[00:00] Onnit Sand Bags
[02:39] About Will Bradley
[16:37] How Natural Born Hunter Started
[20:26] Will’s Workout Routine & Diet
[28:25] Fitness & Hunting
[33:37] Biggest Mistakes of Hunting
[37:55] On Yardage Mistakes
[41:09] Hunting Inquiries
[50:02] End of the Podcast
Ben: Hey, it’s Ben Greenfield. In today’s podcast, we talk about hauling sand bags off the side of the mountain during a bow hunting competition called TrainToHunt. Where do I get my sand bags? I get them at Onnit. You can go to onnit.com/bengreenfield, and you can save five percent on any of the fitness equipment. You can save ten percent on any of the foods, like their tasty walnut butter, and yeah, you could take a contractor bag and you could fill it with pea gravel and then you could get a burlap sack and you could put the contractor bag with the pea gravel inside the burlap sack, and you could kind of sort of make your own ugly sand bag. Take you about an hour or two to do, along with all the equipment. It’ll fall apart in about two or three months, so do that if you want to or go to onnit.com/bengreenfield and grab one of their steel bells, which is basically like a small pancake-sized sand bag. Its way heavier than it actually looks. They also have their take on a traditional sand bag, which is a super duper durable bag that you can fill with sand, you can fill with gravel, whatever you fancy really. So check them out, onnit.com/bengreenfield. When you use that URL, you’ll automatically save. So enjoy hauling that bad boy around.
In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast:
“Even camping you feel like, man, I’m out here in the wilderness. But guess what? Every animal within a ten-mile radius knows you are there. When you hunt, animals might crawl on top of you. I’ve seen some of the coolest things animals do while hunting that I would never see if I was hiking or camping.” “There’s a misconception of hunting that there’s a bunch of beer-drinking, fat rednecks out there just trapping animals and killing them, but there is a lot of nuances and respect, time and effort and planning and work that go into hopefully harder things, a really mature animal.” “Say the closest thing compared to is like a Spartan workout mixed with a crossfit workout that you shoot during.”
Ben: Take two, take two. Folks, you just missed five minutes of fantastic podcasting with Will Bradley of Natural Born Hunter, and we were sitting up here looking over the Silver Mountain in the Silver Valley recording, just getting into recording a lot of cool tips for you hunters when I looked down and realized that our recording was paused. So we’re going to go for round two here, see how that goes. What do you think, Will?
Will: Let’s do it, I mean I don’t think we’re going to get that podcast gold we had earlier back there.
Ben: Oh such gold, we were talking about how there are birth defects related to mining around here. We talked about Lyme disease back in Will’s hometown up in up-state New York.
Will: Yeah, some really uplifting knowledge.
Ben: We were just getting into STDs and explosive diarrhea when the recording turned off, so it was going to be dynamite, but now we’re going to talk about hunting and fitness because we’re out here with the TrainToHunt competition. If you don’t know what TrainToHunt is, then go listen to the episode that we did with Kenton Clairmont, and you can find that over at bengreenfieldfitness.com. I believe its bengreenfieldfitness.com/traintohunt, but today I’m with Will Bradley whose one of the directors of TrainToHunt. He’s really immersed in the hunting scene and especially the hunting and fitness scene. Like I mentioned, he’s from New York, and I don’t know a lot about Will. We just actually met this weekend, but from what I’ve gathered from so far, he really is a wealth of knowledge on shooting, on hunting, on fitness. He’s up here training on a team with a crossfit competitor, and he’s a good guy. So Will, welcome to The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show.
Will: Thanks, Ben. Thanks for having me on the show. Thanks for coming out, man. It’s great for the TrainToHunt challenge and the hunting athlete community to have someone like you crossover into this sport and give it a go. Even though you’re new to shooting, and you obviously are not quite there yet as the level of some of the other competitors.
Ben: I don’t know if it’s good for me to be out here for anyone who’s out hiking in the trees, back behind any of the targets that we’re shooting at.
