Getting Fit For Backcountry Hunting

Backcountry hunting is among the most physically strenuous activities man has ever known. Though there are many hunting practices that do not call for as much physical endurance than others, a hunter who wishes to be consistently effective in the backcountry and deep wilderness must be in excellent condition with enough stamina to continue when the hunt gets tough.

Here are three things you can do to stay fit for the mountain:

Mountain Cardio

Cardio is an extremely important factor of a backcountry hunter fitness. Hiking on steep grades is difficult enough, but with extremely heavy packs, along with the possibility of many pounds of meat, the task requires an immense amount of physical preparation. A long term backcountry hunt has the ability to bring even the most conditioned athlete to his knees.

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This is because of the uniqueness of the tasks at hand. Walking up a hill in mild to extreme conditions, often in clothing that covers the entire body, and weighted down by heavy gear, is not a common occurrence for most people. It is often even a rare occurrence for those who do it at all.

To train for hunts like these, the very best exercise is to perform that same action. Load your hunting pack with all the gear you will need, plus more, then hike, walk, or even use a treadmill to simulate the incline that you will be subject to face.


A hunter often has a different variation of strength than most athletes. A hunter may be required to move a lot of weight that is not his own, in a lot of very uncomfortable and awkward ways. Though there are more and more packs that are revolutionizing the way we carry meat through distribution of weight, moving with enough gear to keep you alive on a long term trip in the wilderness will always be a challenge that a backcountry hunter faces. 

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The preparation for this type of challenge does not always mean lifting weights in an effort to gain mass and bulk. Though muscle mass will help in carrying a large amount of weight, strength can also come in the form of very lean muscles that are well conditioned for the particular need of the hunter. Weight training is excellent for a hunter, but when paired with use of circuit type conditioning workouts, a hunter’s fitness can be extremely well suited for the challenges he or she will face on the mountain and in the wilderness.

A Hunter’s Diet

A hunter has no excuse to be eating an unhealthy diet. If one is out cultivating real natural food, and the leanest protein available, then he should at least be feeding himself a diet that consists strongly of these nutritious foods. For any athlete, a diet can make or break one’s fitness goals. While on the mountain, a hunters body needs to be fueled consistently with foods that will provide a large amount of energy and cater to the body’s needs.

Fueling oneself should be done on the hunt, as well as in preparation of the hunt. Eating a very primitive diet goes hand in hand with hunting, as well as fitness. This means a lot of lean meat, I suggest wild game, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and minimal sugar. This diet ideally consists of all foods that naturally occur in nature, after all, that is essentially what hunters have been eating since the beginning of man.