mountain hunt fitness

Your Body Diagnostic Test

hunting diagnostics

Imagine you’re a detective trying to solve a mystery.

Diagnostics are like the detective work for finding out what’s wrong when there’s a problem, like when you’re sick or when a computer isn’t working right.

Just like detectives use clues and special tools to figure out a mystery, doctors and technicians use tests and exams to find out what’s wrong.

For example, if you’re not feeling well, a doctor might use a blood test or look inside your body with special machines to discover the problem. And if a computer is acting up, a technician might run special programs to find out what’s broken.

Now, think about being a mountain explorer getting ready for a big adventure. Before you go, you need to make sure you’re strong enough and can handle the tough journey.

This is where diagnostics come in, but for your fitness. It’s like checking your explorer’s gear but for your body. You might do different tests, like seeing how fast you can walk up a hill, doing exercises to check your leg and core strength, or checking how flexible and balanced you are.

By doing these tests, you find out what parts of your explorer fitness need more training, like if you need to be stronger, have better balance, or be able to breathe better during hard climbs. Then, you can train smarter to be ready for any challenge the mountain throws at you. This helps make sure you’re safe and can enjoy your adventure without running into problems.

Below is a list of issues that frequently arise while training and hunting in the mountains.

Overheating

layers of clothing

Layered clothing is essential for mountain hunting with a loaded backpack because it allows you to adjust your clothing according to changing weather conditions and exertion levels.

Typically, layering involves three main layers: a base layer, an insulating layer, and an outer shell layer.

The base layer, often made of moisture-wicking material like merino wool or synthetic fabrics, helps manage sweat by pulling moisture away from the skin, keeping you dry and comfortable.

The insulating layer provides warmth by trapping heat close to the body, and materials like fleece or down are commonly used for this purpose.

The outer shell layer serves as protection against wind, rain, and snow, with waterproof and breathable materials like Gore-Tex being popular choices.

When hunting with a loaded backpack in particular, hunters may generate more heat and sweat, especially when ascending steep slopes, so they can easily regulate their body temperature by adding or removing layers as needed.

This versatility ensures hunters to stay comfortable and dry throughout the day, minimizing the risk of overheating or getting too cold, which is crucial for maintaining energy levels and preventing hypothermia in mountain environments where weather conditions can change rapidly.

Additionally, layered clothing provides insulation against the cold ground when resting or camping, enhancing overall comfort and safety during mountain hunts.

Headaches

headaches

Preventing headaches while hunting at altitude involves several strategies:

 

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration, which can exacerbate headaches at altitude. Aim to drink at least 2-3 liters of water per day, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Gradual Acclimatization: Ascend to higher altitudes gradually to allow your body time to acclimatize to the reduced oxygen levels. Avoid ascending more than 300-500 meters (1,000-1,500 feet) per day once above 2,500 meters (8,000 feet), and take rest days to allow your body to adjust.
  • Proper Nutrition: Maintain a balanced diet rich in carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein to support your body’s energy needs at altitude. Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, as they can contribute to dehydration and worsen headaches.
  • Medication: Consider taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed by a healthcare professional to alleviate headache symptoms if they occur. Avoid taking aspirin or other medications that can increase the risk of altitude-related illness.
  • Protective Gear: Wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your eyes and head from intense sunlight, which can trigger headaches at altitude.
  • Monitor Symptoms: Pay attention to your body and watch for signs of altitude sickness, such as headache, nausea, dizziness, or fatigue. If symptoms worsen or persist despite preventive measures, descend to a lower altitude and seek medical attention if necessary.

 

By following these precautions and being mindful of your body’s signals, you can reduce the risk of developing headaches while hiking at altitude and enjoy a safer and more comfortable outdoor experience.

The "Sky" Draw

sky draw

The “Sky” Draw or raising your bow (excessively) up to draw the arrow is a sign of muscle weakness, a bows poundage that is set too high or both.