Will: No, give Ben a wide berth when he’s shooting.
Ben: There have been a few stray arrows, let’s put it that way.
Will: Yeah, but you know, that being said, there’s some people who would be too intimidated or scared or come up with some kind of lame BS reason not to come do the competition, but you came. You put it on the line, you competed, you gave it your all, and I think that’s what’s really important.
Ben: Yeah, I don’t mind making a fool of myself obviously. Well I’m curious how you got into all this. Working construction in up-state New York, what’s your story? Did you start off as a hunter, did you start off as a lifter or cross fitter or as a runner? Where’d you get going on this?
Will: You know my physical training had consisted of a lot of regular gym workouts with bench press and curls and all that stuff, and hunting season came around and I didn’t grow up in a hunting family. My dad didn’t hunt, my uncles don’t hunt. My grandfather did a little bit, but he passed away before he could get me into it.
Ben: That’s interesting, you’re probably one of the first guys I met at these things who doesn’t come from a hunting background.
Will: Yeah, you know what? There’s more of us actually.
Ben: That actually makes me feel okay.
Will: You don’t come from a hunting background?
Ben: Not at all, no. My dad’s from Miami, my mom’s from Michigan then Miami.
Will: Not a lot of hunting in Miami?
Ben: Not a lot of hunting in Miami, at least not for wild animals. Lot of hunting goes on at 4am at the nightclubs but that’s about it.
Will: They’re very similar though. If you can hunt that, you can hunt anything.
Ben: That’s right, we’ll leave that one alone. So basically, you didn’t come from a hunting family, but you got into construction?
Will: Yeah, that is a family business I’m involved in, so I’ve been doing that. I’ve worked full-time every summer since I was fourteen. I went to college at Morrisville State College which is about an hour from where I live now, in Morrisville, New York, and I got a degree in Residential Construction there. Went into the family business and that’s what I’ve been doing, and I had a lot of friends move way out west to Colorado and other places, and I had less and less friends. Less to do and fall would come around, and I wouldn’t have any sports going on and there wasn’t a lot for me to do, and I thought well the friends I do have here hunt. I’m tired of bumming venison and other meats off them. Maybe I should go get a gun and teach myself to hunt. So I did, and I’ve been hunting ever since. The next year I bought a bow.
Ben: You can’t just go over that so quickly. You bought a gun and you trained yourself to hunt?
Will: I taught myself.
Ben: You taught yourself.
Will: There wasn’t much training then.
Ben: So we’re kind of on the same page here ’cause my first hunting foray was with a YouTube video loaded up with how to fill and dress an animal and my rifle and me out there with a pair of jeans and a cotton t-shirt.
Will: Yeah, YouTube is wonderful.
Ben: Yeah, was that your journey or did you have like a mentor who went out there with you?
Will: It started out where I had a buddy who kind of hunted, but I don’t know if he’d ever shot anything, and so we were basically going out there. I would say, I really don’t know how to word this, what it is when you’re not good at hunting at all, but you sit there all day long? Which I guess you’re still hunting, but we didn’t know if we were in a place deer would ever come.
Ben: Isn’t that an ancient Native American meditation technique?
Will: Yeah, I was so good at meditating there that I fell asleep a few times, and so my first season, I go out. I pull out a couple of tree stands, set them up, sit in them every day, every weekend for almost all day, and on the last day of the season, I was out with my buddy, Tommy, who doesn’t hunt but he came to just keep me company, and we’re sitting there and I had fallen asleep, and he wakes me up. He’s like man, there’s a doe out there. I was like really?
Ben: You were asleep?
Will: Yeah, he was playing, I think, Candy Crush on his iPhone, and he wakes me up. He’s like I think there’s a doe out there, and I was like really? So I lift up my binoculars and I look, and it was a big sized, four-point buck. They’re still kind of small compared to an eight, but he was the size, so I quickly raised up my rifle, boom, shot him. He dropped right there. We went up there, and luckily, my neighbor had hunted before and he came over. I gutted him, he just kind of walked me through it, and I gutted him out. We took them up to our buddies, we hung them up. The next week, I don’t know if it was a week later but soon after, we butchered them up, and I was eating them throughout the year.
