Proper Nutrition for a Backcountry Elk Hunt

Goji berries

Hunting License…check! Elk Tags…check! GPS…check! Ammo… check! Beef Jerky…check! Goji berry…check! Wait, what? Goji Berry? I’m going on a backcountry elk hunt with meat and fire! How could I be putting in granola and fufu berry for my grizzly man full bearded backcountry elk hunt?

Yes, it’s true our genealogy (some stand out more than others) did eat from the bark of trees and lived off of internal organs of wild beast. Today we have nutritional options, a plethora of options that feed us for a short burst or for long term superhuman energy that makes you feel like packing the entire elk on your back, well… at least a bit more than usual. Let’s start from the pre-backcountry elk hunting expedition.

Pre-Backcountry Elk Hunt

While preparing your own internal organs to endure the days ahead of prehistoric proportions of elk hunting, your body is begging for a prehistoric preparation. What you eat becomes you. Study after study has repeated that sugar will kill you! But how? And are all sugars the same?

Sugar causes inflammation throughout your body.

Those crashes, bumps, and fist fights you got into when you were young, those will now have scar tissue and prone to quick inflammation. Your hands swell, your feet hurt, your back aches, and those damn neck aches. Sleeping on the ground for 5 nights isn’t going to help much. Your body reacts quickly to what you inject into your blood stream. Just cutting sugar by half will cause you to feel 18 again! (or at least better than you are now). I’m talking about the “added” sugar you find on the ingredient list, you know that small print we never read.

Look at the nutritional value, small print again, sugar is listed. Cut back on this addictive amazing sugar buzz substance that feels oh so good to the tongue that is killing your muscles, tissue, and internal organs. Buyer beware of the media gurus that make you feel great when you read a label. Some of your favorite drinks have more sugar and carbs than a soda. Your energy drink, the sports drinks, and some of the “healthy” drinks are loaded with sugar (check out Zevia). If any word looks like, walks like, smells like, quacks like sugar…then it’s sugar.

Sugar you eat in fruits and vegetables- you are allowed to enjoy.

Back to those Goji Berries. Some fruits, berries, and vegetables have amazing nutritional values with low glycemic levels that increase your endurance, strength, and mental clarity. Where do you get these things? Most stores now carry the healthier berries, dried berries for trips, that will sustain a level of natural sugar and hold Earth infused natural ingredients. Some berries, like Goji, have shown to increase certain hormone levels, assist in digestion, help with metabolism of foods, and sustain a longer muscle work load.

What to eat? Meat! We eat Meat!

Well, not every meal. Have some eggs, with bacon, and a side of salad for lunch. Those almonds, well those are amazing! Cheese sticks and a protein bar for a snack will increase your internal hunting strength prior to even strapping on the boots. A diet mixed with good nutritional value, low sugar/carbs and high in protein and fibers will build a leaner meaner elk hunting machine.

Now that you have feed the inner beast, how do we use this energy to break from the inner to the outer super human? Walking!

If you don’t hit the gym, or even like that place, then walk. You will be enduring miles of uphill, downhill, side hill, whatever the hell this hill is, with a pack on your back, for hours and days in hopes to crawl back across this terrain with the monster bull strapped to our EXO pack. If you are not ready, you aren’t making it back or even there, or across, up, down, through, in a Dr. Sues way.

Walking alone will assist you in preparing for the backcountry.

Increase your pace as you get stronger, which will increase your VO2 max, which is the usable oxygen entering your body through your lungs. Keep the lungs clear and clean, it’s the filter to the body. Sugar, yes back to sugar, and carbonated drinks will lower this VO2 max and usable oxygen. If you can, increase the use of weights or resistant training to increase the muscle density, not the mass or those 25 inch biceps, but the density. The density of muscle actually shows a higher strength component as the density increases. Think Bruce Lee over Arnold. Lower weight limits with higher reps. Prior to walking or weights, eat some berries, nuts, higher natural sugar content. Dense muscles love a carb boost of natural sun loved earth grown glucose.

Now, the super-secret most amazing powerful only one person ever has known- Amino Acids!

No, it’s not the acid from 1968, it’s a substance that your body uses to build. Amino acids are the building blocks of your systems. Do I need a dealer? Sort of- like Amazon. Products like Amino Energy holds a great level of aminos that your body will use along with some natural caffeine that will help with a sustaining level without a crash. This caffeine is different than the ones found in soda. Find the Amino drink you like with low sugar/carbs. The best thing is it’s a powder. You can put your amino acids in little baggies and roll them up tight, tucked right next to your water bottle. When you want flavored water with energy, you have it ready.

