The advantages of taking supplements during the hunt
The fitness meets hunting train is in full force and more and more people want to up their physical game in the name of hunting. Personally, I think this is awesome. It's inspiring to me to see people hitting the gym all year long in preparation for that backcountry elk hunt they have scheduled for the magical month of September. These hunters do not want to be limited by their physical capabilities. They want to hunt hard, hunt effective, and do whatever it takes to get it done. Fortunately, there are a few companies that can help you do just that through a variety of supplements geared towards the hunting world to help you reach not only your hunting goals, but your fitness goals as well.
Different types of supplements
The definition of the word supplement is as follows: "something that completes or enhances something else when added to it." That is exactly what these supplement companies are striving to do for the hunting industry. They want you to push harder and hunt longer with shorter recovery time. Now, when you look at some of the menus that these supplement companies offer, there is a pill or powder for just about everything. This can get super confusing so I am going to stick to the main ones that I have used and what I believe to be the most popular.
The pre-workout is pretty self-explanatory. This is what you are going to drink down before strenuous activity. It's going to give you that extra boost of energy to power through whatever is in front of you. Whether that is an intense workout at the gym or a super heavy pack out, this pre-workout supplement is going to definitely help. Each company has their own mixture that they use, but the end goal is the same. I have actually used these in the field to replace coffee quite a bit. On mornings when I don't want to bother brewing a nice hot cup of joe, I just throw some of this pre-workout in a bottle, drink it down, and hit the hills. Once I have done this, I have never wished I brewed coffee instead. Because of this, it can be a time saver
Have you ever woke up the next day after a long hunt and were so sore you didn't want to get out of your tent? Believe me, I have been there. The country we hunt can beat us up and it's up to us to take care of our bodies in the process. After a long day of pounding the hills in search of game, we need to recover. The same goes for after you hit the gym. We have worked our bodies and it's time for rest and recovery. This is where the supplements come in. All of these companies offer BCAA (branch chain amino acids) supplements for you to take to speed up recovery. Without getting all scientific, this is what is going to let you wake up the next day and not feel like absolute crap. I know this from personal experience and have accidentally forgotten my BCAA powder on a hunt. The difference was dramatic. On top of in-the-field use, I have actually started using this stuff every day after work as well. My day job is a roofer. After a long day, I need to be able to wake up the next day ready to do it all over again.
goHUNT's Brady Miller takes things a step further and on strenuous mountain hunts, he packs SatlStick salt pills for replenishing electrolytes. You can read more on that here.
Another type of recovery supplement can be found in the form of whey protein powder. On top of using whey protein in a post-workout smoothie, I have also mixed this into my oatmeal in the morning before heading out to hunt for the day. It's a great way to get that protein boost and energy for the morning and what is to come for the day. There are many different flavors, such as chocolate and vanilla, which goes great in a hot cup of oatmeal. I've also noticed it sticks to my stomach better when paired with rolled oats, which keeps me from getting hungry as fast. It gives me that feeling of being full.
Do they actually work?
I have been using supplements from a few different companies over the last few years and I can tell you that these products absolutely work for me and I don't hesitate to recommend them to other hunters. Some work better for others, but I think that is a matter of everyone being different. What works for one, might not work as well for another. I was very skeptical in the beginning (as I usually am), but after a lot of use in the field and in the gym, I don't go on hunts without at least one supplement, usually BCAA. Whether it's work, the gym, or the mountains, supplementation has found a home in my life.
Why we need to support these companies
I have heard people complain to others about these hunting supplement companies being overpriced and how they can get essentially the same thing for much less from an outside entity. That's all fine and dandy, but I think that they are missing the point. Companies like Wilderness Athlete and Mtn Ops are actually in the hunting industry. They support what we do and the lives we live. They are avid outdoorsmen and women who are willing to fight for what we hold so dear. Conservation matters to them as well as the hunting lifestyle, which is why I think it is important that we "keep it in the family" and support our own. I'd rather give my money to someone that appreciates and understands why I do what I do than to someone who doesn't have a clue.
Whether you are a hardcore backcountry hunter, casual weekend warrior, or just someone looking to make some healthier choices, I think it is worth giving some of these supplements a try. Start small and don't feel like you have to purchase every product that they offer. You can empty your wallet pretty quickly going that route. Also, don't get too wrapped up in what company you are going to use. Just try the stuff out and see what works for you. I mix it up often and use supplements from a few different companies. If it can benefit my health, help me perform better and, therefore, hunt longer and more efficiently, I'm game to give it a gander. So, a gander it shall have.