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The Last Push Before the Bugle

The Last Push Before the Bugle
August 11, 2021

By: Jeremy Koerber, Fit to Hunt

There are less than four weeks left before many elk seasons open across the county.  It is likely you have spent countless hours at the archery range, studying maps and arranging your gear in anticipation of that first bugle, but have you spent time on the most important piece of equipment you own? You.

Regardless of whether you have been training for months or you are taking a crash course in strength & conditioning, here are some tips that will help you prepare for your first hunt of 2021!

How much is enough?
When it comes to making fire, survival expert Les Stroud instructs his students to gather enough firewood they think they will need for the night, look at the pile, then collect five times that amount.  I feel the same way about cardiovascular fitness.  It is one thing to log some miles on a treadmill, but the real test comes when your boots hit the ground on opening day.

We aren’t suggesting you exercise excessively; there is only so much you can do in four weeks.  We are suggesting that you consider boosting your baseline training and ramp it up 10% per week leading up to opening day.  For example, if you have been hiking 3 miles with a weighted pack, in four weeks you will be up to 4.2 miles and trust me, once you are on the mountain, you will appreciate the extra effort.

Getting REALLY Specific with your strength training
Nothing is more important than building strength through classic movement patterns or exercises such as squats, deadlifts, pull-ups and core exercises like planks and bridges.  These movements build the foundation from which everything else is built, but as you draw closer to opening day, think about specific movement patterns that may give you an edge in the field.  Here are three of our favorites:

Half Kneeling Bow Row

Perform using a resistance band or cable.  In a half-kneeling position, grab a 3–5-pound weight in your left arm and press it out.  Grab the band or cable in your right hand and draw.  Perform 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps and repeat on the opposite sides to maintain muscular balance.

Side Plank with Weight Hold

A simple move that boosts core strength and builds stability in your bow arm, perform a side plank while holding a weight in the top arm.  Hold the plank 20-30 seconds per side and perform 2-3 sets.

Walking Split Squats

This move builds strength, stability and is 100% functional.  It also builds bi-lateral strength and will strengthen all the accessory muscles you don’t hit in a leg press.  Begin the movement by stepping out and drop your back knee toward the ground until your front thigh is parallel with the floor (shin and thigh should create a 90-degree angle). Power up and step out with the opposite leg, performing the same movement.  Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps per side.

Acclimatizing to elevation
For you flatlanders, understand it will take you 1-3 days to acclimatize to the elevation you will be hunting, and it is specific.  For example, if you are hunting at 8,000 feet, it takes 1-3 days to acclimatize to 8,000 feet.  Go higher and it may take that long to acclimatize to the next level.  I’ll go back to my initial point and that is you will never be upset going in with a level of conditioning that is higher than what you anticipate you will need but with elevation, you cannot rush acclimatizing.  We all have limited time to hunt, but many sources recommend getting to camp a day or two prior to the hunt to acclimatize to the elevation.  In fact, the American Heart Association recommends two days of acclimation at 8,000 feet and one day for each 2,000 feet above that elevation.

For some, chasing elk is an annual thing.  For many others, it is a once in a lifetime adventure.  Either way, we want you to be in the best shape possible to get the maximal enjoyment from your hunt.  Remember, the mountain doesn’t care.  She is neither for you nor against you, but she will kick your butt if you aren’t prepared.

Need help getting ready? 
Email us at info@stayfittohunt.com and let us help you make that last push before the bugle!


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