For many hunters who come to the Rockies in pursuit of elk, it may be one of the most physically demanding hunts they ever take on. Elk live in steep, rugged places and the better shape a hunter is in, the better their chances are of being successful. Besides the success factor, being in good physical condition will certainly make your hunt more enjoyable.
We began writing this “New Year’s Resolutions” series after seeing some very preventable and frustrating mistakes while guiding hunters over the past several seasons. In an effort to help hunters be better prepared for an elk hunt, we’re offering our thoughts on the subjects of shooting practice, ethical shot selection and now, physical conditioning. We are certainly not the final word on any of these subjects, but we hope that we can inspire you to be ready to kill an elk on your next hunt.
When it comes to conditioning, it’s important to make a plan for yourself that’s attainable. While being a marathon runner or Iron-Man triathlete would be ideal, for many people, that’s simply not realistic. Start where you are. We would suggest consulting with a trainer at a local gym to help you get started. Make a workout plan that fits your ability level. If you can’t keep up with it, the plan will have no chance of working.
With that said, it is extremely important to challenge yourself. Tailor a workout routine to your abilities, but continually push yourself to get better. We’ve seen many hunters miss opportunities over the years because of poor physical conditioning. They simply couldn’t get to where they needed to be in order to get a shot. If you’re making the time and financial investment to hunt elk in Colorado, it is certainly worth it to be in shape when you get here.
We strongly recommend a workout routine with a mix of cardio and strength training. In our experience, strength training is the most critical piece. While cardio is great preparation for the altitude, even the best runners will wear down after a few days of hunting if their legs aren’t strong. When planning your workout routine, make sure you adequately focus on things like squats, leg presses and lunges. Get your legs in shape!
In your cardio workouts, interval training is the best way to prepare for an elk hunt. Interval training features short periods of very high intensity, followed by periods of low intensity. This closely simulates common elk hunting situations – making fast climbs in steep terrain to get into position, and then settling quickly for a shot.
Make a commitment now to begin a challenging and realistic workout routine. You can do it, and when you’re sucking for air and feeling the burn in your legs while trying to get within range of a bull elk, you will be glad you did!