Drawing a bow effectively requires strength and stability in several muscle groups, primarily the muscles of the back, shoulders, and core. Here are the key muscles involved and exercises to develop them:

  • Back Muscles (Latissimus Dorsi, Rhomboids, Trapezius): These muscles are crucial for pulling the bowstring back. Exercises to strengthen the back include:
    • Lat pulldowns
    • Rows (dumbbell rows, barbell rows, or cable rows)
    • Pull-ups/chin-ups
  • Shoulder Muscles (Deltoids, Rotator Cuff): The shoulders play a significant role in stabilizing the bow and drawing the string. Exercises to strengthen the shoulders include:
    • Shoulder presses (dumbbell or barbell)
    • Lateral raises
    • Front raises
    • External and internal rotation exercises for the rotator cuff
  • Core Muscles (Rectus Abdominis, Obliques, Transverse Abdominis): A strong core provides stability and power transfer during the drawing motion. Exercises to strengthen the core include:
    • Planks (front plank, side plank)
    • Crunches and crunch variations
    • Wood chops (using a cable machine or resistance band)
  • Rotator Cuff Strength and Stability: Since the rotator cuff muscles are involved in shoulder stability and control, exercises targeting these muscles are essential for injury prevention and optimal performance. Examples of such exercises include:
    • External and internal rotation with resistance bands or cables
    • Prone horizontal abduction (lying face down, arms out to the side, lifting small weights)
    • Cable pull-through

 

It’s important to maintain balance in muscle development and avoid overtraining, as imbalances can lead to injury. Additionally, incorporating functional training specific to archery, such as practicing drawing drills with a resistance band or actual bow, can further enhance performance and technique. Always consult with a fitness professional or coach to tailor your training program to your individual needs and goals.

recovery Heart Rate

recovery heart rate

After hard exertions while ascending with a loaded pack can spike your heart rate. The issue is getting it back down to hopefully take a steady, lethal shot.

Improving recovery heart rate, which is the rate at which your heart rate returns to its resting level after exercise, is indicative of cardiovascular fitness and overall health. Here are three ways to improve recovery heart rate:

 

  • Regular Aerobic Exercise: Engaging in regular aerobic exercise, such as running, cycling, swimming, or brisk walking, helps improve cardiovascular fitness and lowers resting heart rate over time. This, in turn, leads to a faster recovery heart rate. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week, as recommended by health guidelines.
  • Interval Training: Incorporating interval training into your workout routine can effectively improve recovery heart rate. Alternating between periods of high-intensity exercise and active recovery allows your heart rate to rise and fall rapidly, challenging cardiovascular capacity and promoting faster recovery. For example, try alternating between one minute of sprinting and two minutes of jogging for several cycles during a cardio workout.
  • Strength Training: Building muscular strength, particularly in the legs and core, can enhance cardiovascular efficiency and contribute to a faster recovery heart rate. Strength training exercises such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, and core exercises help improve muscle function, allowing the body to more efficiently pump blood and oxygen to working muscles during exercise and recover more quickly afterward.

 

In addition to these strategies, prioritizing adequate rest, hydration, and nutrition is essential for supporting recovery heart rate improvement. Consistency and patience are key, as improvements in recovery heart rate typically occur gradually over time with continued exercise and healthy lifestyle habits.

