Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hunting, fitness and my feral rebellion

I'll be the first to admit that the kind of hunting I do generally does not make me a fit person. I mean you just don't burn that many calories sitting in a duck blind. And the fast food on the way home? Yowza.

But for some reason this year, I actually lost weight during duck season. Must have something to do with how many cripples I chased - I mean, how many Olympians could catch a bufflehead that they spotted 75 yards away, after they've run out of ammunition, with no dog to assist?

That's right. Case closed.

But here's the problem: Duck season has been over for more than two weeks and I can see the pounds creeping back into my jeans. Read more...
Why? Because once you find a way to keep the pudge at bay just by doing what you love - doing something that feeds you - it's really, really hard to go back to the gym and climb onto some stupid machine where you do the same motion over and over for 30 minutes while staring at a TV you can't hear because you don't have a headset.

Maybe this is all just a manifestation of my continued malaise over the end of duck season. But I'm not so sure of that.

You see, hunting is changing me. The more time I spend in the field reconnecting with what we really are - omnivorous animals who are blessed with the ability to gather lots of great food and with the cleverness to cook it beautifully - the more I seem to disdain civilization.

Don't get me wrong - I loved that appendectomy I had last year. I like the part of civilization that made it possible for me not to be dead at this moment. And obviously, I'm fond of the Internet because it has allowed me to connect with you.

But some aspects of civilization seem downright ridiculous. A special yogurt that's supposed to fix our upset tummies because we gorged on too much unhealthy food. Meds that help us overcome the stress and insomnia that accompany the hectic pace of success (been there). Or my very favorite: a freakin' video game that is being touted as a great new fitness regimen for morons who play too many video games that exercise only their thumbs. Good lord!

If you take a close look at everything around you, you'll see that so much of what civilization has to offer us is a Band-Aid for the ills civilization inflicts on us.

Or at least that's how it's looking to me these days. And I just find myself thinking I'm sick of paying a middleman to achieve what should be achievable in the normal course of life.

This is why I haven't been able to muster the will to go back to the gym. I want workouts that are useful.

So I've started walking, and once in a while I can walk to a store instead of driving there. And yesterday I wiped about two years of dust off my black belt and my punching bag and spent 20 minutes doing my best Jet Li imitation. (I suppose this could come in handy if I ever had to punch someone.)

But try as I might, I can't think of anything that will replicate charging through calf-deep water and mud in heavy neoprene waders. So at some point, I'm going to have to go back into the gym.

And I suppose that after a while, I'll go back to accepting that spending 30 minutes on a machine four or five times a week is normal and entirely OK, even though it doesn't prepare me for anything more than spending more time on that machine.

For now, though, I'm enjoying my feral rebellion.

© Holly A. Heyser 2010


Josh said...

I'd be willing to do some serious scouting over the next few months - find some good squirrel and mountain quail habitat, while looking for fiddleheads and gooseberries.

Also, my family will soon be hitting the rivers in kayaks, and you are more than welcome.

Holly Heyser said...

River kayaks? The kind you need helmets for? Hmmm, not so sure about that. But I'm up for hiking. Especially if we'll see jack rabbits...

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Usually I default to the 'modern life is rubbish' setting but then i sound as discontented as Chad ;-)

But I know just what you mean about the foolishness that has become our culture. Buying crap they don't need with money they haven't got to impress people they don't know.

Desktop guzzling expensive burnt coffee that has to be sweetened to make it drinkable then paying to sweat off the extra calories on a device that simulates walking up a hill.

Meanwhile we've never been closer to being able to have more warm,fed, watered and educated than at any time in history.

Lets just call it
'Another crappy day in paradise'


Bpaul said...

Our duck blind was approximately 1 mile through field, flooded and partially frozen field, and partially frozen swamp. Getting there and back with gear was akin to mountain climbing, ... honestly horribly grueling.

I can't seem to get to the gym either, but thinking about that walk does perk my discipline a bit. Also... I gave a few jackrabbits to the neighbor over the fence and we now have permission to drive his road to within 100 yds of our blind. I almost fainted with relief.


hutchinson said...

I say, go to those same areas where you hunt, but instead of chasing cripples, haul 20 pounds of camera gear (as I sometimes have to), do squats and lunges as you capture ducks and deer (alive) on a compact flash card, and you'll never have to step in a gym again. I swear. ;)

Or how about just hiking and some yoga? My swami swears by it.

(Just kidding -- the swami part, that is.)

Ghostrifle said...

