What does biking have to do with hunting? Nothing. But it is a great way to get fit for the season in a very specifc way – and for a specific hunt: deer hunting.

What I am talking about is a bike route with hills. When you bike up a hill, you get a burning sensation in your legs and lungs. Sound familiar? When you are dragging your harvested deer out of the woods, you get the same burn. When you stop for a breather from dragging, it is similar to when you reach the top of the hill on a bike. On the bike, you get a breather when you reach a flat stretch or head down the other side of the hill. If your bike route has several hills, then it really resembles dragging the deer, because after your breather, you have to start your effort again and this will bring that old leg and lung burn.

Not everyone “works out” consistently. If people are dedicated, they may exercise a few times a week. It is the rare person who exercises daily, that is for sure. So if you are like most people, when hunting season gets near, grab that old bike and start on your hilly route a couple times a week. Let’s say you have been a couch potato all summer, and now it is September. This year in Maryland, White-Tail Early Muzzleloader season is October 19-21. Today is September 23 and that would give you almost four weeks to prepare. Two or three bike rides per week should be plenty to get you better prepared to put that deer in your deer sled and start dragging it through the forest. Firearms season, when most people are out aiming for our jumpy prey, is November 25 to December 9. That is two months from now – you will be a biking machine by then and the dragging will be no big deal.

What kind of bike? Any old bike will do, but the best bike for a hunter is a mountain bike with a lot of gears to make those hilly rides work. Most hunters are “off road” types and a mountain bike will be more fun than a traditional road bike, especially if you want to mix up your routes to include trails at the local park.

After you get biking, throw in some push-ups, crunch sit-ups or weight-lifting to really get in shape for hunting season. Your heart and your freezer will thank you with many seasons far into the future.