Elk hunting fitness


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born to hunt
August 23, 2013, 10:25 AM
Going elk hunting for the first time in MT next year. The question is how do you recommend getting in shape for the hills? I'm in Minnesota, and in Ok shape...can run 3 miles in 22 minutes and weight train regularly, but we have plenty of air here in flat country.

For those who have been hunting, what do you recommend as a training regimen for preparation? I will be on horseback. Also, what do you do for breathing control when huffing and puffing when climbing?

Thanks for any insight. Can't wait!

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X-Rap
August 23, 2013, 10:55 AM
Lots of cardio, if there are any hills there walk/run up them.
Heart, lungs, and legs as well as breaking in your feet and boots.
Try adding a weight vest and a pack to add to your low elevation load, it will help compensate.
I have a friend who does 2 miles at lunch time with a 50# vest as well as a 50# weight in his hands in preparation for season. He's pretty radical but my best conditioning is 4 miles walking (2 miles out and back) covering about 1000' in elevation.

tahunua001
August 23, 2013, 11:40 AM
I recommend running 3 times a week and going for walks when you get bored instead of using THR(I know it's painful for me too) and then I recommend finding the hardest hiking trail near you and trying to conquer it with your rifle over your shoulder...
then elk hunting wont be so horrible.

jmr40
August 23, 2013, 11:54 AM
Find a way to walk vertically. Stadium steps, fire escapes in a building etc. Build up to doing it with a daypack with some weight in it. I read an article recently that 10 minutes of walking up and down hills does more for you than 30 minutes of running on level ground.

Try to get to where you will hunt 48 hours before you actually hunt if at all possible. If not you will be pretty useless for the 1st day or 2. Even if you are in excellent shape it will take about that long for your body to adjust. The better shape you are in, the quicker you will adjust and after about 2 days you won't even notice the altitude difference. But for about 2 days it will kick you butt even if you are in excellent shape.

H&Hhunter
August 23, 2013, 01:10 PM
Go sign up at a local Cross-fit gym.

Lennyjoe
August 23, 2013, 01:12 PM
Don't forget to break in your boots! Seen many a blister and unhappy hunters that got new boots and tried to hike the hills....

Patocazador
August 23, 2013, 01:30 PM
Luckily for you, Montana elk country isn't as high as Colo. or even Wyo. The acclimation to altitude will be easier than 10,000 to 12,000 ft. heights. However, the stair climbing and hill climbing is good training. It will still be tough for the first few days but you'll be glad you did it.

grubbylabs
August 23, 2013, 04:53 PM
Go slow when you are where you expect them to be. That's the best thing. Be very deliberate and slow and you will do fine. The best thing if possible is to get to a spot where they will come to you.

I am 250 and 5ft 10 and I can cover quite a bit of ground without any problems. I almost always see animals, its rare that I don't. Last time I was out the cowboys were in and took out all their beef so no one saw any animals in the draw that we hunted. We covered about 10 miles and gained about 1,200 feet in two day's. That's a pretty short time to hunt but its all we had. That draw usually has just as many elk as the forest has tree's, but that's hunting.

Some friends that were in the same unite found them herded up two draws over.

oneounceload
August 24, 2013, 07:53 PM
Stadium stairs dressed in your gear and carrying a pack with the equal amount of weight your gear will be
Stair climber
Treadmill set at max incline

In that order for degree of difficulty

Especially break in the boots; remember you'll be dressed in layers; when practicing at the range, do some exercise before shooting at the range so your heartrate goes up and then shoot; be prepared for ANY type of weather

hipoint
August 24, 2013, 10:53 PM
haha, quit smoking... I smoke and can tell it when I'm out in the mountains around here, both with the thinner air and climbing the big hills... The cardio is a big thing though, if I'm a little winded, my heart is really thumping. When I shoulder a rifle like that it is bouncing like a sing-a-long ball :)

Torian
August 24, 2013, 10:59 PM
Run hills, and add some weight if you can. A weighted vest or full camelbak are both decent options.

Deer_Freak
August 25, 2013, 02:20 PM
You can get used to shooting while huffing and puffing. I have COPD. Just the walk to set up my targets gets me breathing hard. Competition shooters learn to shoot between heartbeats. You can learn to shoot between each breath or at least as you exhale.

valkyrie.rider
August 26, 2013, 06:35 PM
I used to hunt above timberline in Colorado. I would always start training four months before season. The training that did the most for me was walking up and down stairs in a 25 story building, in my hunting boots, and carrying 50% more weight than I would hunt with. I would work up to three trips up and down.