Hi Holly
I know how you feel my NordicTrack is gathering dust and I am gathering pounds. I am skiing in your fine country in March and I really am not in shape. I doubt I will burn much sat in a high seat after Fallow tomorrow. On another note I have added you to my blog roll let me know if this is a problem.

Hubert Hubert said...

I'm a bit of a podgy git, personally, but I've found that being skint has helpfully contributed to my not getting much fatter. I had to sell the car a while back and now have to get about on my bicycle - so I cycle a lot, and that helps! It's certainly been the case that much of my hunting has come about as a reaction to my revulsion at supermarket meat as well as - on my income - its wildly unaffordable price.

It's a bleakly 'funny' (hugely the wrong word) situation that we in the 'West' have to work so hard at not getting overweight, while much of the world has to struggle not to starve.

I suppose that relying on hunting for meat, in part, feels to me like a conscious choice to take a 'better way' in regard of the illusory and plain crazy options that the mad world we've made now offers us.

I too am glad that our modern, technologically advanced health care works as it does (I'm glad that you're still around for one, Holly!) and I do think that there's a good case for free health care). I guess we can acknowledge and use what we see to be good about our society at the same time as thinking that learning to play an imitation guitar on the Wii instead of a real one is a plain bloody silly thing to do.

But I do dumb stuff all the time so I hope that I can keep in sympathy with my society for doing the same - even if I choose to decline some of the things it offers.


Phillip said...

Holly, the hills are alive with the sound of oinking, and that season never ends. Public land hog hunting doesn't return a lot of pork to the freezer, but it does put you on foot in nature's very own gymnasium.

I also like Hutch's suggestion to roll out with camera and pack. Scout a little, take some photos, and stay away from Grandella's on the way home.

Barbara Baird said...

Don't forget yard work! That's always therapeutic. Doesn't Hank have something you can dig up, mulch, etc.?
Also, I recommend this book -- "A Minute of Margin: Restoring Balance to Busy Lives 180 Daily Reflections." You'll have to figure out what to reflect upon for the other days in the year! Sounds like you're ready for spring!

The Hunter's Wife said...

Holly, I so agree. I joined a gym once and it wasn't for me at all. All the low fat, fat free, diet food or diet pop...no thanks. I need real food and water. Do I eat junk? Yep. Eating junk and sitting for over 12 hours a day leads to weight gain. Nothing can replace eating right and moving. If only I'd listen to my own words.

Love walking and yoga. My yoga instructor once said crawling is one of the best things you can do for your body. By crawling you are using every muscle in your body.

Now I feel guilty. I just ate a donut.

Work it!

SimplyOutdoors said...

I can tell you that there is no machine that can replicate the amount of calories I burnt off last weekend.

Huffing it through 3 ft of snow, on top of ice, can definitely burn off a few calories. And then dragging a couple kids up and down a snow covered hill tends to burn a few calories as well.

I'm with you, Holly, I hate the gym. It's way too civilized, and too boring for my liking.

I'll stick to the au naturale way of losing weight: doing it outside.

Holly Heyser said...

SBW: Somewhere, a Smiths album is playing... But you're right, it is another crappy day in paradise. I'm just opting out of as many of the silly parts as I can.

Bpaul, that sounds like a very fun walk to your blind - probably have to pack in, right - no cart? When I hunt my favorite refuges, the walk to the blind is often a mile, but it's usually on a pretty hard-packed dirt road.

Hutch: I've already asked - we're not allowed on the refuge after duck season is over, not until "brush-up day." But there is another wildlife area I hunted twice this year that has a pretty substantial auto tour that I could probably walk - and it's the closest to me of all the places I hunt. The problem is that walking on a flat dirt road in jeans and sneakers isn't very challenging. But yeah, hiking is the ticket. I need to find a place in the hills.

Ghostrifle: Skiing should do the trick! I don't ski. Did it once and loved it, but I can't afford another expensive hobby, and I refuse to participate in activities where broken bones are all too common.

Hubert Hubert: Yep, I do dumb stuff too. Yours is the right attitude.

Phillip: Granzella's was part of my weight-loss routine during duck season! When you don't eat all day and spend hours chasing the cripples, that cancels out the calories awaiting at Granzellas.

But yes, piggies! And yes, scouting. Maybe on the camera - I don't really have a big enough lens to do worthwhile field photography.

Barbara: Did Hank tell you to say that? Yard work has never kept me fit, but yes, there's a bunch waiting for me.

