Category Archives: Fitness

Huntlete Bowhunting

Becoming A Huntlete: “Where do I begin?”

With all of the buzz centered around incorporating fitness into bowhunting and target archery, its not hard to get motivated and want to take part in what seems to be a revolution in the industry.
Undoubtedly, this increase in fitness awareness is playing a pivotal role in the lives of many bowhunters. The testimonies of how ‘being in shape’ enabled a backcountry bowhunter to arrow his trophy are increasing on a regular basis.
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For those whose occupation may demand physical activity, the discipline of staying in shape may be simply part of their day-to-day activities, but for others, it doesn’t come as easy. Furthermore, understanding the process of exercise and nutrition can seem daunting—even overwhelming.
Growing up as an athlete, I quickly noticed the benefits of being in shape during my hunts. Hunting from the ground, unlike most folks in Indiana who hunt from a treestand, meant spending a lot of time walking and covering the ‘hills and hollers’ looking for ‘The One,’ and being in good condition made the effort all that much easier.
Bowhunting athlete
After high school I went on to earn a degree in Exercise Science, which provided me the opportunity to help others by designing specific training programs and nutrition advice in order to help them achieve their fitness goals.
While I have several theories on why so many people become (and stay) out of shape, I’m going to break it down into three main points. In each of these I’ll discuss the issue and the steps to take to correct it.

If you can begin to change your behavior, you can change your LIFESTYLE.


Food Is Fuel

From a very young age American’s as a whole tend to use food as a reward system to reinforce positive behavior. This is partly where our sugar dependency, addiction and cravings come from. After years and years of giving into sweets, it becomes harder and harder to do without them, or so we think.
So how can we overcome this?
Huntlete Zach Ballif
First: we develop a schedule for when we eat our meals and avoid eating out of boredom or giving into our cravings. We use alternative foods like fruits, and peanut butter to kill those cravings for something sweet.
Over the last 50-years our ‘normal’ portions of food, at home and in restaurants, has increased drastically—and we’ve always been taught to, “clean our plates,” right? Large portions lead to overeating, which can leave us feeling sluggish and sometimes miserable after a meal.
How do we combat this?
When planning our meals for the day, we need to adhere to a plan that consists of smaller and more frequent meals throughout the day. We eat when we’re hungry and only until we’re no longer hungry. This keeps us feeling lighter and more energetic, which in turn allows us to be more active throughout the day.

No Excuses

Discipline—a word some may not be too fond of—but necessary to keep us on track, help us chase our goals and force us to ignore all the excuses we come up with (to skip out on a day here and there) or give in to our cravings for sugar. Even the top athletes in the world have days where they are tired, sore, not feeling up to the task of getting in a solid workout. But these athletes get in there and grind anyway because they know they’ll be better for it tomorrow.
Becoming a huntlete
The best are the best because they work while others sleep (don’t take that to mean that sleep isn’t important—we’ll discuss that at a later date). The bottom line is, if you stick to your plan, you will achieve your goals. After all, cheating never accomplished anything.

In It For the Long Haul

The fact of the matter is the majority of folks who are on-again, off-again dieters gain back more weight than they lost when they fall off of a diet. Why? In part it’s due to them reaching their short-term goal, after which they become complacent, and fall back on their old habits. When you begin to embrace fitness, you have to commit fully to the lifestyle.
Realizing everything is long-term and you’re improving not only your hunting and archery, but also your overall quality of life will keep you motivated. And depending on the bad habits you’ve kicked, you could be adding years to your life!
The best way to avoid complacency and the risk of ‘falling off of the wagon’ is to ALWAYS have a new goal after reaching an old one. Goal setting keeps you honest and always striving for something, helps to avoid boredom in the gym, and rids you of the feeling that you’re, “Just going through the motions.”
Continually seek motivation through social media fitness pages, the pages of other bow hunters who are also fitness junkies (there are plenty of us out there), or try finding a partner to train with. A training partner will keep you accountable and allow you to push each other throughout your workouts.
This simple breakdown should give you a few important tools to combat bad behavioral habits that have developed over the years and show you how to take your first steps toward becoming the Huntlete that you dream of becoming. After all, there’s only one way to get the edge on the competition in this game and that is to train harder, go farther, and hunt longer.
For more information on how you can become a ‘Huntlete’ feel free to check out Huntlete Fitness, where I offer online training programs, articles and nutritional advice specific to what each individual is looking for.

Better than cam hanes

Better Than Cam Hanes?

If you don’t know who Cam Hanes is you’ve either been living under a rock for several years or you haven’t made the fitness/hunting connection yet. Cam Hanes is, in simplest terms, a passionate bowhunter who takes physical fitness in the name of hunting preparation to the extreme—actually, beyond the extreme.
I started following Cam Hanes after stumbling across his website by accident. Since that day, my life-style and the way I approach bowhunting hasn’t been the same. As a former college athlete I had spent the first part of my life focused on conditioning and physical fitness. However, once my playing days ended it was easy to let myself go. And I did. Soon I became lost ‘physically’.
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Cam Hanes has impacted thousands of lives with his intense attitude toward fitness and bowhunting. That includes mine.

