[Transcript] – How To Build Primal Fitness And Endurance By Hunting: An Interview With A Bowhunting Triathlete

Affiliate Disclosure


Podcast From:  https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/fitness-podcasts/fitness-for-hunting/

[00:00] Introduction/Harrys

[01:35] About Shad Wheeler

[02:33] Origin of The Bow Flex

[06:36] Hunting Using Different Bows

[16:22] Why Use Bows Over Firearms When Hunting

[20:31] Comparing Triathlon & Hunting

[31:15] Harry's Razors

[32:10] Being Humane When Hunting

[37:19] More on The Hunting Culture

[43:38] End of the Podcast

Ben:  Today's podcast episode about building primal fitness and endurance by hunting is brought to you by Harry's Shaving.  Visit harrys.com and use the promo code “Ben” to save five dollars off your first purchase.

Hey, it's Ben Greenfield, and you may know that I actually grew up in North Idaho, Eastern Washington, surrounded by lots of hunters and fishers, fishermen, and I've personally been hunting white tailed deer in my backyard for about the past four years.  I've been fishing since I was a kid, and we even had podcasts about whether deer meat is healthy, and in the recent podcast if you listened to it, we had the guy from The Art of Manliness on, Brett McKay, and he talked about one way to accomplish the P of being a man, the provision part of providing is to hunt.

My guest on today's podcast is a guy named Shad Wheeler, and Shad is from a website called gothunts.com which he'll tell us a little bit more about, but it's basically like a hunting and guiding website.  Shad is actually a friend of mine, he's a guy who I've coached in the past for triathlon, he lives about twenty miles from me, he's an entrepreneur, he's a bow hunter, he's a triathlete, and today, we're going to be talking about how to build fitness, how to build endurance and how to tap into something new when it comes to human primal movement, specifically via hunting, and one of Shad's areas of expertise, bow hunting.  So this is going to be a fun podcast.  Shad, thanks for coming on man.

Shad:  You bet, Ben.  Thanks for having me.

Ben:  So bow hunting, I know, is something kind of near and dear to your heart ‘case you're dad was really involved with the commercial I think a lot of people might be familiar with, the whole Bow Flex made for TV exercise device type as seen on TV exercise device.  Can you tell us about that?

Shad:  Yeah, I mean you know it's kind of crazy 'cause a lot of people tend to think that Bow Flex was this big overnight success and the reality was those guys, they actually started that company.  There was a group of three of them.  They started that company back in 1986, and so as he likes to tell it, it was a ten-year overnight success.

Ben:  Yeah, 'cause that was like long before you saw the Bow Flex on infomercials and stuff.

Shad:  Yeah, so it was interesting growing up and kind of being around that, just 'cause I mean you got to see all the ups and downs, the challenges, the near misses of the company failing before it ever reached the type of success where it became almost a household name.  So anyways, my dad the main role he played was on the marketing side.  So he's the one that developed a lot of the commercials there, but he was seeing and figured out which channels to run them on.  One of his big things with it that they did is his back, when he was there, all of their commercials only used real Bow Flex customers.  They didn't use fitness models, so I thought that was a pretty cool thing to see from the point of.  Well especially when you think about today, right? What's the big movement marketing-wise with regards to social media? It's trying to get your customers to sell your product on their behalf based on their experience with it.

Ben:  Yeah, that's kind of true.

Shad:  And in reality, that's what they were doing back then, just through a different medium.

Ben:  Was your dad or the folks that you kind of made this Bow Flex exercise device, I think you were talking to me about this at one point? How it was originally designed to get you stronger for bow hunting, right?

Shad:  No, actually the concept of the bow was because of the flex of the rods?

Ben:  But wasn't it like inspired by an actual bow?

Shad:  Yeah, so actually it was a guy from Ethiopia who developed the first prototype, and that was what inspired him was the idea of how a bow works and how it builds tension, right?

Ben:  Right?

Shad:  And that was what inspired him as far as coming up with the initial design concept and everything else, and then obviously from there, they had to do a bunch of research into figuring out the best materials and stuff so that you would get as close to though as a constant tension instead of just a building tension 'cause like with bows, they leverage like on a compound.  They leverage cams to alleviate some of that tension, yet maintain the same amount of stored energy at the end, versus like a long bow.  If you're drawing the long bow, the further you draw that bow, the more tension it's building the more weight that you're holding.

