Here in Bozeman, Montana, spring has finally (more or less) sprung. The last few weeks have had days in the 20’s, windy, cold and snowy. It felt more like a November day than an April day. Mixed in were legit spring days with sunshine and the birds out in full force in the mornings, chirping away. That always kicks off spring for me. With that also came turkey and bear season. I took a quick trip to central Montana to chase longbeards, but came up short. The weather on day 1 went from decent to windy and snowy, and day 2 I peeked out the door at 4:30am to find the temperature hovering at 30°, windy, with 2″ of fresh snow on the ground. That was that, and I slept in.
Fast forward to early May, and the weather is right — sunny and warm, “real” spring weather. With the great weather comes the urge (and necessity) of getting outside, and hitting the trails, rivers and hills. Spring is THE time to focus on fitness for the fall, and start getting back into the groove of logging miles uphill and down, practicing with bow or rifle, and generally switching over from winter mode.
My spring goal: continue eating well, trim down and spend most of my time (regarding hunting) focusing on two things…
1) Functional musculature and cardio endurance in the mountains. I define this as being able to carry a reasonably heavy pack for the better part of a day in varied terrain, with enough of a reservoir of energy/strength to sprint into shooting position, move quickly, and handle a downed animal effectively. Core strength, leg strength and stamina, lungs in shape for the thinner mountain air and exertion — all of this adds up to being ready for more or less anything. Also, the training required to get to this level of fitness (and that level will vary for each hunter) also builds mental tenacity. Chugging uphill on a hot day for several hours teaches you to suppress the urge to quit, and focus on the next step…left foot, right foot…repeat.
2) Practicing with my bow with discipline and being confident any stationary, broadside animal out to 45 yards will be humanely killed and on the ground in less than a minute. Practice with purpose. Shoot from every angle you can. Shoot every day at least a few times. Know how to fix your equipment with the bare essentials. Use a rangefinder. Make your goal pinpoint accuracy and a quick kill.
While the above is easy to write, it is hard work to execute on both points. But, to really hunt well, to hunt hard and be able to keep going, dig deep and ultimately enjoy your time in the wilderness, we should all strive to get there.