I simply didn’t have the motivation for fitness I once had while playing football. However, my motivation as a bowhunter never wavered. It wasn’t until I stumbled across Cameron’s message that I realized how much one could affect the other. Suddenly, I was starting to fell motivated again.

Ramp It Up

It didn’t take long for me to figure out that I could be more successful at bowhunting (or hunting in general) if I was in better physical shape. You see, the terrain I live and hunt in doesn’t suffer the weak. Therefore, in order to overcome the many obstacles I face every season I had to, as Cam puts it, “Ramp It Up”.

The Problem With Cam Hanes

I will admit that after following Cameron for a while I started to feel the pressure. Pressure to run as far as he did, lift as much as he did and shoot as much as he did. Eventually it became a race I couldn’t win. After all, Cam is Cam and I’m just Steve.
Cam Hanes lifting

Before you start out on the journey toward physical fitness you need to understand who you are competing with.

So, for a while I turned Cam off. I quit following him and I started to dismiss what he was doing as being relevant to me. He was the perfect scapegoat for my own lack of effort; both in the gym and on the shooting range. However, I eventually learned that the problem wasn’t with Cam Hanes—it was with me.
After backsliding for a while I decided to give Cam’s philosophies another try. Only this time I took a different approach. I decided not to compete with him but with someone much more powerful—myself.

The Real Competition

If, like me, you’ve decided to incorporate physical fitness into your off-season hunting preparations then you’ve taken a step in the right direction. Just don’t make the same mistake I made and make it a competition with someone other than yourself. In my opinion we are our own worst enemies.

Cam Hanes elk hunt

The only person you have to outdo is—YOU. Not just in the gym but in the deer woods as well.

If I can just convince the guy looking back at me in the mirror to lift one more rep, add one more plate, jog one more lap, eat cleaner meals and practice a little more often then I will ultimately be the best version of ME that I can be.

So Now What

I think the most important thing to take away from my ramblings is that guys like Cam Hanes should be used as a motivating tool and not a yardstick. There are plenty of people who inspire us every day. Truth be told, you probably inspire someone without even knowing it.

Cam Hanes family

Who or what motivates you to be healthy or become a more physically fit hunter?

Cam Hanes, along with my family and a few others, inspire me to push myself out of my comfort zone and prepare for hunting season like never before. Maybe you are ready to become the best hunter you can be. If so consider these quick tips.
1. Start Out Slow: The worst thing you can do is look at someone’s training program and immediately try to adopt it. If you are just starting out and jump in using an advanced lifting or running program you could end up injured. Remember nobody gets stronger when they are hurt.
2. Focus On The End: Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will be the new version of you. If you expect to reach your goals overnight it isn’t going to happen. Consider where you are and keep the end result in mind. That will keep you motivated when you feel like your gains aren’t coming fast enough.
3. Find A Partner: Everything is easier when you’ve got a friend to join you; especially getting in shape. A partner can motivate you but more importantly they can keep you accountable for workouts, clean eating habits and just staying the course.
Cam Hanes supplements

Supplements are a great addition to any workout program. Just make sure you choose a quality product with only the best ingredients.

4. The Legs Feed The Wolf: While the upper body gets the bulk of our attention the lower body does the majority of work in the woods. Overall body fitness should be the goal as long as the legs aren’t neglected.
5. Eat Clean: Working out is great but poor eating habits will thwart any progress you hope to make toward how you look and feel. A clean diet is more important than how much weight you lift and how many times you lift it.
Until next time: Embrace The Grind, Reap The Reward.

Bowhunting Confidence

How Bowhunters Can Build Self-Confidence

Self-confidence is an intangible but vital component every bowhunter must possess. Much like the athlete who approaches game day with the unswerving belief he will win, successful bowhunters understand the importance of taking self-confidence into every aspect of the hunt.
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A multitude of studies have been done on the psychological relation between self-confidence and performance. Research supports the belief of athletes and coaches who recognize self-confidence as an essential element necessary to win at any sport. These findings suggest self-confidence can motivate us to a degree where we can accomplish the inconceivable.
It’s easy to think of confidence as a magic potion—this idea couldn’t t be farther from the truth. While confidence is a secret ingredient needed for achievement, there are necessary contributions we must make if wanting to possess a higher level of self-confidence.

5 Keys: How Bowhunters Can Build Self-Confidence

No one would accept the idea that due to a high level of self-confidence an NFL team would refrain from spending time at their summer training camp. On the contrary, it’s training camp that builds self-confidence. So it is with bowhunting.
As a bowhunter, building self-confidence begins long before you’re in the stand or in the backcountry. Self-confidence grows by intentional planning and careful preparation.

