By James Altiere

Physical fitness is a broad term used to describe the physiology of the body as it relates to health. Correct vision and adequate hearing are two senses that make it easier for hunters to have a safe, successful hunting season. Cardiovascular and muscular well being helps hunters to hunt safe and return home to their family.

All hunting activities require good eyesight and hearing for success and safety. Good eyesight is necessary to positively identify the legal game species being hunted, other hunters, and non-target species. Good hearing allows hunters to detect approaching animals and to locate the game animal being hunted.

Alabama’s vast small game resources provide opportunities to hunt many different species. Each of these game species requires different hunting methods and thus different levels and types of physical fitness. Small game hunting usually requires extensive walking and carrying of equipment and harvested game. This requires good cardiovascular fitness and some strength fitness. In Alabama, small game seasons begin in the heat of late summer and continue through the cold of winter. In dealing with the different environments and climactic conditions being in good physical shape not only makes the hunting experience more pleasurable, but also safer.

Big game hunting in Alabama is for three primary species: deer, hog, and turkey. Big game hunting methods are as diverse as the hunters that pursue them. Big game hunting includes some walking, with turkey hunting generally requiring more than the other big game species. Cardiovascular fitness is required as hunters may walk several miles daily on terrain that varies from flat, sandy habitat to different degrees

of mountainous topography. Big game hunting also requires good strength or muscular fitness. With deer and hogs weighing from 50 pounds to as much as 200 plus pounds and turkey as heavy as 20 pounds, harvesting and retrieving them can be hard work. Retrieving big game animals may require dragging, or carrying them out of the field, and depending upon the terrain this could require a tremendous amount of strength.

Big game hunting methods may also include climbing into tree stands. The act of climbing into a tree stand takes good physical fitness. Hunters that use tree stands should always use a full body harness and a rope system that keeps them attached to the tree at all times. These are designed to stop the hunter from hitting the ground if the tree stand fails or the hunter falls out of the stand. If a hunter gets into this situation and the harness and rope system work, the hunter will be hanging from the tree with tremendous pressures on the body. Safely descending to the ground after falling from a stand requires both cardiovascular and muscular strength to minimize increased risk of injury or death.

In conclusion, hunting is a diverse and enjoyable recreation that requires physical activity. Physical fitness is a requirement to make hunting more enjoyable. Physical fitness levels in hunters are personal responsibilities and fitness and health change with age. To be a safe and responsible hunter you must know your limitations. And remember, hunting is a recreation to be enjoyed, not a competition to be won.