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Roger Wolfe: Who needs the gym when you have nature?

January 9, 2019

As a new year dawns and everyone has made their resolution and is determined to make them stick, millions of people join gyms and fitness clubs with the singular focus to get healthy and be the best they can be. Hunters and fishermen are no different.

The need to get into shape is clear and we all know that if we are in tip top shape, we can fish longer, hike farther and chase bigger game for more of those precious hours each season. Where the difference comes in is that most outdoors types don’t feel the need to join the nearest gym with their stair climbers, swimming pools and bicycles that go nowhere.

I guess you could say it is one of the side effects of being addicted to the outdoors. If you want to get outside and active, there is always something to do. That makes it perfect when coming up with a fitness plan to keep us outdoor types healthy all year long.

We can start the new year off right by getting in a little early season trout fishing in the few lakes and streams that have already received a fresh stocking of trout. Nothing makes those leg muscles burn like wading through thigh deep water on a cold day to get to a better fishing spot.

This year for a little flavor you may want to even try throwing in a little arm work by taking part in the upcoming Mountaineer Heritage season where only truly primitive weapons, such as long bows, recurves or those heavy side lock muzzleloaders, can be used. That will not only get the heart rate up but will challenge those muscles on a cold winter day.

As February rolls around it is more of the same this year. There is a 3-day wild boar season from February 1st-3rd, 2019. Hogs are known for living in some of the roughest, nastiest and thickest territory around so be prepared to feel the burn.

February is a short month, so, the back half can be spent in recovery mode with some light trout fishing in preparation for the upcoming full sprints as trout stockings are just about to hit full swing. Get ready though because March is sure to challenge those arms shoulders and back muscles.

Through the third month of the year it seems there are trout in every stream around and that means a lot of casting, catching, netting and cleaning. There is no better way to stretch out those back and shoulder muscles than catching a full limit of fresh trout and then cleaning them and preparing them for the frying pan.

Thankfully, fish is a great source of protein to rebuild those sore and worn muscles. Don’t give up though because April is just around the corner and with that brings even more trout and even spring gobbler season.

With the work put in up to this point, chasing thunder chickens shouldn’t be too much of a step-up in our game. Those rock-hard, stream trusted legs should be ready to give ole Tom turkey a run for his money. Good thing, have you ever noticed the size of the drumsticks on an old mountain gobbler?

May brings more turkey hunting and a chance to cross train for some added spice to the routine by doing a little small mouth bass fishing on the warmer days. Time spent on the creek bank should be welcome after the gobbling has subsided.

June, July and August are the time to go all in for the watersports. Take your pick of wade fishing, kayak paddling, or even all-day excursions of beating the water from the deck of a bass boat. All will test your metal and make you ache if you aren’t on you game all year long.

If you make it through the heat of summer and are ready for the in-coming fall, you will be happy you spent all that time working your legs in the summer. September is leg month for sure. Pre-season scouting, hours of archery practice and moving hunting stand sets. That work is about to pay off.

October doesn’t get any easier. Climbing treestands, clearing shooting lanes and long hours of standing still in various positions can be tougher than any yoga class I have ever witnessed.

If you have prepared and stuck with it all year long, then November’s big dance should be a piece of cake. More of a marathon than a sprint, you must be prepared to go the distance if you want to tag that trophy buck or fill the freezer.

Once you get that venison on the ground is when the real grunt work you put in all year pays off. The dragging, skinning, and cleaning isn’t for the weak of back by any means. It is hard physical work.

When December rolls around even the hunters and fishermen deserve to slow down this fitness pace. Long cold sits will help rejuvenate those worn and sore muscles. Much like professional athletes soak in an ice bath, most outdoorsmen prefer a cold sit in a treestand or ground blind for similar relief.

As the holidays show back up, it is time to rest and relax a bit before the next new year comes on the horizon and we start the routine all over again. Who needs a gym membership or fancy exercise equipment?

That stuff falls by the wayside in no time anyway. I will take my fishing rod and a few boxes of ammo. That should be plenty to keep me in tip top shape all year long.

Here is to keeping ourselves healthy and those muscles sore and never once stepping foot in a fitness club. Happy new year and good luck with whatever your new goals may be!

Roger Wolfe is an avid outdoorsman and has spent most of his life hunting and fishing and writes a weekly outdoors column for HD Media. He is a resident of Chapmanville and can be reached via email at wolfeii@hotmail.com.

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