1. Peak Performance

The viscera of the bowhunter’s self-confidence is his or her equipment. No matter what other elements are in place, if your equipment is not performing at its peak potential, self-confidence will be diminished. Knowing your equipment is dependable and can deliver downrange is an essential building block to increased self-confidence.
Wondering whether ones bow is properly tuned should not be something that comes to mind when crunch time arrives. Self-confidence requires your bow to be operating at its peak potential on opening day and all through the archery season. This is critical to maintaining a high level of conviction that when presented with the opportunity, you will achieve the desired results.

2. Proper Practice

While some might stress the importance of shooting ones bow every day, proper form and muscle function are the ultimate goal. When building self-confidence, less of the mediocre and more of perfection can equal more effective results.
Pre-season practice should focus on making sure practice time is quality time. Few things can destroy muscle memory like sloppy shooting form, which in turn develops bad habits. And bad habits are only exaggerated when the adrenaline is flowing and the margin of error is miniscule.
We don’t practice to impress, we practice to improve.
Set some practice goals, break the bad habits and you’ll go into this years bowhunting season with increased self-confidence.

3. Positive Thinking

The bowhunter can never underestimate the power of the mind. The mind has the ability to pull us through high-pressure situations and vice versa. A positive mental attitude (PMA) is a must for the bowhunter.
Avoid negativity at all cost.
While it may be intriguing to spend time on social media viewing others successes, don’t cross the line of comparing your personal achievements with the next guy. Comparison is the archenemy of self-confidence. While to be challenged by another is healthy, always keep your focus and don’t allow another’s achievements to make you lose hope in accomplishing yours.
Self-confidence is a choice. If you choose to possess it, you’ll need to protect it through positive thinking.

4. Physical Exercise

Excuses have never accomplished a single thing. Ditch the excuses and make exercise a part of your everyday life. Exercise is a critical component of self-confidence. From hormone balance, mental focus, and endurance, physical exercise is a great contributor to increased self-confidence.
Exercise and healthy eating habits are directly tied to the mind. Possessing a strong body will help you to possess a healthy dose of self-confidence.
If beginning the journey to a healthier lifestyle, remember to focus on progress, not perfection. Few people possess the genetic gifts needed to make the cover of a magazine. This is YOUR journey; so enjoy every step towards being a better you.

5. Prior Planning

Waiting until the last minute to prepare for bow season is hardly conducive to building self-confidence. On the other hand, putting together a solid pre-season strategy will provide the bowhunter with an anchor, which in turn will help to hold ones emotions together when the results are not immediate or less than desired.
Goals and strategies are more than ‘pie in the sky’ talk. Pre-season planning will increase your chances of success. Take the time to study every aspect of where you will be hunting and develop a strategy accordingly. This includes reviewing satellite images, familiarizing yourself with the prevailing winds, understanding travel patterns, locating available food sources and seeing how surrounding properties might affect overall game movement. Every good player prepares for ‘game day’—so should the bowhunter.


While self-confidence may seem rather abstract to some, it’s an undeniable part of all of us. From the rookie to the professional, there can be no denying that self-confidence plays an important part in our overall performance at most anything we do.
If proven to carry this much weight psychologically, than as bowhunters we should enjoy the journey of building self-confidence through these disciplines. Because season isn’t that far away!

Cameron Hanes Correct

Is Cameron Hanes Crazy Or Correct?

‘Beast Mode.’ ‘Keep Hammering.’ ‘The Ultimate Predator.’ ‘Bleed.’
Are these just slogans that make for cool looking hats and great looking t-shirts? Or are they mantra’s that can make a difference in how we think?
It depends.
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It depends on whether you’re willing to fight against a current of complacency. It depends on whether you think pushing yourself beyond average is important. It depends on whether you believe being at your best isn’t an option. It depends on whether you think mediocre is acceptable.
It depends on whether you think Cameron Hanes is crazy or correct.
In a world where men and boys are told to go with the flow; don’t tell me that Cameron Hanes is crazy. As a father of three boys, I want my sons to have men they can look up to who love the outdoors, work hard and promote personal achievement.

In a day when twerkers and twerps are promoted and manliness is taunted, we need more individuals like Cameron Hanes to remind our kids what the rewards of hard work look like.

Cameron Hanes
So what makes Cameron Hanes so inspiring to my kids?
Some might say success. Others might say ability. But is that really what makes the man? Is success the end all? Are trophies on the wall and being able to count your abs, the end? Is ability the real contributing factor here?
Or is it… belief.
A belief powerful enough that it took a no-name from Eugene, Oregon and made him a household name in the hunting industry. A belief strong enough that it enabled a nobody to become an elk hunting legend. A belief that continues to push Cameron Hanes beyond what he thought was possible.
My boys are inspired by his believing.
Believing that no one can keep you from living out your dreams. Believing that the only person holding you back is you. Believing that if you want it, you’ll have to work to get it. Believing that by living it, you can achieve it.
Through Cam, my kids see that belief can still build an icon and belief is still the most powerful thing in the universe.
Anyone who promotes belief in God, belief in one other and belief in ourselves, isn’t crazy. They’re correct.
Cameron Hanes belief has influenced my kid’s grades. Cam’s attitude has inspired my kids to get off the couch and be active. Cam’s drive has made them aware that extra effort has its rewards.
You’ll have to answer for yourself, but I’ve come to the conclusion that Cameron Hanes isn’t crazy — he’s correct.