Low Back Pain

low back pain Managing low back pain caused by mountain hunting with a backpack involves several strategies to alleviate discomfort and prevent further discomfort:  
  • Proper Backpack Fit: Ensure your backpack is properly fitted and adjusted to distribute weight evenly across your hips and shoulders. Adjust the straps to ensure the pack sits snugly against your back without sagging or pulling.
  • Lighten the Load: Reduce the weight of your backpack by packing only essential items and distributing weight evenly throughout the pack. Consider using lightweight gear and packing strategically to minimize strain on your back.
  • Core Strengthening Exercises: Strengthening the muscles of the core, including the abdominals, obliques, and lower back, can help support the spine and alleviate low back pain. Incorporate exercises such as planks, bridges, bird dogs, and cable chops into your routine to improve core stability and reduce strain on the lower back.
  • Stretching and Mobility Work: Perform regular stretching exercises to improve flexibility and mobility in the muscles surrounding the lower back, hips, and hamstrings. Focus on stretches that target the hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, and lower back to relieve tension and reduce pain.
  • Proper Body Mechanics: Pay attention to your posture and body mechanics while hiking to minimize strain on the lower back. Maintain a neutral spine, engage your core muscles, and use proper lifting techniques when bending, lifting, and carrying your backpack.
  • Take Frequent Breaks: Take regular breaks during hikes to rest and stretch your muscles, especially if you start to feel discomfort or fatigue in your lower back. Use breaks as an opportunity to adjust your backpack, rehydrate, and perform gentle stretching exercises.
  • Pain Management Techniques: Use over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, as directed to alleviate pain and inflammation in the lower back. Additionally, consider applying heat or cold therapy to the affected area to reduce pain and promote relaxation of tight muscles.
  • Seek Professional Help: If low back pain persists despite these measures or is severe in nature, consult with a healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist or orthopedic specialist, for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plan. They can provide tailored exercises, manual therapy techniques, and additional recommendations to address your specific needs and alleviate low back pain effectively.

Insufficient Fueling Strategies

 

fueling

Optimizing performance while hunting with a backpack involves fueling your body with the right balance of nutrients to sustain energy levels, support endurance, and promote recovery. Here are some eating strategies to consider:

Hydration: Stay hydrated by drinking water regularly throughout your hunt, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Dehydration can impair performance and increase the risk of fatigue and cramping. Carry an adequate supply of water and consider using a hydration pack or water bottle with a built-in filter for easy access to clean water.

Balanced Meals and Snacks: Consume balanced meals and snacks that provide a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to fuel your hunt and maintain energy levels. Opt for nutrient-dense foods such as whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Pack lightweight, non-perishable snacks like trail mix, energy bars, nut butter packets, dried fruit, and jerky for quick and convenient fuel in the mountains.

Carbohydrate Loading: Prior to longer hikes or multi-day hunts, consider increasing your carbohydrate intake in the days leading up to the hunt to maximize glycogen stores in the muscles and liver. Choose complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes to provide sustained energy and enhance endurance during prolonged physical activity.

Pre-Hike/Hunt Meal: Eat a balanced meal containing carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats before starting your hunt to provide sustained energy and prevent hunger during the day. Examples of pre-hike/hunt meals include oatmeal with nuts and fruit, whole grain toast with avocado and eggs, or a smoothie made with Greek yogurt, berries, and spinach.

On-the-Go Fueling: Consume small, frequent meals and snacks throughout your hike to maintain energy levels and prevent fatigue. Aim to eat every 1-2 hours, incorporating a mix of carbohydrates and protein to replenish glycogen stores and support muscle recovery. Portable options include energy gels, chews, fruit, granola bars, and sandwiches.

Post-Hike Recovery: Refuel your body with a balanced meal or snack containing carbohydrates and protein within 30-60 minutes after completing sustained efforts to replenish energy stores and support muscle repair and recovery. Examples of end of the day snacks include chocolate milk, yogurt with fruit, or a turkey and avocado wrap.

Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to hunger and satiety cues, and adjust your eating plan accordingly based on the intensity and duration of your day. Experiment with different foods and eating patterns during training hikes to determine what works best for you in terms of performance, digestion, and overall comfort.

By following these eating strategies, you can optimize performance, maintain energy levels, and enhance your hunting experience.

Feeling of Loneliness Solo Hunting

lonely hunter

Feeling alone while in the wilderness while hunting multi days is a common experience, but there are several strategies you can employ to ward off these feelings and enhance your sense of connection and safety:

