Waterfowl Fitness....Wait, What??
Yeah, you read the title of this article correctly. If I am honest, when Todd approached me to write this article I may have reacted about the same way. Then I did a little thinking and I ended up asking myself the question, “when has it ever hurt me in hunting to be in better shape?” My answer? It never has.
Case in point, last January I had the joy of hauling fullbody goose decoys through 10-inches of snow on my way to the river for the closing hunt of the season. I nearly flipped the sled about 10 times on the steep incline that lead to a bend in the river where we planned to post the decoys for our last day goose ambush. To add insult to injury the geese showed up in our spread as we were packing up after shooting hours.
The second insult to my wounded pride was the mile long sled drag that was necessary to get
the decoys back to the truck, not to mention only a single goose surprising us at the spread. It wasn’t pleasant even though we picked a much better travel route than what I chose for the way down to the river.
Did being in decent shape hurt me? Nope, not one bit. In fact, my personal belief is that recovery time is one of the greatest indicators of overall fitness and by the time I got back to my house 30 minutes later, I felt pretty good.
So, am I saying that you should drop everything right now and join a High Intensity type gym so you can power clean those decoys and straps full of limits? Not at all and I hope my sarcasm is noted. It’s all about having a healthy mindset, and that mindset will make life more enjoyable overall, especially the hobbies and tasks we enjoy that that zap your energy.
For instance, I am a passionate mule deer hunter and grew up hunting Wyoming’s famed regions G and H in the September season. This is also where I cut my teeth hunting elk with a bow and an area that demands decent fitness to be successful. Coincidentally, I have seen plenty of grouse at 8 to 10k in elevation. The hunters that haul the 20 gauge to this country are not in high numbers, but they are a tough breed that spend plenty of time hiking.
So what kind of fitness actually matters? The kind that allows you to do things like pull a sled full of decoys on snow scaped public land or the cardio that allows you to recover quickly after a solid day of pheasant hunting rolling hills so you can do it again the next day.
Here ar a few tips on some of my prefered methods to maintain an applicable level of fitness.
Monitor your activity level. Hey, I feel your pain. I was in decent shape when the 2015 big game season ended. Then my daughter was born and I never got back in a workout and decent eating regimen, sympathy weight is real people. Then I was given a fitness tracker for Christmas that monitors steps, heart rate, sleep, and calories. My measly 5,000 steps that first day really shocked me into action and I started to walk to work. Now 13,500 steps is my daily goal and I am thinking about upping it again. Short high intensity workouts, walks with family and walking to work are all things that most of us can do. The higher your daily activity level the easier it will be to put in the effort needed to knock down birds in the high country or those rolling hills pheasants.
Make your workouts fun! Making activity fun is the best way to stick with a workout program. To start, pick activities that you enjoy. As a part time college pastor, my students and I enjoy Ultimate Frisbee. With lots of running, starts and stops, along with healthy competition, this not only helps with my fitness goals but also knocks the edge off my competitive nature. I am also self admittedly, a meat head so lifting four times a week is something that I really enjoy. As I’ve gotten older I have discovered time is a commodity and as far as lifting goes, if it isn’t a full body type exercise it’s probably not going to serve much other than my ego. Full body exercises and high paced fun activities helped me recover quickly after pulling that sled through the snow for a mile last January. Exercise in ways that you enjoy, you won’t regret it.
The most practical and effective piece of the pie is bringing like minded people into your life who will encourage you and participate in your activities. Walking with family is a favorite pass time and ups the activity level for the whole family. Participating in discussions on the forum about our workouts provides all of our members encouragement. Friends in the office who eat well hold me accountable just by showing me good habits! Friends and family with like mind sets are great people to have in the duck blind with me and won’t scoff when the work of hauling dekes or pounding posts for a blind gets the heart pumping and the lungs puffing.
All in all, there is no downside to being in better shape for all of our hunts. Including the bird hunts that we rarely think of as our most strenuous. With September knocking on the door and most openers mere weeks away, I encourage you to start now.