Jody, I'm sure I can love the gym again, because the fact is, urban life does not afford me the fitness opportunities I seek. But I'm with you on the food. I used to do the low-fat diet and I was 25 pounds lighter - skeletal, actually. But my food was boring, and skeletal was not a good look for me.

Would you please send me one of your donuts?

Simply: That sounds great, but I think I'll pass on the children part. That's taking it a bit too far ;-)

Bpaul said...

Yes, packs. I'd rather get in my walking in flushing rabbit and snipe, both of which are in abundance there.

Josh said...

Hutch, here I agree with you 100%.

Holly, the kayaks don't involve large class water, just the Lower American here in Sac. It's an amazing perspective on an absolutely stunning place, and you get to scout for good fishing holes (BIG stripers, even now, and shad come June). No helmet required.

Holly Heyser said...

If I can take my flatwater kayak, I'm in. As long as I don't have to paddle back upstream. (Hey, I've got limits!)

Josh said...

We can shuttle you, no prob.

: )

Ryan Sabalow said...

Get a duck dog! A goofy, hyper chocolate lab puppy just dying to eat your furniture is the best excuse to run 5 miles I've ever had. Gyms suck.

David Demola said...

Well, to be fair to video games (What? I'm a nerd. I can't help it :-) ), Dance Dance Revolution actually helped some of my friends lose a ton of weight...

and look like complete dorks while doing it.

God I love Japan, and all the quirky crap they make.


Holly Heyser said...

Oh, David, let me take you pig hunting this summer! Because honestly, you can probably never convince me to be fair to video games...

David Demola said...

Really? I'd dig that! But at the very least, you gotta love this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-daxzVxrQI


alright, maybe not. But that was totally one of my favorite games, when I was growing up.

Holly Heyser said...

Well, there's three and a half minutes of my life I'll never get back. But now I see what most modern duck hunting shows are modeled after...

Stephen said...

"If you take a close look at everything around you, you'll see that so much of what civilization has to offer us is a Band-Aid for the ills civilization inflicts on us."

Perfect words. Man, ain't it the truth. Or a Band-Aid and an anti-depressant for good measure. If my pharmacist calls, tell him never mind, I went fishing.

David Demola said...

And knowing is half the battle :-)


Please don't give me an F.


Holly Heyser said...

Stephen - thanks! I believe there may also be a line in Paint Your Wagon that makes a similar point, but it escapes me at this moment.

David: You know I can't discuss your grades in public. LOL...

David Demola said...

Yes! I'm safe!

...kind of...haha.

And I actually was wondering...what blogs do you read? It's hard to find any that are really worth checking out (I always dig the hunting blog...and no, I'm not just sucking up to my professor).

I've been trying to figure out what to do with the weight loss blog, but I need to see other peoples' work, so I can give myself a starting point to work with and expand upon.


PS: This was written while drinking a Keith Richards - my favorite insomnia-inducing drink.

PPS: I just noticed the big picture at the bottom of your blog. I love the Road Warrior!

Holly Heyser said...

Ha - I just added that picture, after Hank said, "You should have a picture of Feral Kid here."

Check out the spotlight on the left sidebar here - there's an interesting mix of blog types. Intelligence and wit matter. Adding something to the "conversation" on a given topic matters.

Carrie said...

Hey girl! Gray Lodge has lots of room to walk, but I agree...flat land and just plain walking around without a purpose - ok, a good purpose - doesn't do much for me either. In the hills between Marysville and Nevada City there are a couple fo great public places to scout, gig frogs, working dogs, riding pponies and even take pictures...but it is sad that we have to wait until Sept 1st to hunt them again (except for turkeys). I think you should take Josh up on the kyaking - sounds liek fun!

gary said...

Off season exercise is always a problem. Horse chores just don't cut it anymore. My 6:00 - 6:45 AM three mile walks don't take it off but it does keep whats there a little toned up. I have become addicted to these walks - the coyotes singing, the contented cows chewing the cud along the way and now little calves stare through the dark and the fence wondering who this idiot is that comes by every morning and actually verbally greets them. Owls that keep me company with their hooting and the ducks and geese waking up on the ponds. Every farmer has a roster or two that hasn't figured it out that its not light yet. I love the full moon as there is so much to appeal to the visual. The new moon brings two fears with it - the two dogs that seem to be able to see better than I in the dark and when I smell skunk in the breeze and I have no way to know where the source of that putrid smell actually is. Over all its just plain good medicine for a man not as young as he thinks he is.

Hope you find something you enjoy and has a measure of accomplishing your goals. I agree, there is nothing like hunting, where it takes you and the rewards it gives you.