I use a ton of different equipment, new grunt calls, different rattling antlers, new sights on my bow, new apparel, and that’s all well and good, but the absolute number one piece of equipment is myself. I’m not just talking about getting my butt out of bed and hitting the stand, I’m talking about being in good enough shape to carry my stand, my pack, and my bow, a half-mile, shimmy up a tree 20 feet, without being absolutely gassed. I hunt alone a lot and honestly prefer to, then I know I’m only counting on myself and not going to be left hanging when someone else wants to get out of stand because they’re cold. Along side the physical aspect is the mental aspect, I need to know that I can handle whatever Mother Nature wants to throw my way.
I practice two things year round to help me be the best hunter I can be: being in the best physical shape I can and I try to be uncomfortable as much as possible. I need to be in good enough shape to make those long loaded walks to stand, to drag a deer long distances by myself, and just to handle any situation I might find myself in out there. Being in good shape in the wild is never going to make you any worse off than being out of shape. In trying to be uncomfortable, it helps me gain the mental toughness I need to make it through tough situations; maybe I’ve been sitting all day in -10 and I’m freezing or maybe I forgot my food and I’m starving. Those seem like little things but when you’re out there all alone, you need every ounce of mental toughness you can muster to keep going.
I’m not just out to find the best equipment, I’m out to find out what makes me the best hunter I can be. What can I do between now and my next hunt to make myself tougher, stronger, better shape, and that much closer to being the ultimate predator.
Food is where I start and this is something that is still new to me. Eating to live instead of living to eat. Think about that. Do you enjoy food so much you look forward to it, or is it just fuel for whatever you’re about to do. I have always loved to eat; although I’m in decent shape, I’ve just in the last 6 months started really trying to kick out processed foods and eat more natural things. I’m not perfect, but small changes every time we buy groceries(2x month) have really cut out most of any processed foods we eat in our house.
After diet comes exercise, I try to get to the gym every day. I was going later in the evening for a while but recently, before I had shoulder surgery a few weeks ago, I started getting up at 3:45 AM to go before work. With a new baby in the house, going in the evening isn’t always practical. But when no one else is awake is a perfect time to go and it really starts the day off right knowing my work out is finished before most people are even out of bed yet. I don’t care what routine you follow, personally I like a basic approach because I’m not a bodybuilder, I’m 6’0 and 175 lbs. I need practical strength, not to be able to squat 400 pounds. I might need to drag a deer a quarter-mile but squatting 400 pounds isn’t going to help that. So generally I take a little less weight and more reps. So far it’s worked pretty well so I’ll stock with it but you have to find what works for you.
Once I get home I do something super small but super effective in mental toughness, I take the coldest shower I can handle that day. Cold showers teach you discipline and that simply controlling how you think in a situation can be enough to get you through. To be honest, after the first week you begin to enjoy them and they actually have some health benefits to! WIN WIN. This was super hard and at first I started with room temp water which feels cold at first but within two weeks I was taking them as cold as my shower could go and I’ll tell you what, nothing wakes you up more than an ice-cold shower. And the coffee tastes that much better afterward.
I try to practice discipline in some form all the time, I am always trying to dump a bad habit. We all have plenty so if I can develop the discipline to break these, I can develop the discipline to do whatever I want. It’s all a part of being mentally tough and these are just little things that I try to practice to help me get there. Needless to say, I’m no NAVY SEAL, those guys are really tough to a level I could only aspire to be, but I’m just trying to get better every single day. In the words of Cameron Hanes, “It’s all MENTAL!”
Let me know what you guys do to take care of your mind and body to stay at the top of your game in the comments or send me a message. I’d love to hear from you! God Bless.