Going on a do-it-yourself (DIY) backcountry elk hunt is a huge commitment. A trip like this requires a lot of forethought, research, planning, and preparation – which is exactly why I hoping to help others by documenting my journey.
One of the commitments that must be made as soon as you decide to take a trip like this is the obligation to get in shape and physically prepare yourself for long days of hunting the mountains. This is especially true for a guy like me – someone that makes his living sitting at a desk, just a couple hundred feet above sea level. If I am going to be ready to chase elk on their home turf, I am going to have to make exceptional gains in my physical fitness. I can’t expect to go from typing all day to chasing elk at over 10,000′ for a week.
This physical preparation cannot be an afterthought or a last-minute exercise in “good intentions” that you begin just a couple of months before your trip. It is going to take most of us many months – or maybe even a year – to transform ourselves into mountain hunting shape. I know that was true for me. In September of 2011 – a full two years before my elk hunt – I began to get in shape. Last September, I was able to proudly declare that after a year of hard work, I had lost 55 pounds! Read the story…
Beginning that journey wasn’t easy. In fact, the act of beginning – facing the facts of the shape that I was in and how much work I had to do – that was the hardest part of the whole process. But with a clear goal of hunting elk in mind, I did it. As Hunter Thompson famously declared,
“Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.”
If you want to hunt elk, then you need to train for it. Period. End of story. You don’t have to go extreme and start running marathons or spending countless hours in the gym, but the fact is – you will have to sacrifice time and energy to get in elk hunting shape. It will cost you, but the rewards will be worth it.
If you, like me, are a “flatlander” that is new to hunting the mountains – then the biggest investment you make in your trip shouldn’t be money on gear – it should be effort in preparing your mind and body for the challenge of mountain hunting. If you are going to do this, do it right!