Ben:  Yeah.

Shad:  So that's one of those challenges that they had to overcome is fair, not how to create that flex pattern in the rods, so that it maintained a constant tension, so that you didn't start off with a twenty-five pound setting, that by the time if you had long arms, by the time you're out to the end, all of a sudden, you're actually at sixty, seventy pounds.

Ben:  Do you still work out on one of those, the Bow Flex?

Shad:  You know what? I haven't in a while, and it's not because I don't want to.  It's just that I don't have one.  My dad, I think he retired from bow flexing.  It was either '99, yeah I think it was like '98 or '99.

Ben:  Yeah, you need to talk to your dad.  Get yourself hooked up with the Bow Flex? There's probably like fifty in his garage, right?

Shad:  [laughs] I know he's got at least one of the very first models sitting out there, so.

Ben:  Nice, so did you grow up hunting? Was that kind of like a part of your upbringing?

Shad:  You know what, it was.  My dad, my mom's dad, my grandpa hunted, so that was something I did from a young age, just even getting to spend time.  You know I went out with them a lot before I could even necessarily hunt, just to be along.  I mean I still remember probably one on the highlights of my childhood was the first time I got a go out and help pack an elk elm.

Ben:  Yeah, those are big animals.

Shad:  Yeah, and I was only eight years old.  My job was to pack the head.

Ben:  Yeah, how heavy is the head of an elk?

Shad:  Oh it was probably like thirty five pounds with the head and the hide and stuff on there, but the coolest part to me was is I felt like I was one of the men.  I was packing that big elk, “oh I'm going to do this.”  That was pretty cool, but yeah.  So I mean shoot all the way from it, I mean the time I was probably four or five, I was out in the woods and looking for animals and trying to trap squirrels. [laughs]

Ben:  So when did you start bow hunting?  Was that something that your parents did or your dad did?

Shad:  Yeah, yup.  Actually my mom and dad both used to bow hunt when I was in middle school and high school.  I actually started shooting a bow, I mean like a lot of kids do.  You know I had the little plastic jobbers when I was little, and I used to try and build my own and stuff, but I started getting real serious as far as shooting a bow when I was about twelve.  And then basically when I was thirteen was the first year that I went straight up bow hunting for, I think it was an elk that was actually the first animal I went after.

Ben:  Yeah, now I've never really hunted with one of the newer compound bows.  As a kid, I always had the regular long bow, bow and arrow, just for playing around and stuff, but tell me about how difficult it is to actually pull on a compound bow in terms of do you have to be super strong to pull one of these things back? How are they built these days?

Shad:  No.  You know that's what's so great especially about the new bows, because they're so much more efficient with regards to the compounds.  So reality wise, you know in most states, it's right around forty to forty-two pounds is the legal hunting weight, and the reality is with how efficient they are and the new materials they're using for arrows and everything else.  I mean, if that's all you can draw, you're still good to go.  I mean that will do the job on deer-sized animals.  Now if you want to do elk, it'll still do the job but it's going to become vitally important that you make a very good shot.  So from the physical difficulty standpoint, I mean it's all based on your draw weight and then there's design elements that go into some of the different bows as far as how the led off works, and what we call the valley is like.  So basically where does the cam break over and what's that feel like, right? When you're drawing because some bows have a…Well, it's no different than like training for the triathlon stuff, you have perceived exertion level? Some bows create a perception that it's a much harder draw than other bows because of how the cams work.

Ben:  Okay.

Shad:  So the most important thing for somebody that's wanting to get going is to go to a good shop like here in Spokane.  We got Spokane Valley Archery where you can go and actually test them out and be able to actually feel what they feel like to you and find that one that's a good fit because everyone has different biomechanics, they have different ways that the grip feels right.  So the most important thing is, me personally, I'm shooting up weight right now, but somebody else may find that the weight just feels totally uncomfortable to them and they may end up going with an elite or with a Bow Tech or with a Matthews.  So it really comes down to just kind of that personal preference in finding that bow that's a good fit for you, but from the standpoint of being physically able to draw them.  I mean that's what's so great about the new ones.  I mean they've got cool ones too for people that are just getting started.  I think Matthews makes like it's called the Genesis, and I think it adjusts up…

Ben:  I think I've seen that one on Amazon before.

