Your season was dismal. I know the feeling; I’ve been there. You’ve made yourself a promise that next year will be better, right? Yep, I’ve done that as well. My question to you is: What will you do to make next year better?
My high school football coach once told me, “Dreaming big is fine. I like to dream. However, it’s those that put in the work that will ultimately make those dreams reality. Talk is cheap.”
This is a call to action. Believe what you want about off-season fitness preparation. I know social media has made it nauseating and has left a bad taste in the mouths of some. Everyone feels the need to post their most recent run or weight session and then #fittohunt.
I don’t care either way. Post your journey on social media or don’t. What I care about is helping you truly make this next season your best ever. I’ve found, and I believe this with every fiber of my being, that the better physical shape you’re in, the more enjoyable and successful your 2020 season will be. Since dedicating my life to fitness and making a serious lifestyle change four years ago, my success rates have soared.
More and more hunters are taking to the western mountains and plains for pronghorn, mule deer, and elk. Living in Colorado, I can tell you that the West is vast, and the country these animals call home is rugged. The key to success is having a good game plan and putting in the necessary time.
I see countless hunters every year come off the mountain after only a day or two of hunting. They are physically spent. They invested thousands of dollars in gear and tags only to head home early. Some stay and are able to grind it out, but their physical exhaustion leads to bad mental decisions. They get lazy — not wanting to circle around the screaming bull to get the wind right or walk just one more ridge to better disguise their approach on a big pronghorn.
Is Fitness Important For Whitetail Goers?
There are many that believe solid physical fitness is only a staple of the western crowd. False. My good buddy and whitetail guru, Tony Peterson, host of the Hunt For Real Podcast, has seen his success rates sore since incorporating a solid workout routine into his daily lifestyle.
“If you have a highly controlled spot where you can create a deer oasis, you don’t have to work that hard,” Tony said. “If you’re a public land hunter or a permission-based hunter, the secret to your success is going to be how hard you’re willing to work. If you’re not willing to put in the necessary effort because it’s hard or you’re out of shape, you won’t be as successful as you could be. Period. I know. I never use to think about preparing my body physically for whitetail season. I killed deer, sure, but not to the extent I do now. This season, I killed four bucks on open-to-anyone dirt. I can go harder, stay longer and access locations that are well off the beaten path. Plus, I enjoy my hunts so much more.
“When you think about whitetail success, it’s broken down into 1,000 little decisions. Those decisions might include being willing to walk the extra mile to an out-of-the-way spot or carrying a stand and sticks into an area for a week straight. It might involve hunting a locale where you know getting a deer out is going to be a big effort.”
Just Do It
I’m not a Nike fan, but their iconic slogan holds true. Start today! Develop an off-season fitness routine and stay disciplined with it. Research shows it takes 21 days to create a habit or break one. Set a 21-day fitness challenge and get going.
If you’re just starting, check out the weekly routine below. Put it to practice and build from there.
Monday – 1/2-mile walk/jog warm-up. Stretch thoroughly. 1-mile run at a comfortable, conversation pace. Keep the heart rate under control. 1/2-mile walk/jog to finish.
Tuesday – Hit the gym. Start with a 1-mile spin-bike ride at a comfortable pace. Jump off the spin bike and get on the treadmill. Set the treadmill at a level 8 incline and get going. Climb for 2 minutes and then return the treadmill to a level 0 incline. Walk at an uptempo pace for 2 minutes. Crank the treadmill to a level 9 incline and push hard for 2 minutes. Return the treadmill to a level 0 incline and walk at a comfortable pace for 2 minutes. Crank it up to a level 10 incline and walk for 2 minutes before ending with a 2 minute level 0 incline recovery walk. Stretch out really good. Wrap the session up with a 10 minute spin-bike ride or rowing session.
Wednesday – Rest Day. Drink lots of water (at least 90 ounces) and stretch out often throughout the day. I also recommend a foam roller to keep your muscles free of lactic acid and help with recovery.
Thursday – Find some dirt to keep the abuse on the knees and body down. Start with a 1-mile warmup jog. Keep the heart rate under 130 BPM. Stop and stretch. Next, hit a 1/2-mile run at your lactic burn. Crank the heart rate up and feel the pain. Keep pushing — it’s only half-a-mile. Walk and/or jog 1-mile to recover. Finish with a solid 1/2-mile run. Don’t hit the lactic burn, but get the heart rate up above 150 BMP and hold a steady pace.
Friday – Recovery Day. Hit the gym and do a comfortable 30-minute ride on the spin bike or go swim some slow, steady laps at the pool. If you’re feeling super good, strap on a loaded-down pack (you decide the weight) and go hike some hills.
Saturday – Rest Day. Stretch throughout the day and drink lots of water.
Sunday – You’re almost to finish your first week. Be jacked about it. Today, we want to shoot for getting in a 5K (3.1 miles) however you can. Go by feel. If you feel great, go ahead and run some. If not, mix running, walking and jogging until the job is done. No uptempo running today. Keep the pace slow and steady.
What are you waiting for? Next season can be better. The choice is yours. Get after it!