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Start Walking

by Terry Knight

The Zone A general rifle deer season is more than two months away and it’s time to check out your physical condition. Most of the W.U. members are on the dark side of 40 and many are more than a few pounds overweight. If you plan on hiking to some of the far corners of the ranches, it’s time to lose some weight and get into shape.

One of my closest friends is a physician and he says that the biggest danger to people that are middle aged and older is falling. The reason they fall is that they have lost the strength in their legs. A fall can result in a broken hip or leg which means that you may need a hip or knee replacement. The good news is that most falls can be prevented by simply exercising and strengthening your legs and back.

Walking and other exercises will strengthen your legs which means you won’t stumble and fall when climbing over rocks and other debris. What would happen if you bagged a deer a mile from your truck and were alone? Could you get the deer out without harming yourself? The answer for many hunters is a resounding, no!

One of the best exercises without hurting yourself is walking. Of course, always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. Start out at leisure pace and walk on a flat surface for 15 minutes and at least a half mile a day for the first few days. After a week increase your time by five minutes every week and your distance. Within a month you should be able to walk 30 or 40 minutes without losing your breath. As your physical stamina improves, start walking up and down a few hills. If you get out of breath or tired, stop and rest. Remember, you’re not training to run in a marathon, you just want to go hunting. By the time that deer season rolls around you should be able to walk three or four miles with little or no difficulty.

One exercise that strengthens your legs that I learned from an expert is to sit on the floor and then rise to your feet without any type of assistance. Start out doing this five times and work up to 20 or 30 times. This is exactly would you would be required to do if you fell while hunting. You will be amazed how tiring this is.

I lived in Norway for four years and hunted or hiked just about every day. A Norwegian hunting buddy showed me the proper way to use a walking stick. I discovered that throughout Europe walking sticks are extremely popular but they haven’t caught on in America. They can be a lifesaver when hiking around rocks or other debris. They also come in handy as a shooting stick. Duck hunters can use a walking stick to get to and from their blinds.

A good extendable walking stick will cost about $20 but one can be made for less than $5. I use a piece of plastic pipe (PVC) that can be bought at any hardware store. I like to use 3/4 inch PVC and cut it to a length that will go to your shoulder. A point can be added to the bottom to dig into the dirt.

Of course, if you’re overweight and out of shape you should use commonsense. For example, a 65-year-old man shouldn’t hike to a remote area of a ranch and he shouldn’t hunt alone. That’s just asking for trouble. My neighbor heads up the Lake County Search and Rescue Unit and he says that every deer season they have to rescue a hunter or two who got into trouble in the back country. He says that most of them shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

An old timer once told me that the woods is like a sleeping giant, waiting to eat you. What he meant was that you can enjoy the woods but always be on guard. It could mean the difference in having an enjoyable hunt or a long stay in the hospital...or even worse.

Terry Knight Articles

Terry Knight conducts several training seminars annually on hunting wild turkeys throughout Northern California. He was instrumental in organizing the first Wilderness Unlimited Wild Turkey Seminar in 1994, the success of which led to partnering with the California DF&G and the National Wild Turkey Foundation, in 1996, to form the Wild Turkey Expo. He is also the past-president of the California State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

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