Shad:  Yeah, and I think that one there.  They added some max is around like forty pounds, but the cool thing with it is it's got a progressive draw length deal on it.  So you can get one of those and your kids can shoot it and you can shoot it.

Ben:  Interesting, like how old would a kid need to be in order to use a bow like that?

Shad:  Probably right around nine or ten.

Ben:  Okay, so you don't have to be super strong to pull on that thing?

Shad:  No 'cause that's what's cool.  You can dial the weight on that thing 'cause you just back the limbs out a little bit.  I mean they've got some really good stuff out there.  And not to mention, they're making some awesome youth mode bows now.  So I mean there's tons of options out there, but you definitely don't have to be super strong.  I mean most people would probably look at me and the way I'm built these days and think I'm kind of a skinny guy, but at the same time, I mean obviously, I've trained those muscles and when I shoot a bow that draws out at seventy-two pounds, but the reality of it is I mean to me drawing it, it doesn't feel like it.

Ben:  Right, but you're pulling seventy-two pounds back for one arm?

Shad:  Yeah, but the difference is there is two of those.  You know I've been shooting for years, right?  So I built up that muscle memory and everything else.  So for somebody else to get started, I mean get a bow that allows you to adjust between sixty and seventy or fifty and sixty, and you know you'll be good to go.  You'll just start off and work your way in 'cause I mean that's where a lot of people get into trouble, as this kind of the ego side of it.  Oh I'm shooting an eighty pound bow.  It doesn't really gain you anything other than some kinetic energy.  And the interesting thing was I just got back from Africa where I took a buffalo with my seventy-two pound bow, shooting about seven hundred and sixty grain arrows.

Ben:  I saw the picture you sent me though, that thing's huge.

Shad:  Yeah, and I mean it totally did the job, but it used to be the common approach to going and hunting cape buffalo was to set your bow up with eighty, ninety, a hundred and ten-pound limbs on it so that you could be generating enough kinetic energy, but that's what I was saying earlier.  You know the efficiency of the new bows, it's gotten to such a point that you don't have to do that anymore.

Ben:  So you go all the way over to Africa to hunt?

Shad:  Yeah, that was my first trip to Africa.  That was actually kind of a dream trip for me.  So it was an unreal experience getting to see all the different animals.  I got a chance to do a couple of things that were really cool.  There one was I got to hear a leopard which is just unreal.

Ben:  I mean like at night in a tent?

Shad:  No, actually we were sitting up on a ridge glass and all of a sudden, I mean if you've never heard a leopard, it's a very different sound.  They don't roar like a lion or anything.  They do like this grunt, it sounds like, if you ever heard like the big logging buck sauce? Well that's kind of what a leopard sounds like.  When they get going they're like, [leopard sounds] but it's incredible how loud it is.

Ben:  So how close was it to you?

Shad:  He was the next ridge over from us, so probably you know, eight hundred, a thousand yards away?  But it was unreal as far as how that entire valley immediately went silent.  I mean the birds stopped chirping.  It was so cool, and then the other cool thing I got to do on that trip is I actually got to help do a life capture and relocation of some kudu.

Ben:  Really?

Shad:  Yeah, I mean that was a really neat experience.

Ben:  What's a kudu?

Shad:  Kudu is one of the big larger members of the antelope family.

Ben:  Okay, those are the ones with the curved horns?

Shad:  Yeah, they got the big spider horns?

Ben:  Yeah, okay.  Cool.

Shad:  Yeah, so that was pretty neat.  That was something I wasn't expecting.

Ben:  Was that all with this guiding gig that you worked for? This Got Hunts splice?

Shad:  Yeah, so the name of our company's actually Outdoors International, and gothunts.com is our website.  Probably the easiest way to explain to people what we are, you can kind of think of us as like a travel agent-slash-consultant for global hunting adventures.  So helping people find raided ventures around the world.

Ben:  So if you wanted to go bow hunting in Africa, somebody could give you a call and actually get in on a trip like that.

Shad:  Yes.

