Do you believe that being physically fit is only for backcountry mountain hunters? If so, you are completely mistaken. It is very important for all of us regardless of our hunting styles or geography. Now certainly some hunts and situations are going to require a higher level of fitness than others but all our hunts will benefit from being stronger and well conditioned. One my hunting partners recently experienced just a situation. Because he was prepared physically he was blessed with a fantastic memory for himself and sons. Had he not been prepared for an adverse and challenging situation the opportunity could have quickly been soured. The story and photos below are courtesy of Tim Brignac.
I have the good fortune to live and hunt Louisiana, and it truly is the Sportsman’s Paradise. Abundant game and liberal seasons allow for harvesting as much game as my family can eat. From our camp on the Louisiana Gulf Coast, we harvest deer, wild pigs, ducks, rabbits, fish, and crabs.
Just before Christmas, I went out for a deer hunt with two of my sons. They are 7 and 9 years old. Typically when I hunt, my Dad and/or brother also goes out, so we can help each other with some of the unique aspects of this style of hunting, but this was not the case today. A hunt for us starts early as we have to launch a boat to get to our deer stand. After a boat ride, we have about a half mile walk to the stand. Most of the trail is low land with 2-4 inches of water covering it. We also have to cross a shallow pond and a slough on the way. Little did I know this would turn out to be an eventful hunt. I notice early on that my 9 year old doesn’t look right. At about 7 am, he leans over the side of our box stand and starts puking his guts out. At the same time, I notice 2 deer at the end of the lane. I grab my binoculars and instantly notice one is a shooter. My son finally finishes nature’s call and I pull up the rifle. Somehow the deer did not notice all the commotion in the stand. With my boys, we have a rule, if the deer is within 60 yards they shoot, if its further, I shoot. In this instance, the deer is about 200 yards away, and not moving our direction. I shoot and the deer goes down. We walk over and realize we have shot an outstanding deer for the marsh we hunt.
It’s not a monster when comparing to deer in the Midwest, but hey, we are on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. I have seen dolphins from some of my deer stands. This is one of the largest racks and body weights we have killed on the property I hunt with my dad and brother.
So we take pictures and celebrate, and my 9 year old is now feeling much better. Then it hits me – I’m half a mile from the boat, I don’t have another adult to help me drag, and the property is flooded from the recent rains, so I won’t be able to use a deer cart to get this thing back to the camp. So it was an old fashion haul out, grab one side of the rack and start dragging. With each step my feet are sinking into the soft mud. My son’s did give some help, but I’m not sure if that made it harder or easier. I sure was glad for doing all those squats and a ton of cardio. So after about an hour or so of busting ass, I finally get this beast to the boat. I then find the tide has gone out, so my boat is sitting on mud. So its chore number 2. I hop off the bank, and see if I am getting my money’s worth out of all those power cleans. I am able to move the boat from the mud to water. Lastly I then have to pull the deer from the water/mud up into the boat, this is truly a dead lift! He’s all loaded up, and we are heading back to the camp.
I get back and we fix some breakfast. It’s been an awesome, but exhausting morning. God has blessed us with more meat for the freezer and a beautiful rack that can always remind us of the hunt. I sure was glad that I had been training for my recent elk hunt. This hunt was unusually difficult, but physical conditioning allowed for it to remain a memorable, successful experience. The other real benefit of staying fit is it enables me to take my three boys to hunt with me. This often means packing a ton of extra clothes/gear/entertainment out to the deer stand or duck blind. They end up being the most rewarding part, I am teaching them to hunt and enjoying the memories we make. The terrain is physically demanding as there is soft mud everywhere, and it often means I am physically moving them or their gear in addition to mine. Being in shape isn’t a requirement to hunt, but I have found it makes all hunting, from the salt marsh to the rocky mountains more successful.