Ben: Wow, well and so from there, were you just hooked on hunting? Did you get into a hardcore after that?
Will: Yeah, I was hooked on hunting the minute I went and sat in the woods. Because when you hunt, you know I’ve hiked a lot before that. We have something back in the Adirondacks, they call it the Forty-Six High Peaks, which are the forty-six highest mountains that are all over forty-six hundred feet in New York State, and I’ve been into those. One of my goals is to climb all of those, so I was taken away at climbing all of those, hiking a lot. You know I kayak, do all that, camp in the wilderness. But when you hunt, you become part of the wilderness. You’re not just someone strolling through it. Even camping you feel like, man, I’m out here in the wilderness. But guess what? Every animal within a ten-mile radius knows you are there. When you hunt, animals might crawl on top of you. I’ve seen some of the coolest things animals do while hunting that I would never see if I was hiking or camping.
Ben: So there’s a disconnect for me here, and that is that you shot your first animal from a tree stand, falling asleep while your friend played Candy Crush, and I think that is a lot of people’s perception of many hunters is that they aren’t fit, that fitness isn’t required and that it’s almost unfair really in that you’re hiding up in a tree somewhere with a projectile object, whether it’s a bow and arrow or a gun taking out an animal. Where did you make the transition from sitting up in a tree stand, falling asleep with your friend waking you up to actually getting involved with something like TrainToHunt or even realizing that fitness is required for hunting?
Will: Let me put it this way, it sounds easy the way I did it, but when I say it was the last day of the season, we have a season that runs from, I think it’s mid-October to late November, and if you were to count the number of hours I spent in the woods after work, it wouldn’t be enough.
Ben: That’s hard work on your sitting muscles.
Will: Yeah, but I mean you have to have patience and you have to go out there and not knowing what you’re doing. You really have to spend a lot more time out there than people who know what they’re doing.
Ben: Nerves fall asleep? No, but you’re right, I do know that it takes some patience, but now you’ve got a podcast that’s devoted to like fitness hunting. Are you doing more spot and stocks down hunting now as well?
Will: Nope, nope.
Ben: Still hunting from the trees?
Will: Still hunting, well it’s like this. You don’t have to be fit to hunt, and so all those guys out there who say you don’t have to be in shape to kill an animal. You’re a hundred percent right, you do not have to be in shape to do it, but it will make it a billion times easier on you. It’ll make everything you do that involves hunting, if you’re an East Coaster or a Mid-West Hunter hunting white tail over a food plot, it still takes a lot of talent and dedication to harvest a mature animal, and planting seeds, setting tree stands, all the work that leads up to hunting season, it’s just easier when you’re fit, and not only that. You’re going to hopefully live longer because of it.
Ben: It’s a lot different answer than what I kind of expected out of you because that’s often, kind of the complaint that I hear people make about hunters is that you’re baiting an animal and you’re waiting for it versus going out there and making it a fair fight as you stalk through the trees and maybe do like archery in, I guess it’s more of an East thing than the West, isn’t it? The more of the tree stand style hunting in the East versus the spot and stalk in the West?
Will: The concentration of the hunters is on the East coast. We have the top, I don’t know. Maybe it’s the top three out of the top five populated hunting stage. I mean if you were to compare the numbers, it’s probably, I don’t want to throw numbers out there not knowing the facts, but we may double the population of hunters in the West, and that’s what most people do. As an East coast hunter, I can tell you going from, well I guess I’ll tell you this story.
So I was out setting a tree stand in the following season, I bought a bow the year after my first rifle season and decided you know what? I want to be a bow hunter, I get to go in the woods earlier. It just seems cooler, more intimate. It’s harder, and that’s just where I want to be. And so I go out, I set this to be at a hundred acres of hard woods mixed in with, we have a farmer who plants soy beans out there in the field, and I went in and I went down by this creek. I had to go off a ridge to get down in there, and I’m hiking out with my stuff, and I keep having to stop because I feel like I’m going to die. It was the moment I decided I can’t be like this anymore.
