Mentally preparing for hiking and hunting is something that is 100% necessary if you want to be successful. Sadly, it's not covered nearly as much as it should be.
If you read any hiking or hunting blog, you'll see endless articles about how you should physically prepare. You'll be told all about the physique you need, the training you should do, and the gear you should buy.
Those are all huge factors in succeeding in the outdoors, but they're not everything that you need. There is more to hunter fitness than just the physical side.
You need to be mentally prepared.
You mindset affects everything that you do, and having an athletic body or fancy gear doesn't change that. Your mindset can keep you going during the roughest of times. It can help you reach your destination or track that elusive deer when things seem impossible.
That's what this list is for. It contains five mental strength exercises for hunting and hiking. Don't feel as if it's only aimed at mental training for hikers or those walking long distances.
All of these exercises will work wonders as mental workouts for hunters that want to go on extended hunting trips, regardless of how many miles are covered.
So, you think that you can handle 30 miles of mountain hiking because you can jog around your neighborhood?
That's probably not realistic, and you'll need to be realistic to succeed at hiking a long trail.
Similarly stalking through the woods using all your concentration requires a lot more mental toughness than a jog around the neighborhood.
Before you start training, you need to be honest with yourself, and you need to think of everything that can affect you during your hike or hunting stalk.
You might be able to jog around your neighborhood for hours, but that's a lot different than hiking a 30 mile mountain trail at a consistent pace.
Likewise walking very slowly through the wilderness zone without making a sound requires a complete new set of mental strength capabilities as part of your hunter fitness.
If you're not realistic when you set your goals, you can find yourself in a situation that feels impossible to overcome, and that can easily affect your physical performance.
It can also impact on your ability to make the right hunting decisions. For example traversing around a hill to make sure the wind is in your favor.
Make sure your realistic about your shooting ability.
Can you really nail that buck at 300 yards with confidence?
To prevent that, you just need to be realistic. You should consider the different factors that will make your hike or hunt more difficult, and you should evaluate how much experience you have dealing with those factors.
If you're not very experienced with the type of hunting or hiking that you're going to be doing, don't set goals that are ridiculously high.
Set goals that match your experience level and abilities.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make on long hikes or hunting trips is trying to compete.
Compete with the terrain, the weather, the animal, themselves and with each other.
The people that you're with, and the goal that you're trying to accomplish are not obstacles that you need to work against.
If you treat your hunting like a competition, you're liable to end up mentally drained.
You're not setting out to participate in an Iron Man race; You're just hunting and hiking.
Don't try to compare your progress to the people that you're with. If they start doing better than you, your mental state will suffer, and your physical state will eventually degrade.
You should also avoid competing with yourself. You don't need to focus every moment of your hike on reaching your destination.
The entire point of hiking and hunting is to enjoy the outdoors. If you keep going at a steady pace, you'll eventually get to where you're going.
There's no need to push yourself to the end as fast as possible.
So if you find yourself feeling competitive your exercise is to repeat to yourself
“This is not a competition”
“Slowly slowly catchee monkey”
or my favorite
"Walk Little……..Look Lots"
Things are going to get rough on your hunt or hike.
The outdoors are never predictable.
You might end up stuck in the pouring rain with nothing but a protein bar. If you don't anticipate those hard to handle situations, you might start to panic. You might even start regretting that you ever left your comfortable warm home.
Those situations are temporary, but their effects on your mental state can affect your entire hunt or hike.
You should expect them to happen, and you should prepare for them ahead of time.
This mental workout for hunters is done prior to leaving home or camp and will help you deal mentally with any hard times nature throws at you.
Most of all, it's imperative that you accept those situations when they do happen. It's just part of a long hike or hunting trip.
If you accept that adverse things like that happen beforehand, you'll get through them easier, and you'll get back to enjoying yourself before you know it.
You will also be in a much better frame of mind when the hunting shot presents itself to you.
