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  • reprinted from by Matt

Hunting Season Preparation Starts Now

As spring turns to summer, things get hectic. It is easy to let projects slip away when they don’t demand immediate attention. This is definitely true regarding fitness. On any one day, you can miss a training session because you’re busy, or tired, or distracted. Then, before you realize it, you have missed a month of training and your goal of being in better shape for deer season this year is fading into the distance.

With less than four months until the November New England deer tracking season, and just a little more than three months for those of us hunting the Rocky Mountain West, now is the time to start getting ready. Endurance is relatively simple to build, but the problem is that it takes time. Time most people are not willing to commit to. But if you want to be ready, be different, be successful, you have got to put in the effort and be disciplined enough to get it done now.

Here is your basic plan, with November tracking in mind. (If you are headed to the woods earlier, step it up a little!). You can add strengthening to this routine, but honestly, keep it simple and just get your walks in!

  • Walk 3-4 days per week, at least 30 minutes each walk

  • Walk 5 days per week, 30-45 minutes each walk

  • Walk 5 days per week, with one of those days being long walk (1-2+ hours), preferably with good elevation gain.

  • Walk 5 days per week, with one of those days being long walk (1-2+ hours). Also make one of those days per week a walk of up to an hour with a pack on, with 10-20% of your body weight in it.

Put a big red ‘X’ on a calendar when you’ve done your workout. Put that calendar where you can see it, so you can hold yourself accountable. A consistent pattern of those marks gets to be pretty satisfying. Train to be ready for the end of your hunt. There is no excuse that is good enough, on a consistent basis, for not doing something to make you better.

One of my week-long Maine rifle hunts from a couple years ago was a prime example of why I train with this mindset. I hunted the first few days on bare ground during Thanksgiving week. Snow came and I was finally able to track a couple bucks without a close encounter. One buck went to Canada; another was on a mission to be somewhere else. On the last day of the season I cut a medium buck track crossing a road and started after him at around daylight. Two hours in, I cut a much better track and took it. This buck was on the move but wasn’t hustling. After several hours through some tough terrain, things started to freshen up significantly. He made a scrape, then fed a little, and circled back through that scrape within an hour. I spooked him while he was on his feet and he headed for a large cut I had been in earlier in the week when there was no snow.

With sand sliding through the hourglass and the buck bounding ahead of me, I went for it and started to run after him. I jogged in his tracks up and down several ridges; I got a glimpse of him as he was about to disappear over the ridge across a valley ahead of me. I took two quick shots and he was gone. After a half mile more of tracking with no blood or sign of him slowing down, the sun set on the season for me in Maine. All that was left was a five mile walk back to the truck by logging road. No one was going to do it for me; the prospect of a ride was slim. It was a grind, but the task was simple- one foot in front of the other. I don’t think people need to be able to run after a buck. I do think they should be able to push it at the end of the last day, at the end of the last week.

That is the point of training in July.

When life is busy, remember to keep it simple. Get up in the morning, put on your boots, get out the door and get your training done.

You’ll thank me in November.

(Please check with your physician before beginning any training.)

Matt works as a Physical Therapist in northern VT. His recently published book, Bucks That Got Away, is available now on his website or on He is a BWB Team Member, Board Member of the New England Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and loves to track bucks in November and chase bulls in September.

Contact him by email with any questions:

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