As your elk hunting coaches, we want to make sure that you have the skill sets along with the mental and physical conditioning needed to both create and maximize your hunting opportunities and punch your tag this year.

Elk hunting generally takes place in extreme terrain and your physical fitness, or lack thereof, can often be a determining factor as to just how much you enjoy or suffer through your hunt. 

Does that mean that a person that is limited physically will not be successful? Definitely not. It is still hunting and you NEVER know what will happen. It just means that you have more options, more area, and the ability to handle many of the different types of the terrain where elk are found. It doesn’t guarantee success, but it can definitely help stack the deck in your favor and help you to be more successful, more consistently. 

Does that mean you have to run out and get a fitness trainer and buy a gym membership? Short answer…nope. If you do have a gym membership and that’s what works for you, great. You are in a good place and have a routine and that is the key.

But, for those of you wanting to get in shape without using weights or purchasing a gym membership, it can definitely be done. Body weight exercises and situational training are a great alternative and used by us every year to prepare ourselves for elk hunting in the New Mexico Mountains.

Our strength training consists of the following focus areas and the simple and quick body weight exercises for each. If you don’t know what each exercise is, a simple search on YouTube is the best way to see each exercise and the proper technique:

  • Core…planks (front, back, sides)
  • Legs…body squats, step ups, lunges, stairs (lungs too), hip flexors, 
  • Back…Supermans, Good Mornings, Bridges, Dolphin Kicks
  • Shoulders… shadow boxing, side raises, front raises, bottle caps, air swimming (just what it sounds like..swim with the arms while standing or walking)
  • Best overall body weight exercises: Pushups and Burpees

If you haven’t done any exercising in a while, for the first week start with just 2×10 (with the goal of 2×20 the 2nd or 3rd week) for leg exercises, pushups & burpees (Alternate pushup and burpee days), 3 times a week. For Planks, 2×30 second count each side. Shoulders: Boxing & air swimming 2×50 (counting every other punch), Bottle Caps, Side & Front raises 2×25. Back: 2 x 10 slow and relaxed. From there, once your body understands and you are comfortable with the exercises, increase reps first. Increase to 3 sets and lower reps after you have gotten to the point that your reps have doubled from the original start numbers.

For Cardio we do a combination of walk-runs where we start out with a distance that is 80% walk to 20% run and work towards reversing those numbers (20% walk to 80% run) within 3 months. Add distance once our times of completion start dropping. The goal is to go farther with the same completion time as the walk/run ratio switches. Do at least 1 very long mileage day,  3 long days and 2 short mileage days with one day of easy recovery walking or off day.
What? You are thinking you don’t have the time? Envision those bulls bugling in the hills and MAKE THE TIME.

We also believe in working as close to actual situations as possible. Reproducing in the field situations, you not only develop specific conditioning, but you build situational confidence as well.
When we do situational hikes or inclines, it would replace the run/walk cardio for that day.
Here are some examples of Situational Workouts:

  • Hikes with weight in your pack (20 to 25 to 30lbs)
  • Shooting with regular hunting gear and after short sprints to get your heart rate up.
    • Throw out five arrows to different unknown distances from the target. From the arrow farthest from the target…Run to the target and touch it, then back to the arrow and shoot from that distance within 10 seconds. Once shot, run to the target and back to the second arrow, now the farthest from the target…shoot within 10 seconds. Repeat until all arrows have been shot. Just one question…did you hold your breath to shoot and keep things steady? Did you breath hard for 5 to 7 seconds and then hold? Can you do it in 5 seconds once you get in shape? 
  • Rope pulls with weight. Wear some work gloves, get a 50ft rope, find something to tie it to and pull it into yourself hand over hand.Repeat for 10 times
  • Steep inclines with weight in pack. Find a 20 to 30 yard steep incline and go after it. You can either increase the length as you get stronger or walk right back to the bottom and head up immediately.
  • Practice elk calls after exertion. Once you get to the top of that incline..see how sweet, smooth and soft you can make that cow call. Or scream a challenge bugle or give a few chuckles.

Conditioning is a relative goal that each of us will have to improve on, from a different level and ability. Understand that this is okay. Your goal is not to be a body builder. Your goal is to get in good physical shape to chase elk and be ready to pack one out. Your goal is to develop physical and mental strength though exercise and situational drills and conditioning. Your goal is to be THAT elk hunter!

See you on the mountain!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Ed Chick

    Great article! Thoroughly enjoyed! A blessed and greatly appreciated virtue of the hunt: the collateral gift of physical health. Functional fitness at its best in the arena where it can be exhibited best: the great outdoors.Great perspective. My compliments.

    1. ElkBros

      Thanks Ed! Mucho Appreciated bud!

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