By Josh Kirchner
When I first really got into this whole backcountry hunting thing, and just hunting in general, a great deal of my energy went into the gear side of things. Of course a hefty portion went into the actual boots on the ground scouting and hunting as well, but aside from that it was gear. It was the first thing I’d think about when the topic was brought up. “Gotta have the right gear for the job,” I’d tell myself. As I walked my way down the path of a hunter though, another thing popped up along the way that peaked my concern. It was something, that for some reason, I had never put a lot of stock in when it came to hunting. My well being and overall health is what I started paying attention to a bit more. Backcountry hunting is tough and very physically demanding at times. Making sure that you’ve got some solid nutrition is important, but it didn’t stop there for me. I also started bringing, what I now call, “my bag of pills.” It’s a bag with various different supplements to help fuel me and keep me running at the best of my ability. The better you feel out there, the better you hunt in my opinion. So, let’s dive into my bag of pills!
The first pill I throw in my bag is a Noni capsule. Noni is a fruit that grows on an evergreen tree in South Asia, the Pacific Islands, Australia, and India. There are a load of benefits that this little fruit provides(high blood pressure issues, exercise performance, infections, etc.), but the biggest in my opinion is on our immune system. Staying in tip top shape out in the hills is always one of my main concerns on these hunts. The thought of coming down with a cold or something actually bothers me to some degree, so I try to take extra precaution. Noni crushes that stuff.
Another wall I put up in the name of sickness, is a garlic capsule. Garlic is a great little super food that has a ton of antioxidants and actually is very nutritious. Studies have shown that garlic has a significant impact in the face of common illnesses like the flu or cold. There is also even some thought that garlic might help with exercise performance. It used to be given to Greek athletes in the Olympics, but the potency of that theory is up in the air. The main thing for me, is staying healthy out on hunts and garlic helps with that.
A few years back I was watching a seminar done by Kenton Clairmont of Train to Hunt. He was telling us how he was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and battled it quite successfully by carrying a ginger root around during physical activity. Turns out ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory and allowed him to actually stop taking ibuprofen during those times of pain. I took this as some great advice and started packing ginger capsules with me on backcountry hunts. While I don’t have Rheumatoid Arthritis, the ginger is a great natural way to combat muscle soreness and joint pain on the mountain, without having to resort to ibuprofen. Another benefit that I’ve found helpful from ginger is it’s great to settle your stomach, should you be dealing with nausea.
Wilderness Athlete Altitude Advantage
I have been fortunate over the last handful of years to find myself hiking into the high country of various states for hunting trips. Be it elk or mule deer, I just love being in that country, and look forward to it every chance I get. However, being up above 8k feet and even 12k feet can wear on a person. Sometimes even to a pretty frightening point. Altitude sickness is a very real thing and if not taken care of, can even lead to death in the worst case situation(High-altitude pulmonary edema). In most cases, victims of altitude sickness are dealing with headaches, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, etc. I ran into a group of hunters in Utah that drove all the way from New Jersey. We met at 10k feet and they informed me that one of their buddies was back down at the truck, because he got altitude sickness pretty bad. I informed them of Wilderness Athlete Altitude Advantage after hearing that. I’ve used this stuff on every high altitude hunt I’ve been on and have not gotten sick once. As a child, heading up to deer camp with my Dad at 9k feet, I’d always deal with altitude sickness the first few days. Now? Nothing. Plain and simple, the stuff works.
Are you noticing a pattern here? Here is another capsule I bring with me to fight off illness! I just hate the thought of getting sick out there during this thing I’ve waited to do all year long. On top of the obvious benefits of Vitamin C though, this stuff also aids in body tissue repair and helps your body absorb iron as well. Iron helps with a lot of things, including immune systems, but another is your overall energy and focus. A crucial aspect of backcountry hunting if you ask me. Bottom line? Vitamin C is always on my radar, and since I’m not gonna pack in a quart of orange juice, I’m packing in Vitamin C capsules.
*Something here to note. If you don’t have actual Vitamin C capsules, you can kill 2 birds with one stone and pack in Wilderness Athlete Hydrate and Recover. I literally don’t go backpack hunting without this. On top of the muscle recovery benefits that come with BCAA’s(branch chain amino acids), this stuff is jam packed with 1000 mg of Vitamin C! It also tastes much better than a boring old capsule.
Wilderness Athlete Unplug
Sleep deprivation is actually used as a form of torture. On top of the obvious symptom of fatigue, others include poor judgment, disorientation, hallucinations, and apathy among others. Of course some of these are from extreme cases, like hallucinating, but stuff like poor judgment and lack of motivation are not good for life in the mountains. Getting adequate sleep is crucial for recovery out there. Sometimes sleeping out in the backcountry can be hard though. We aren’t back at home in our cozy beds. No, we’re sleeping on a noisy sleeping pad in the middle of nowhere with a thin piece of fabric separating us from the elements. It ain’t the Hilton. I’ve used other natural sleep aids in the past, but have had issues with headaches or CRAZY dreams. This past season I packed with me Wilderness Athlete Unplug, and I’ve gotta admit, I’m pretty stoked on this stuff. Before season, I used it just at home after workouts for testing. Never once did I experience waking up with a headache or the crazy dreams I had with other sleep aids. And I never woke up feeling super drowsy and unmotivated to press on. Unplug is legit and you can regularly find it in my pill bag.
There ya have it! My bag of pills laid out before you! There are a load of other supplements out there to help us on our hunts, but this is just what I’ve found to work for me through the years. Even if you don’t use what I’ve written here, I’d take some interest in the matter. It’s amazing what some of this stuff can do for us, and I think the topic deserves our attention, because backpack hunting is just hard. It’s hard on our bodies and on our minds. Spend a week in the backcountry and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Anything that we can do to maintain our well being and health out there I think should be noted. So, I encourage you to dive into this. After you do, I’d love to know what’s in your bag of pills!