Ben: Yeah, and I think that’s what people should be aware of is even if you’re sitting up in this tree stand, you’re still doing massive amounts of hiking, and if you have a successful hunt, massive amounts of hiking with a significant amount of weight, right?
Will: Yeah, like you said, there’s a misconception of hunting that there’s a bunch of beer-drinking, fat rednecks out there just trapping animals and killing them for sport, but there is a lot of nuances and respect, time and effort and planning and work that go into hopefully harder things, a really mature animal. I mean that’s the goal, nobody’s out there killing yearlings and fauns or hopefully not doing it. The goal is to harvest an old, near-the-end-of-it’s-life animal ’cause it keeps the population. Pure population healthy.
Ben: Yeah, exactly, and really the ethics of hunting, Kenton and I hit on this when I had Kenton Clairmont on the podcast too in our initial TrainToHunt episode, and it’s kind of a whole different topic all together. I know we’re kind of hone in on the fitness component here in just a second. By the way, I was going to tell you that’s a pretty bold thing for someone to accuse folks of thinking that hunters are just fat, redneck, and beer-drinking folks sitting around from a guy who’s sitting there drinking in Nevada, Sierra, hail, and hail.
Will: This is my victory here.
Ben: Actually context for you, we’re sitting here looking at the TrainToHunt finish line as we’re recording this podcast. You may have heard children playing on the playground behind us. My kids are out there somewhere. It’s a real family even, Will’s drinking his beer, and I’m eating my dear sausage with my avocado here, my Paleo meal dipping it in barbecue sauce from the ski resort.
Will: Paleo barbecue sauce?
Ben: Paleo barbecue sauce, I’m going to see it with a little bit of high-fructose corn syrup added in. So you got into hunting a little bit more intensively after you got that first buck, where did Natural Born Hunter and this whole podcast and kind of like hunting entertainment side gig that you’re doing now start?
Will: You know the podcast came about from a lot of, lot of different things that just kind of connected and ended up happening. So after that hike in the woods where I felt like I was going to die on my way out, I talked to my girlfriend at the time. She’s now my fiancée instead, you know? I really think we should look for something to get in better shape, so we joined our local cross fit box, across from Mohawk Valley, and I was hanging out at the bow shop talking about fitness and somebody said “hey, have you heard of TrainToHunt?” And I said “no, what’s TrainToHunt?” I got on line and I looked it up, and I was like, “man, this combines the things that I love and I want to do.” So I looked up where there was a challenge, and there was one just outside of Denver. My sister lived in Denver, so I made it my goal to train for about six months leading up to it. They’d let me shoot in the box, and they came up with the program just for me to do it, and I just started training. I wanted to be the national champion at the time. It didn’t work out that way, but I became a much healthier, well-rounded individual and a much better hunter and much more fit in the process.
Ben: Why didn’t it work out that way? What do you think are your biggest barriers to being a TrainToHunt champion?
Will: That, I mean I can’t say I would have beat Phil at the Colorado qualifier.
Ben: And Phil was your podcast co-host, right? Phil is the TrainToHunt champion, he’s your podcast co-host?
Will: Yup, he beat me at the Fort Collins qualifier, then he won nationals, but I dropped an arrow at the fifth target and didn’t realize it ‘til I got into the sixth and had to run back. So I got to the sixth target, Phil was just leaving it. I had to all the way back and get it, and I still managed to place second place, so I was pretty stoked about that. I knew the elevation hurt me there, but then when we went up to nationals, which is like eight thousand feet, the altitude just crushed me. I didn’t have a chance.
Ben: So are you planning on going back to Colorado this year to compete?