“Better today than yesterday, better tomorrow than today.” – Cameron Hanes

Late Season Sanity

5 Simple Steps To Keeping Your Late Season Sanity

It sounded like a cross between a Pterodactyl and coyote howl. Hearing but not understanding my disoriented mind was asking, “What is that noise?” What was this incessant racket right beside my head? Why wouldn’t it stop?
Suddenly in the other ear I heard my wife say, “Randy, shut off that alarm!”
As if in some kind of a trance, I wondered why on earth the alarm was set for 4 am. At the same time I was wondering, “…where am I?”
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Many mornings during the late season I’ve woke up in such a fog I had no earthly idea where I was. As the sleepiness fades I’ll slowly figure out if I’m at home or away on a hunt. It sounds humorous, but to those of you who know how taxing a long hunting season can be, it’s a reality.
With a lack of rest, the need of vitamin D, and low levels of serotonin, our bodies can make us feel like we’re on the verge of loosing our mind. The mental and physical drain from hunting days on end can leave one questioning his or her own sanity.
When we continually demand our bodies do the unordinary, we create a physical cocktail that can contribute to us getting fatigued and frustrated more easily. Especially, when pushing ourselves beyond the normal in an attempt to avoid the taste of tag soup. This accumulation of stress can begin to affect our overall performance and moods. Yet, as the ultimate predator, we need to be at peak performance when under pressure.
Across the years I have learned a few pointers that I apply when hunting late season. There are no silver bullets or magic potions, but these tips have helped me keep an edge in spite of feeling totally worn out.

1. Focus On Proper Nutrition

When we’ve shivered all day in the cold, a Big Mac and large order of fries sound good to a numb mind and cold body. Hungry and craving carbs, the first mistake we often make in the late season is how we fuel our bodies.
When hunting in cold temperatures for extended periods of time, your metabolic rate increases. Meaning, your body burns more calories in order to stay warm. Your body also knows when you’re feeling cold that eating creates thermogenesis (heat production) or a warming effect.

Thirty minutes to an hour after you eat your body will generate 10% more heat.

Making it a practice to eat healthy in the late season will give your body the nutrients it needs to push through those weary days. What you eat for breakfast, pack in your lunch and snack on, can make all the difference in how you feel at the end the day. Food is fuel.
Trade those sugary snacks for some walnuts, almonds or sunflower seeds. Nuts contain quality protein, essential fats and will provide your body with quality fuel. Prepare nutritional snacks by pre pealing some oranges, slicing a few apples or choosing a preferred fruit to snack on throughout the day. Dried fruit mixed with nuts is also a quality option.
A candy bar may suppress your cravings, but taking in simple sugars will only make you feel good for the moment. Once your body is flooded with insulin, you’ll feel worse than if you hadn’t eaten that sugary snack at all. Push the Snickers aside and eat something that will have all day benefits.
You should also take in proteins from eggs, chicken or fish, even when your taste buds are screaming for a greasy hamburger. Our taste buds will try to tell us differently, but a Wendy’s hamburger has little nutritional value when it comes to replenishing what our bodies need during a late season hunt.

2. Remember Adequate Hydration

For some strange reason we tend to think that we need more water in the summer than winter. But, winter hydration is equally as important in preventing muscle fatigue and retaining mental acuteness.
When spending extended periods of time in the cold, blood vessels constrict in order to conserve heat and help maintain your core body temperature. To compensate for an increase in blood pressure, your kidneys will produce more urine than normal. An increase in urine production means a greater need for hydration.
Our bodies also have to warm up the air we breath to equal that of our core body temperature. This is the reason our winter exhalations look like steam. Due to the extensive evaporation caused by our breathing process, it is estimated that we can loose between one to two liters of fluid a day from breathing extremely cold air.
We often judge our water intake by whether or not we feel thirsty. But, just because you don’t feel thirsty doesn’t mean your body isn’t in need of adequate fluids. Measure your daily water intake by your body weight requirements, not your senses. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least half your body weight in fluid ounces on a daily basis. If you can’t stand the thought of drinking cold water when temperatures are freezing cold, carry a small thermos that contains warm water or hot green tea.
Proper hydration plays a key role in mind and muscle functions. Staying hydrated will help you stay focused when crunch time arrives.

