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Diet and Exercise Can Make You a Better Hunter

by Mark and Matthew Duncan

You've checked and double checked your gear. You have all the supplies you could possibly need. Your equipment is cleaned and in perfect working order. Everything you need for a successful hunt is ready. Are you?
Hunting, for all intents and purposes, is a recreation sport. And as with all sports you participate in, you need to be in the best possible shape to get the most from it. This leads us to the dreaded diet and exercise.
Summer is the perfect time to start getting in shape for those fall hunts. While hunting for deer mainly requires patience and stamina, if you are hiking to your stand, or you'll be dragging your kill a long distance back to you vehicle, being in good physical condition will greatly help you.
If you're planning a hunt that will involve a lot of tracking, hiking and walking, you'll definitely want to get in shape.
The first step to a healthy lifestyle is a healthy eating habit. Ask any athlete, and they will tell you that a good diet can make all the difference in your performance. The most important part of your diet should be to eat healthy. You don't have to totally do without the things you love, but you do need to eat them in moderation and make sure the majority of your diet is made up of healthy components.
A healthy diet should become a part of your lifestyle, rather than being something you dread. A diet you can't follow is useless.
Your body relies on carbohydrates, proteins and fats to survive. Understanding the differences between these major nutrients can help you choose a healthier eating lifestyle.
Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy. The carbohydrate group consists primarily of sugar, starch, dextrin, cellulose and glycogen.
Try to choose foods that are high in complex carbohydrates, while lower in fats. One example would be whole grain breads, which are low in fat, but high in fiber and complex carbohydrates.
Nuts, meat, eggs and cheese provide good sources of protein, which you will need to recover from long hikes.
The third, and most difficult aspect of a healthy eating plan is fat. There is fat in nearly all the foods you love, but the key is eating as little fat as possible while eating more of the good things your body needs. Try low fat milk and margarine, and replace high fat, sugary snacks with graham crackers, fig bars and fresh fruits (a good source of soluble fiber).
Trim the fat from your meat, or eat wild game meat which is lower in fat than commercial meat. Red meat contains artery-clogging LDL cholesterol, so be careful of the types of meat you consume.
Be sure to also include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are high in nutrients. A healthy eating plan should include at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. While that seems like a lot to consume, it's fairly easy if you include fruits and vegetables as snacks and additions to each meal.

Be sure you don't skip the fiber, both soluble (from fruits like bananas) and insoluble (bran fiber). Soluble fiber is found in fruits and helps to bind cholesterol, insoluble fiber or "roughage" guards against constipation and is found in high fiber foods.

Whatever you do, don't forget to drink plenty of water. If you are outside in hot weather, and you are waiting to be thirsty before you stop for a drink, it may be too late.

A healthy eating plan contains at least 12-eight ounce glasses of water a day. The colder the water is that you drink, the harder your body must work to warm it up, which burns more calories.

Climbing a hill can cause you to lose as much as an ounce of water every two minutes, so staying hydrated during activities is very important.

If water isn't your favorite choice, you can substitute some fruit or vegetable juices. Be sure to stay away from coffee and alcohol and high caffeine soft drinks. These act as diuretics and will actually make you lose needed fluids, not retain them.

Now that you have your diet under control, it's time to exercise. Again, this does not have to be a torture session. You don't have spend every day in the gym to get fit. Your goal should be to increase your physical activity beyond the realm of your normal daily activity.

Walking is an excellent way to build yourself up. You can begin by parking farther away from your goal, whether it's the entrance to your office, or the grocery store. Walk around the neighborhood in the mornings or evenings, or jump on the treadmill during inclement weather.

Don't forget that stretching before any exercise will help prevent injuries. It's also helpful to stretch after exercise as part of your cool down routine.

You can also reap the benefits from running or playing racquetball, tennis or basketball. Anything that will help to build muscle tone and is a cardiovascular workout will benefit you in the fall.

But remember, you need a constant daily exercise routine. Try to set aside 30 minutes each day for exercise, and try not to skip more than two days. If you play basketball one day, try walking the next. There's no need to over do, and you need to keep things interesting so that you will keep working out.

Be sure you exercise to meet your needs. A marathon runner will still have a sore but on a horseback trip, unless he spends time in the saddle. A mall walker will have trouble with steep hills and 25 pounds of gear if he's only been used to flat ground. Even a wingshooter that's used to sitting still, will have difficulty if he's going to be walking and lifting a gun all day. A seven pound shotgun, lifted 300 times a day is the equivalent of lifting over a ton in a days time.

You will also need to prepare for the type of hunting or outdoor sport you will be doing, whether it's climbing the Rockies for elk, or searching the Serengeti in search of antelope. While walking can build of endurance you will also need to mix in some form of weight training or resistance training.

The last thing you need to be prepared for your upcoming hunting season is food to eat while you're out hunting. Don't skip eating, you'll lose too much energy, but you also don't have to take two hours to throw a complicated meal together.

Consider carrying a couple of apples, a chunk of cheese, nuts, raisins and a bagel (it holds up better than break or crackers) in individual bags. Granola or cereal bars can be added for a quick snack. Eat a good breakfast and eat lighter as the day progresses. And don't forget to drink plenty of liquids.

You may also want to pack a walking salad. Core an apple and stuff it with peanut butter and raisins. You can also mix your own trail mix with whole grain cereals, raisins and peanuts. If you own a food dehydrator, you can produce your own healthy dried fruits such as apples, banana chips, etc.

A healthy lifestyle is a combination of healthy eating and exercise. Together, these things can help you have a successful outdoor experience. Don't forget to check with your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise routine, and as with any new activity begin with moderation.

You never know when you will be tested and need to be in good physical condition. We once had to push a 3,500 pound boat over 500 yards across a sand bar, on what was supposed to be just another duck hunt. Suddenly the weather changed. The tide went out, the temperature dropped and we were hit with gale force winds. Thank God our hunting companions were up to the task. If not, we might have made the obituaries.

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).