Will: Yeah, I’m going to go back to compete ’cause I mean you see and I think you’ve experienced the community that goes on here, all the nice people. You make friends, so you know, Matt and I will qualify the day for nationals, and so we’ll go and give it our best shot. If you care about just getting a gold medal, then I think you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Yeah, medals are nice, but the experience and the journey along the way is something I’ve always valued over that standing on the podium.
Ben: Are you using an elevation training mask? Like to get ready for the altitude?
Will: No, I can’t say that I am. If anyone listened to our most recent Natural Born Hunter podcast, I had my buddy Joe on, who is a respiratory care therapist and he pretty much told me I was an idiot for trying, for wearing it. And I actually tried it before leaving up for Colorado, I spent a lot of time with it, and it didn’t help one bit. So after that, it was done.
Ben: Well I don’t think that the response for today’s episode anyway. I mean there is that misconception out there that elevation training masks put you at elevation. They train your inspiratory and expiratory muscles, but they in no way, decrease the partial pressure of oxygen.
Will: Exactly what you said.
Ben: There is that little disconnect, but you know what? To they’re credit, I think they admit that.
Will: It makes everything you do tougher. It makes you tough, I’ll say that.
Ben: It makes you look cool too. So what does, you’re a TrainToHunt director, you have a very intimate knowledge of the fitness requirements, what does a typical workout look like for you? Gold-standard workout to get ready for something like this?
Will: You know it’ll be intervals thrown in with these things we do here. Whether it’s burpees, sand bags. Sometimes they’ll be close, I say the closest thing to compare it to is like a Spartan workout mixed with a crossfit workout that you shoot during. So you’ll do an interval, whether it’s a row or a run or an air dime, you’ll do something physical. I’ll shoot, go back.
Ben: How does that even work? People haven’t done this before, do you actually have a target in your gym that you’re shooting at?
Will: Yeah, I’ve only missed it and shot through the wall twice, so I think that’s pretty good ’cause I probably shot hundreds of arrows in there and only sent two through the wall. Sorry, John.
Ben: I have a feeling after competing this weekend that my home would be a target full of porcupine quills after trying something like that in the gym. So you’re running, you’re stopping, you’re shooting. It seems to me that there actually is a decent amount of running at this competition. I was surprised at the ground that you cover. Do you think that the TrainToHunt workouts reflect that in terms of the amount of running that you guys do?
Will: Yeah, I would say they do. I mean I’ll mix in the TrainToHunt workouts in my programming, but it’s not just that. I think leading up to the next one, I’m going to kind of switch over more endurance focused ’cause that is my pretty obvious weakness.
Ben: Yeah, now how about the nutrition component? Hunters are known, kind of like for being fat, beer-drinking rednecks who sit up in trees waiting for an animal to come. They’re known for doughnuts and beer and coffee out of Styrofoam cups and those type of things. In your opinion, are people who are at these type of competitions on the healthy eating bandwagon? Are they like the Paleo types? What’s your perspective on the nutrition component?
Will: I’d say you’d get a mix of people who either go Paleo, macros or maybe just strict clean, or some others may mix it up, but looking out over here, we can see probably ninety percent of the competitors down there. I can’t see an unfit one, one person down there.
Ben: Yeah, they’re pretty lean. What’s your diet look like?
Will: My diet’s macro, so I eat for the carbs.
Ben: You eat for the carbs?
Will: I mean I eat, I’d have to look up in my fitness pallet, my carbs and proteins and all that is, but coming in the competition, my focus was to lose fat and maintain the muscle I had, and I had a plan of about, I think it was a pound a month of fat. I was hitting that goal, so I’m just going to keep doing that.
Ben: So you mean that you’re restricting carbs or you’re trying to eat more carbs?
Will: You know I’d never done it before, so I don’t know if it was restricting. I mean it was restricting compared to my old diet that had a lot of pizza in it.
Ben: So are you following a specific dietary protocol that someone’s giving you or like a menu.
Will: Yeah, my buddy Ryan from, bare bone strength, he calculates my macros for me and helps me monitor all that.
Ben: So you log your food and you sent it to him?
