Training for the Hunt


Well – the Roar comes around again.

While I don’t necessarily consider the roar to be ‘peak season’ for my hunting – in fact, there are a few good reasons to stay away from public land during this time of year – it’s also a good time to revamp the related fitness regime.

While it certainly is possible to simply head out on the weekend – for some of us1 out level of fitness is going to be what holds us back from really getting the most out of our time in the bush.

While some of us are active enough in our day jobs to maintain a decent level of fitness, for those of us who aren’t2 we need to devise a method of keeping our bodies ready to provide the levels of strength and endurance required for a hunter.

This is required for functional reasons (so you can carry anything you shoot out), enjoyment reasons (if you are in pain climbing that hill, you won’t enjoy yourself) and safety reasons (incase you need to carry yourself out, and heart attacks are never fun).

For me, I have an additional motivation – as I qualify to become an active LandSAR member – I want to make sure I have the required levels of fitness to get out there and be a help should I be called on. Ruining yourself through fatigue while out in the bush looking for someone else and requiring rescue or even just being a drain on the team, isn’t really an option.

 I am a big proponent of functional training – doing the same movements and exercise you will during the actual activity you are training for. Really, for a large part in the case of hunting, this means humping a pack around.

So, I have started putting on the pack and heading around the block in the mornings. Currently the pack weighs 25kg and I take that for a 5 km stroll every other morning – this takes just under an hour. Where I can, I walk off the asphalt, which, being in Mt Albert, means I go walking around Western Springs, trying not to get attacked by those overly aggressive Swans.

25kg of sand.

This isn’t going to set any records. That’s not the plan. The plan is to progressively increase the weight on my back. I intend to end up with a weight way beyond what I ever plan on humping in (or out) when actually out in the bush.

The other advantage of doing this, is you very quickly start to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your carry system. Some packs work well with moderate loads, but crap out on you when filled with a heavy load, other packs just seem to take more and more weight without ‘seeming’ to have a whole lot more in them once on your back. It gives you time to learn how to pack your pack right and importantly, how to wear your pack right.

This is basically my ‘cardiovascular’ training. The plan is to increase weight and increase pace. If I am not sweating a lot at the end of it, then one (or both) factors need to be increased.

I will be doing a bit more at the gym – but more as a warmup before strength training.

Strength Training

To supplement / compliment the pack walks I head to the gym. I am luck enough to have a gym literally within sixty seconds of where I work. So it’s a resource well worth utlising.

I have a simple, but varied workout. 3 routines that I cycle on a Monday and Wednesday, with Friday being a class put on by an ex Navy-PT instructor. It’s a brutal end to the week, guaranteed.

My weights routine again focuses on the functional – large muscle groups, big movements. Lots of Legs. Squats, Lunges, Farmers Walk, lots of things to build up those mobility devices. In addition, deadlifts, planks, bench – all tried and tested exercises to hit large areas of muscle, stimulate strength increases and increase endurance.  The other exercise I tend to throw in there is forearm curls. Basically, carrying around a rifle all day can take it out on the arms. Especially when I carry it primary in a two handed ready position (I was taught not to use a sling – rifle – in hands, all times).

Sets/Reps? Well, I am not trying to bodybuild, nor strip-fat, nor really gain muscle mass – I want endurance and strength. Generally, high reps, though, I tend to up the weight and drop the reps for the last set. Just because.

Do I need a program?

Well. You need a plan. I don’t personally think you need to measure everything, record everything and program everything down to the last detail. I just want to increase my overall fitness. I do track the amount of weight I lift – so that I don’t have to figure it out every time I go to the gym. For that I use an app called JEFIT on the iPhone. I am sure you can do a lot more with the app than I use it for – but I really am not interested in sharing my workouts, tracking my measurements or showing off how much I can lift. I really, really don’t care what you bench, bro. I do care with how far and how far I can carry a fully packed backpack in shitty terrain.

  1. by that I mean people like me who have desk jobs 

  2. desk jockey / weekend warriors like myself