Why Running Makes You a Better Hunter


Chris Eberhart RunningBy Chris Eberhart:

General Fitness

The health benefits of running are well documented. General cardiovascular and muscular fitness benefit your hunting in obvious ways.  If you’re fat and lugging around a bunch of extra weight you just won’t as easily be able to climb over that hill, walk through that swamp, or climb that mountain.  A weak body casts a shadow of doubt over determination. When every muscle hurts the will to press on, and do what is necessary to be successful while hunting is drastically reduced. Or stated the other way around: the fitter you are the more likely you will be to spend that extra hour on stand or climb up and have a look over the next mountain. General fitness makes you a better hunter, and running will increase your fitness level.


Runners are simply tougher than people who don’t run.  Running well is all about monitoring and controlling pain. Those who run well, or have been running for a long time, are masters at dealing with pain.  The pain from running is quickly replaced by a euphoric state commonly referred to as runner’s high, which is the result of natural production of endorphins.  This habit of dealing with pain translates directly to hunting.  A great deal of hunting takes place in less than ideal weather conditions. It is either too hot, too cold, and generally uncomfortable. There is also a lot of physical exertion required to hunt in real wild environments. Spend a half a day on an icy November day sitting in the woods and you will experience some pain. The more you are accustom to dealing with pain the more time you will be able to put in before returning home.  Runners are often capable of taking normal hunting pain and turning it into a hunter’s high and therefore increasing the time they spend in the woods. And as we know the more time you spend hunting the more successful you will be.

Mental State

Running also hones your hunting focus. The state that I reach while running is a sort of meditation, though I hesitate to use that word because of the current more esoteric hijacking of the term.  While running your mental focus is mostly inward, almost trance like, but you are totally aware of your surroundings. Hunting is the only other area where I also arrive at this trance like state. By entering a similar state of meditation I can spend hours and hours on stand, while focusing primarily inward but also being sharply aware of my surroundings.  This way I conserve mental energy for the moments when complete focus in necessary, such as the moment of the shot.  By running I am actually training my mind to reach a state necessary for long hours of hunting.  Hunting is really the original form of meditation, and meditation practices such as yoga are attempts to imitate a natural state that every hunter already knows. The Inuit standing motionless on the ice next to a seal’s air hole for hours on end is meditating through the hunt, and focused on making the kill.  The bowhunter sitting on stand for hours is doing the same thing .

Buck Fever

Running is also one of the best ways to deal with buck fever.  By running you increase your heart rate and breathing rate.  You also work and fatigue large muscle groups in your body. While running your fine motor coordination in your hands is also somewhat reduced. The more you run the more accustom you become to this state.  Buck fever arrives with a jolt of adrenaline which causes your body to physically react almost just like while running.  Because runners are used to this condition and are masters at judging what their bodies are telling them, buck fever becomes far easier to deal with, sort of a “been there, done that” situation. By running you are training your body to naturally deal with the stress of making a killing shot.

In my opinion, if you want to become a better hunter you should do yourself and favor and get out and run.  You will be glad you did.


And on a Philosophical Note:

I consider both running and hunting basic human needs that should be classified along with other basics like eating and sex.  In fact, there is very strong evidence that both running and hunting shaped our very morphology as humans. In the realm of evolutionary time we were either running to food, running to make food, or running so that we wouldn’t become food.  Hunting also shaped both our bodies and minds. Our vision and focus is forward and pointed, which are sure signs of a predator, and ability to communicate developed partially because of the coordination necessary for hunting animals that were bigger, faster, and stronger than we are.  Running and hunting therefore are basic threads in the fabric of humanity and both should be embraced. Just because we no longer need to run to get food or need to hunt, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do both. Running and hunting fit together perfectly, and are in my opinion critical to a balanced life. Those who neither run nor hunt are denying basic aspects of being human, even in our modern technological world. That we run and hunt is probably more important than ever.



8 Responses to Why Running Makes You a Better Hunter

  • Mark
    June 20, 2012


    You nailed it. I run for many of the same reasons that you listed above, and I can certainly relate to the experiences that you are referring to. Great article!


  • admin
    June 20, 2012

    Thanks Mark, I have been running for a very long time, and it took me literally decades to understand just how intertwined running and hunting really are. Best, Chris

  • Mark Kenyon
    June 22, 2012

    I’m not the best runner or as consistent as I’d like to be. But when I am out there and I get to the point of exhaustion where I just don’t want to go any further, I just start thinking about those 13 hour sits during the rut. Or the 3 mile drags out the woods with a big buck behind. I keep telling myself that if I can’t make it through a simple run, how can I expect myself to perform under the greater strains of hunting situations. It definitely keeps me pushing on.

    • admin
      June 22, 2012

      Thanks Mark, I simply love to run so motivation usually isn’t a problem, but sometimes the exact same thing happens to me. Mostly though, I think about things like mountain goat hunting, which I don’t have specifically planned, but always hope could come up unexpectedly at any moment. If such an opportunity pops up out of the blue I am for damn sure going to be ready. The mere thought of adventures to come not only keeps me pluggin along, they are usually enough to make me pick up the pace…

  • [...] Why Running Makes You A Better Hunter – Bowhunting Wild Food: Chris Eberhart explains why running can make us better hunters by examining the physical, mental and philosophical benefits of hitting the pavement! [...]

  • Carroll
    June 22, 2012

    I agree with the princple, but have to add that walking at a 15 min pace or better is as good a conditioner with out the wear and tear on all joints. If you are in pain, you are not doing something right. Running should be a stress to wind and a sore muscles when in recovery, but true pain is not right. If you mean limits of muscle strain then I agree, and that should not be to the pain level but the stress and worn level. As for walking I do a four mile stretch on the beach at a 15 minute rate and a two mile trek in the hilly area of upstate at the same pace. I carry a full weight of pack and boots no ” walking clothes” In the heat and or cold. It is a good feeling when i get back to the house to water down and shoot the Bowtech for about twenty arrows… then get on with the day. I too cannot wait to get into the woods each year. Work weekend this coming week.. oh boy trail cameras to be seen.

    • admin
      June 22, 2012

      Thanks Carroll, You picked up on a point where I need to clarify. By pain I sure didn’t mean pain like ripped muscle injury pain, not true pain I suppose. I meant pain more like fatigue, and the burning sensation you get from doing intervals or good mountain climbs, and the occasional stomach cramp, etc. This is the same kind of stuff I feel on long pre dawn hikes with a full hunting pack. I think it is all about learning to read what your body is telling you. I also do a lot of walking and hiking in the mountains ….. I hope there are some good pictures on those trail cameras. Best, Chris

      • Carroll
        June 25, 2012

        Chris, love your honesty. Yes, I knew you were talking pain, however I am one that when talking to my grand children , try to tell them how it will feel, and try not to frieghten them while geting them to trec along with Opa. I knew you meant fatique but I am sure that their is a schin splint out there “man-upping” when he should be repairing. The cameras are out and will be picking up at least once a week .. I can’t hunt on some of them but it does make an old man’s heart beat faster.. wink. Chris Lapp, says you have a lot to learn pilgrim.. and i agree and am still learning.

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