Get in Shape When Coming Out West

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Every year many hunters and outdoorsman and women come out west from the midwest and east coast to hunt the prized mulies and elk. One topic that comes up often is altitude sickness. My advice for flatlanders is to get into the best possible shape. Start months before your hunt, usually really ramping up my cardio around March or April.

I run 5-10 miles 3 times a week, and also go for walks carrying my pack with about 50lbs to simulate what could be on my back. Another useful tip is to drink A LOT of water before, during and after your hunt. If you're not used to high elevations try to get to your hunt area a few days early and camp out at lower elevation to get accustomed to the change. Remember to drink water. After a day or two of lower elevation camping make your way to the higher elevation but take your time and drink a lot of water as you go. Moral of the story is get in shape, drink plenty of water and take your time to get accustomed to the elevation and it should make for a way better hunt.


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That was pretty useful. I

That was pretty useful. I think these are some important thing one should keep in mind if they are planning to go out on hunting after a break. Because this is going to make some change in your style and approach. directv select package

arrowflipper's picture

good tip

That's a good tip for people heading West to hunt, but also for any hunt.  Most Americans today lead a sedentary lifestyle and going out into the woods can be a stress no matter where it is.  I would like to say that I get in shape for all my hunts, but that wouldn't be true.

While living in Utah, it was normal to hunt at 5000 feet and above.  We did an archery deer hunt each year at over 9000 feet.  It's imperative that you either get in shape or take it easy.  As numbnutz said, drink lots of water to stay hydrated.  You will lose water through both exercise and elevation. 

Before my African hunt, I worked out several times a week to make sure I was in shape.  We were not hunting at high elevation but since I didn't know what it would be like, I got in shape.  Boy, am I glad I did.  My PH tried to walk me into the ground.  And it paid off in a nice animal.

Good tip.... you are always better off to be in shape.  It is not only good for your health, but for the enjoyment of your hunt.

hunter25's picture

This is great advice for

This is great advice for anyone out there not just the flatlanders heading for the mountains. Even living here it makes a huge difference if I prepare all summer or am lazy and don't get ready.

If I'm motivated I try to hike about 7 miles three times a week or so all summer with my pack on. It doesn't have to be anywhere special as I just leave my house and head down the road which here goes up and down quite steeply. Even when it's pushing a 100 degrees if you take plenty of water it helps even more.

You will notice the biggest difference when you start to hike back out with that loaded full of elk meat, you will be very happy for the time you put in getting ready.

groovy mike's picture

good advice

Getting in better shape is good advice to all of us at all times.

Now that I am in my 40's I am noticing that if the hills aren't getting higher, at least it seems to take me a little longer to get up them!

I'm not sure if the buck I shot this year was really the heaviest I ever killed, or if I just had a hard time lifting and dragging that deer because I am not as young and fit as I used to be.

While we can all probably agree that dying while dragging our big buck is not too bad a way to go, lets all try to prolong anything like that from happening for as long as possible!

I know that I plan to do all that I can to drop a few pounds before next season.

God willing I'll get more fit and that itself will add more hunts to my lifetime.  And THAT is a goal worth giving up a cookie or two for!

ManOfTheFall's picture

Thanks for the tips.

Thanks for the tips.

groundhog's picture


Even if you think your in shape as I thought I was the altitude can still kick your a$$ and have you gasping for air!

Well said numb

Well said numb

crowsfoot's picture

get in shape for altitude

I agree on the getting in shape for the altitude and staying hydrated. But also make sure your hunting boots are broke in for the long hike you may encounter.Also remember big game bullets drop at 500 yds about .5 inch less for each additional 1000 feet of elevation above 6000 feet.

jaybe's picture

Really Good Advice!

Thanks for this tip - and the additional information from the previous posters.

I am planning on starting a regular regimine of walking on our treadmill beginning the first of the new year - a week away.

The guy I'm coming out west with has been there several times before, and he assured me that we would probably walk anywhere from 3-6 miles a day, with the possibility of walking more.

Add to that the stress of hauling a deer out from a deep canyon or draw, and it only makes sense to get in much better shape than I am now.

I have a friend who used to go out elk hunting every year.

He had access to a gymnasium where he trained during the year.

He would begin by spending his lunch hour dribbling a BB ball back and forth shooting layups.

As the weeks went by, he'd progressively make it more difficult by adding ankle weights, then a backpack with increasing weight in it, then a face mask to restrict his air, then another face mask over that one.

By the time he went out west, he said the hunting was relatively easy, but he still had to acclimate himself to the elevation.

Hopefully, I'll carry through on my plans and not have any trouble.

I wasn't aware of that point about bullet drop - I'll have to keep that in mind.