The most important piece of equipment you take to the elk mountains is yourself. A lot more elk hunts end early, due to exhaustion, than necessary. Even a little preparation can go a long way. To be a successful elk hunter, the first thing you need to be able to do is, get to the places elk call home. In the early parts of archery season that usually means higher elevation. That’s where the bulls spend the summer to escape the heat and the insects. Cows will head to the high country in mid to late summer with their calves for the same reasons. I live in Pennsylvania so most of my time is spent below 1000 feet in elevation. Some hunts we do are above 10,000 feet. Because there’s not much you can do to train for high altitude, we aim our workouts towards legs and lungs. Here are some suggestions for your elk hunters workout. LEGS Your legs are going to take a lot of abuse in the elk mountains. We typically log eight to ten miles a day when we’re chasing bulls with archery equipment. We like to set aside at least ten days on an elk hunt, so the miles add up if you don’t tag out. Even if you’re going on a five-day hunt, everything you do to prepare you body for the rigors of elk hunting will pay huge dividends in the Rockies. Start your training program as soon as you can. If, you get winter weather like we do in Pennsylvania you can start by hitting the treadmill when the snow is coming down outside. Make sure you change up your routine by running, walking, and moving the incline up and down. Interval workouts are a good way to ramp it up a bit when you are ready. All the regular body weight exercises like jumping jacks, mountain climbers, lunges, squats, running in place, high knee lifts, side steps, climbing stairs, or anything else you can do indoors, can be done at this time. When the weather starts warming up outside, I start walking mountain trails with a weighted backpack. I work my way up to 50 pounds for three miles at least three days a week. I find this method to be the most beneficial for both body and soul. There’s always something to learn in the woods. Being outdoors also allows you to add other activities to your workout. In the spring and summer months here in Pennsylvania we like to add mushroom and other wild edible forages to our program. LUNGS If, you live anywhere but in the Rockies, then there’s not much you can do to really prepare yourself for any altitude above 8,000 feet. I say 8,000 feet because that’s usually about the elevation people start having trouble at. Oxygen levels remain the same percentage above 8,000 feet, it’s the density that makes the difference. At higher elevations the air is less impacted by gravity, making it less compressed or thinner. Thin air means there is less air available which spreads the oxygen molecules further apart making it harder for flatlanders to breathe. That is why it’s important to aim some of your elk hunters workout towards increased lung function. This can be achieved through aerobic and vigorous cardio programs. Running is one of the best exercises to improve your lungs but may not be good for everyone. Lower impact moves can still be very effective when linked together properly. There are programs for sale and many you can subscribe to and even interact with for free. You can find videos on the internet that you can use to add structure to your workouts. You can follow along with these programs at your own pace, you don’t need to keep up with the pros, they are there to push you further than you might push yourself. This approach also works if you add a hunting partner to your workout so you can push each other. CONCLUSION Elk hunting is a strenuous activity that gets tougher as the hunt goes on and you begin to wear down. Your bed is always inviting after a long day chasing bugles from drainage to drainage, but at the same time gets more and more uncomfortable. Your energy level begins to drop each day as you food intake may be a little inadequate. You begin to dehydrate due to more arid climate. All these things begin to take a toll on our bodies, that’s why it’s so important to do as much and as soon as possible to prepare ourselves for ups and downs of elk hunting. HAPPY HUNTING The Nonresident Hunter Please ask questions or leave a comment below.