Will: I use my fitness pal, and he checks it to make sure everything’s going the way it should be. And honestly I would say that counting macros has been the easiest way for me to eat for my goals.
Ben: And by that, you mean that you are calculating protein, fat and carbohydrate percentages?
Will: That would be correct.
Ben: And are you shooting for a specific percentage?
Will: Yeah, I got it on my fitness pal, I can tell you what it is. Yeah, I got it on my phone.
Ben: Alright, gotcha.
Will: For those of you who don’t use my fitness pal, it is a fantastic app.
Ben: Yeah, most of the clients who I coach for nutrition, we’ve gotten off the food logging bandwagon. What they used to do is they’d send me an e-mail with what they’d eaten at the end of the week. They’d just keep it in an even note doc or a few of them use like my fitness pal or something like that. Now I do all photo-logging, so everybody has a Flickr account that they share with me, and they take photos of their food, and they just share with me their Flickr account that you can keep private or public. So I’m able to look at the food. Okay, so you’ve got it pulled up here, calories and macros.
Will: So I’m at a hundred calories a day, forty percent protein, thirty-five percent carbs and twenty-five percent fats.
Ben: Gotcha, and do you pay attention to the quality of the macros at all?
Will: Oh yeah, my fiancée is a little bit of a foodie? She cooks all her foods. We do meal preps on Sundays, so we have everything ready. Most of our meat, probably two meals a week, come from venison ’cause she hunts as well. I’m sure you know the nutritional value of wild game meats and all that, it’s pretty healthy and lean. Have you ever done looking at the skew numbers?
Ben: You mean the bar code on labels?
Will: Yeah, we’re supposed to tell you how percent of untampered with it is or whatever?
Ben: The percent of which?
Will: Like I think it’s practical Paleo it talks about. If it starts with this number.
Ben: Oh yeah, the other book that goes into that is good calories, not good calories, bad calories. “Rich Food, Poor Food” by Mira and Jayson Calton gets into that too, how you can look at the skew numbers on the back and certain numbers are associated with, I forget if it’s like organic versus inorganic.
Will: Yeah, I think that’s kind of how it works.
Ben: It’s kind of interesting, those numbers can actually tell you a lot.
Will: Yeah, so we go by those.
Ben: My catch-22 on that is we eat these days so little packaged food that I rarely actually am looking in a bar code or a label, so that’s the only issue with that, but yeah. It can be a handy little tool.
Will: Funny thing about that, we now started a vegetable garden, and we have thirty pheasants and thirty, I think they’re Cornish game hens. No they’re French guinea hens.
Will: Yup, so we’re raising birds and going to have some eggs.
Ben: Oh you’re raising them? They’re not like wild birds that have come, in start of the garden.
Will: No, we’re just going to start. We got a little chicken coop, we got to have a fly pen and everything. Raise them.
Ben: Very cool, we read something out of the little mobile chicken coop in it in a bar and tar or homestead.
Will: They’re cool right?
Ben: Yeah, chickens are cool to have around, and frankly, I was afraid that a rooster would be really annoying. I go out on my porch every morning and do yoga, I’m one of those guys where I’m out in my underwear doing yoga in the porch.
Will: Nice, nice visual there.
Ben: Something that feels really homey about being outside and just hearing your rooster crowing on a quiet early morning.
Will: You know I think with hunting, and you may see it from I don’t know how many guys you’re friends with on Facebook or Instagram. You see a lot of guys who are also, I would say the hunter-athlete side who are also into that homesteading-type of thing where I marked Warren Key’s podcast, and he’s got goats and chickens and all kinds of stuff.
Ben: Yeah, Got Hunts podcast. As a matter of fact, I believe that there’s some goat action going on when I was on his podcast recently. That’s the Outdoors Adventures podcast?
Will: Or international.
Ben: Yeah, the Outdoors International podcast, that’s another good one for hunting, and I got to tell you, Will. Now that I’m getting more into this TrainToHunt, and hunting in general, I’m discovering this whole new world. Your podcast, Natural Born Hunter, which I found through Kifaru which creates some of the gear I’ve been wearing. This guy names Aaron Schneider.