3. Take Vitamin D3 And B12 Supplements

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that we normally receive from adequate sunlight. Short days and lack of sunshine can contribute to a vitamin D deficiently during the late season. This in turn results in a lack of energy and even depression.
If feeling extreme fatigue during the late season, take a vitamin D3 supplement. Due to our bodies absorbing sunlight better than a supplement, I prefer to take a 1000IU capsule during December and January. As crazy as it sounds, this tiny capsule has made a huge difference in helping to preserve my sanity and energy when hunting late season.
Vitamin B12 is another natural energy enhancer that helps in retaining stamina, improving moods and increasing energy levels. I have been taking B12 for several years now and it is especially helpful during the winter months. B12 is an essential supplement for achieving your optimum potential and unlike D3 can be taken year round.
Supplementing your vitamin D3 and B12 intake during the late season will definitely help to keep you feeling sane plus stabilize your energy levels.

4. Limit Your Caffeine Intake

When it’s cold outside there’s little that compares to a hot cup of coffee. I know what you’re thinking and I didn’t say go without coffee. But if you’re struggling to stay warm and keep a stable frame of mind, it might be best to limit your caffeine intake.
Caffeine can act as a vasoconstrictor; meaning excessive caffeine decreases the diameter of your arteries and increases blood pressure. Limited doses can promote vasodilation, but when sitting for hours in the extreme cold, your blood vessels are already constricting to preserve heat. Too much caffeine accelerates vasoconstriction, which leads to decreased blood flow and cold extremities. And I’ve never found anyone who can stay in a good mood when hunting with cold hands and feet.
Most importantly, caffeine suppresses serotonin. If you’re not familiar with serotonin you should be. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter found in the GI tract and central nervous system. It is connected to feelings of well-being and is known as the happiness hormone. Serotonin helps to regulate physical functions such as energy, emotions, mood, sleep, appetite, muscle contraction and so forth.
During the winter months serotonin levels are at their lowest. Some claim this is a contributing factor to what is often called “cabin fever.” To keep your mood up and attitude positive, limit your caffeine and ward off the late season blues.

5. Get Some Rest

Yeah, right! Who gets rest during the late season?
Sleep deprivation affects each of us differently. Some get sick, others get irritable and others just have low energy levels. It is tough to find time to rest during hunting season, but it’s a must. Even a couple additional hours of sleep can boost your immune system, increase stamina and reduce stress.
Personally, power naps are a lifesaver when I start feeling totally wiped out. Even a quick 10-minute nap can give me enough of a charge to carry on the rest of the day. This may not work for everyone, but rest is a necessity for peak performance.
Sitting in the freezing cold for hours on end isn’t for everyone. But for the diehard hunter who refuses to give up, these are a few tricks that will help you be at your best right up until the moment you either notch your tag or hunting season ends. Stay positive and best of luck.

bowhunting fitness

Bowhunting Fitness: No Off Season Keeps You On

When it comes to the subject of bowhunting fitness, it is an honor to interview two guys who are well versed in what it takes to stay in peak physical shape both on stage and in the stand. These two gentlemen have a reputation for not only being dedicated fitness fanatics but passionate bowhunters as well. Known for being dedicated to a lifestyle where being at your best is not an option, Brandon Hammonds of FMP Bowcast and Davie Ferraro of I Hunt Strong are a reliable source of knowledge that can benefit all of us. Hats off to both of them for sharing these bowhunting fitness tips for the beginner to advanced bowhunter who wants to take fitness to a whole new level.
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365: Brandon and Davie, welcome!

Davie: Thanks Randy, it’s an honor to be a part of this interview with both you and Brandon. You are absolutely correct, when it comes to hunting, in particular bowhunting, there is no such thing as an off season. Bowhunting and fitness are both correlated in regards that they require a lifelong dedication and discipline.
Brandon: Thank you, Randy! For years I have seen huge benefits to off-season fitness training and I am very happy to share any info that will benefit this new breed of bowhunters.

365: Let’s share a little background with our readers. Brandon, let’s start with you. You are a gym owner, a former bodybuilding competitor, blogger and contributor to the FMP Bowcast podcast. Tell our fellow bowhunters what inspired you to get into bowhunting.
Bowhunting Fitness Tips
Brandon: Being a kid growing up in Michigan, odds are someone in your family hunts. It really started from there. One day some 25-years ago we rented some VHS tapes at the local video store. At the time it was some of the first guys who filmed bowhunts. Guys like Ben Lee, the Wensel Brothers, Bob Folkrod and the very first tapes of Realtree before it was Monster Bucks.

That was all it took and I was hooked! I am sure it was like reading Hemingway’s hunts to some people but that’s the kind of connection it made with me. Those old school tapes of bowhunting just burned into my mind and soul and that really started it all. I’ve never stopped. It took four years of bowhunting to shoot my first whitetail at the age of 16. I remember even then, in the off-season just dreaming of the October skies, chilled mornings, sights and sounds; I couldn’t wait until October rolled around again.
365: That’s an awesome story, Brandon. No doubt our readers will identify with it. Tell us a little about FMP Bowcast.
Brandon: FMP Bowcast is a semi weekly podcast that you can find at The show is really for the new school archer. It’s an interviewing platform that has guests in the hunting and archery industry sharing tips of the trade that will improve your overall shooting experience.
365: Davie, as the founder of I Hunt Strong, blogger and fitness competitor you have an incredible following as an athlete and an avid bowhunter. Tell us about that moment of epiphany when you decided you wanted to bowhunt.
Davie: Since I was a little boy, at the age of 3 or so, my dad had me in the woods teaching me how to hunt: learning the signs of game, vegetation, deer activity, how to be quiet, etc. I have always been fascinated by the sport and every year for both my birthday and Christmas, all I ever wanted was hunting gear. I had harvested many deer prior to ever bow hunting. In Florida, bow season is the first to open up and runs for about a month before muzzleloader and gun season. So bowhunting was just another way for me to get out in the woods and hunt earlier and extending my deer season by a month.

