For elk hunting, as in life, Cam Hanes says there is no gain without pain.
And he means it.
Hanes, who appears on the Outdoor Channel’s “RMEF Team Elk,” says his preparation for elk season is physical and mental.
“I want to know what misery feels like,” Hanes said. “I see every day as an opportunity to test myself.”Calling Hanes a fitness advocate would be a bit of an understatement. He competes in ultra-marathons, which cover up to 100 miles over all types of terrain.
Hanes said he sees being in excellent physical condition as being nothing but a positive when hunting elk throughout the Pacific Northwest and the Rockies.
“I do something every day to prepare for elk season,” he said. “That bull I’m after, he’s out there in it every day, 365 days a year. I have to prepare myself by putting myself in his element, knowing what he’s seeing, what he’s feeling. I’m going to try to make that gap between him and me.
“That’s why I run the marathons, why I lift the weights, why I shoot my bow every day. I’ve always felt the more fit I am, the better my chances to succeed.”
As elk season approaches – it starts in about a month in some parts of the Northwest – Hanes went over some of his other suggested preparations for bagging that monster elk.
Firstly, in order to find the elk, Hanes said the formula is simple.
“They need three things: Feed, water and cover,” he said. “I get as far back into the wilderness as I can. Then at least in my area, when I can find those things – food, water and cover – then I know the elk are going to be there.”
Hanes only bow hunts, and he shoots every day – no matter what, every day.
“You can be a good caller, a good tracker or whatever, but it’s not going to be successful hunt unless you can make that shot,” he said. “I’m going to shoot every day, even if it’s only 12 arrows. I want to develop that muscle memory, make it to where that shot comes as natural to me as breathing.
“It becomes part of my routine. I get up in the morning. I put on my clothes. I go to work. I shoot. No exceptions. It works for me.”
And his resolve consistently pays off.
“Over the past three seasons, I’ve taken nine bulls,” Hanes said. “And that’s nine big, quality bulls.”Hanes said he didn’t begin bow hunting until he had completed high school. He played football in high school and continued for a while in college.
“When that ended, I knew I needed a challenge,” he said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. But I soon discovered bow hunting gave me confidence and that is was something I was good at.
“All any of us want is to find something that drives us to succeed every day. Bow hunting does that for me.”
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