As young bowhunters, the concept of growing old was unthinkable. We had been difficult-chargers, lean and sturdy. Our power had no limits.
Most of the old donkeys we knew spent more time braying about their previous hunting exploits than in fact hunting, and those who did hunt hardly ever strayed far from the comforts of camp.
We laughed at them and convinced ourselves we would by no means founder like that when we grew up, even though deep in our hearts we dreaded the possibility.
But there was usually that 1 old guy — you know, the one who left camp just before absolutely everyone else and returned to the campfire long following dark, often with blood on his hands. We all wondered how an ancient dinosaur of maybe 50 years of age managed to keep such a pace.
As the years go by, receiving into “hunting shape” does not come simple. The important is getting there and staying there.
He was a legend in the camps and in the bow shops, and these fortunate sufficient to hunt with him typically struggled to preserve up as he plowed up the mountain like a two-legged Jeep. All of us young Turks wanted to be that guy someday. Paul Navarre IS that guy.
Paul is my 75-year-old neighbor, pal, and function model. When most his age are organizing their trip to Friday bingo, he’s preparing to strap on a backpack and head into the mountains, alone, to hunt America’s toughest massive game with a bow.
He began last season by killing two turkeys and a great pronghorn buck, then backpack-hunted solo for elk, killing a single on his 21st day in the wilderness. In November, he hunted 13 days alone for deer, ending the large game season with a gorgeous whitetail buck.
Paul Navarre after a profitable whitetail hunt.
He stayed regional during the holidays and killed 5 Greater Canada geese with his bow, foregoing his usual 3-week trip to Arizona for Coues deer. It’s a strenuous schedule for a 30-year-old, never mind an individual in his eighth decade.
Paul didn’t start his mountain bowhunting profession till age 52, when he moved to Colorado from Ohio. At that age, many large game bowhunters are currently tending camp, cooking chili, and telling more stories than really hunting. If they do hunt, it is usually wandering out to a nearby treestand.
In the subsequent 11 seasons, he managed to take Colorado’s “Big Eight” with a bow — mule deer, whitetail, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, pronghorn, elk, bear, and cougar. Did I mention he’s also a cancer survivor? Yep, he beat the Massive C too, recovered from the tortures of chemo, and is nonetheless going as strong as ever.
Age Is Only a Number
Last September, 4 guys from Wisconsin moved in close to my elk base camp. Every morning they would leave in the dark prior to I got up. They’d trudge back to camp at midday to shower, consume, nap, and wash garments in a bucket. They struck out again in late afternoon, and usually didn’t return until I was prepared for bed.
3 of them were young pups in their 40s. But there was this one particular guy who looked as challenging as the sole of a moccasin and stringy as a stick of jerky, with a prosthetic arm attached at the shoulder, and he was correct there with the young fellas step for step, day right after day, climbing 4 or five miles up above timberline, back down to camp for a siesta, and then plunging into the wilderness once again for the evening hunt. He did this for two weeks straight.
Most younger hunters would be gassed soon after a day or two of this forced march. Not this man. Ken Jaeger is 65, and he’s one of those guys, too. Ken didn’t start bowhunting until 2000, and he has been hunting the Colorado mountains for elk ever since.
Ken Jaeger is 65, and he’s one of those guys, also.
Soon after fabricating a particular fitting on the finish of his prosthesis to hold his bow, he averages 16–20 miles a day on foot, each day and when an elk is down, he packs his share out of the wilderness alongside the youngsters.
I met yet another gentleman who was hunting deep into a diverse wilderness, putting on a lot of miles a day, every day, with his younger son-in-law. He was 66 and seemingly match as a Navy SEAL. He told me he required a handful of days off from elk hunting the subsequent weekend to compete in an Ironman Triathlon. He was disappointed to “only” finish second, due to the fact he believed he need to have won his age group.