Back when I was a junior at The University of Florida, I had the opportunity to hunt a 5 acre track in Bronson, FL. My dad had an old Fred Bear Whitetail Hunter compound bow he let me borrow. With just one week prior to the opening of bow season, I was out on the property scouting finding trails, rubs, and scrapes in high hopes of arrowing a deer. I found a couple of places to put my climber, trimmed some shooting lanes, and made note of certain land marks as my yardage markers. This was going to be my very first time ever bowhunting.

As with any season opener, my night of sleep was very restless due to excitement. I left my apartment and was set in my stand well before daylight. At about 8 o’clock am, I watched a doe slowly meander grazing on fallen acorns towards my stand. As she made it to my 25-yard marker, I slowly drew back the Fred Bear and with my adrenaline racing through my body like I had a case of buck fever, I shot and sure enough, missed. From then on, I was hooked. The challenge was on and I had fallen in love with the sport of bowhunting.

When I graduated from UF, I took some of the money I received from friends and family and bought a Mathews Outback. In my eyes, it was a gift that always gives back in more than one way and to this very day, I still think that same way.
365: Those are some great memories! That Fred Bear Whitetail Hunter has influenced a lot of guys our age. Tell us how bowhunting impacted your decision to start I Hunt Strong.
Davie: Right out of college, I went to work for a big developer in the Tampa Bay area selling properties and after 3 years of success and a busy schedule, I realized I was missing something: time with family, friends, and hunting. So, I decided to leave and follow one of my true passions, fitness.

By this time, I was already involved in fitness and was a top competitive athlete, but I wanted to help others achieve a transformation for themselves. With great success, I was looking to take it a step further. I was still missing that one true passion, my passion for the sport of hunting. I remember thinking to myself, “How can I get into the hunting industry”?

As I marinated on that idea, I simply thought, “The more fit you are, the more opportunities you will have at success when hunting.” In particular, bowhunting is tough and without a doubt, extremely humbling too. We as bow-hunters are trying to predict the unpredictable and expect the unexpected on an animal for which we have no control of. And the last piece of arsenal you want to fail on you is your body. And that’s where I combined both fitness and hunting to form Hunt Strong, LLC.
365: As you both know, I survived a horrific explosion several years ago. I was not expected to live and had a long journey to recovery. My passion for bowhunting and fitness are directly related to that incident. It was through lots of prayer, bowhunting and regular exercise that I got on the path to mental and emotional healing. Because of my own journey, I have a lot of empathy for the guy who is standing on the sidelines saying, how and where do I begin? Brandon, lets start with you. What words of wisdom do you have for the guy or gal that wants to know how to get in peak physical shape?
Brandon: Change the “I can’t” to “I can.” Sadly, fear is what limits our mental approach to making changes for the positive.

Being in peak physical shape does not happen overnight. So don’t let that fear of not seeing immediate results get in your head. It took years to get out of shape for most and the same goes the other way. It takes time to better yourself and your shape. Once people understand that, they can change themselves for a lasting and healthy lifestyle!
365: Davie, how would you encourage someone to take those first steps in getting fit?
i hunt strong
Davie: This is where I experience the most challenging part on my side. If it were up to me, everyone would be active and fit for not just the hunt, but for life, so we can be around for decades to come growing the sport of bowhunting. All I can do is motivate someone to take those first steps to be fit, but it’s entirely up to the person to start. Like I always say, “desire is the starting point of all achievement”. A person has to make a decision in their mind and the body will follow. I want the best for everyone and for everyone to enjoy a quality of life. Just Do IT! Start, which is the biggest step. It doesn’t have to be in a gym, you can do it at home. Get active; it’s as simple as that. Look at the positive and avoid all negativity. Do it for your family and friends, they want you around for long time. Do it for your grandchildren and great-grandchildren so that one day you can introduce them into the sport of hunting.
365: Having repeatedly heard the excuse of, “I don’t have time to spend three hours a day in the gym.” Let’s talk about how much exercise is enough to make a difference. What do you guys advise your clients when it comes to setting goals and seeing results?
Davie: Quality over quantity! More people often think that more is better, but better is better. The ideal workout is less than one hour. That’s just 4% of your day at most. You want to avoid overtraining at all costs due to the catabolic effects it has on your body. I often tell my clients, “It’s better to make time in your schedule for exercise now than to be forced out of your schedule by an illness later.” And you are never too old to start exercising.

