Backcountry Basics: Muscle Fatigue and Field Injuries
With any physical activity, the risk of injury always exists. On hunting trips, physical exertion on the body can cause a number of issues that are manageable and don’t have to ruin a hunt. Strains, sprains and blisters are all normal things to manage in the field. While more serious injuries may sideline a hunter, it’s the mild ones that can turn from bad to worse without proper field care.
Here are a few ideas to keep in mind for your next backcountry adventure:
Catch it Early to Prevent Injuries
Always pay attention to your body and make adjustments to prevent injuries in the field. Being tough is great but you can forgo the pain in many scenarios by simply stopping to adjust your pack, swap in fresh socks and to stretch and care for muscle groups.
Blisters are an easy one to put off. But that light burning sensation can turn into a debilitating blister. Stop at the first sign of a hot spot and don’t wait until it becomes painful. Apply a blister pad, change socks and adjust your boots.
Strains are similar to blisters in many instances. They begin with a slight pain that is easily ignored. Keep on moving however and it quickly turns to a much worse injury. Hip flexors are a common strain point on hunts because heavy boots and long strides can lead to over extension and heavy wear on the hip.
If you feel that slight pain, stop and stretch lightly. Adjust your pack and be extra conscientious of your stride. Shorting the stride and slowing down can prevent an injury from developing. That instinct to be tough and ignore the pain is ultimately a bad thing and it pays to stop and make adjustments early.
Develop a Warm-up Routine
Start your day early with a warm-up and stretching routine. An easy 15-20 minutes of stretches makes a big difference on the trail. If your morning begins on horseback, it still pays to stretch out before riding and to stretch again before hiking.
Another issue for hunters involves long periods of idle time while glassing. Your body becomes stiff while sitting and the excitement of spotting a potential animal triggers excitement and an urge to move quickly.
In some situations, you actually must make an immediate move but many times, you have a few minutes to stretch out and get moving. Have your guide or hunting partner keep eyes on the animal while you plan a stalk and stretch out your calves, hamstrings, quads, groin and back. Walk in place, do high knees and get the blood flowing lightly before making your move on the mountain.
Alter Your Game Plan and Communicate
Worn out muscles and minor injuries are a reality. Altering the game plan to remain an effective hunter is often necessary. Know how far you can push and communicate with your team to make real-time adjustments.
The ability to utilize horses for much of the heavy lifting is a huge perk at Kawdy but your guide still needs to know how you’re feeling. If there’s a sprain, strain or something holding you back, let your guide know so that you can stop and make adjustments before moving on.
Learn More About Our Hunts
If you’re interested in learning more about our guided hunts in northern British Columbia, please feel free to explore the rest of our website. If you have specific questions or if you’d like to inquire about availability, please contact us. We look forward to helping you plan the ultimate North American big game hunt!
Written by Zach Lazzari
Zach is an outdoor writer, a hunting and fly fishing guide, and very proud to be a part of the Kawdy Outfitters team. You can follow Zach’s adventures at bustedoarlock.com.