The Making of a Predator
The human body is a complex piece of hardware that is capable of doing some pretty amazing shit. For example, it has the ability to replace every part of itself in a constant cycle of regeneration. You get new skin about every month; your liver is completely replaced about every six weeks, skeleton every three months and so on. This goes without saying that this shit doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t go to sleep at the end of the sixth week of your liver cycle and wake up with a completely new one; that would be some superhuman shit right there. It does however constantly replace cells in a cycle of renewal. That is just one example of just how amazing our bodies are. With that being said, I was able to test my body along with my mental fitness a few weeks ago while on an archery backcountry Elk hunt in northern Colorado.
Being my first solo backcountry hunt, I would have to say that I didn’t know what to expect as far as being physically and mentally prepared for it. You can only read and be given so much advice without fully knowing the suck your about to endure.
Training at Atomic Athlete for some years now has given me a mental and physical baseline; however, I knew going into this that I would need to amplify my training. You see, to be successful in backcountry hunting there are three pieces one must work on: shooting, knowledge, and physical fitness. You could be the best shooter out there but if your physical fitness is shit, you’ll lack the drive needed to continue pursuing the prey. Likewise, being in top shape but lacking the proper shooting mechanics could hinder you come time you set your sights on your target. In essence, there must be a balance between the three.
The Ultimate Predator programming Atomic introduced this year allowed me to be able to prepare myself physically and mentally for what I was about to embark on. The three month programming consisted of a three week block that entailed aerobic, strength, and sport specific training followed by one week of deload. The main focus of this programming was to improve the aerobic endurance and lower body strength endurance of the athlete while maintaining low to moderate intensity efforts over long periods of time. This is simulating what the legs would be able to tolerate: high workloads of moving the body with weight and equipment over steep terrain day after day. The weekly training consisted of tire drags (30-60min), step-up with weight (35lbs), running, and walking with loaded pack and other sport specific exercises. And of course with Atomic programming, nothing gets easier, you just get used to the suck; particularly noticeable at around week 11 when you’re doing a 60 min tire drag. The Ultimate Predator programming would be relative to the strenuous environment of backcountry hunting.
The first week of hunting I covered about 3-4 miles a day with loaded weight starting at around 4 a.m. and ending at legal shooting hours, which was around 7:45ish p.m. My first real test came at day 7 when I decided to move my hunting area three hours north of where I was originally at. Meeting a buddy of mine we started our nine mile ascent towards the backcountry. We thought we were putting in hard work, but two hours into our accent, we hit a much harder angle, and there was no turning back. Keep in mind that the weather started off relatively nice that day , but about an hour into our hike, a storm decided to roll in. By the time we started to really ascend, it was pouring down rain and the temperature was starting to drop. Talk about a shitty way to be climbing. We finally reached our destination with a total time of just around 4 and half hours. The next few days were long and more area was covered; around 5-7 miles. It was day 13 where my training would really pay off. On my last day of hunting I was able to locate and kill a nice 5×5 bull elk which was taken down about 6 miles from basecamp. Carrying a hind quarter and head, plus weight in pack was going to be an interesting trek back to basecamp considering it was about 6 miles uphill. Not to mention it had snowed the night before and was sleeting all day that day. Three hours later we finally made it back to basecamp tired and pretty much done for the night. The only good thing about it snowing was that it was cool enough for us to leave the meat on the snow overnight to stay nice and cool. We decided to debone the quarters the next morning before heading out to drop weight for what was about to be one of the harder test I have yet to face.
To make a long story short without going into all the details of how much the hike back to the truck sucked, we started our hike back at around 10a.m…. we didn’t get back to the truck till about 3:30p.m. Though the hike back was somewhat of a descent, we had about 90-100 plus pounds on our back and the terrain was a mixture of slush and mud. The last mile though was the icing on the cake; a nice vertical incline with no straightaways and a muddy path.
I feel that I accomplished a great deal those two weeks hunting. Not only did I have a successful harvest, but my training paid off and proved itself during the suck. Though you may not be able to train for certain variables that may make the environment you’re in more difficult, e.g. weather or the altitude; you can however train for the terrain you will possibly be facing. The Ultimate Predator programming was field tested and the results were solid. I will continue to use the program for my future backcountry hunts and look forward to putting it to the test. Until next time, stay strong, stay fast and stay harder to kill.