When does your hunt start? Hunting isn't just about walking into the woods and walking out with an animal. Your hunt starts long before you ever slip on your camouflage. Trail cameras, maps, weather forecasts and practicing with your weapon of choice are all part of your hunt. However, your hunt starts every morning. Every single day you make choices that will determine your success in the field. Exercising and eating right can actually help you sit in a tree, alert and ready when your prey steps out.
To many, sitting in a tree seems easy, all you are doing is sitting there. To those with chronic back pain, just sitting there is anything but easy. The excitement of hunting season is often paired with stress and anxiety thinking what if back spasms hit while in the tree.
Growing up in Alaska I have fished my entire life but I began hunting in 2009, my first hunt was a Hawaiian sow on the island of Oahu with my new to me PSE Bandit bow. I've successfully hunted deer, bear, hogs, waterfowl and alligators.
In 2010 a chronic back problem started going downhill and only became worse as time went on. One of the worst moments was having paramedics drag me out of my car because I couldn't handle the pain of muscle spasms. After learning I had 2 bulged discs, I went through physical therapy but the drive to improve wasn't there. I did what I could to avoid the pain, letting it control my life physically, mentally and emotionally.
In spring of 2015 I learned of an amazing company called Fit to Hunt, and was intrigued by their mission statement “Our mission is simple: We help outdoorsmen get the most out of their outdoor experiences by helping them improve their physical fitness, nutrition and performance.”
My 2015 bear hunt began in April of 2015. I spoke with Jeremy of Fit to Hunt about my concerns with my back and the upcoming season. On my own I was in a trap of feeling better, over doing the workouts and all progress on the road to recovery was lost. With Fit to Hunt I began by taking baby steps, not over doing it. New exercises and stretches were added slowly, building muscles and creating flexibility. I had been going to physical therapy but it wasn't working as well as it should have. Fit to Hunt trainers understand that the physical, mental and emotional have to be addressed. Going from being strong and being able to sit and hunt all day to being stuck in bed all day takes a huge toll on you and it's very easy to want to give up.
Thankfully, through hard work and the help of my trainer I was able to sit in the stand and enjoy the hunt with no pain even after driving over 20 hours to Maine. I successfully took a bear with my Martin Alien bow during the 2015 season and I know that none of that would have been possible without Fit to Hunt. Back pain is still a daily battle but now it's a battle I can accept and win. Next season I will be even stronger since I can focus on fitness in addition to recovery.
In 2016 I didn't fill my bear tag but I was able to sit in a tree stand for 3 weeks straight with no major issues even with my 22 hours drive to and from Maine. I still have pain, especially after long days at work but being able to mentally pull through it I get stronger every day.
I've never been a runner, but I played soccer in high school and basketball in middle school. Both of those sports require hours of practice and drills to build up skill and endurance for game time. Honing your skills and building endurance are equally important in hunting as well. Being physically and mentally prepared for those seconds that mean the difference between an empty or full freezer is what Fit to Hunt is all about.
Let us be a part of your journey to become Fit to Hunt!
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