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Five Reasons Getting in Shape for Hunting Season Is Important

by Melissa Bachman   |  July 11th, 2011 12

Shooting daily will build arm and back strength but resistance workouts can be a big help when carrying heavy packs & gear.

Hunting takes a lot of preparation and if you want to be successful there are things you can be doing year-round to help when fall finally arrives.  You may be wondering, well its now mid July, what can I possibly do to prepare now?  The food plots are in, tree stands are set, and the Cuddebacks are out?  Well there’s another big part of the equation that could probably use a little work, and that’s YOU!

There are two very important things that every hunter should have on their year round to do list, stay in shape and practice shooting!

Hunting is just like anything else, the more you are willing to put in, the more you will get back.  This is true with both practicing, and staying in shape so why kill two birds with one stone?

Sure, when it comes to practicing any kind of shooting is good.  But think of the real world situation and how you will be feeling once you finally get to full draw.  Probably sweaty, out of breath, and shaking like a leaf!  I don’t know what you can do about the last, but I try to make the sweaty and out of breathe a reality when I practice.

Stretching daily will help to prevent injuries all season.

We’re all short on time, so why not combine the two and get even better results in half the time.  I start by spending at least 15 minutes stretching.  Many people think stretching is a waste of time, but you want your muscles flexible to prevent injuries while hunting. Do not skip this step!

Once I’ve stretched, I usually go for a 2-mile run up and down the hills near my home.  After the jog, I grab my bow and shoot around 50 arrows at my target placed 40-60 yards out.  I prefer shooting longer distances as a rule, because once I am confident at 60-yards, 20 seems like a piece of cake.

Running before shooting makes every practice session like a real world hunting scenario.

Shooting while you’re tired is important; in fact it’s very similar to basketball.  I was never taught to practice free throws when you enter the gym; instead you shoot them at the end when you’re dead tired.  This is the real world simulation as to how it would be the last two minutes of the game during crunch time. Hunting is no different.  You’ve waited all year for this hunt.  You’ve climbed half way up the mountain and finally you’re at full draw, all your practice will now pay off.  Your instincts will take over, your breathing will calm, and your arrow will hit its mark.  Isn’t that the way you want your big hunt to play out this fall?

Not only will the workout make you a better real world shooter it will also make your hunt a much more enjoyable experience.  Here are five reasons getting in shape for hunting season will help and shape your hunt this fall.

#1. If you’re hunting public land you will be able to get in further than other out of shape hunters, giving you a better chance at success.

#2. You will have a more enjoyable hunt and not be gasping for air and desperately hoping for a break every five minutes.

#3. Being in shape on a guided hunt will help you significantly because the guides will make their plan according to where the game is, not by where you can or can’t get to.

#4. Increase your percentage on making a good shot, because you will be less out of breath and already practiced in this situation.

#5. By being in shape you will have more energy on your hunts and in your everyday life.  In fact, it may help you live longer to enjoy more hunts in the future!!  Not such a bad of a deal after all…


  • Aaron

    Outstanding Tip, Melissa… this is an aspect of hunting greatly overlooked by a great number of hunters. Having the endurance to not just walk to the stand, but stalk, drag or carry (OORAH!) your harvest (if you're like me and don't have a 4 wheeler) is an absolute necessity; of course, on the flip side of this, older hunters should also be realistic about the physical strain their bodies can take. They say you're only as young as you feel, but feeling young and having the cardio-pulmonary system of a 25 year old are two different stories. I should hope we can ALL improve our hunting experiences with taking into consideration our OWN health and physical fitness, not just that of our harvest… It could mean not only a more steady shot or greater endurance but longevity of life, which means hunting with kids and grandkids for years to come… and WHO wouldn't want that?!

  • skip knowles

    Now that is an amazing display of archery form. Exactly what is missing from the sport. It practically makes me want to go home and throw soup cans at my old bow… A well-timed blog piece, Melissa, and well done…but in truth I like it when all other hunters are out of shape. It keeps them on the roads and out of the backcountry, so I can be free to miss as many animals as I want in solitude.

  • Bob Fiss

    Great advice. I am an avid hunter who has been fortunate enough to hunt every continent. I am 64 years old and started big game hunting, ther than deer, when I was 18. My first hun in BC for moose and mountain caribou made me realize the importance of being in shape. Since then over the years I have run 20 plus miles, backpacked cinder blocks, worked out hours at the gym to get in sheep shape. I had open heart surgery 7 weeks ago due to a clogged aortic valve. I am now recovering and am up to walking 10 miles a day and working out 2 hours a day at the gym. Not only did the working out help me when hunting it also helped me survive the heart problem. Again good advice and stay in shape. Good physical shape leads to great mental shape needed to face that 12000 foot climb. Bob

  • Sherrill Neese

    Excellent article and good advice. Now, if I can just follow it up with a little action.

  • elkslayer

    I can think of two reasons for Melissa to do a bikini calendar.

  • Al Quackenbush

    Great tips, Melissa. I totally agree. Out here in SoCal it's a competition to find good public land that you can hunt. The next step is avoiding the hunters. Last year I watched other hunters go further than me, and I thought I was doing well! This year I've dropped 47lbs, hitting the range more often and I plan on getting beyond those other hunters to bag me a nice Pacific-Hybrid buck. Excellent post that I will be sharing. Best of luck this season!

  • Scott Isaac

    Thanks for a great, well-written article with sound advice, Melissa. If I could be so bold as to tweak a portion of the workout/practice routine however, I would recommend stretching after a little bit of warmup activity (say, after a half mile or your second or third hill) due to the danger in stretching cold muscles right off the bat (especially for people that haven't stretched in a few years). I find the marshmallow example depicts it well: if you take a marshmallow out of the bag and try to stretch it, the fluffy bite of goodness will stretch a bit and then break. But if you take that same marshmallow and put in the microwave for a few seconds, it can be stretch for miles with no consequences, save some sticky fingers. Just wanted to add my two cents to what is already a full dollars worth of tips.

  • Jim

    Will you Marry me……….Please

  • tom

    huj z wami

  • jon

    good luck with the contest but i have to say you have absolutly killer blue eye's ….very cool:o) Oh and very jealous of your fantastic whitetail trophies wish we had them here in Aussie to hunt!

  • tim davis


  • Bill Hamann Jr.

    Very good post Melissa. I am 43 and from Northeast Wisconsin, and where I hunt around home I don't have to walk far on my hunting land, however where my family hunts on public land in Northern Wisconsin you have to hike a litlle farther, and one of the spots where I hunt is 1.25 miles as the crow fly's from the closest parking spot, which walking there is over 1.5 miles so I don't worry about too much competition from other hunters, and most people don't want to have to drag or haul a deer from that far, so from my point of view, it helps to work out and keep in shape.

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