Will: Yeah, he’s a bad ass.
Ben: I’m going to be with him in your podcast. Then there’s this Outdoors International podcast, and I found another one the other day called The Gritty Bowman podcast, which is another good one, a chock full of advice. So these things are popping up all over the place, why is it that you think hunting, and especially fitness in hunting is growing? What’s your take on this? Is there a reason for it, is it just a passing fad, what’s going on?
Will: You know I think fitness is in a hole, is on an uptick, and I’m sure you see that with the Spartan races and the stuff that you do that more and more people are deciding oh man, I don’t want to be miserable, I don’t want to feel miserable. I don’t want to be put on drugs to have to feel good all the time, I want to chase that natural high.
Ben: You know people were doing marathoning in the eighties, right? Bodybuilding in the seventies? To me it seems like this whole outdoors, natural movement, right? Getting outdoors, getting your hands dirty. Spartan, Tough Mudder, even American Ninja Warrior, functional fitness, and I was talking. I knew I asked you the question, I’m starting to talk now, but I was talking after I crossed the finish line about an hour ago, about how it just feels very ancestrally appropriate to be running with a weapon, stopping, shooting and having to get your heart rate down and then continue to run again as though you are chasing or being chased, but unlike a Spartan or a triathlon or a marathon, you’re not doing it all day long. It’s twenty minutes, thirty minutes.
Will: No, and here’s the thing. It’s like alright, most people work a day job, nine to five, right? They come home, and they might practice shooting and workout and all that, but the animals are always out there. They are way more wood savvy and smart about predators than we are about hunting them, and events like this kind of give you that, I would say old school, competitive glimpse of what, maybe a hunting gatherer or a small, native tribe would’ve experienced. I would say the TrainToHunt challenge, the TrainToHunt people are almost a small little, kind of tribe within the hunting community. I think when you come here, you get that visceral experience. You’re not maybe competing against an animal, but you’re competing against other really hard-working, talented people who are going to push you to those limits.
Ben: Yeah, there’s this whole philosophy of like move, lift, sprint as being the ultimate fitness program for longevity, and yesterday, we were moving for four hours, just low level as we did a 3-D course. Walking through the woods, and then we were lifting, right? Eighty pounds that we had to carry a mile or so, and then today we were sprinting with the twenty-pound pack and sprinting straight up the side of a mountain and stopping and shooting. That was really everything, yeah.
Will: Lifting, lifting in the middle, you know?
Ben: Yeah, so it’s one of those things that just feels very appropriate, but I’m curious where you think the whole hunting component fits in. Do you think more people are interested in gathering their own food in hunting as they become fed up with modern egg or the crappy food from the grocery store? What do you think is going on?
Will: Yeah, I mean I talked about this before in a podcast. So it’s like watermelons don’t taste like watermelon anymore, chicken doesn’t taste like chicken anymore. Nothing tastes like it used to. If you have elk or bear or deer, it tastes so different, and there’s actually flavors in there than a lot of food you’ll buy in a grocery store today, and I think once people start eating it, they’re like, woah. There’s a difference, and then they look at the nutritional facts, and they’re like well, this makes sense. And on top of that with the locavore movement or something?
Ben: Yeah, locavore, local harvest, the hundred-mile diet?
Will: Yeah, I think that plays into it, and you look back at what our ancestors were eating and doing a long, long time ago, and it kind of plays into that as well as the hunting movement will grow, but I think specifically the bow hunting movement. Because I see the bow as a much different weapon, a much more personal weapon than a gun. As you know getting into it, you can’t just pick it up and pull the trigger and bam, hit what you’re aiming at.
Ben: And it’s kind of like golf nets, it’s like you drive in golf. You want perfection, and I found myself twiddling away, almost feeling guilty coming in after spending an hour messing around in shooting and setting up a target somewhere else and shooting again outside. You lose yourself as you’re shooting.
