The night before the season opener is usually spent scrambling around to get all of your gear together. When you finally feel that you’ve got all your bases covered and the evening hours are winding down you again think of something you had forgotten. You jump back in the truck and head out to pick up those last few remaining items you feel you have to have. Finally arriving back to your hunting headquarters you set those items aside with the rest of the gear and you now feel accomplished. At this point you’re hyped up and you know the hours are getting shorter and shorter until the time the alarm sounds. The problem is now you know sleeping might not be an option right away so you decided to watch some hunting videos and perhaps grab an adult beverage to help relax you a little. Before you know it the alarm is going off and you’re all geared up and ready to go. Knowing that you need to be alert and focused you make sure you grab that cup of coffee or two before you leave for the adventure to come.
This was typically how the night before the day of a hunt would be for me. Back then I ate what I wanted to, drank what I wanted to, and slept as little as I wanted to. Little did I know, I was robbing my body of its potential, both mentally and physically. Thankfully, years later I was pulled into the “bodybuilding” lifestyle and began to understand just how much I was depriving myself.
One of my biggest issues was lack of proper hydration. Towards the beginning of my hunting years I rarely consumed adequate water. As my knowledge expanded I did my best to ensure that I was getting enough water, which in turn would allow me to reach full potential while hunting. Our bodies are, on average, composed of 65% water. It can be further broken down to specific parts: muscle consisting of 75% water, your brain 90% water and blood 83% water. It’s extremely important to maintain those water levels within your body. The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake for men is roughly 13 cups (3 liters) of water a day and the adequate intake for woman is about 9 cups (2.2 liters) per day. These figures are based on an average person, not those of you who are more active. Your body releases more water through your breath, perspiration and via the restroom; therefore the more active you are the more important it is for you to consume more water.
Long story short, your body needs water to function properly. Besides assisting with bodily functions, water will help you lose weight, help with headaches and back pains, can make your skin look healthier, increase brain function, increase muscle function, help with digestion, lessen the chances of cramps, lessens the chance of getting sick, relieves fatigue, improves mood, and reduces the risk of cancer. These are just some of the benefits of increasing or maintaining healthy water levels, all of which are important for those of you spending time in the woods.
One argument I have heard over and over again, especially with stand hunters, is that drinking liquids means you will have to come off the stand more and/or you will have to carry more “empty bottles” to the stand. I also believed this to be a good excuse, especially when it comes to scent control. It was my belief that it would almost ruin a stand if nature called and you didn’t wander away far enough. I was lucky enough to attend a seminar with the Wensel Brothers where they discussed this issue. They said they do not think twice about spitting or urinating off of a stand. Dr. James Kroll (a.k.a. Dr. Deer) believes that deer may actually be attracted to the smell of human urine. I figured the only way to see if this is true or not is to try it. After spending a season of not caring about where I “went,” I found it did not seem to have an effect on deer.
Another excuse that is sometimes used for not carrying enough water is that it is inconvenient. That’s far from the case. Thanks to hydration bladders, improved water bottles, and filtration devices it is easy and convenient to have an adequate water supply. If I am packing for a long day hunt I will fill my 3 liter hydration bladder which lasts me the entire day. If you’re worried about clean up, hydration bladders can be easily sanitized by sticking them in your freezer overnight. For quick morning or evening hunts I make sure I take in adequate amounts of water prior to my departure. I will also carry along a heavy duty reusable water bottle that is dark in color. Preferably something with a handle that I can hang from a branch or tree peg.
Water is an important part of your nutrition. It maximizes your hunting capabilities, increases your brain function, muscle function, and overall health. I am not deterring you from consuming a few adult beverages the night before your hunt or those cups of coffee first thing in the morning. Getting extra sleep and being alert and focused in the morning is of great importance, so if that helps you wind down before your big hunt, so be it; however make sure you are consuming adequate amounts of water prior to, during, and after your hunt so that you can maximize the benefits.