If you are a follower of HuntingFit.com then you know that fitness plays a huge role in my daily life as well as many of my hunts. A lot of this dedication and preparation stems from my love of hunting in the mountains. When you’re in the bush for a week at elevation you’ve got to be ready if you want to be successful. I realize that many of you reading this get that aspect of being physically fit for those types of hunts, but what about some of the supposedly less strenuous hunts out there? Here are two examples of what would normally be considered fairly straight forward hunts (not easy, just not as physically demanding in their design) that I was very thankful I had the strength and stamina to produce a favorable outcome.
Looking back to the 2016 archery whitetail season in Illinois I had the wonderful fortune of taking a nice buck and a doe on the same morning. It was just one of those days where I felt as if I was living a dream. I was actually in my stand early, the wind was light but steady, and the temps were cool but not cold. Shooting light had not yet arrived and I could hear grunting and thrashing in a grown over ditch about 100 yards away. Just as light arrived I hit my grunt call and as if scripted an 8-point buck emerged from the growth. He meandered purposely in my direction allowing me to get my breathing under control and try and guess where he might pass a shooting lane. He entered the woodline I was perched in and came to 10 yards broadside. My arrow hit the mark and the buck bolted through a creek bottom and up the steep incline on the otherside. Nearing the top he expired and proceeded to roll all the way down to the bottom and landed in the creek. I was able to witness the whole thing and could see the dead buck from my stand.
The bad news was I was hunting alone and had to get this buck out of the steeply banked creek. To compound both the good and bad I stayed in my stand and shot a nice doe shortly thereafter that I was also able to see go down. But that meant not only did I have to get the buck out and loaded I now had to load the doe. I was able to wade through the water and get the buck over to the bank but now was the true test of how I was going to get him up and out. I have to confess after struggling and making very little headway I was having some serious doubts of how I was going to do this. With the confidence in my strength and abilities I forged on and pushed, pulled, balanced, cussed, slipped, fell, tripped, and gasped for air until I had the buck on flat ground. It was miserable. But it felt good.
From there it was a relatively short drag to the field where the doe also laid. Bringing the truck down it was an effort in pure brute force to essentially clean the doe in to the back. I did it and stared intently and the significantly heavier buck. With a little ingenuity and some ratchet straps I successfully managed the buck into the back of truck. Had I not been up to the challenge I would have been begging for help or worse injured myself trying it alone.
The second story involves literally running down a boar hog. Just a few months ago in the early morning light on my way to the blind I noticed a peculiar dark object moving through an adjacent cow pasture. Upon bringing up my binoculars I confirmed it was indeed a loan pig and I need to make a play if this was going to turn out like I wanted. Immediately I dashed to the barbed wire fence I needed to cross to get to the open pasture. Forcibly I contorted myself into a position to shimmy through the unusually tight and narrow gapped fence without opening any major wounds. From there it was a dead sprint with my gun, pack, and shooting sticks through waist high vegetation damp with the morning dew (note in the photo below my path is blue and the hogs route is depicted in red). The hog would dip into slight depressions making me second guess my trajectory but with pure determination I continued to suck wind and maintain my course. Eventually I was within range and dropped to a knee and pulled out my sticks. There was no time to rest and catch my breath. The hog had no intentions of pandering around for long and if he were to continue his path my angle was bad and he would disappear into the brush and be gone forever.
Because I was able to complete the bull rush without being absolutely gassed and unable to breath or concentrate I threw the gun on the stick, sucked in one deep breath, and squeezed. The porker dropped in his tracks as he absorbed the 180 gr bullet behind the shoulder. Dragging this brute to where I could at least get a rope around him and drag him behind the 4-wheeler was no easy task but I was adequately prepared for the job and now have delicious sausage in the freezer.
Both of these hunts have secured a place in my memory of success due to the residue of hard work. The work had started months (if not years) before the hunts and in reality I didn’t intend to have to push myself that hard in either case. Due to preparation the outcomes in both situations were in my favor. That’s what we all strive for isn’t it?