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May 28, 2008

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In Shape

"The only time I ever got my s**t together I couldn't pick it up." -- Roger Miller

A couple of years ago I was talking with Sandy Sallee  (who co-runs Black Mountain Outfitters in Montana) about their hunters' foibles, and she revealed that many of the 50- and 60-year-olds that Black Mountain guides for elk do a lot better physically than the 20- and 30-year-olds.

When the younger hunters find out how tough it is, she said, they sit in their tents all day. The geezers are used to suffering so they go out and ride from can to can't and freeze and sweat up mountains.

Being able to take it physically is a major part of real hunting, and I think a lot of it is mental. I've known four SEALS well enough to talk to, and every one of them was small (5' 5" to 5'7" and maybe 130 to 140 pounds), and to a man they said that there were people in Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALS (SEAL boot camp) who were stronger, faster, and more enduring, but who washed out anyway because they couldn't hack it mentally.

Size does not necessarily work in your favor. I was once told by a Selous Scout (the Rhodesian Army equivalent of our Rangers) that the ideal size for a soldier was about 5'10" and 160 pounds. Bigger than that, he said, and your height and weight just worked against you. And I've heard the same thing from other military sources.

About the toughest case I've ever hunted with was a Canadian named James Minnerie, with whom I hunted moose in Alaska in 2006. James was 6 feet and 180 pounds, and the guy performed prodigious acts of strength and endurance all day long for 12 days on end. I watched him pack 60 pounds of moose meat through a bog that almost put me in a body bag, and he never took a deep breath.

I still wonder where they plugged him in at night.


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Attitude is fortitude!


It is the mental side that either kicks your butt or keeps you in the game. No doubt. Whether sitting; motionless, noiseless, waiting for that record buck or double-beard turkey or route-stepping up the back-side of a mountain to possibly intercept a goat on the other side. As a wonderful leader and business person extrodinaire put it: "If you think you can, you Can! If you think you can't; you're right!" (Mary Kay Ash)

You do have a point about people of moderate height and weight having some advantages though; by and large the guys who excelled at Parris Island weren't the 6'3" 240# football types rather the wrestlers at 5'8" give or take and 165#.


Ever notice the ages on endurance athletes.
Young peoples bodies can do anything faster.
But older people know they can do anything.

The longer and more miserable a sport the higher the median of the the best competitors is my impression.


I can remember having to carry the gear of bigger guys sometimes in the triple canopy in the Viet Nam Central Highlands. I was 5'11 and about 130, carried a PRC25(30#radio)and all my other gear up and down those mountains under the canopy and still have to help out my bigger buddies who weighed 200+. Hell, you couldn't just leave 'em there,besides they were very useful in the brawles that sometimes broke out around the adult beverages and games in base camp

Lee Woiteshek

I make a point to visit here every day. I'm not much of a fan of Field and Stream. Too much stream for me. I have to say though, this Petzal guy has probably the best gunny blog on the web. Of course I happen to like grouchy too. No accounting for taste I guess.


I'm young (25) and out of shape and I've got an Elk hunt coming up in the fall of 2009. I've started to hit the gym pretty often and not only do I not huff and puff around, I weigh less too. One of the best pieces of advice I've read about mountain hunting is to lose weight. Guys make a big deal about a rifle that weighs 7 pounds versus one that weighs 7.25 pounds, but they never stop to get rid of the extra 20 pounds around their waist.


In track and field, 20-25 is the ideal for sprints, and 25-35 for distance. Go figure.


Of all the outdoor activities people participate in these days, hunters are by far in the worst shape. Just go into any Cabelas, Bass Pro shops, etc and you will see them selling those XXXL garments along with pants with 52" waistlines. You will never see such huge items in stores that cater to hikers, bicyclists and skiers. Hunters need to get their lard butts of those ATV's and start walking for a change. Hunting was once an activity that involved some physical stamina. These days hunters want to take their lazyboy chairs up to their treestands.

Mr. Smith

They're hunters and then they're people who wear camo. I would guess that those "jumbo" sized fit (pun intended) the latter...

Jason N.

