Every little thing that we do as a hunter has one sole purpose and reason, to improve our chances. We invest money, time, and effort into our gear. We are meticulous in the weight and balance of each arrow. Our bow is dialed in, tuned up with our string waxed. We shoot until it feels automatic. All the while we are scouting the land, studying the maps, and planning out our hunts to provide us the best opportunity.
We are conscious to eliminate our scent. We read the reviews, watch the videos, and spend time at the shop asking questions and comparing the finer nuances of various sights and stabilizers. But are we investing in the most important tool we have when hunting? Are you investing in yourself?
While we spend time shooting and scouting for optimal success, we need to take time to prepare ourselves physically and mentally to improve our chances. No matter what critter we are chasing we are our most important asset. We are more critical than any piece of gear no matter how far into the wilderness we are going. Our physical body and the brain that we carry around matter more than any gear. While having better gear can improve our chances, it does no good if we ourselves can not make it to our destination, through the hunt, and then back home.
The snap of a twig followed by the steady crunch of leaves easing closer and closer. Our ears perk up and our eyes scan for movement. Our heart begins to beat faster as we see movement and recognize a deer moving into range. Our breathing and heart rate elevate with anticipation. A doe walks closer as you hear footsteps behind her. Then the excitement ramps up as a good buck in hot pursuit walks into view.
Getting a shot at a great buck can make our heart race, but the most common cause for heart-related fatalities come after the kill. The extra workload we demand from our bodies can send our heart into overdrive. The sudden rush of the kill followed by the recovery. Then the uptick again as we find the animal and begin the work of getting it back home creates an extraordinary demand on our entire body, especially our cardiovascular system. Add in the cold temperatures that alone add stress to our body and the strain of dragging and carrying our harvest push us into the red - physically and mentally.
Preparation is the key to combat the stress of hunting. Begin thinking and seeing yourself as an athlete. No need to run a marathon, pull your truck like a strongman or spend hours flexing in the mirror. Our goal is to be better and more prepared for the task at hand. Just like a professional athlete, knowing our goals and what is required to achieve success will ensure we are ready.
To mimic what happens in the woods, we can add physical exercise to our shooting practice. Begin twenty yards away from the target. Draw, take aim and release your arrow. Utilizing your new split-grip folding bow stand, sit your bow down then take off to the target as fast as you can.
Fast here is a relative term. If you have not been running, do not take off like a linebacker. No need to pull a hammy but push yourself. Begin with a brisk walk. The goal here is to move quickly and get our heart rate up. Once you have your arrow in hand, walk back to your bow and immediately nock the arrow and shoot. This is a practical application of interval training. The walk back to the bow is your rest period with the sprint to the target being our high-intensity portion. The shooting in between becomes more realistic with our heart pumping, our body stressed, and requiring us to regulate our breath to be calm and make a good shot.
Repeat this process to complete as many rounds as you can in ten minutes. The spike that each additional sprint gives our cardiovascular system will gradually increase our heart rate and breathing. This, in turn, will require more mental focus to execute the next shot. Take note of how your accuracy is impacted as your heart rate and breathing increase.
Gradually increase your speed as your fitness level improves. The distance you cover both in shot range and running will add to the difficulty and improve your fitness. As you improve you will complete more shots with improved accuracy in the ten-minute window. It will become more evident over time especially on the final few shots when fatigue has set in and the cardiovascular system is maxed out.
Shoot and sprint to be ready for the shot of a lifetime when the opportunity presents itself.