Dan Staton is our fitness editor for Elk Hunter Magazine. This article first appeared in the Spring 2012 issue. To order the Spring 2012 issue, other single issues, or to subscribe to Elk Hunter, click here.
Crisp mountain air, deteriorating daylight, frozen ground, and the rip-roaring bugle of a would-be suitor. Elk hunting is magical and the annual elk rut can never come soon enough. If you have been blessed enough to kiss the elk mountains, then you know challenges that await you every fall. Elk hunting was never meant to be easy, but that’s part of the allure.
There are some considerations that must be made before the next elk season approaches. Observe that I say must, not should. I want to outline some of the must dos, but also examine some of the key physical characteristics of an elk and compare them to us. Not only do we hunt elk on their terms, we also play the role as the visiting team trying to rival our quarry on their home field. The goal is to make you better aware of what we’re up against and how we can do our part when it comes to man versus elk.
The bones of an elk weigh over 100 lbs. and make up the foundation this mountain athlete and survival specialist. A man has a bone structure tipping the scales at or around a mere 30-40 lbs. The mature bull has a heart that weighs in at 10 lbs. and pumps enriched blood to a network of dense muscle that enables it to maneuver rough and unforgiving country. Man has a heart that weighs less than 1 lb. and in most cases will be taxed as soon as he steps on the uneven ground the elk call home. In fact, most studies show an elk’s average heart rate in the ballpark of 50 beats per minute, while most of us only dip that low while sleeping.
Elk own us when it comes humping the hills. Their four legs to our two legs is comparable to a 4×4 and a 2×4 truck. Their lungs are infinitely more efficient than ours. Big deal, elk are built for the mountains, right? Well they also have us on vision and olfactory prowess. Each eye of an elk can rotate independently and their wide-angle lens squashes our view. The elk’s nose has several hundred million receptor sites compared to our paltry five million. The elk that I hunt also have numerous adversaries including black bears, grizzlies, cougars, and wolves.
Leveling the Playing Field and Winning the Day
With all these comparisons, it’s safe to say that it’s time to make a simple list of must-dos to better tip the odds in our favor. Must-dos are the items that keep us vibrant, strong, healthy, and of course in shape. Since we all drive to work, drive to the store, and drive some more, I suggest we walk, run, or bike to work once a week. An elk can cover miles for a night of feeding; we walk to our fridge. To combat this, we need a dose of daily activity that I call “winning the day”. You can win the day by waking up 20 minutes earlier for a workout, pumping out push-ups during commercials, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. The little things add up – especially nutrition! What we eat determines how we feel and how many unwanted pounds we might have to lug around in the elk woods. Look below for your hierarchy of food types.
- Wild Game
- Little Starch
- No Sugar
Stronger Heart: Add cardio training, 20 minutes of intervals goes a long way!
Better Vision: Get your eyes checked. Better vision makes you a better predator.
Stronger Bones: Supplement your diet with Glucosamine to aid your joints. This can be found in Wilderness Athlete’s Hydrate & Recover drink mixes. Strength training helps combat deterioration of healthy bone and connective tissue.
Reduce the Competition: If your elk state permits, pick up your bear or wolf tag and help our elk out!
Win the Day: Do something physical every day! Iit all adds up when fall comes around.
In closing – Thank you for subscribing to Elk Hunter Magazine. I know the stories and information in these pages will fuel your fire for elk hunting and keep you on the cutting edge for seasons to come. Make your list of must-dos, and don’t neglect the most important piece of equipment you own; your body!
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