“My front sight is farther away than it used to be,” remarked a hunting buddy of mine. I had to admit irons sights were no longer the reliable friend they once were for me either. When I was a young man, I could stare intently at a parkerized steel front sight post for shot after shot after shot. Today, I curse the thing for not remaining in focus more than a second or two.
At some point in life we all realize that time is catching up with our bodies. Muscles strains that used to heal overnight now take weeks to mend. We bite the bullet and get glasses or our old lenses get thicker.
As many of us get older we find that we have more time, and hopefully disposable income, for leisure pursuits. For a lot of us this means hunting, whether it’s a one-day outing or an extended trip. Though hunters don’t normally consider themselves athletes, a healthy body helps make a hunting trip more successful and enjoyable. Conversely, aches and pains, sore backs and feet, altitude sickness, or just a common cold, can detract from an otherwise memorable experience.
Supplements: No, I’m not a doctor, though I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. I don’t know if it will work for you, but I can tell you what worked for me. A few years ago I was introduced to a vitamin/mineral supplement called “Sportsmen’s Edge.” There are numerous benefits ascribed to the supplement, but the one I can definitely attest to is the minimization of elevation sickness.
Though I live in the Midwest at a moderate elevation, I frequently travel west to the high deserts of Arizona, to Colorado and Wyoming. Without fail the first couple of days I notice the elevation change on my body; dry mouth, headache, dehydration, etc.
I was in Prescott, Arizona for two days last April before I realized that I wasn’t feeling the effects of elevation sickness as I previously had. The only reason I could come up with was the fact that I had been taking the Sportmen’s Edge supplement for about six months at the time.
Muscle Aches: Most of us strive for comfortable lives. The negative side of this is the fact that, like it or not, comfort can lead to ‘softness.’ First of all, take care of your feet. Sounds simple, but too many folks don’t have quality boots that fit well. If your feet are miserable, your whole body will be miserable. Danner and Merrell boots come immediately too mind. Do yourself a favor, invest in quality boots.
If you are participating in a guided hunt, query your outfitter as to how much walking/hiking you will be expected to do. There’s a big difference between stalking a bull elk up and down a mountain side and parking your butt in a blind for hours at a time. Should your hunting trip be the stalking variety, you might what to get yourself out of the house, put on your new boots and start walking. Walking a mile or two a couple of times a week will put you on the right path. At very least you’ll know whether or not your new boots are comfortable. Purchasing a brand new pair of boots two days before a big trip is not the best plan in the world.
We all find ourselves with sore backs, aching shoulders and stiff legs. You can self-medicate with ibuprofen, aspirin or scotch. Or, you can treat yourself to a massage. If you’ve never had a professional therapeutic massage, you don’t know what you are missing. A masseuse is like a barber, once you find a good one, you hold on to them. They will learn your body and muscles and know what areas need the most work. I’ve had the same masseuse for three years.
Basics: Remember this formula: Water, Water, Water, then Booze. Some people like to enjoy a beer or a glass of scotch, but alcohol dehydrates you. Moderation is the key. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the adventure of the hunt and find yourself dehydrated. If you feel thirsty, you are already behind the power curve.
Keep yourself warm and dry. Dress in layers and bring wet weather gear. Don’t kid yourself by thinking you’ll just ‘tough it out.’ You’ll be cold and wet and miserable.
A friend of mine once offered the advice that, “When you’re young your body takes care of you. When you’re old you have to take care of your body.” If you can’t relate to that yet someday you will. Take care of your body today, and it will take care of you during that big hunt. Keep shooting straight and shooting safe!