Hunting the high country requires a hunter to be more in shape than in any other environment. Hunting at high altitude has already been covered recently, but when a hunter is not able to get in to proper physical condition, for whatever reason, sometimes some tough decisions need to be made.
Two years ago I took a job that required a very sedentary lifestyle. Long hours with barely any physical activity besides carrying a suitcase once in a while or a short walk up some flights of stairs, left me out of shape. A lot of active people can easily overcome moderate physical demands that aren’t too strenuous; however, the older you get the more unlikely you are to recover quickly enough to ‘fake’ your way though a tough hunt. This is what happened to me last year and I learned a valuable lesson that everyone reading this will learn eventually.
There will come a time when you realize you are too old to let your mental wishes carry your physical body through a tough hunt when you are not properly prepared. I was invited on a walk-in bear hunt and I was hesitant about going. I told my hunting partner that I was not sure if I could make it without slowing him down or sweating up a storm. He scoffed at me and talked me into going. It was a big mistake. I was slower than normal and he had to constantly wait on me to catch up to him on some treks that were straight up steep hills. My muscles felt like they were being murdered and as my heart raced to feed my body oxygen, I finally realized that my youthful days of willing myself though hard times were over.
I could not hide it anymore from myself and others and so with that knowledge, I cancelled a goat hunt a month later. I might have made it through the goat hunt, but I would have just placed my body and possibly someone else in danger by not being prepared. Nobody deserves to be a burden on others when they can prepare and eliminate that situation, and I think I made the correct decision by cancelling. It hurt because I have never killed a goat, and I still feel terrible about it, but I don’t regret it.
Staying in shape is the right thing to do. It keeps you healthy and it serves as a good example to those around you. No hunter should ever have to cancel a dream hunt, but if you are out of shape and not honest about physical expectations and realities, you too will have to make a tough decision one day.