Keeping a keen edge on our mental focus is one of the keys to being a successful hunter. As the predator, lightning quick reflexes and the ability to make nanosecond decisions are to our advantage. There is no substitute for being mentally razor sharp. A simple assistant to acuteness that cannot be overlooked is – water.
The human brain fires neurons which enable us to make sharp and snappy decisions. Given that your body is around 70% water and the brain is about 80% water, hydration is of the utmost importance. Daniel G. Amen, M.D. a clinical neuroscientist and medical director of the Amen Clinic for Behavioral Medicine in California says “Your brain is 80 percent water and if it’s not hydrated, your neurons can’t perform properly.”
Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., EatingWell Nutrition Editor writes, “Staying hydrated keeps your memory sharp, your mood stable and your motivation intact. When you’re well-hydrated, you can also think through a problem more easily. Researchers hypothesize that not having enough water could reduce oxygen flow to the brain or temporarily shrink neurons — or being thirsty could simply distract you.”
Researchers such as Dr. Amen recommend you drink at least 84 ounces of water a day. “It is best to have your liquids unpolluted with artificial sweeteners, sugar, caffeine, or alcohol. You can use herbal, non-caffeinated tea bags, such as raspberry or strawberry flavored, and make unsweetened iced tea. Green tea is also good for brain function as it contains chemicals that enhance mental relaxation and alertness.”
“But one size doesn’t fit all,” says Leslie Bonci, R.D., C.S.S.D., director of sports nutrition at the Center for Sports Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and dietitian for the Pittsburgh Steelers. “Your size and activity level affect your fluid requirements. Simply put, the larger and more active you are, the more you’ll need.”
“The easiest thing that anybody could do on a daily basis is monitor their urine color,” says Douglas Casa, Ph.D., A.T.C., who studies hydration at the University of Connecticut. “Lighter urine color – like lemonade – means you’re generally well-hydrated. If it’s darker, like apple juice, you are most likely dehydrated.”
Dehydration can began to occur in just a few hours. If your thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Whether chasing turkey, elk or sitting in a tree stand, stay on top of the game by committing to systematic hydration. “Depending on the season, the heat index, the strenuousness of the hike, and other factors that increase your body’s perspiration, you may want to remind yourself of this additional rule of thumb: you will sweat around 1/2 to 1 quart of fluid for every hour that you walk in the heat. If you purchase a 2- or 3- liter hydration bladder, that should contain the minimum amount of fluid needed to get you through a 3 to 6 hour hike in the heat. Depending on the circumstances, this still may not be enough.”
Regardless of the season that you’re planning on hunting – plan on hydrating. Maintaining your body’s proper fluid balance may mean the difference between a successful and unsuccessful hunt.