Essential boot camp exercises for a successful hunting season

With autumn comes plenty of great hunting opportunities, but after months of relaxing in the summer sun, your body may not be up to the task of taking down big prey. Here, passionate hunter Ross Burg shares his top tips for getting into peak shape so you can get the most out of this hunting season.

To avoid missing any opportunities of taking home a big game trophy, it is critical you are at the peak of your physical fitness. To push your body out of your comfort zone, the best form of exercise is high-intensity training regimens, such as boot camp. 

Boot camp ups the intensity of your regular exercise routine to get noticeable results faster. The exercises are designed to target specific areas of the body used by hunters while increasing overall strength and endurance to give you a body ideally suited for long hikes through rough terrain, scaling rock faces, and carrying the weight of your trophy.

Typically, boot camp is conducted outdoors as a group, so, if you can enlist your hunting buddies to join you, you can train together to become a much stronger hunting pack. However, if you are more of a lone wolf, these exercises are equally as effective when performed alone.

For these exercises to be most effective, you will need to perform them 3-4 times per week, and the earlier you start training, the more prepared you will be for the upcoming hunting season.


Tire Drags

If you can’t drag a truck tire for more than a few yards, how do you expect to carry a 12-point buck? Tire drags perfectly simulate the action of hauling a large animal carcass and work to strengthen the muscles needed for this demanding aspect of hunting, as well as the challenging hiking needed to reach the best hunting spots.

1. Find a large truck tire or use a car tire weighted with sand bags. Using a thick rope, tie a secure knot around tire, or you can build an inexpensive DIY harness to use to pull the tire.
2. Wrap the other end of the rope around your waist and drag the tire using a long stride for 50 yards.
3. When you reach the end, drag the tire back to the starting point while walking backward.
4. Repeat three sets of 5 repetitions, resting for 30 seconds between each set.
5. As you progress, try to increase your speed until you can run while dragging the tire.

Tire Flips

While you have your tire out for drags, incorporate these tire flips into your regimen for a high-intensity exercise to blast your quads and glutes, conditioning your legs for those intense uphill climbs carrying your gear.

1. Using an old truck tire, lay it on the ground.
2. Stand in front of the tire, feet shoulder-width apart. You need a wide stance for added stability.
3. Squat down as low as possible, slide your hands underneath the tire, and hold the tire using an underhand grip.
4. Push through the balls of your feet, engage your glutes, quads, and core, and explosively flip the tire onto its opposite side.
5. Step forward. Repeat 5-10 times, for three sets, resting for 30 seconds between each set.

bootcamp exercises for hunters


Weighted Step Ups

Most of the sweetest spots for hunters are located well off the beaten track; this makes incline or vertical cardiovascular training essential if you want to reach the heights of the backcountry.
Hiking with a weighted vest or pack is the perfect exercise to strengthen your core and leg muscles and increase your cardiovascular endurance. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to the spectacular hiking trails the country offers, but these weighted step-ups are the next best thing for strengthening those all-important leg muscles.

1. Start by placing 15-20 lb. inside your pack. You can use free weights, soup cans, or whatever you have handy. Put on your pack so it fits snuggly but comfortably.
2. Stand in front of a bench with your feet hip-width apart. Step up onto the edge of the bench with your right foot, followed by your left. Do not pause at the top. Return to your original position, then repeat, beginning with your left foot.
3. Perform as many repetitions as possible in one minute. Rest for 20 seconds, then repeat for 3-4 sets.

Box Jumps

Explosive movements activate the fast twitch leg muscles you need for quickly chasing down prey once you have spotted it.
Though this exercise sounds simple, the explosive movement needed to reach the top of the box in a single jump engages numerous major muscle groups, including your glutes, quads, and core. It also helps to create stability in your hip joints in order to help you traverse uneven terrain.
If you can’t find a sturdy box, this exercise works just as well using a park bench or high stair.

1. Select a box appropriate for your fitness level. The higher the box, the more challenging the exercise.
2. Stand in front of the box approximately one foot away, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
3. Lower your hips toward the ground into a ¼ squat, swinging your arms behind you for added momentum.
4. Push through your feet, swing your arms forward rapidly, and explode out of the squat onto the box.
5. Try to land on the box with your knees soft to absorb the impact of the landing.
6. Step down off the box. Repeat ten times, for three sets, resting for 30 seconds between each set.

bootcamp exercises for hunters


Bear Crawls

The bear crawl is a hugely popular boot camp exercise simply because it is so challenging for your core muscles. Essentially, the bear crawl is planking while traveling forward, so it engages the entire core, as well as the shoulders and, to some extent, your leg muscles.

1. Begin in plank position, then push up so your arms are straight. Spread your feet so they are slightly wider than shoulder-width and raise your hips a little higher than you would normally have them when planking.
2. Maintain this position while walking forward on your hands and feet.
3. Travel 10-15 yards, then return to your starting position.
4. Repeat 3 sets of 5 repetitions. Rest for 30 seconds between each set.
5. As you become more proficient, try traveling longer distances or use some variations on the bear crawl for an added challenge.

While you wait for opening day, add some intense fitness training to your daily routine, and you’ll reap the reward when you come across your next victory in the field!

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