by Jake Rush & Kimberly Farmer
The crisp, cool air burns your lungs as you climb to the top of the mountain, every muscle twitching with excitement and your hopes soar at the thoughts of what today may bring. You are racing the sunrise. Your goal: make it to the top of the mountain to start the hunt, before the sun comes up and your quarry beds down for the day. This might be the beginning of your hunt, but it is not the beginning of your preparation; this is the final exam. This is when all the hard work throughout the year pays off, and when you find out if you are ready to Be the Predator.
Hunting season is by far, the best part of the year, in my opinion. I believe it should be a national holiday, with all absences excused and unlimited PTO from work, but that’s just me. I’m sure most of you are passionate about hunting season too. In extreme cases like mine, it’s what we live for, but it is only at best half of the year. The other half is the beginning. Every chance we have we spend time outside, whether it’s learning more about the animals we are preparing to hunt, taking some time to enjoy fishing a small stream or just exploring new areas on our mountain bikes, it’s all in preparation for the one opportunity at the harvest of a lifetime.
The animals we chase spend their whole life trying to survive. They have adapted to their harsh, unforgiving environment, so in turn we as hunters need to adapt as well. In this column and on the Western Whitetail blog, we (Jake Rush and Kimberly Farmer) will assist, coach and advise you for offseason training, and go over workouts and nutrition designed for hunters. Whether you have access to a gym full of the latest and greatest workout equipment or you have a towel and a chair in your living room, we break down plans into simple daily workouts that can be performed by anyone, anywhere.
The plans cover everyone from those just starting a beginning exercise regimen to those who have been training for years. These won’t be gimmick workouts or tricks to drop weight quickly; instead, they will be hard-earned results created to last. Between my workout routines and Kimberly’s nutrition advice you will be ready to chase any animal you have a tag for all over the mountains this fall.
A hunter’s legs and back are vital parts of their body. Think about the last time you hiked around with a pack full of gear or your trophy strapped to your pack. I bet you could feel the effects for days afterwards. Here is a great workout that you may not be using to its full potential, but will make both the pack in and the pack-out much easier on your body.
Squats: Squats are a vital exercise for a strong base. Squats can be performed many ways both with weights and without, making them a perfect workout for everyone to use. There are some rules to remember while performing a squat exercise to help avoid an injury. Your weight should be over your heels, not your toes. Do not push off with your toes as this will put stress on your knees and calves, eliminating the effectiveness of the exercise for your hamstrings, glutes, and quads. While performing the squat, never allow your knees to pass in front of your toes. To avoid doing half-repetitions, place a bench or chair behind you and perform the squat until you feel the chair touch your backside. Do not sit completely in the chair, you just want to squat until you feel the chair. The most important thing to remember is never squat more weight than you can control. We want to better ourselves, not injure ourselves.
The best diet is not a diet. I hate that word, it has a depressing connotation. Instead, let’s call it a meal plan, since all we are doing is planning our meals to fit into our busy lives. With that said, the best meal plan requires balance, including carbohydrates! Sticking to the USDA guidelines for calorie intake and distribution will allow you to have the best chance for optimal performance in the field. Understand, it is the types of carbs, protein and fats that people consume that leads to proper nutrition. Whole grains, lean proteins, and good fats truly are the “magical” combination. The wild game you kill provides the most pure, organic and cleanest meat you will ever find. Even meat from the stinky javelina can be ground into burger and sausage to make tasty tacos and skillets. Just by eating better sources of food can make a difference in your overall energy levels. Below is an example of an off-season meal plan.
Breakfast: Whole wheat 8–10” tortilla with one egg and one egg white scramble with salsa/vegetables.
Lunch: Thin, whole wheat sandwich bread with 3 oz. wild game meat, veggies, 1-slice low-fat cheese or 1-tsp. low-fat mayonnaise, and 1-cup side garden salad with 1 tsp. light-dressing.
Dinner: 5-oz ground, wild game meat with 1-cup whole wheat pasta, 1-tbsp pesto sauce or ½-cup fresh tomato sauce and ½-cup steamed vegetables.
Snacks (3/day): various from fresh fruit, vegetables with hummus, low-fat ice cream, 1-serving of baked/organic/natural chips/crackers, low-fat yogurt, light, string cheese or protein shake.
This is just a general example. Keep in mind everyone is different, and will require various caloric intakes for maximum performance. As long as you keep it simple and adaptable to your life, it will work. Every beginning has an ending, so let us mark today as the beginning of you becoming the best predator that you can be. Not every hunter will become an ultra-marathon runner or bodybuilder, but exercising 30 to 60 minutes a day can make climbing those hills during season less of a daunting challenge. Being able to push that extra mile or being able to pack out that trophy at the end of your hunt will make all the sweat and tears shed in the off-season worth every muscle-aching moment. We started Be the Predator Fitness to motivate others to achieve their goals in life, and to never settle for what they have achieved; be thankful for your achievements, but never quit striving for the top. A predator is always hungry for more.