Getting in Shape for Your Kansas Pheasant Hunt
Sometimes upland hunters are deceived by how their sport seems to be a simple stroll.
Upland hunting’s ease of access—stepping out of the truck and walking a few feet to the field—and appearance of simplicity of the hunt—walking with a small amount of gear in a vest—perhaps cause many to arrive ill-prepared at the field in November.
After all, there are no large heavy deer stands or blinds to tote through the woods and no waterfowl decoys to lug while wearing clumsy waders and slopping through muddy marsh waters. When successful, the harvested pheasants can be slid into a vest pouch, and no dragging a heavy carcass or hauling loads of meat is required.
When hunters are not prepared physically, though, it can affect their performance and spoil the valuable time they set aside for a hunting trip. Tim Weddington, owner and guide at 10 Gauge Outfitters, said, “Out-of-shape hunters get fatigued and can’t shoot well.”
Since pheasant and quail hunting can take hunters through miles of physically demanding walking, such as through thick CRP grasses, heavy stubble, plum thickets and at times, loose soil, try to stick to a routine that incorporates both cardiovascular and strength training four to six days a week. Here are a few suggestions:
1. It normally takes the heart about five weeks to get conditioned for a specific activity, so don’t wait until November 1 to start.
2. Work out with a partner; it helps consistency.
3. Jog or bike regularly. Check with your physician about target heart ranges for your age. Walking can be just as effective; however, try to cover at least two to three miles at a brisk pace every outing, and occasionally walk while wearing your upland hunting boots in different types of terrain, such as in tall grass at a park.
4. When strength training, avoid working only one part of the body. You’ll need resilience in your arms, back and shoulders to carry and use a shotgun (and perhaps a pheasant-filled vest), and you’ll need leg strength for those long days of walking. Squats, various types of lunges and the Romanian dead lift work an appropriate balance of muscles in your legs in a short amount of time.
5. Push-ups and crunches are always excellent exercises that develop good upper body and core strength. If lower back soreness plagues you, check into hamstring stretches and other ways to improve abdominal strength besides the usual crunches.
Start with three or four sets of 8-12 repetitions of each exercise.
Hunters of all ages can reap benefits from strength training; just be sure to give your body a day or two of recovery before working that muscle group again.