Two years ago I worked construction and moderatly exercised three times a week. I went elk hunting hiking up and down the mts with ease. When I harvested my elk, my two buddies quartered it and divided the packs I carried a hind quarter and a front quarter so we wouldnt have to make another trip. packing out no problem.
Last year I switched jobs to a desk job and working later so no time to exercise. Went elk hunting got my elk and workied up a good sweat just carring one quarter and the loins. Told my buddies I dont know how was ab;e to carry two quarters the year before. So this year im trying to get up earlier so I can get into better shape for the fall season.BTW Im 34 6'1" and 200lbs now.


Just concluded a successful turkey hunt in east central Kansas (first Eastern bird after 35 years of Rio's). My buddy who is 57 and 240+ lbs and 5'10" had a difficult time keeping up with me. I'm 61 years young, 6'0" and 170 lbs with plantar faciatus in one foot. I do not exercise at the gym, but do walk 1 to 1.5 miles daily (20 to 30 minutes) over semi-flat SE Texas terrain. Interestingly enough we both took birds. His, while sitting in the edge of a plowed corn-field-to-be next to the river (no more tagging along with me after the first afternoon); mine, in a similar area but after sneaking through a slough and a half-mile hike upon hearing a distant gobble. I saw a lot more country and I think enjoyed my experience more, but we each enjoyed success -- no ATVs.

Jim in Mo.

Lee W,
You like grouchy? Stick around.

Trae B.

I'm 16 and im not a person to sit around all day I have to be out doing something. The only time I really watch tv or sit at a computer is at night like right now. But im in good shape in track at school I can do a mile in 8 minutes.

Del in KS

Trae b,

When I retired from the army at age 40 I could run 5 miles a 8 min per mile. Now days at 58 and 40 pounds heavier couldn't run around the block but I'm workin' on it. Already lost 20 lb.

Del in KS

I live in Eastern KS (Olathe) just curious was that the Kansas river or maybe the Marais de Cygne? There are plenty of Turkeys along either one. In '06 I bagged a Tom with 5 beards using a bow near the Kansas.

Del in KS

BTW 3 wk ago I was 6'3" 282 lb today 261 and falling.


7 years ago when I turned 40 I looked in the mirror and wondered who the fat, old guy was. I smoked, drank, ate garbage and hadn't worked out in years. That day I vowed to turn it around and started working out.

Today, I don't drink or smoke. I do 30 minutes of cardio three days a week, lift weights 3 days a week and feel 20 years younger. At 5'7", my weight has gone from 170 to 155, my waist went from a 34 to a 30 and I can do whatever I want to.

It's just a matter of getting off you butt and changing your lifestyle.



I am wondering what type or style of cardio you prefer? Thanks

Del in KS

Jstreet and Ishawooa

Suggest you read "The Halleluiah Diet" by Phd. DR. George Malkmus. It is a real eye opener about the relationship between desease, what we eat and how little we sleep and exercise. He is a minister and cancer survivor. I couldn't put the book down it answered a lot of ? for me. I have lost 21 lb in the last 3.5 weeks. My BP has dropped from 180/ down to 122/72 and I feel much better. My cousin Rick turned me on to this book. The website is at haacres.com.

jim in nc

An anecdote a propos of DP's observation: in Japanese POW camps in WWII (with a mortality rate of about 25%), the smaller and wiry Americans seem to have had a significantly higher survival rate than the really big guys.


Thats because really big guys need a lot of calories to keep their really big bodies operating. Smaller people don't need much food. Its the difference between a v8 and 4 cylinder.

As for workout routines - somepeople swear by weights, other by cardio. You really need both, otherwise you'll end up being able to stalk for 20 miles, but you won't be able to pick up the deer when you get it.

Finally - I wouldn't eat anything growing anywhere near the KS river - not unless its west of Perry anyway.

Duck Creek Dick

You hit the nail on the head when you referred to lard-assed hunters these days. If it can't be done from an ATV or a tree stand, most modern hunters won't make the effort. Or if the critter can't be sniped at 500 yds. or beyond, but don't get me started on that topic.



I either do 30 minutes on a stationary bike or walk. I also count mowing the grass as a day of cardio. I still use a push mower.



I'm 6'1" 385 pounds (not a typo) and disabled, and just this spring realized what a workout mowing with a push mower is! Gonna try to do more mowing this summer, gotta start doing something or I'm gonna be needing the "hunt from your vehicle" permit soon. I know it's coming but am trying to put it off as long as possible.


Trae b. is an eight minute mile what is required in the army now? It was 6 minutes in the 60's.

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