Ben:  Interesting, alright cool.  I'm going to put a link to that show notes too because I'm actually personally pretty interested in that myself, but I want to jump back into hunting.  Why bow hunting? Why would you want to do bow hunting versus firearm?

Shad:  You know what, I've taken some animals with firearms, and for me it was a personal choice.  I guess it's no different than why do a triathlon or anything else?  It was the challenge.  It was the fact that it really forced me to kind of have to up my game as far as matching my wits, my skills, my physical capabilities against animals in their own setting.

Ben:  So how close do you have to be to an animals to take it with a bow?

Shad:  You know what, my goal is to be forty yards or less.

Ben:  That's pretty close, that's hard to get that close.

Shad:  It is, and a lot of times, it takes patience.  There was a lot of years where I didn't get anything.  When I was learning and making lots of mistakes, and the reality of it is though, I guess that's the other reason why I like bow hunting is to me, it's the experience.  It's not necessarily whether or not I get an animal.  I mean these days, my biggest concern with getting into animals, to try and get an elk to fill the freezer.  You know, I'm not saying I don't like getting you a big bowl or whatever but the reality of it is that's all my family's been eating for the last several years is elk and deer meat.

Ben:  Yeah, and like I mentioned, we had a podcast about deer meat.  I mean that's why I hunt, just because it's a little bit of extra meat for the freezer.  You know I've never been trophy hunting or going after animals in Africa or anything like that, and I would imagine I don't know.  Do you guys get called out with your Outdoors International Organization? Do you kind of some kickback from people who aren't a big fan of the whole trophy hunting type of approach?

Shad:  Well I mean we get kickback just period.  It's interesting how many death threats you get.

Ben:  Yeah, I mean 'cause when you go and take down a cape buffalo or something, a lot of people would say killing a sacred animal.  What do you say to that?

Shad:  What do I say to that? I'd say that meat actually went to the locals, and then anything they didn't want after that went on to a company that actually makes biltongs.

Ben:  What's biltongs?

Shad:  It's like beef jerky.

Ben:  Really? So you're feeding people when you're taking down the animal like that? Just like chopping off the head and making an animal?

Shad:  Well I mean there's nothing that goes to waste on them.  I mean it's interesting to, especially like that was an eye opener though.  To see the degree to which, I take pride in salvaging all the meat I can get off an animal, but over there, I mean they even take it to a whole another level 'cause they use the stomachs for stuff.  It's just amazing how much stuff they actually use from the animal.

Ben:  Yeah, it's kind of like the whole nose to tail approach.  My wife actually just bought and butchered a pig, and we're eating like head cheese and she's got the stomach.  Every single part of that pig she used.  I mean boiling up the hooves, everything.  It's crazy.

Shad:  So anyways, a lot of people think that hunting is just about the kill, and that's where I was starting to kind of it's not.  That is a nice benefit especially like we were talking about, you know to fill the freezer.  The bigger part to me is the experience of being out there, getting in close proximity to those animals, and it's disengaging from a society that's going faster and faster and faster and is more and more connected.  When I'm out there, it's just me, the terrain and God.  I mean that's what's there, and that's what I take joy from is that opportunity and then getting to share that with other people.

Ben:  Yeah, now you also did triathlon.  I mean do you think it was the same thing, that desire to be in nature and maybe even be alone a little bit and get a chance to just dwell on your own thoughts that drew you into triathlon too? What did you choose triathlon in the mix?

Shad:  You know, I think it was a little bit of that, and I think a little bit of that too though was the fact that back in high school and stuff when most people are playing sports.  I was a late bloomer, and so in high school, I was an alright tennis player, but I didn't get to play much football and things like that like I wanted to.  So even back then, I mean hunting was kind of my outlet right? And with hunting, you're not competing against anybody.  You're only competing against yourself, right? It's your mental toughness, it's your willingness to endure hardship, to push yourself, to see what's over that next ridge, to hike down to the bottom of that valley.

Ben:  Do you think about it as competing against the animal you're hunting?