At the Pope & Young Convention in Rochester, Minnesota, numerous years ago, Larry D. Jones, the Hall of Fame bowhunter, writer and videographer in his 70s, emerged from the hotel gym soaked with sweat and walked by way of the café previous a number of dozen bleary-eyed bowhunters trying to shake hangovers from the night just before. Larry is absolutely 1 of these age-defying bowhunters.
A few years ago, I began studying older productive mountain bowhunters to discover their secrets. I was in my late 50s then, and hoped to continue performing what I loved for a couple of more years. What I located is no surprise, but must be taken seriously by any DIY hunter who thinks hardcore bowhunting has to finish at a particular age.
Larry D. Jones, the Hall of Fame bowhunter, writer and videographer.
Older hunters who perform at a high level share a single primary attribute: Sustaining hunting fitness is not some thing they do a couple of months before the season. They live it.
They are not bodybuilders, but they workout regularly to keep their muscles toned to assistance joints, ligaments and tendons, and to sustain the cardio technique. They watch their diets and their weight. Some run, some bike, some hike for endurance and cardio wellness.
They have been active their whole lives, frequently playing sports increasing up, and staying match as they grew older since they understood that to continue carrying out this bowhunting factor we adore, it was not optional. With a really couple of exceptions, they aren’t the athletes they had been in their youth, capable to run trail marathons and climb peaks. That’s not needed, and can be detrimental to aging joints.
But every one particular I’ve met is as tough as an old boot, lean and wiry, with a determined spark in their eyes that is missing from most seniors who’ve given up the pursuit. You don’t see any overweight senior mountain hunters.
Paul Navarre hits the fitness center every other day.
Paul is rapid to acknowledge that genetics and luck play a element in it. He “chose his parents wisely,” but he hedges his bets, also. He hits the gym every other day. When we come by means of the door, the cute workout bunnies wave at him, calling out, “There’s Paul! Hi, Paul!” He walks the track carrying a 10-pound dumbbell, and varies his exercising routine to hit all muscle groups and preserve it fresh, along with endurance training for cardio fitness.
“We do this since we are hunters. We have been hunters as long as we can keep in mind, and we want to do this for as extended as we can.”
This is not something he does for a couple of months prior to the season — it is a year-round plan. He carries dumbbells in the back of his pickup camper to remain toned although scouting and fishing. Apart from watching his weight and diet plan (except for cookies, his 1 deadly vice), he advises that it’s crucial to listen to his body, backing off when necessary so he doesn’t hurt himself.
He believes stretching is vital as we grow older, and that legs and lungs are the drivetrain and engine for older hunters.
You Are What You Consume
Diet regime is a subject for a different post, but it was intriguing to learn that Paul and I share almost identical menus — lots of lean game and fish, fruit, vegetables, complete grains, fish oil supplements, no sodas, and small processed sugar.
Ken is at the other finish of the spectrum. He insists he never ever works out at all, and says he does not think in gyms. As an alternative, he says, “You have to have it in your system.” But he watches his weight and stays quite active.
One of 11 youngsters raised on a farm, he has constantly been robust and fit. He believes mountain hunting is significantly less about raw strength, and far more about stamina, endurance, and mental toughness built more than a lifetime and sustained as an element of every day life. That is how he pounds the steep, higher-elevation slopes for more than 200 miles every season.
I’m somewhere in between. At 62, with mild asthma and a metal hip, I’m not the mountain goat I once was. But I’ve also lived a life of high activity, backpacking and playing competitive sports into my late 30s, usually exercising and being physically active, hiking, biking, watching my weight and diet program, and especially functioning out for hunting.
These days I hike outdoors with a pack, lift free of charge weights and a kettle bell, use band-resistance tools and a rowing machine, and do core workouts. When the climate is harsh, I ride an indoor bike with a weighted wheel. Like Paul, I listen to my physique, and if a tendon flares up, I back off that portion for a bit.
Paul’s regimen contains recumbent legs, Stairmaster, and strengthening his bow arm.