To do this mental strength exercise you need to think about the area you're going to, and you need to figure out what threats there are.
Are there a lot of steep climbs that you'll have to handle?
Is the area prone to being hit by rainstorms? Snowstorms?
Is the area unreasonably hot?
Are the woods very thick?
Could there be bears or other predators in the area?
Those are things that you need to identify, and then you need to accept that you will probably end up dealing with some of those obstacles at some point.
Don't try to fight it. Just accept it as part of the hunting adventure.
Out of all of the mental training for hunters and hikers to consider, this is probably the most important training method to focus on.
It's easy to look at your hike or hunting stalk as a trip from point A to point B. However, that can be detrimental to your mental state.
Long hikes or hunts can take days or weeks, and that constant lack of accomplishment will damage your mindset.
Even if you are doing a day hunt, the concentration required to stalk an animal in the woods is not the same as a stroll through the local park.
You can solve this by planning out your hunt or hike in sections.
This goes hand in hand with setting realistic goals. If you can handle a 15 mile hike each day, plan your trip around that.
If you can stalk without making a sound and keeping the wind in your face for 3 hours then plan your hunt around that.
You'll feel a sense of accomplishment each time you reach one of the checkpoints you planned out.
Those little accomplishments can give you the morale boost that you need to finish a trail or to keep on the fresh sign of your quarry.
This is another very important mental workout for hunters.
You may have to take several trips back and forth to retrieve everything that you harvest, and your gear will be extremely heavy.
One ounce in your pack begins to feel like one pound after a long day hunting.
You might have the physical ability to handle that, but it won't matter if your mind isn't in the right place.
You'll have to truly want to succeed if you're actually going to succeed.
This means that you need to go into your hunt or hike with a positive attitude, and you have to be able to keep that positive attitude when nature inevitably starts throwing bricks at you.
You can't afford to develop a sour attitude half-way through your trip because things got rough.
Prepare yourself to stay positive, and you'll be able to conquer that mountain, or take down the game animal of a lifetime.
This final part of mind training for hunters is done by remembering a few positive sayings from someone you admire and repeat them to yourself as often as you can whilst out on your hunt.
Some of my favorites are:-
“I hunt deer because I love the entire process; the preparation, the excitement, and sustained suspense of trying to match my woods lore against the finely honed instincts of these creatures.” Fred Bear
“There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot.” Aldo Leopold
"A hunter is not afraid of thorns." Swahili Proverb
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Theodore Roosevelt
If you are serious about improving your mental toughness and becoming a better hunter, here are 4 recommendations.
Mentally preparing for hunting is something you should be doing constantly.
Like any exercise repetition is key, practice your mental training for hunting now.
8 Weeks To SEALFIT
• Forge an unbeatable mind
• Gain strength & stamina
• Get the best functional workout with the least amount of equipment
Think Like A Warrior
• Develop a warrior mindset
• Build mental toughness
• Become the person you were born to be
The Art Of Mental Training
• Achieve the champion mindset
• Create the Ideal Performance State
• Battle tested mental training techniques
Relentless: From Good To Great To Unstoppable
• What it takes to be unstoppable
• Thrive under pressure
• How to trust your instincts
Spending long periods of time outdoors will put you out of your comfort zone.
I believe that is one of the reasons a lot of us hunt.
Hunting is a test of our physical ability, our animal knowledge, navigation skills, shooting ability and of course our mental toughness.
Use these 5 mental workouts for hunters next time you are planning your trip and once you are underway.
1. Set realistic goals before you depart
2. Do not try and compete with yourself, with others , the animals or the environment
3. Anticipate rough times on your hunt or hike beforehand. Plan how you will deal with them
4. Set mini objectives for each stage of your hunt so you regularly achieve a milestone
5. Stay positive and really believe in your goals
These mental strength exercise for hunters will improve your mental toughness, help you to react better to what the environment throws at you and in the end it will help you become a better hunter.
Walk Little........Look Lots