This article is an overview of what the term hunting fitness suggests, and what it may mean to certain sportsmen.
As I’ve advanced in years, now into my eighties, my journey has been one of near perfect fitness in years past, to progressive but slow loss of some physical strength and mobility. That’s natural due to the ageing process. Then, if we add some deterioration due to a chronic illness, that might cause some ageing hunters to quit before it’s really necessary to do so.
<(That’s me at age 55)
What do I mean? There are several ways and means of not only maintaining good health, but improving it within certain limits, depending on age, physical condition to begin with, and any inherited illnesses.
But even with some chronic problems, the otherwise maintenance of good health and/or its improvement is not only beneficial for the body but also the mind! If we feel well there is generally a more positive outlook on life. Or, the corollary of that being: If we have a positive outlook on life, we will generally feel better.
Of course, personality or temperament enters the picture as well. For some, if they sneeze a couple of times there’re sure that’s a sign of oncoming pneumonia! For others, if they have a broken leg they’ll get a cast on and hunt with crutches! Which one we tend toward will determine our attitude about physical and mental challenges, and whether we will accept counsel to work toward improvement of health and physical conditioning.
<(At age 72) Some love to retire, sit around, watch TV or Internet videos, dream big dreams, but DO NOTHING! Others are activists and must always be doing something — repairs, going places, building, hunting… whatever. Most are less immoderate. So am I. I like to imagine what it would be like to… and within reasonable limits considering responsibilities AND abilities, do something about it. That means being physically fit and mentally alert.
With the current Covid-19, a reality that affects daily living, it’s not easy to prepare for a hunt that may not happen. Yet mental preparation that will lead to handloading some cartridges is never a bad idea, and it could improve our mental state and keep depression at bay. Then, it may well be that by this fall hunting will return. Just now our range is closed so I can’t test loads or practice. But that won’t keep me from preparing some test loads, or loads that I’m already familiar with for hunting purposes.
A hunting load that I put together last fall (2019) for bear and wolf is already sighted-in for my Ruger No.1 in .458 Win Mag. It’s not a “max load”, but one that will serve more than adequately for its intended purposes. How about this — a 300gr TSX at 2778 fps/5140 ft-lbs from the muzzle. The reason for that load last year was to test that 300gr TSX on a live bear. I wanted to insure expansion of the bullet since it’s a tough one.
Barnes, the manufacturer of the TSX bullets (Triple-shock-Xpanding), make the claim that these TSX bullets will expand in flesh down to an impact velocity of 1600 feet-per-second (fps). When started at 2778 fps (avg), it should therefore expand on big game (BG) at a maximum distance of 360 yards. But where I hunt in the Haliburton Highlands, 360 yards is out of the question — 150 yds would be a long shot. So that load is more than ample for anything I might have a ticket for, including moose. Yet 2945 fps for the same 300 TSX shoots into sub-MOA. That’s capable for moose (a big bull) to 400 yards.
See what I mean about “dreaming” of a hunt, and preparing for it, inspiring us to get into physical and mental condition? That will actually lift our spirits to move the body from sitting all day (or night) in front of a TV screen watching old sports’ reruns or really-old movies. And the same could happen from sitting in front of a computer hours on end.
The point being that we NEED to exercise the body and mind to establish good health practices. Yes we still take our meds, but working the body more and exercising the mind with challenging thoughts, questions, ideals, etc can help restore healthy living by a more positive outlook.
I find great inspiration of mind and spirit by the late R.C. Sproul in his lecture on “Eternity”- Does it exist? on YouTube. I Google it.
<(At age 80, that’s my wife Adrienne as we visited with a French Canadian couple — that I’d married and trained, he becoming pastor of the church in Montreal 40 years prior to this photo in 2017. They’d been retired for 5 years. Now living NW of Montreal.) If you left click on the pic it will give a better view.
Now, at ages 84 and 83 for me and my wife, we try to maintain a healthy lifestyle despite “everyone” telling us to “STAY HOME”! We’ve both been very active and involved with people throughout our nearly 63 years of marriage. We are now great grandparents of fourteen great-grandchildren, the latest a boy of less than a week old somewhere in Western Canada. So with an extended family (that’s become nearly a tribe), many of whom are within an hour to an hour and one-half’s drive from us, plus maintaining pastoral responsibilities, and chores around house and home (that we’ve lived in since 1987) we manage to get “things” done and be happy by the grace of God!
Don’t leave God out of your life! For that reason Jesus came, and will come again — of that I’m very sure. Those truths add hope and assurance to living. Without it life could get quite depressing in any bad circumstances we can’t control.
Positive thinking is not only a healthy habit, but comes from hope for the future.
Where there is no hope, people despair.
“May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in Him” – A prayer by the apostle Paul for the persecuted churches of his time.
A few days ago my wife answered the phone to hear a voice she recognised, though not having heard it for the past 60 years! It was from a 94 year-old gentleman who knew us when in our twenties! We were from the Province of New Brunswick and so was he. I was a young pastor in central N.B. and he was a veteran missionary representing his mission that worked in the Chad, Africa. After a decade of hands-on missionary work in the Chad, the mission asked him to be their Rep in Canada. He spoke in our church and stayed in our home during that visit. He also asked me to consider becoming a teacher/trainer of national pastors in the Chad. After serious and prayerful consideration of about six-months, we decided our work in those churches in N.B. was not done. Nonetheless, we followed his career as best we could, and were thankful for his trust in us, but lost contact sometime later. Now, at age 94 he got our telephone number from our son, Brent, who himself had spent two decades in Africa as a missionary. “Jerry”, the gentleman, knew our son, and through him made a phone call to us. I wasn’t around when he called but my wife relayed the conversation. At age 94, his voice and attitude was still the cheerful Jerry we had known sixty years ago. He had married twice and lost both his wives in death. He drives his own car and walks with a cane, but NO complaints, only a cheerful disposition as he continues to be a blessing to others.
Why are we here? To gratify self and complain that life is miserable, or to praise God and be thankful? That gives a cheerful heart and makes us a blessing to others who need blessings.
So practically speaking, I do my walks with weights in each hand. If the weather is miserable, I work out in my room with heavier weights. This maintains muscular strength and cardio-vascular health. In addition I take my meds for blood circulation and diabetes. Thankfully, I’m very mobile and have few aches and pains. I also work out with the Ruger No.1 in .458 Win Mag. It’s done inside as we don’t have seclusion in our back yard from prying eyes that could result in an unwelcome visit from the police.
The rifle weighs 10.3 lbs with the Nikon 2 – 7 x 32mm scope, sling and stock cartridge holder. Depending on the weight of handloaded bullets, the weight goes up to 10.75 lbs with 4 in the holder and one in the chamber.
I work with it by carrying it in one hand and then the other as in walking in the woods. Or slung over my left shoulder. Or slung across my chest using the nylon sling over my right elbow ready to aim and fire within less than one second. The rifle is diagonal across my chest with my right hand gripping the Alexander forearm with sling between the wood and my grip. The left hand (remember I shoot from that side) grips the buttstock aft of the action in the pistol grip. I’m ready to lift the rear of the rifle into position in a split-second as the right hand is already in position to fire.
Often “muscle memory” is mentioned. I practice with my .458 WM so that when the time comes for using it in actual hunting it doesn’t seem too heavy, or like a stranger to me and unwieldy.
Be safe, stay healthy, and God bless,