Hunt Readiness: Physically and Mentally
A couple of members of our staff just returned from a 27 day trip guiding for Alaskan brown bears on the coast of the Alaskan peninsula. During their time on the peninsula they endured long days, bad weather, and heavy packs when successful. Through it all they were reminded of the physical and mental toll that is taken on a hunt like that. But the toll isn't taken just on an extended hunt in Alaska like this one, it can be the same way for anyone during any kind of hunt. So, it really reminded us of the importance of being mentally and physically prepared for any hunt.
When we say "being mentally and physically prepared", we aren't neccassarily saying that a person has to be the strongest and smartest one on the mountain. Instead, it is more about knowing what to expect during a hunt and knowing your physical capabilities and how far you can push yourself when it is needed the most.
Knowing what kind of hunt you are going on and what the typical daily routine will be, will get you mentally prepared for what to expect. Whether it is a 4 day hunt in a tree stand for deer or a 10 day hunt for brown bear in the wilderness of Alaska, you'll last much longer mentally if you know what to expect each day of the hunt. As the hunt goes on and each day passes, the mind starts to play games and begins to wander. It is at that point, that being mentally prepared will keep a hunter on course and able to last the duration of the hunt if needed. Having that little insight of how the hunt typically goes, will keep you focused and mentally in the game and in the hunt.
If you go into a hunt thinking it is going to be sunny and 72 and you get rain and 43 the whole time, you will mentally get worn down. Gaining some insight on what the weather is usually like, will help you pack the right gear to get you through the tough weather days. Having the right gear is what will carry you comfortably through the weather and keeps your mind clear and focused on just hunting.
Just like having some insight into the weather is important, so is learning a bit about the landscape of the area you will be hunting. The understanding of what type of country you will being hiking around in, will again prepare you for how physical the hunt might be. This goes both ways, as far as a hunt that is very physical or one that is not physical at all. If you are a person that is very active and likes to hike around and beat the brush, then you need to mentally prepare for a hunt that requires a full day of sitting and glassing or being in a treestand. This can be a really tough mental challenge for some hunters and probably one that has broken a lot of otherwise tough hunters.
Once you wrap your head around the mental aspect of the hunt, it is time to make sure you can physically do the hunt. This could be preparing yourself to sit in one spot all day or the other extreme of putting on long, hard miles each day. Whatever the hunt is, you can bet that at some point, you'll likely be physically challenged to push yourself just a little bit further than you're comfortable with. It's never a bad thing to get in good physical shape to go on any hunt, and will certainly prove to help you be successful during any hunt. But, being physically prepared is just as much about knowing how far you can really push yourself and what your real limitations are. Can you push yourself to make it that last 200 yards to get the shot? Can you sit and glass for 2 more hours and wait for something to appear and give you a chance to make a stalk? Understanding what you are capable of is usually the difference of getting the shot, or selling yourself short and going home empty handed.
Every hunt is different and each one comes with different physical and mental challenges. Being prepared to accept those challenges, both physically and mentally, will most certainly be the difference in being successful or not. Pushing yourself through those physical and mental challenges, can be a very rewarding part of the hunt and shows yourself what you are capable of.