Train to Hunt

Hard Work Paying Off

Hard Work Paying Off. A Week In The Backcountry Before We Saw This Bull.

At this point, the “Train to Hunt,” monicker shouldn’t be a new term for any of us.  It seems that hunting has become like any other sport out there when it comes to preparation.  If you want to be the best bowhunter walking this planet – training, shooting, talking and visualizing success should become a daily routine for you year round.  I know it has become this for me and success has followed the determination!

Is it excessive to shoot your bow daily?  Is it obsessive to run marathons/ultra-marathons in preparation for the next elk hunt?  Do you really need to live and breathe bowhunting every day?  The true answer to all of this is NO!  However, in my humble opinion, all of this prior preparation and training will make you a better bowhunter and person, which might coerce you to give it a whirl.  Ask any who have played sports in high school, college or even further into the professional level, and they will agree that in order to don the “cool” uniform and play the glorious game, they had to put the work in during practice.  We hunters are no different.  We have a “cool” uniform we sport every fall.  The breathable, camouflage and waterproof type.  Some of us actually paint our faces to reduce glare and mask our identity.  Don’t NFL football players apply the same paint on their faces for similar reasons?  I hate the cliche, “Going into battle” but, this type of attitude is what pushes me through my marathon training and backcountry hunts.  It is the same mantra that all of you successful backcountry bowhunters chanted silently last year.

Archery Bull At 12,000 Feet

Archery Bull At 12,000 Feet

A good friend of mine is alway saying that he’d rather be lucky than have skill.  I know he is partly kidding, but I think, as bowhunters, many of us use this as an excuse not to work as hard during the off season and in-turn, we end up praying for a little luck in the end.  I know I held this attitude for years.  Fortunately for me, I grew up hunting the wild wilderness in Colorado at the ripe age of 8-years-old.  I began to see that this alone was a huge advantage for me as I grew older and became a wiser hunter due to my extensive experience in the woods.  Looking back, I unfortunately believe I grew lazy in my preseason preparation due to this so-called “advantage” I thought I had.  I took for granted that just because I knew where the elk potentially were from year to year, that preseason scouting wasn’t essential.  I remember being 8 miles into the Colorado backcountry about 5 years ago, chasing elk and feeling exhausted just after the second day of a 10 day hunt.  Back then, I felt that I was in pretty good shape, but at the time, pushing myself to uncomfortable limits in preseason preparation for my hunts wasn’t even given a thought.  The funny thing is, my whole life I’ve been an athlete and practicing hard was always my modeaparandouy or M.O.  So, when I was two days into this 10 day elk hunt and I felt like I was whooped and couldn’t answer the third day bell, I asked myself why don’t I “Train to Hunt?”  I knew I had to make it through that hunt alive before I could put my plan to work to do just that.

Finishing Mountain Air Marathon - Avg. 8,200 feet - Top Ten Finish

Finishing Mountain Air Marathon In Colorado - Avg. 8,200 feet - Top Ten Finish

Fortunately, I did make it out of the backcountry and was proud of myself for pushing through a tough D-I-Y public land hunt, but the elk harvested wasn’t what I dreamed about prior to the hunt.  I want to preface these next few comments by saying, there is nothing wrong with taking a small bull, or even a cow for that matter.  However, my intentions prior to my hunt 5 years ago were to take a trophy bull elk, not a small 4×4.  After much post-trip analyzation, I identified the problem to be that my intentions versus my work ethic prior to the trip didn’t match up.  I wanted the 300 class bull to walk by luckily hoping that my shot would be on the mark.  That mentality left too much to fate and luck and solidified the fact that my dreams outweighed my willingness to be fully mentally and physically prepared.  No doubt, I’m always proud of any animal I harvest and take great pride in all of them.  However, if your dreams are to take the older, wiser, jaw-dropping animal, I believe your training has to mimic your goals.  The tougher the goal, the tougher the training should be…this is what I believe to be true for myself.  This is why you will find me training for marathons throughout the year and why 3 days a week you will also find me at the MMA gym honing in my skills.  These are the avenues I take to prepare for my next big game hunt.  I love the quote, “Every truly great accomplishment is at first impossible!”  I read this quote in Cameron Hanes book, Backcountry Bowhunting.  If you haven’t read this book I suggest you get your hands on a copy.  This book truly changed my thinking and approach to backcountry hunting.  Thanks, Cam!

Backyard Practice

Backyard Practice

All in all, you earn what you put into something.  Backcountry bowhunting is no different.    So, take my challenge and break away from your comfortable routine and see if you can reap the rewards from hard work – not premeditated luck.

My goal in writing this is to not only to share with you my success and failures, but to also motivate a group of die-hard hunters to push themselves past their comfort zone and hopefully help you accomplish your hunting dreams.  Year-round physical training has truly helped me!  I would love to hear your feedback.  So please click on the comment tab and let me know what you think.  Until then… Dream Rugged!!!


About the Author

Marc Montoya

Marc Montoya

Marc Montoya is a dedicated Colorado bowhunter who cherishes the challenge and mental fatigue that bowhunting presents. Marc has a passion for backcountry pursuits with his bow and arrow and wants to share that passion with the world.