Shad:  No.  Because at the end of the day, I mean it's all on me.  It's what I do, it's not necessarily what the animal does, right? The animals are going to do what it's going to do regardless.  I look at it strictly as me pushing myself to get smarter about the animal, it's environment, it's behaviors, what's it's defense mechanisms, where's it going to be looking to move through.  Where is it going to be looking to bend down? It's all on me, it's not me against the animal.  It's strictly me against me, and so like with the triathlons, it was kind of that same thing.  I mean I get that you're competing against the other guys that are racing, but the reality of it to me was I was competing against myself.  And when I was training with you, you know, it was looking for those incremental improvements, right? So did I do better this race versus last race, you know? Am I showing improvement on my overall average speed on the bike, you know? It's those types of things, and yes, when you're out on the course, it's you and your brain and your thoughts.  There's nothing else going.

Ben:  Do you think bow hunting, you know triathlon is obviously kind of like at the pointy edge of fitness, and I know you worked all the way up to half-Ironman in your own triathlon training and racing, but comparatively, how would you say hunting, and specifically bow hunting, kind of matches up to stuff like that in terms of fitness?

Shad:  You know what? I would say if you're doing Western and Mountain-style, spot and stock type stuff, it's absolutely 'cause that's probably your number one factor for success is going to be your physical capability.  Obviously I mean you've grown up here in this area, you know what the mountains are like in North Idaho, right? I mean you can't go over there and be a coach potato who doesn't get out and do anything and expect that you're going to be able to hike more than a hundred, two hundred yards from the road?

Ben:  Or be able to pack an animal elk.

Shad:  Right.

Ben:  Yeah, I mean I've got a picture, if people want to see it, if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/bowhuntbengreenfieldfitness.com/bowhunt, I've got a picture of Shad, and he's packing this big, I don't know.  What are you packing there, man?  Is that an elk?

Shad:  That's an elk, yup.

Ben:  Yeah, and I mean you're obviously still just as lean as you were when you were doing triathlon, but you got to be in shape for this stuff.  What do you do? Do you just hunt to be fit for hunting, or do you have a specific workout routine that you do to keep you fit for something like bow hunting?

Shad:  You know what, I've started actually doing, I think you actually know Kenton Clairmont?

Ben:  Kenton Clairmont?

Shad:  Yeah.

Ben:  He's the trainer in, is he over in Liberty Lake?

Shad:  No.  I think he actually lives out towards like Valley Ford or whatever, but he's got a program actually.  Specifically four hunters called Train To Hunt.

Ben:  Oh really?

Shad:  Yeah, and it's actually turning into a race series too.  Like a competitive series.

Ben:  Is that traintohunt.com?

Shad:  Yes, but anyways, I do some of his stuff 'cause what he does is he incorporate some of the elements from crossfit and stuff, but he tries to keep it very focused on hunter-centric type of movements and exercises.  So things that'll help you with your stability, with your balance, with your agility.  So it's good stuff, and then he does a lot of stuff around, basically doing like load bearing exercises.  So basically packs with weights or hauling sandbags.  So things to get your body ready to undertake that.  I mean obviously the best thing that you can do is to be out in the terrain where you're going to be hunting and hiking because the unstable footing, the blow downs, boulders, whatever.  You know jumping around through all that stuff.  I mean that's going to be your hands down best preparation, but I mean I do a lot of stuff.  Even when I'm mowing my yard, I've got kind of a hilly yard.  I'll throw a backpack on with some weight in it while I'm mowing.  I run a lot just to try and keep that cardiovascular side up.

Ben:  Sounds kind of similar to Spartan training?  I'm looking at his Train To Hunt website, like these Train To Hunt challenges.  What do you do? Do you know if you show up to compete in one of these challenges that he has, like what's involved?

Shad:  Well yeah, so there's a number of different things.  I mean at a high level, so you've got kind of a physical fitness challenge day which is basically like you're doing sandbag carries.  You're doing what they call the meat haul challenge which I think if I remember right, that's like you got to haul a hundred and sixty pounds over a certain distance and it's timed, right? You've got different exercise stations that you've got.  You've got to complete different physical challenges and stuff, and so that whole thing's timed, and then you're also scored on completing your exercises and doing all that kind of stuff.  And the second part that they do to it though is a 3-D bow shoot with exercises.  So you get to a station and you got to run from station to station, and you've got a weighted pack with a certain amount of weight that you got to carry throughout the course, and then when you get there, a lot of times, there's a specific exercise or something you have to do, and then you've got a shoot at the target, and you can't use a range finder, right? You got to estimate what the yardage is, and then depending on where you hit, you can either get time penalties or you can be assessed, having to do some additional exercises.  So it could be doing burpees.