Make sure your goals are realistic and attainable. When it comes to results, don’t get too carried away on scale weight. Often times, weighing everyday can discourage people and they give up. Rather, focus on body composition (Lean muscle mass/Body fat percentage). In the first few months of training, you are going to put on some lean muscle mass, which weighs more than body fat. So if you have only lost 10 lbs. on the scale, you may have gained 4 lbs. of muscle and lost 14 lbs. of body fat. How will you know this? By getting a body composition done monthly. The best way to tell is how your clothes fit and how you feel. Remember, we are not looking for quick fixes, it’s about lifestyle changes. Hang in there and keep battling. Every day is a new day.
Brandon: That is something I hear weekly and with the 24hr gyms around now, home workouts and YouTube, it’s just a sad excuse. Of course, depending on goals, but I’ve seen huge changes in many clients with 30min 3-4 times a week. Myself, I am done daily with everything in about the 1 hr mark.
365: As someone said, “The longest journey begins with a single step.” Would you both agree that consistently taking that one step forward is what keeps you going in the right direction and progressing toward your goals.
Brandon: That is so true, the first step is always the biggest and hardest to make! After that making small steps or as I tell my clients “small victories” towards that goal will always keep you motivated and moving forward!
Davie: Being consistent is a must. Trust me, there are days when I don’t feel like going to the gym, but I go. Sometimes just getting there is half the battle. You don’t want to fall into a rut and lose what you have worked hard for. As legendary fitness guru Jack Lelane said “Make yourself sweat everyday”. Being fit is a journey in itself; endure it, because I hope you are in it for the long haul. It’s like climbing a mountain, don’t focus at the top, focus on where you are climbing and before you know it, you will be at the top looking for more opportunities. Take one day out of the week and rest, your body needs time to recover and grow. If you want to shoot your bow on your day of rest, I highly recommend it.
365: Lets talk nutrition. Obviously, healthy food consumption plays a big role in fitness. Give us some key elements in understanding proper nutrition.
Davie: Nutrition is 80% of your results. What you eat today determines who you will be and what you will accomplish tomorrow. In other words, optimal results come from optimal eating. I find myself telling my clients along with others, “You can’t outwork a bad diet!” I believe in wholesomeness (one ingredient foods)! A sweet potato is a sweet potato, blueberries are blueberries, and venison is venison. There is no ingredient list to go along with it.

Eat every 4 hours. It’s all about increasing metabolism, so key in on smaller more frequent meals. When it comes to protein, keep it lean and try to eat as much wild game as possible. The best thing about wild game you harvested is you are the only person that has touched that meat from field to table. There are no preservatives or hormones. If you run out of wild game, eat free range or grass fed animals. Stay true to The Hunt Strong Lifecycle: Train hard, Hunt Strong, Eat Wild, & repeat!
Brandon: I am big believer in eating quality meals 5-6 times a day. The more often you eat, the more you will burn — it’s that simple. Understanding the right foods for this is of utmost importance. Such as eating at least 1-2 servings a day of greens or colored veggies with quality protein will keep you lean!
365: Would you both agree that setting a daily goal of eating 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight and 0.5 grams of carbs per pound of body weight is a good place to start with diet change.
Brandon: On point Randy, good job. That is pretty close to what I advise and it’s a great game plan for anyone from beginners to the advance. All of us that are outdoors men and woman should take all the advantage from the wild game we harvest it’s loaded with protein. Venison is a staple for meals for myself.
Davie: When it comes to consuming protein, I don’t believe there is a magic number. But I do believe that consumption doesn’t always equal absorption. If I went and ate 75 grams of protein in a meal, there is no way my body can absorb all that. I like to keep it simple. For men, per meal, eat 30 to 45 grams of lean protein (3/4 in. thick the size of your palm) and for females, eat 20 to 35 grams of lean protein (1/2 in. thick size of palm) per meal. Don’t get too caught up in measuring everything, just make good choices.

When consuming carbs, stick to complex carbs over sugary carbs. Some examples of complex carbs consist of oatmeal, potatoes, pastas, rice, couscous, etc. These are carbs that contain a very minimal amount of sugar. Sugary carbs are high in simple sugars. Examples of sugary carbs are fruits, juices, ice cream, etc. The only sugary carbs you should eat are fruits, with berries being the best.

