rollercoaster 8 2016The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a target zone for aerobic exercise that elevates your heart to within 50 to 75 percent of its maximum rate. For example, 80 to 120 beats per minute for a healthy 60-year-old and 95 to 143 beats a minute for a 30-year-old.

Medical researchers in Michigan fitted 25 deer hunters (average age 55) with heart monitors. The heart rates of those hunters who shot at and hit a buck soared as high as 118 percent of their max rate. Big time buck fever excitement!

In a Wisconsin study of 10 men with monitors, the hunters’ heart rates went from 78 beats per minute with no deer in sight to 100 beats when they spotted an animal to 128 beats a minute when they shot at any deer. Imagine the pressure on your ticker if you see a 160” 10-pointer one day this fall, or by gosh one of those 200″ gnarly non-typicals we post on the blog!

Doctors and the AHA say that hunters should walk, hike, jog, etc. to raise their heart/fitness level before hunting. You still have a little time before the heart of your deer season kicks in, so get out there and move. In fact this would be a good time to start a regular exercise routine that extends into next year and your whole life.

Also, the 2 state studies advise hunters, especially older hunters:

  • Don’t forget your heart medication if you take it.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated before and as you hunt.
  • Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or eat a heavy meal before hunting.
  • Tell somebody where you’re going to hunt, and when you’ll be back.
  • Hunt at a comfortable pace; let those young, gonzo guys charge ahead.
  • Get help dragging your buck back to your truck. That MI study found that dragging out a deer can shoot a hunter’s heart rate up to 116 percent of the desirable maximum and keep it there for too long.
  • You older guys, stop hunting and get help if you experience any warning sign of a heart attack: chest pressure or discomfort with lightheadedness; pain that spreads to shoulders, arms or neck; fainting; sweating; nausea; shortness of breath.

In the photo: To stay in shape and work my heart, I hiked more than 250 miles in the Blue Ridge mountains this summer, including this 15-mile ruck on the Appalachian Trail’s Rollercoaster one day last month.