Ben:  Yeah, sounds like the Spartan Spirit Throw where you're doing burpees.

Shad:  Yeah, so anyways just depending on what you do and then basically the idea is you're taking your overall score for the two days, and then that's how they're ranking you.  Where do you finish?

Ben:  Yeah, I'm looking at Kent's website.  He calls himself the Fittest Bow Hunter in the West.  Is he fitter than you, man?

Shad:  I think he's probably fitter than I am.  At least strength-wise, running-wise I might be able to give him a run.

Ben:  Yeah, this is like crossfitting for hunters.  This is pretty cool, traintohunt.com, interesting.  It looks like it's a membership website.  That's pretty interesting.  Looks like they've got on in Bonners Ferry, Farragut, couple of hours from my house.  Interesting, I'll set this one up.

Shad:  It's growing which is really cool to see, that it's getting traction.  You're getting a pretty fanatical group of bow hunters going.  In fact, I think they're just getting ready right now, though.  To have nationals I think this weekend, down in Oregon, I think.

Ben:  Yeah, if somebody really wanted to challenge themselves, you guys, to these guided hunts with Outdoors International, but let's say somebody really wanted to not just learn a little bit about bow hunting, get into bow hunting and go to one of your hunts, but they want to challenge themselves to actually do something that would be pretty physically demanding 'cause a lot of our listeners are Spartan athletes and Ironman athletes and stuff like that.  Which one of the hunts would be one of the more difficult? Looks like you guys have an Alaskan grizzly bear hunt.

Shad:  Probably physical challenge-wise I mean there's some of the elk hunts that are going to be butt kickers just because of the terrain you're going to be hunting in.

Ben:  The Idaho Archery Elk Hunting?

Shad:  Yeah, there's some of those, but most likely though.  I mean probably some of the most physical hunts you can do is going to be a mountain goat and or doll sheep and stone sheep.

Ben:  Well for the mountain goat, is that firearm or is that bow?

Shad:  It's your choice, so like I was looking off.  I took a really good mountain goat with my bow a few years back, but on a lot of those hunts though, you're going backpack-style.  So just to give you an example, I did a doll sheep hunt up in the UConn, and we got flown into one drainage.  Threw our backpacks on, and then straight line distance.  This isn't accounting for terrain or anything else.  From where we got dropped off to where we were getting picked up was sixteen miles.  So it doesn't sound like a lot, but the reality is by the time that you actually…

Ben:  Oh like on that terrain, that's all.

Shad:  Yeah, well by the time you're navigating all the drainages and everything else, you're hiking up to different glass and points and stuff, you're dealing with shale slopes.  So basically one step up, half step back, and you're doing all of this with fifty-five to sixty pound backpack on your back.  So you think six, seven days straight of doing that and then you've got weather being thrown at you.  If somebody's looking for a challenge, I mean that's the kind of hunt that will definitely push you both physically and mentally.

Ben:  Wow.

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What's the toughest hunt you've ever done?

Shad:  I'd say probably that doll sheep hunt.

Ben:  Yeah, just because of the mountains? Was that the one in British Columbia?

Shad:  No, it was up in the UConn?

Ben:  Really?

Shad:  Well not just because of the mountains, we had all kinds of weather.  I mean we got stuck in a little two-man tent for three days with rain.  You had the physical side of it, but I mean it was probably one of the most rewarding hunts that I've been on.

Ben:  Did you pack the mountain goat out?

Shad:  Yeah, oh yeah.  Packed it down then basically, so I'm that one there from where I shot my ram on that hunt.  We had about an eight-mile pack to the “airstrip” AKA sand bar for the bush plane to be able to come in and get us.

Ben:  Wow, that's nuts.  So do you think that bow hunting versus firearm hunting, if this was something that someone wanted to get into, do you think it's more humane or fair to the animal to bow hunt and challenge yourself by having to get closer to the animal and track it down a little bit more intensively and shooting it from across the ridge.

