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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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well, if you're running 8 minute miles you better start doing 2 of them because you need 16 minutes minimum of cardio work to see results. Then, when you've run the 2, turn around and walk the 2 back (don't jog a big circle).

Dave Petzal

tjbpgob: As a 60's graduate of the Army, I can tell you that a 6-minute mile was almost the top of the scale, not just qualifying. I think 5 minutes, 30 seconds was tops, and 8 minutes was above average. I think you had to do 8 minutes 30 seconds to pass PT. Maybe the Airborne had to do 6 and a half minutes.


Here's a test. Look at yourself in the mirror. If you have to sing a verse of "I don't look good naked anymore", then get your backside out there and work out. That should be all the motivation one needs.



Thanks for the suggestion on the book. I'll check it out!


Cliff B

So true about the geezers. Never forget my guide Al on a bear hunt in Idaho. I was 52 at the time not in bad shape,but I live on very flat Long Island and not used to the elevation. Al at 56 yrs. and about 6' 170 lbs,could run up and down mountains haulin' a bear hide/meat over one shoulder and control hounds on a leash with the free hand.


Well, I'm no expert, but here's what works/worked for me.
I've always been a little on the heavy side (German ancestry!) but was in pretty fair shape until age 41. Two months after my 41st b-day, I was involved in a head-on MVA that ruined my left hip, crushed my right heel and broke three bones in my left foot! No weight bearing structure (walk wise) left undamaged! Since high school, I had held around the 210/20 mark as activity levels rose and fell.
Within two years of the wreck, I weighed in one day at 260! BP off the scale! Okay, I smoked and dipped, but that has nothing to do with the weight!
I tried everything but Alan Jackson had it right, "...that lo-cal, no cal is hard to take!..."
My mother turned me on to a diet that a sister used to shed unwanted pounds.
The diet is called the "Weigh Down Diet"! It has absolutely nothing to do with counting calories, carbs, sweets and other junk. You just eat!
The big secret!?
When starting the diet, fast at least 24 hours, until your stomach growls! Your stomach is your "audible" fuel gauge. When you need "fuel", your belly growls to let you know it's empty and needs food! Then you can go and eat. BUT, eat sensibly and when you are full, QUIT EATING!!!
Step Two!? DO NOT EAT AGAIN until your stomach growls!
Unfortunately, it does away with the old bfast at 6am, dinner at 12 and supper at 6pm!
Really simple rules. Don't eat until you're hungry! Eat just enough to fill up! I'm back between 220/230. My blood pressure is down and I feel lots better!
Read this recently: One pound around your waist is like three extra pounds to your knees!
I still have to use an ATV. But it's not because of my weight!


Del in KS


When I retired in 1990 they had a scale based on age. A 40 yr old might have a passing time of say 17 min to run 2 miles. For an 18 yr old it was less, say something like 17 min for example.


Two years ago I stepped on a weigh scale, looked down, and the needle was quickly heading north of 200 lbs. I freaked out and jumped off! Blew my mind, what had happened to me? I used to average about 175 lbs in my younger days but this was rediculous to me. Yeah, I lost the extra weight and got the benefits for doing so. But the single most surprising thing to me was that when I would roll over in bed at night after losing the extra weight was that it was so easy to roll over!. No more bowling ball gut!

Rusty In Missouri

I am over 60, 6'2" weight 185 and DO NOT OWN OR USE AN ATV. Last year I was able to walk over 13 miles on a SD Antelope hunt with no problem. I hunt like my grandfather taught me, on foot.

Dr. Ralph

I'm in between 5'11" and 6' and when I graduated from High School weighed 150. In college I got up to 175 and was superman. No bulk, just "wiry" as my friends used to say. Now thirty some years later it's 220 and I'm half the man I used to be. Seriously, carrying 70 extra pounds is almost like having a disability, and I don't care if it's muscle or fat. I have a body building friend that can bench 400 but is only 5'8", weighs over 220 and tires easier than I in the woods.

Thos. Fowler

Well...this painful subject had to come up, didn't it?

I don't do cardio, unless I have to. I do enjoy Italian and fine French food...and German refreshment. I have hunted and fished a good share of the U.S.A., and have buried skinny and fat friends, both. I am an old man, now...and endowed with a generous waistline, a loving wife, and grandkids. Life is still good.

The thing that binds us all together is not our youth, or our fitness---but our love of the outdoors, and particularly---the smell of nitrate in the air and things either hitting the water or running pell mell through the woods for their last few yards.

I thank God that I can still tote a gun and a flyrod, and can share it with some younger type... passing it on.

Hunting honestly is still best, in my opinion. My old muzzleloaders have iron sights, my best rods are bamboo, and shoeleather carries me out into God's green Earth, to enjoy it all. Scopes are fine on my old German rifles, but I admire the man who still uses a stick bow or peep sights, when he can.

Good hunting fellows...and gals...regardless of your waistline, and make memories the best way you can.

Take a kid with you, too.

Tom Fowler


As Dave suggests, being in or out of shape is only part of the issue when it comes to endurance and stick-to-it-iveness. Depth of character is built through proper mental adjustment to difficult circumstances and consistently choosing to do the hard (but right) thing. Getting OK with discomfort and sacrifice is a huge part of Manhood!

The young guys who don't know how to tough it out become old guys who don't leave much of a mark!


It just depends on how bad you want to hunt and if you are enjoying it no matter how crappy the conditions are. There are times, though, when the body just simply says "enough". When you get past the other side of 50, sometimes the mental toughness gives way to the "enough".


Tom Fowler:
I think you said it all. Thanks.
Hunting is not a competition but you will enjoy youself and be less of a problem to others if you are in decent shape.
Good Shooting.


Think of the vietcong and nva...tiny guys, tough as nails and with the will to do all it took...

WA Mtnhunter

An 8 minute mile? Damn, son. The "Airborne Shuffle" is an 8.5 minute mile and that's barely running! If I recall correctly, it took a 5:50 mile to max the PT run. I may be wrong there.

But, I need to get off my 58-year old ass and lose 20 pounds before elk season. I've let my weight creep up to nearly 250 (I'm 6'4). Maybe I need to lose 40 pounds down to "fighting weight" of about 210! I think the standard for paratroopers back in the day was 190 pounds max. Most of us didn't crack 175 back then.

I was at Sportsman's Warehouse on Saturday and observed a young fella (20's) buying a Browning A-bolt. He was huffing and puffing just waddling out the door with it in the box. That kid was about a 6 footer and must have been about a Big Mac shy of 400 pounds. Sad. If he has no disabilities now, he will soon....

Dr. Ralph

Spent some time with a gentleman yesterday who served in Nam when he was 18. He was probably no taller than 5'4". Said he normally carried more on his back in the jungle than he weighed, and it never slowed him down... He was there in the 60's and said his first issued rifle was an M-14 which came closer to killing him than the Viet Cong.

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