Eat your veggies! Eat as many vegetables as you would like. Find new ways to cook them and flavor them. The more rich in color, the more antioxidants you consume.
365: Lets move on to supplements. What advice do you have on protein shakes, pre and post-workout drinks, ZMA, glutamine and so forth.
Davie: Supplements are a rapidly growing industry bursting at the seams with impure and inferior products smartly marketed. Don’t get too caught up in the mix. I only take and recommend a high quality whey protein and glutamine after my workouts to help build lean muscle mass and recover. If it is sweetened, be cautious of the carbohydrate content. I do however recommend taking a multivitamin and ZMA’s (zinc, magnesium, & vitamin B6) at night prior to going to bed. ZMA‘s are designed to maximize absorption and promote recovery from exercise.
Brandon: I like to keep diet and supplements simple as I can. But every guy/gal needs a multivitamin. I also prefer to use a powder form of Amino Acids and whey protein daily. ZMA is great, I take it every night!
bowhunting fitness interview
365: That’s some great information. Let’s switch to exercises. As far as exercises for Bowhunting, what overall exercises do you feel are best for preparing the bowhunter.
Brandon: Gym or no gym we can do a few items that will improve our bowhunting season.

Exercise legs at least at a basic level. We all can do body weight squats. I would train to be able to do 4 sets of 25 reps of your body weight. Can’t do 25 then do what you can until you hit that goal. This will make all long hikes and treestand climbs easy.

Train your core with the basic plank, front and both right and left sides. Just repeating a few sets of 30-45 seconds will pay off huge in the fall, when lifting and settings new stands and all the twisting when climbing we do.

Last thing is your rear delts. A simple way to achieve this motion is two dumbbells/bands left and right hand, sit on a chair or bench and keep you back straight. Lean your chest to your knees and with both hands fly the dumbbells up to or even with your shoulders/back and down at a controlled speed. 4 sets of 15 will make pulling that 70 lb string in cold weather feel like is not even there.
Davie: Progressive resistance training is your most effective tool for preparing for the hunt. It needs to be often repeated but never duplicated. Regardless of the sport, all athletes need to be built from the ground up since most of the movements are generated from your legs, and hunter athletes are no exception. I can’t tell you how vitally important this is. Performing squats, lunges, leg extensions, leg curls, hip adduction & abduction, and calf raises can and will prepare you for the hunt. If you can, vary the exercises as much as possible. For example, when doing lunges, perform walking lunges, side lunges and lunges in place. Start off just using your body weight and then progressively add weights. I recommend training legs twice a week.

Value your core, for your core is everything. Without a strong core, you are setting yourself up for failure or possibly an injury. More than 80% of the general population have or will experience back problems and this is more than likely due to a lack of core strength. Performing abdominal exercises like sit ups, planks, leg lifts, or using the ab wheel are great ways to strengthen your abs. You never know what position you may have to get into in order to make a shot count and a strong core will make it much easier.

No doubt, upper body strength makes the difference in bow hunting. Try to look at weight lifting from a 3 dimensional standpoint. Performing as many exercises utilizing different angles but still working the same muscle is key. Do this for all upper body exercises as well as lower body. For example; performing bench press with barbells and dumbbells in the flat, decline, and incline position.

Make sure you learn the proper technique and form when you are performing your exercises. Don’t get carried away with the amount of weight you can lift. If there is a doubt you can’t perform more than 6 reps properly, reduce the weight. If you don’t, injury will eventually occur and keep you from obtaining your goals. Also, from a hunting standpoint, learn how to control your body and you can do this by exercising in a slow and controlled manner. Isometric exercising: pausing during a movement while engaging the muscle being worked should be done on a regular basis.
365: Let’s talk about the benefits of cardio. Most guys would rather do strength training than cardio, give us some overall reasons why cardio must be included in the exercise regimen of a bowhunter.
Brandon: That is very true. Cardio plays a key role in our overall health including heart health. Also a key role in helping us keep human odor down as well. The better cardio shape we are in the less we are huffing hard, breathing hard, sweating hard and the best part that all works together to cut down human odor.
Davie: Benefits of cardio: Some individuals turn their head when they hear the word cardio while others, are all about it. But the bottom line, cardiovascular training should be regimented into your fitness plan. Your heart is a muscle and in order to become stronger it needs to be worked. Getting your heart pumping at an accelerated rate on a regular basis is a must. You don’t want to be out of breath performing what should be a simple task such as climbing a tree stand. When you perform cardio, you are increasing the muscles of the diaphragm which are extremely important, especially, if you are hunting in high elevation with thin air and it’s harder to breathe. Remember, the most important product you can ever rely on is your body. Hunt Strong! Performing cardio 3 to 5 times a week will also help increase your metabolism making your body more in tune and effective. Cardio also helps in releasing muscle soreness from a previous weight training workout.

How to start? For beginners, start off just getting your body moving and build up a sweat by walking or riding a bike. As you become more cardio fit, increase the intensity and add in some interval training by walking for 4 minutes at a fast pace followed by a jog or a sprint for a minute. Learn to push your limits and focus in on your breathing. Before you know it, you will be running the whole time or climbing stairs.
365: Thank you both for taking the time to provide our readers with some very valuable information pertaining to bowhunting fitness. Hopefully this will inspire someone to take that first step to get in the best shape of their life. Trust you both have a safe and successful hunting season. Thank you again!

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Avoiding dehydration

Avoiding Dehydration While Hunting

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.

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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.