I hunt mainly solo for 40–50 days a season, and I scout tough all summer. It is difficult to sustain that pace for weeks at a time after six decades of hammering my joints. So when my body tells me it’s time for a break, I’ll hunt close to camp for a day, possibly explore someplace new, go into town for a dinner and groceries, and recharge.
The important takeaway is that hunting for a lifetime calls for a life style of fitness. “Getting in shape” for a couple months just before the season might have worked in our 30s. Not so as we age. Growing older, it becomes far more challenging to physical exercise, to pick up weights, to climb that hill. There’s constantly one thing else to do. Sixty might be the new 40, but only for those who take that axiom seriously.
It’s Never Also Late
My great pal Kevin Steele is also a senior mountain bowhunter with a metal hip, who is a private trainer specializing in hunting fitness (and who holds the Colorado state deadlift record). His organization is Trinity Fitness. I asked him to outline a realistic simple regimen for seniors.
The very first bit of advice was, “It’s never ever as well late to get in shape. Get off your butt and get started.” He favors physique weight workouts and a kettle bell over machines. But the ideal issue we can do, he believes, is to place on a pack and hike although progressively escalating the load upward from ten pounds, using a “wave cycle” which progressively increases more than 4 weeks.
His wave cycle begins out with walking 1 mile twice a week with a ten-pound pack. Week two is 1.five miles three times with 15 pounds. Week three is two miles four instances with 20 pounds. Week 4 has us doing 2.5 miles five instances with 25 pounds. Week 5 backs down to 1.five miles three occasions with 15 pounds prior to beginning the cycle again, and at eight weeks, hike three miles five instances with 30 pounds.
It’s important to take days off to let muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments recover. His recommended workouts incorporate pushups, chin-ups, rowing motion, hip extensions (burpees, pushups), squats, and various swings with a kettle bell.
He suggests a exercise routine of four or 5 of these workout routines, a single minute per exercise. Do three rounds of this, with a 1 or two-minute rest in in between every single round. The whole plan can be accomplished in 17–19 minutes. He emphasizes that suitable kind and strategy are vital to keep away from injuries. It could take time to perform up to the 5x1x3 objective, so do what you can at first, and do not overdo it.
Kevin suggests 3 sorts of cardio. Steady State, which is walking, operating, machines, and swimming. Hybrid Cardio, comprised of one hundred reps of kettle bell snatches and physique squats. The third is my preference, which is Interval Cardio. These are workouts like hiking with a pack, jumping rope 30 seconds on and off for 20 minutes, kettle bells, operating sprints, and riding a bicycle.
Paul walking the track with 10-pound dumbells,
Working on a treadmill or stair-stepper even though wearing a pack can accomplish the same aim, as will climbing the stairs at the stadium if you reside in the flatlands. Interval is a fantastic workout simply because it emphasizes pushing to a limit and constructing rapid recovery capability. I like to incorporate single-arrow shooting into this routine anytime feasible. It prepares mountain hunters for when we climb to the crest of a ridge, spot that monster bull or buck inside range, and then have to execute an precise shot.
The “extreme hunting” fad leads numerous to believe that superhuman conditioning is required for mountain hunting. It is not. Whatever exercises you decide to incorporate into your everyday life to prepare for mountain hunting, the essential point is to make it component of your life style, and not something you dread.
Mix it up, and reward yourself afterward. If some components turn out to be boring, try some thing new. The possibilities for workout are everywhere, and high-priced fitness center memberships are not needed. Figure out your own level of fitness based upon your scenario.
The only judges are you, the mountain, and the critters you pursue.
It won’t be simple at very first. You have to want to do it. But the rewards are immense, and your enjoyment of life will enhance dramatically. As Paul says, “We do this because we are hunters. We have been hunters as extended as we can don’t forget, and we want to do this for as lengthy as we can.”
When I grow up, I want to be like Paul.
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