Do you set behind a desk all day, or behind the wheel of a vehicle for hours on end?  Are you a house wife that is busy raising children, or cleaning house all day?  If your life style doesn’t include some type of physical workout, and you don’t take the time for keeping yourself “PHYSICALLY FIT” then do not take your dog out hunting without someone who is!  Digging a dog out of the ground requires muscle and endurance whether you are a man or woman.  And speaking from a woman’s point of view, it is even more important for us women who are not “built” the same as men, to put forth that “extra effort” in order for us to enjoy the sport of hunting.  If you are like I am, just can’t stand to ask for help unless it’s a “last resort”, then a dedicated workout program is a necessity. 
        A couple years ago, I decided to take two dogs out to check out a sette that I knew had been active.  It was on the side of a 12’ hill covered in kudzu.  It was in the early summer as the sun was going down.  My young male entered and started baying.
Locating on the side of a hill is a challenge, which sometimes takes a lot of experience to locate as well as being able to tell just how deep the dog is.  Well, I located him about 4 feet from the top of the hill and about 7’ down.  There wasn’t a bolt hole, so I knew that I was going to have to dig.  I ran into everything from rock to extremely packed clay dirt.
       5 hours later, I removed the Groundhog from his home and took him home with me.  There were many more exciting details about this particular hunt that I won’t go into in this article, but the point is,  I was alone (which I am most of the time hunting anyway) and I had no one to count on but myself.  If I had not been “Physically Fit” I might not have a live dog today! 
        I chose to start this program, because I didn’t have a lot of people around here that hunted.  And I didn’t want to beg someone in my family to go with me, or have to wait to meet someone out of town to be able to hunt my dogs.  Sometimes I just have to have a “Fix” and the only thing that satisfies this fix, is to go out with my 4 legged partner and dig him and his foe out of the ground.  Once is enough, I’m not greedy.  Staying  physically fit doesn’t require but about 30-45 minutes per day, 5-6 days a week.  The self satisfaction of knowing you can go out with your dogs and feel safe as they do what they love to do, it unexplainable. 
        This is what I do most every morning before I start my day.  I put 5 pound leg weight around my ankles and lay flat on my back.  (This will keep you from hurting your back).  I stretch out my arms for balance; bend my left leg just slightly and begin by raising my right leg straight up (no bend); lower it to my left hand; raise it straight up again; lower it to the right hand; raise it straight up again then down on the floor beside my left leg.  I repeat this exercise 20 times for each leg.  This will strengthen your lower back and your legs.  This is necessary for climbing hills, walking long distances and  squatting. 
        The exercise I do for my shoulders, arms and upper back require 10 pound dumb bells.  Once again, I lay flat on my back holding a 10 pound dumb bell in each hand with my arms stretched out.  I slowly raise each arm straight out in front of me with my thumbs touching.  I then slowly lower my arms back to the ground.  Repeat this exercise 20 times.  I then put my arms by my side and raise one arm at a time (rotating left then right) up and over my head to the floor then back to the floor by my side.  I repeat this exercise 20 times per arm.  The last of my arm exercises begin with my arms by my sides.  I lift the weight (rotating left then right)  bending my arm at the elbow and bringing the weight to my upper arm, then back down to the floor again.
         These 3 exercises will allow you to sit on the side of a deep hole, shove those post hole diggers in the dirt bringing out a load of dirt that you will be able to place by your side.  Lifting those post hole diggers over your head loaded with dry or wet dirt continuously for several hours can be tough.  In time, these exercises will allow you to do this.
        Fast walking or jogging a minimum of 2 miles 5-6 days a week is extremely important for your endurance.  Your “couch potato” Jack Russell would really enjoy this too.   Mine does!  (Always check with your doctor about any exercise program you begin.  Always begin with lighter weights and repeat the exercises a fewer number of times until you can build up to the above or more.)

 Happy Safe Hunting! 
Cheryl Hart

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