Resist Evil
August 26, 2013, 10:49 PM
Please work on endurance if you are going to be hiking or working at all at altitude. I have 60 years. When I first began deer hunting, I was a smoker, but actively employed in construction. Our style of hunting involved a lot of walking on modest ground, so it was no great strain.

After a significant emotional event, I had a several years of not hunting at all.

Eventually, I had the good luck to have met some men at a social function talking about hunting. Uncharacteristically, I inserted myself into the conversation and next thing you know, I'm huffing and puffing up hill and down dale for 1-1/2 to 2 hours in humping it in to find a place to set and look for elk. At first, I'm carrying a plethora of unnecessary equipment in addition to my Model 70 which weighs in at ten pounds. Still smoked for three or four years after that, though I significantly reduced the weight of what I humped in.

I quit smoking in November of '08 and in October of the following year, I and my friends were astonished at how much better I was able to keep up on the hikes in and out. It was the first time my friend's confessed to not worrying about having to haul my dead body out on the horse.

I don't know how many weeks you have left before the hunt, so start climbing stairs now. And good luck on the hunt!

WTBguns10kOK
August 27, 2013, 02:06 AM
I can't imagine how easy it must be to use a horse. Ride the horse, walk a little and ride the horse out. Wouldn't worry about it too much.

H&Hhunter
August 27, 2013, 08:14 AM
Horses can make the trip easier, or a whole lot harder.

oneounceload
August 27, 2013, 07:23 PM
When you have to walk down a steep incline and keep your balance and control of the horse, or try to ride him up a steep hillside of shale, you won't think it was so easy.......

You will need to allow yourself 1-2 days as previously mentioned to acclimate to the altitude. Don't know how high up you'll be, but IIRC, altitude sickness can set in above 9,000 and can be deadly if not tended to

http://wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting/ElkHuntingUniversity/1/Pages/HighAltitude.aspx

Put out by the CO folks

Resist Evil
August 27, 2013, 08:03 PM
When you have to walk down a steep incline and keep your balance and control of the horse, or try to ride him up a steep hillside of shale, you won't think it was so easy.......

You will need to allow yourself 1-2 days as previously mentioned to acclimate to the altitude. Don't know how high up you'll be, but IIRC, altitude sickness can set in above 9,000 and can be deadly if not tended to

http://wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting/ElkHuntingUniversity/1/Pages/HighAltitude.aspx

Put out by the CO folks
That's a great link full of good information, in my experience. We hunt an area that only ranges from 8500-9000 feet for the week we are up there. Use lotsa water, good protein, balanced carbs, and lots of water.

I might also suggest limiting alcohol intake. I'm not saying to skip it after the day's hunt, but limit it if you're going out the following day. Each of us is over 55 and as very experienced drinkers, we still just limit ourselves to two brandys. We use it for laughin', lyin', and as a sleep aid.

born to hunt
August 27, 2013, 08:47 PM
Resist Evil: sorry to hear about your bad experience. I'm glad you're back hunting, where you belong!

Thanks for the insight, guys. I'm 40 now, and have a year and a month to get ready. I will incorporate this advice. My wife is due with our 8th child in November...so I'll need a year to finish up the honeydo list to get clearance.

Good hunting!!

splattergun
August 27, 2013, 09:02 PM
Mountain horseback riding can be a combination of easy going strolls through the park and Hard-as-heck climb and descent. You will want your legs and back to be strong for the hard part. Also, don't forget to stretch, because unless you are used to straddling a barrel, you might find straddling a horse can introduce you to new pains.

In addition, you could very well be asked to cover some distance on foot at a rapid pace. Do your cardio.

Resist Evil
August 27, 2013, 09:13 PM
Resist Evil: sorry to hear about your bad experience. I'm glad you're back hunting, where you belong!

Thanks for the insight, guys. I'm 40 now, and have a year and a month to get ready. I will incorporate this advice. My wife is due with our 8th child in November...so I'll need a year to finish up the honeydo list to get clearance.

Good hunting!!
Born to hunt, you are very kind and thank you. Congratulations on your forthcoming child. I sincerely hope all goes well with mother and child.

(Psst. Eighth child? You do know how that happens, don't you?)

Just having a little fun, I hope you don't mind, my friend.

born to hunt
August 27, 2013, 09:19 PM
R E:

Thanks. Ya, I've narrowed down the cause.. I just find that we're exceptionally good at it.

Eight kids, 11 and under. I wouldn't trade it for the world, as each one is a gift. And their mother still talks to me!! Lets hope I survive elk hunting....

