Preparation for the Hunt – Train Like You Want It!

By Jerick Henley of Chain Ranch Outfitters

I’m an outfitter. My day starts between 5:00 and 5:30 am. I’m usually not asleep until 11:00 pm. Here’s the catch, this isn’t my hunting season schedule. This is the off season, January thru March and May thru August. I’m up early busting my butt with a long run or a bike ride before most people have had a cup of coffee. I’m back in the gym lifting during lunch. I also manage to squeeze a family, a job, church and a few other activities into those days.

I love outfitting and I’m good at it because I invest an enormous amount of time preparing for my client’s success. Basically, I ask for two things in return from them; be in shape so we can get to the animal and make a clean shot to put it down. The second request is the easiest. Actually, most people that hunt with me are good shots. They practice, usually a lot. It’s been beaten into to every hunter’s head to make a good clean kill shot and most people take it seriously. The first request seems to be a bit more difficult. If they can’t stay with me during the pursuit of the animal, I’ll be the only one with a shot opportunity because they’ll be dragging their butt behind me somewhere.

Jerick 2012 KS buck best pic 1

The author, Jerick Henley with his recent Kansas buck.

So, if I’m willing to go the extra mile and get prepared for that hunt of a lifetime for a client, why can’t I get him to invest a few hours a week as well? Obviously these clients work hard at something, they can afford premium hunts, they’ve got ample time off, and they’ve got the best equipment money can buy. But they’re missing the one thing I need from them the most, fitness. You don’t buy fitness, it takes work and only they can make it happen. They’re going to get my best effort regardless of the shape they’re in, but in the words of Jerry McGuire, “Help me help you”. I try to remind them that I’m their biggest advocate. Nobody wants them to take that animal more than me.

Their trip may depend upon their success but my livelihood depends on it. So if you want this to go as planned, don’t show up in my camp unless you’ve prepared for success. Go to the range, shoot that new rifle, zero in that scope but instead of going home to celebrate by sitting on the couch, hit the trail. Start an exercise program that will mimic the hunting conditions we’ll encounter and give it everything you’ve got until you arrive in camp. Cut down on the donuts and lose 10lbs. Eliminate one bad meal each day and replace it with all vegetables or even a supplement drink like a Wilderness Athlete Recovery Shake. (You can cut 350 calories per day with this simple rule, that’s a pound lost every ten days!) You’ll feel better, go further, and recover quicker during a hunt.

If you don’t, you risk being that guy….the one we talk about after you leave camp. Several years ago a guy shows up for a spring turkey hunt. For months he’s told me that he’s a “run and gun” turkey hunter and he chose to hunt with me because he wants to kill four turkeys in two states in three days. This is my kind of a hunt, all out and with a hint of impossiblity. He shows up with every turkey hunting gadget known to man, including a brand new pair of boots, which tells me right away we’re in for a disaster. We push hard the first morning, killing a quick easy bird but then the work starts and before I even realize it, he’s trailing 50 yards behind me everywhere we go. He went 50% on the hunt killing 2 of 4 birds, which sounds like success but the point is, he wasn’t ready for the hunt. If he wanted to run and gun he damn sure should have been running and gunning for several months before he came to camp!

I don’t expect you to out distance me, this isn’t a competition, but I do expect you to be prepared. Don’t let me down and I won’t let you down….promise!

Charge ON!

Jerick Henley

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This entry was posted in Hunting.


  1. Logan Jennings on April 12, 2013 at 10:34 am - Reply


    I wanted to reach out to you to see if you had any suggestions regarding exercise plans for back country hunting as well as general health.

    I am 27 and a former athlete who never really had much muscle or fat mass….I consider myself wiry. I have always been an avid hunter and typically spend my big game seasons hunting out of state or near home in Northern CA. Typically I am hunting at 5-10k feet in elevation even in CA, but I don’t really struggle with these hunts as I am usually in the field a month before season hiking around scouting.

    Since my days as an athlete I have put on about 10 pounds, but let’s just say it’s not in the form of muscle. I’m not a huge gym fan but would like to get a recommendation on a good work out to help prep for this hunting season. I am also looking into doing my first wilderness backpack hunt and want to make sure I am conditioned properly.

    Any suggestions?

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