Shad Wheeler:  You know I really think that for the most part, that's a personal decision, and I'm not trying to escape making a statement on that.  You know I mean for some people, physically or even time-wise and stuff, they're not going to be able to become proficient with a bow, and so if you're not proficient with the weapon that you're using, that's where it becomes inhumane.  That's where you're going to be wounding an animal, and nobody wants to do that.  So the way I look at it is whatever course you take is just making sure that you become proficient and that you're ethical in your decisions as to when to or not to take a shot.

Ben:  Yeah, 'cause if you take a bad shot with a bow, I mean obviously the same thing with a firearm, but I mean you've just got an animal running off with an arrow on its backside, right?

Shad:  Yeah, you know most of the guys I know though, even if they make a bad shot, they will do everything they can to recover that animal.  As an example, I mean I had a client last year that I was guiding out in Wyoming, and he hit an elk high and back.  I spent sixteen hours tracking that thing and could never find him.  Luckily a couple of days later, we actually ended up seeing that bull and he already…the wound had already scabbed up, and it wasn't showing any ill effects.  You just don't like that, and so I mean make sure that you put in the effort to do justice to that animal too 'cause you don't want it to just go and suffer and or go to waste.

Ben:  Yeah, how much can somebody expect to spend on a good bow?

Shad:  On a good bow? These days here, you're probably going to be looking at like fully set up with sights and all that stuff.  You're probably, for a brand new one, going to be right around probably a thousand dollars?

Ben:  And then like how much does it cost?  Let's say somebody got a bow, and they really wanted to just delve in and immerse themselves in this like go on a hunt with you guys or something and kind of learn how to do things the right way? How much does a hunt cost?

Shad:  You know what, the reality is on that.  I mean we've got hunts going from six hundred bucks all the way up to, I've got cash mirror markhor in Pakistan that's a hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars.

Ben:  Holy cow.

Shad:  Yeah, so a big part of it comes down to the experience that the person's looking for and what their budget is as far as for a guided trip.

Ben:  How much experience does somebody have to have to go on a hunt? Do they need to have already hunted extensively or do you take gum shoes out there?

Shad:  No, I mean the reality is, especially on the outfitted hunts, that's the way for a lot of people that didn't grow up around hunting and are getting into hunting later in life, that's probably, actually one of the best ways to get started is to go on an outfitted hunt because you're going to have a guide there who's got a ton of knowledge and experience, and it's going to basically not only going to be teaching you but helping you through the process.  It's amazing working as a guide.  Not only are you trying to help and find an animals, but you also end up playing cheerleader and psychologist 'cause buck fever is a very real thing.

Ben:  What's buck fever?

Shad:  It's where your adrenaline gets cranking up, and people start shaking and everything else when they're getting ready to try and take a shot at an animal? And so you're sitting there talking them through it, trying to get them breathing, calm down.  Don't look at the antlers, don't look at the horns.  Just focus on a spot, breathe, and then squeeze the trigger.  It's interesting.

Ben:  You know to me one of the more challenging parts about bow hunting when I take a deer, it's like if I've got it in my sights at like a hundred yards, it knows, you know? It seems like it just senses and knows the way they're looking at it, and I'm like I can't even imagine getting even closer and still being able to take a good shot.  How do you do that? I mean like I've even, when I've been hunting, tried to avoid eye contact with the scope until the last possible minute 'cause I feel like the deer can just feel me looking down that scope and you see its head pop up, and it's like it senses you.  How do you overcome that when you're sneaking up on an animal for a bow shot?

Shad:  I just put the thought out there, you know? I'm just a farmer, I'm just a farmer, I'm just a farmer.

Ben:  Really?

Shad:  No, [laughs] you know I agree.  I've seen it a lot of times, I'm positive that animals can pick up that predatory instinct, but the reality is that a big part of it is play in wind, avoiding fast movements.

Ben:  What do you mean, play in wind?

Shad:  Most animal's number one defense mechanism is going to be their sense of smell, so you always got to be aware of what the wind's doing because if they pick up a whiff of you, then you're toast.  They're done.  So you're always trying to be aware of what the wind's doing.  You don't want fast movements, and then the other thing is don't move in direct lines.  That's what predators do.  So if you've got an animal say at a hundred yards straight in front of you, what you'll probably be doing is looking for cover and a line of approach that'll take you off, maybe to the side and then kind of start bringing you back around.  Because if you're moving just directly at them and they pick you up, they're going to peg you as a predator, versus if you just kind of take your time, you're moving slow and easy.  Well I mean reality is if you watch deer, they very rarely walk in straight lines, and they very rarely walk a long distance without stopping.  So you try and think about how does that animal move and then try and mimic kind of how they're moving, right?