One smaller secret to increasing the dense muscles and gaining that endurance is another amino acid called L-Carnitine.

This is found in meat and milk. Problem is, as we get older we don’t drink the same amount of milk or consume 12 hamburgers every meal like we did at 17. You can find L-Carnitine as a supplement that will help keep that amino acid up to par within your elk hunting machine increasing dense muscle, helping with mental clarity, and moving food energy into your cells to build, replace, regenerate, and extend usable energy into the output of elk hunting.

What to Eat on a Backcountry Elk Hunt

When you pack your bags, remember the training you have endured to prepare for the epic backcountry elk hunt. Small things have a rather large punch! Find the best protein bar you like, something with low sugar/carbs and around 20 grams of protein. Pure Protein is a great bar. These can fit in your pocket. One of these will assist in the next hill climb.

When I pack for a large hike, elk hunt, or extended outdoor trip, these are things that will bring me home:

  • Dried Goji Berries (or a low sugar high energy berry). Goji are my favorite for extended energy, low sugar and a boost of iron, protein, and fiber. Small amounts go a long ways. Place them in your water bottle. It gives you a little taste of the fountain of youth. It’s that little surprise in your water that packs a high level of energy punch and surprises the taste buds releasing happiness.
  • Apples, bananas, and oranges- these are a quick boost of natural sugar energy. They hold a large amount of water weight. They also have a nice natural wrapping so I’m not eating dirt if they fall and they pack away easily.
  • NUTS! Yes, eat your nuts. Nuts pack a punch. Nuts usually come in a package that is sealed so you can pack them anywhere and not worry about staying cold. Almonds and peanuts hold your best option. The fats and oils help your body build and use the energy you ingest. Beware of salted or flavored nuts. These can dehydrate you and cause more damage than good. They also have a strong scent, one you love, but the elk don’t. Wrong kind of salt for elk. Any flavored nuts can smell amazing when opening that bag, but the scent can travel with the wind.
  • Meat!- I’ve used dried meat, salami, liver, some healthier packaged meats, and even sushi (if you keep it cold) Meat is your manna from the elk hunting gods! The only issue I have had with meat while I hike, unless we are taking 1,400 yard shots, is that it smells. Smells good! But it smells. There is a scent to any meat that other animals will pick up. Bears like meat. But we are hunting elk. Meat for the morning and for dinner is your best option. It has a sustaining level of proteins and fats, so you really don’t need to carry it on the hike. Maybe a sealed portion that can be cracked open as you begin the pack out?
  • Honey- Honey will bring you home. In the middle of a backcountry elk hunt, snow, wet, tired, and 10 miles in with the monster down, you need something of super power proportions to bring you home. Do your research before buying honey. Some bee keepers feed pure cane honey to bees to increase honey production. This will hurt you by even looking at it! Find honey that is pure, something from nature where bees have foraged themselves. Recent information is showing that sunflower honey (foraged from sunflowers) actually is pure and holds higher nutrition than other honey. There is nothing more potent, powerful, and plutonic than a peanut butter honey sandwich on wheat nut bread. You can package this up in a bag, put it under the deepest set of ammo cans you have as the secret to your super human power that bring home the successful backcountry elk hunt of epic slaughter. DO NOT forget this as the secret to your success, or at least getting you home.

It’s no secret water is the key, even though other beverages are almost mandatory for backcountry survival, to keeping our bodies upright and breathing.

If you run out of water in storage, find yourself a good charcoal filter bottle. Most stores sell items that have a filter for different bugs that thrive in us to kill us. Straws, canisters, and other replaceable filters are easy to grab. But ONLY in the upmost last second need do you or should you place creek or pond water through these items for survival.

You should plan ahead for water consumption from a reliable source. Again, add Amino Energy or berries to your water. It’s a super awesome natural source of energy and strength. Use the Amino Energy powder and berries in your water. It gives it a flavor you like and increases your endurance and energy. It’s all packed into your water bottle without the sugar.

Your backcountry elk hunt is going to be the one to remember as you prepare and set yourself up for that epic backcountry expedition. Take some time to prepare. Remember small natural ingredient items usually hold a larger pack of energy. Each person is different with different needs, but using the basics and some above basic knowledge can help lead you to the promise land of backcountry elk hunting. Protein over sugar and honey to get you home.

By Kenny Demick