your scope instead of trying to catch your breath, thanks to some regular pre-season walking.
Weight training is also a good way to get in shape for upcoming hunting seasons. Stronger leg, core and arm muscles help overcome steep climbs and fatigue and are proven factors in helping with both bow and gun control while in the field. Before you begin any weight training program, you should consult your personal physician to find out what exercises are right for you.
Bowhunters needs strong arms and backs for control in the stand. Work on shoulders, lats, biceps, triceps and forearms to perform smooth and more stable draws when a deer comes into view. The same goes for rifle hunters. Stronger arm, shoulder and chest muscles provide more stability when shooting.
For those walking through hilly terrain, strong legs and abs help overcome the challenges the land presents. Working on calf, hamstring and quadriceps muscles in the gym will keep legs in shape for the rigors that big game hunting can present. Sit-ups, crunches and other exercises that build stomach muscles help increase body stability. Many hunters are surprised at how bad their midsections hurt after a day of bending and twisting. Find a program that is right for you; it is a guarantee that you will feel better in the field with a couple months of strength training under your belt.
If you can’t fit walking in every day and being a gym rat isn’t your idea of enjoyable exercise, find a fun way to get active – jogging, bicycling, swimming or playing basketball – the health benefits alone are worth it. Don’t overdo it and work into it gradually. Rushing into an activity can cause soreness and result in a reduced desire to stay active.
A similar trap befalls some outdoorsmen each year. Hunters who have neglected to prepare themselves for the hunt often experience fatigue and even serious health problems when they enter the field. Monitor your physical health well in advance, eat properly and try to exercise daily to prevent soreness, fatigue and health problems this fall. Before you start any plan, check in with your doctor for a physical and to see what your body can or can’t take and how to rev it up before the season starts.
By beginning a work-out plan now – be it a simple walk each evening with your dog, or a serious weight-training program with a buddy – you will be ready for your best hunting season yet!
(Featured Photo: Hilly terrain, grasses and cattails are just some of the challenges that upland hunting provides each fall. Getting ready for those adventures now can make things easier when the season starts. Simonson Photo)