Lately it seems like each day has a new surprise for me. Barb, the dogs and I took a camping trip to Stanley, Idaho last week. More than anything else, we just wanted to get away from the heat and figured at 7200 feet of elevation and up we could find some cooler air. We did and got some good hikes in.
The area was a familiar place where I hunted elk with a bow for many years as well as just camping with family and friends. The only upland birds in that country are Spruce grouse. We used to see many and were good camp meat during our hunts. But they were few and Grady only found two over the trip.
We took five different hikes. 7, 4, 6, 3 and five miles each and although we did encounter some steep and rocky slopes the most elevation gain on any of the hikes was 1100 feet. It still took a toll on my broken body. I hadn’t realized how out of shape I have become. My wind didn’t seem to bad but my body just hurt. My left knee was hurting maybe the most. I had it replaced 9 years ago and the other knee 7 years before that.
29 months ago I broke my lower left leg in five places and have three plates running from my knee to ankle now. Outside of loosing some feeling the leg has come back very good. Sometimes I favor it some but didn’t realize how much until our hikes last week. There was always dead fall to traverse. Barb was negotiating it much better than me. Sometimes I had to lift my leg over the tree with my hands. I also found myself stumbling over some of the logs. My knee hurt more than it has for a long time.
The last two years I have seemed to stumble more because I didn’t pick my left leg up as high as I thought. I just figured it was because of the leg I broke and it would eventually get better. I figured wrong.
After breaking my leg, I was completely off of it for four months and then gradually got to where I could put all my weight on it. Meanwhile my knee replacement lost most of the flexion and extension that I needed. Without that it’s almost impossible to negotiate uneven terrains. Especially, the flexion. Not being able to completely bend the knee I was looking pretty clumsy.
I could go on telling you about all the other sore muscles and joints I had but I’ll spare you the details. In short, I have become lazy. I’ve never been one to train for chukar hunting. The season is long enough and I get enough hunts in that the hunts in themselves are my training tool. But once again, I’ve been reminded that being in shape doesn’t only mean being cardiovascular ability.
Especially for us older hunters. We need to stretch. We’ll never be as limber as we were in our youth but we don’t need to be so stiff that every move we make is more difficult because we don’t use our muscles and joints as they are intended to be used. I know that I usually take the easy route at most everything I do rather than to get past that stiff feeling in the bones. Simple little things like dropping a set of end wrenches. Rather than picking them up one at a time, I catch myself kicking them into a pile and only bending over once because it hurts. Smart but lazy.
I know that I’ve got to work on my knee as well as the rest of my body to get as close to full range of motion as I can get. For us older gents, that alone will help us get to our dogs with less effort. Do a lot of stretching. Get the body as limber as possible. I truly believe that flexibility will make each step a little easier on the chukar mountain.
Don’t do like I did and wait until your wife can out hike you before you realize how poor of shape you are in. Opener is just 30 days away.