Resist Evil
August 27, 2013, 09:20 PM
You will friend, you will.

climbnjump
August 27, 2013, 11:20 PM
You will need to allow yourself 1-2 days as previously mentioned to acclimate to the altitude. Don't know how high up you'll be, but IIRC, altitude sickness can set in above 9,000 and can be deadly if not tended to

http://wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting/...hAltitude.aspx

The info at the link mentioned 3 high altitude ailments, Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).

AMS will not kill you - it will vary from just unpleasant to feeling like the worst hangover imaginable.

At elk hunting altitudes, HAPE and HACE are very unlikely in an otherwise healthy individual. But if either occurs and is not recognized and treated (by descending to a lower altitude) both DO have the potential to kill you.

The symptoms of HAPE are more obvious and hard to ignore. HACE however, can be sneaky and the transition from AMS to HACE hard to detect. A person with a headache so severe that standing is a challenge should never be left alone and their mental state should be monitored. If their mental state remains stable, then they most likely have acute AMS. If their mental state is deteriorating, then HACE is a possibility and immediate decent is necessary.

If a person truly does have HACE, then without decent death is a virtual certainty. There are some heavy duty steroids that can buy you some time but most docs will not prescribe them for such use.

It is a good idea to avoid (ok, let's be realistic - minimize) alcohol intake your first night at altitude to avoid confusing an alcohol induced headache from AMS and the the more serious HACE. Pounding water to counter altitude dehydration instead of pounding the booze is a good policy!

But hey, realistically, if horses are involved, you are far more likely to break your neck falling off your horse than you are of suffering HAPE or HACE. :D

41 Mag
September 1, 2013, 05:56 AM
When I hunted CO, the elevation varied from around 7K to up past 13K, and for a flatlander from Texas, it was tough going. At the time I did a LOT of work on cooling towers where I climbed stairs a dozen or so times a day to get tools and what not. I added in my boots, and made sure that each trip I carried up something that weighed at least 15# so if nothing else I at least had my rifles weight covered.

We headed up a week ahead of the opening to scout and find an area we liked, after we got up there, the altitude sickness hit me the first morning and I can tell you it was far worse than any hangover I have had. At least with the hangvers I still had something to ride the effects of, with the altitude it was straight pounding with no relief. It luckily only took heading own to around 9K feet for a few hours to get over it, and after the first day out I was good.

All of the other comments are good but two additional things that will make your trip up high WAY better are some saline nose spray and chap stick, might throw in some lanolin based hand lotion as well. Those things were given to me by a local when we got there along with a bottle of Advil, all of which came in handy while we were there. They advised to not take the Advil while up high for reasons mentioned above but to use if when we got back down if symptoms persisted, and to check in with the local Dr if things didn't clear up within 24 hours. Luckily everything was good, but the chap stick and nose spray came into use after the second day up. The dry air had my sinuses almost bleeding, and my lips in just about equal shape. Just a little bit works great, but I would have hated to have not had that friendly handout.

As for getting in shape, the one fellow told us the best way he knew for us to get ready for the following year, was to put all our junk in our packs, sling up our rifles and hump it up there on foot in a fast jog. LOL Unfortunately we never got to try out his advice.

Good luck with your trip and your new additions. Myself I quit after one, but could have just as easily added another. The second wife decided that one was enough and I respected that.

Oh yea forgot to add this, be SURE you have a roll of duct tape, and a can of spray antiperspirant with you, and also that you wear two pairs of socks, one of those thin nylon dress types and an outer wool type that will wick. This will help keep your feet dry as well as add in cushion. If you find your feet sweating to the point the outer socks are actually wet, try spraying them with the antiperspirant before adding the socks. Take about 3' or so of duct tape and find you a pill bottle that is wide enough to roll it around. Roll it around the bottle and stick it in your day pack. If needed, you can pull off 6" strips to put in behind the heel or anywhere else on your outer socks that you might be getting a blister from a rub. If you find it happens once, then you can put it on in camp before heading out, but it will save a days hike if needed while out there. The tape also comes in handy if you need to mark a trial as well, just pull off and stick to the tree bark as needed, just be sure to pull it off on your way out.

oneounceload
September 1, 2013, 08:10 PM
Moleskin for the heels and a roll of cheap survey tape works great for trail markers

ZeroJunk
September 10, 2013, 10:16 PM
I have hunted for years in MT and I doubt altitude sickness will come in to play. You will probably be 7000 feet or less. I think about 7800 over a pass was about as high as I have been. Colorado is quite a bit higher.

And, if you can indeed run three miles you will be fine.

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