  • Stay Connected: Bring a satellite phone, GPS device, or personal locator beacon to stay in touch with friends and family or emergency services if needed. Additionally, consider using a two-way radio or walkie-talkie to communicate with hunting companions.
  • Hunting Companions: Whenever possible, hunt with a companion (or small group) to share the experience and provide mutual support. Not only does this increase safety, but it also reduces feelings of isolation and loneliness.
  • Leave No Trace: Practice leave-no-trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment and leave the wilderness as you found it. Knowing that others will come after you can provide a sense of connection to a broader community of outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Nature Connection: Immerse yourself in the natural surroundings and focus on the beauty and tranquility of the wilderness. Take time to observe wildlife, listen to the sounds of the forest, and appreciate the sights, smells, and sensations of nature.
  • Engage Your Senses: Use all of your senses to engage with the wilderness environment. Touch the textures of rocks and trees, smell the fragrances of wildflowers and pine trees, and listen to the rustling of leaves and birds.
  • Journaling: Bring a journal or sketchbook to document your thoughts, feelings, and observations during your hunting experience. Expressing yourself creatively can provide a sense of connection and purpose.
  • Mindfulness and Meditation: Practice mindfulness and meditation techniques to cultivate inner peace and presence in the wilderness while hunting. Focus on your breath, body sensations, and surroundings to quiet the mind and foster a sense of interconnectedness with the natural world.
  • Emergency Preparedness: Take proactive steps to prepare for emergencies by carrying essential supplies, knowing basic first aid, and familiarizing yourself with the terrain and potential hazards. Feeling prepared and self-sufficient can boost confidence and reduce feelings of vulnerability.
  • Celebrate Solitude: Embrace moments of solitude as opportunities for self-reflection, introspection, and personal growth. Use quiet time in the wilderness to reconnect with yourself and gain clarity and perspective on life.
  • Connect with Others: Seek out opportunities to connect with other hunters or outdoor enthusiasts before, during, or after your hunt. Join clubs, online forums, or social media groups to share experiences, ask questions, and build camaraderie with like-minded individuals.

 

By implementing these strategies, you can mitigate feelings of loneliness and isolation while in the wilderness and foster a deeper connection to yourself, others, and the natural world.

Buck Fever

buck fever

Buck fever, the intense nervousness or excitement experienced by hunters when aiming at or encountering game, can negatively impact shooting accuracy and overall hunting success. Here are some strategies to help prevent buck fever:

 

 

  • Practice Shooting Skills: Regular practice at the shooting range or in simulated hunting scenarios can help build confidence and familiarity with your firearm or bow. Focus on proper shooting techniques, breath control, and maintaining a steady aim under different conditions.
  • Visualize Success: Visualize successful hunting scenarios in your mind, imagining yourself remaining calm, focused, and composed when encountering game. Visualization techniques can help reduce anxiety and prepare you mentally for the moment of truth.
  • Control Breathing: Practice deep breathing exercises to help calm nerves and control adrenaline levels during high-pressure situations. Take slow, deep breaths to center yourself and maintain focus while aiming.
  • Stay Relaxed: Avoid tensing up or gripping your weapon too tightly, as this can impair accuracy and exacerbate feelings of nervousness. Focus on staying relaxed and maintaining a steady grip and stance while aiming.
  • Set Realistic Expectations: Acknowledge that hunting is inherently unpredictable, and success isn’t guaranteed. Set realistic expectations for your hunting trip and focus on enjoying the experience rather than solely fixating on harvesting game.
  • Focus on the Process: Shift your focus away from the outcome (e.g., harvesting a trophy buck) and instead concentrate on the process of hunting, including scouting, tracking, and observing wildlife. Embrace the entire hunting experience, not just the moment of taking a shot.
  • Use Distraction Techniques: Engage in conversation with hunting companions or focus on other aspects of the environment to distract yourself from feelings of nervousness. Redirecting attention away from the target can help reduce anxiety and promote a sense of calm.
  • Manage Expectations: Remind yourself that missing a shot or making a mistake is a normal part of hunting and doesn’t diminish your skills or value as a hunter. Learn from any mistakes or missed opportunities and use them as opportunities for growth and improvement.
  • Seek Support: Share your experiences and feelings with other hunters who understand what you’re going through. Talking openly about buck fever with others can help normalize the experience and provide valuable support and advice.
  • Stay Patient: Patience is key in hunting, and rushing shots out of excitement or nervousness can lead to missed opportunities. Take your time, assess the situation carefully, and wait for the right moment to take a shot.

 

By implementing these strategies and approaches, you can better manage buck fever and improve your hunting performance and enjoyment in the field.