So maybe you move ten yards, and then stop and wait for a little bit, then you move another five yards and stop and wait for a little bit.  Patience is probably the biggest factor.  It's not saying that everyone's going to work out, but being patient is key, but the other side of it too though is knowing when to be aggressive 'cause there's a lot of times to though where you've got a limited window and you've got a closed distance, and so you got to kind of pick and choose when to make a bold move versus when to just sit and wait.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah, interesting.  Man, this Outdoors International looks pretty cool.  I'm going to link to this in the show notes, but I definitely want to get on with a hunt with you guys.  This looks killer.

Shad:  Well we'd love to get you settled in.

Ben:  It looks a lot more interesting than just the basic firearm, white-tailed deer hunting I've been doing the past few years.  This is the next level, dude.

Shad:  Well I mean that's part of what's kind of neat though is it's well, like going to Africa though.  The experience being there hunting was just the secondary.

Ben:  Right, I mean that's what I experienced just like doing triathlons internationally.  You know, like in Thailand and Chile and Vietnam.  The triathlon? It's a little bit of the icing on the cake, but it's the experience of getting there, being immersed in a different culture, kind of getting to experience life on a different continent or a different country.  Yeah, I mean that's definitely cool, but I mean some of the hunts you’re doing right here in my backyard, you know like in Idaho and British Columbia in Washington look pretty cool.

Shad:  Yeah, well in fact actually I think we're going to be up in British Columbia, the first week of October on a mountain goat hunt, so I'm going to be actually filming that, and that should be a pretty fun one.

Ben:  I'll be down drinking margaritas and watching Ironman Hawaii.

Shad:  There you go.

Ben:  I'll be hunting triathletes.  Well cool, so if you're listening in, you can go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/bowhunt and check out some of the stuff Shad and I were talking about.  I'll put a link over to those Train To Hunt challenges and some of that Kenton Clairmont stuff too if you're interested.  It looks like his stuff is like a subscription, some kind of a hunting subscription website, but it looks like they've got some pretty good workouts over there too.  So you can check that out.

Shad:  And just so you know, just to clarify on that Ben, on Kent's stuff, you don't have to be a subscriber to be able to go do the contest, to go do the challenges.  On that you're paying to get all the workouts and stuff.

Ben:  Yeah, I'm tempted to go see how my Spartan racing fitness matches up to the Train To Hunt fitness.  It sounds pretty similar actually, just like a lot of rucking and carrying heavy stuff around.  Yeah, throwing spears under pressure.

Shad:  That's right.

Ben:  Cool, well Shad, thanks for coming on, man.  This was really fun.

Shad:  Well thanks for having me, Ben.  I appreciate it.

Ben:  Alright folks, well this is Ben Greenfield and Shad Wheeler from gothunts.com, signing out from Ben Greenfield Fitness where maybe you can leave your questions, your comments, your feedback over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/bowhunt, and have a great week.


I grew up in North Idaho surrounded by hunters. I've personally been hunting whitetail deer in my backyard for 4 years, fishing since I was a kid, and I've even podcasted about whether deer meat is healthy.

And in the recent post “The 3 P’s Of Being A Man, Getting Tough and Doing Hard Things“, you learned that one way to accomplish the “P” of providing is to hunt.

My guest on today's podcast is Shad Wheeler (pictured above) from GotHunts.com. Shad is an entrepreneur, a bowhunter, and an triathlete, and in this episode, he teaches you how to build primal fitness and endurance by hunting.

-How Shad's father helped found and invent the Bowflex exercise device

-What type of bows are best for bow hunting, whether you're a seasoned hunter or just getting started…

-The similarities between triathlon and bowhunting…

TrainToHunt.com and the Train To Hunt Challenges

-Workouts for getting ready for bowhunting…

After listening in, I think you'll agree that when it comes to ancestral fitness, bowhunting really takes the cake. Do you have questions or comments about this show? Leave your thoughts below!




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