Will: You do yoga, my fiancée’s very into yoga. She’s, would they be an instructor or a teacher?
Will: Yogis? She teaches at our crossfit box. She’s tried to do the kettlebell yoga before, and she bow hunts. For me what she gets out of yoga, I get out of archery. I work box breathing into my archery.
Ben: And you go into the zone.
Will: My coach talks about there’s the B-game, which is conscious archery, focusing on your aiming and you’re releasing and your follow through. And once you get that nail down, you start working on your A-game which is where it happens without thought, and that’s where you’ll start. It’ll be ten, ten, ten.
Ben: Yeah, so what are, in your opinion, you’ve probably seen a lot of new people coming into this sport, what do you think are the biggest mistakes that people are making, either from a workout or a shooting or a mental or physical standpoint?
Will: The biggest mistake. Man, you know here in Colorado, I mean not in Colorado, Northern Idaho, I see some really good competition, and you know I think when people follow the TrainToHunt stuff, they end up getting a lot of good information, they get into this world, and people are just really willing to help you out with whatever it is. So they don’t get too off-track, but if you were to get into this, to avoid maybe some things, instead of putting a lot of money into the bow right off the bat, maybe spend, instead of getting a thousand-dollar bow, ’cause it sounds real fancy, go with maybe a four to six hundred-dollar bow and then spend a little more on your pack if you’re going to be doing these challenges or planning on packing out meat. I’m sure you can attest to this that having a good pack on that meat pack was very important.
Ben: Well having a good pack, and even yesterday right before I settled on the meat pack, you and Matt were helping me adjust where I placed the weight within the pack, where the waist belt was sitting on my waist, how my delta straps and my shoulder straps and my load straps were set up, that stuff all makes a huge difference when you don’t have your weight. Kind of like jiggling around in your pack, and when it’s sitting on your hips properly and the weight is distributed on kind of like the mid-back as far as its place in the pack. That makes a huge difference.
Will: It does, and this is the cool thing I think about the hunting industry that people don’t get to see is companies like Kifaru who makes your pack and my pack and guys like Aaron Schneider who kind of head up the design and innovations there that they are insane about perfecting it and about getting everything. I mean the testing they go through with it, he has the mountain warrior boot camp where they get like ten guys together, and they’ll do the stadium at Red Rocks, you know the steps there. They’ll go do these mountains, and he gets the feedback from them.
Ben: Where’s that at, in Denver?
Will: Yeah, just outside of Denver. Red Rocks, you ever go there?
Will: The amphitheater?
Ben: No, never.
Will: Oh you should check it out, it’s a heck of a workout. It’s a great, great, cool experience ’cause there’s a ton of people working out there. It can be packed on weekends.
Ben: Are these actual stairs? Like built into the side of the mountain?
Will: Yeah, they’re built into the side of the mountain, and the big, I guess it would be Red Rock Park or whatever. I don’t know the exact name, but I know it’s the Red Rock Amphitheater, and they take these steps and they turn them into workouts and they’ll be doing lunges. Some people will be jumping them, doing push-ups when they get to a level surface. Lunging up, burpees, lunge up, squat up, whatever. They come up with them and there’s all these kind of people that are doing it, and they go through all this testing and they do all this stuff, and honestly, I don’t know if there’s a backpacking company out there that can beat Kifaru’s pack, but you don’t see it in backpacker magazine, you don’t see them in outside magazine, so that’s what people are missing out on.
Ben: I’ve never heard of them, and I purchased one just because I asked the director of TrainToHunt, Kenton, about which pack would be most appropriate, and he recommended that one in it.
Will: What’d you think of it?
Ben: It works really well, and I would agree with you that it seems to me that a mistake that a lot of people could make, including myself. I’ve gathered a whole new body of knowledge that I wish I’d had. Like last year I did, I don’t know if you and I have talked about this much, Will, but I did the SEALFit KoKoro Camp which is like the Navy SEAL hell week.
Will: I think I heard your podcast on this.
Ben: For civilians and you do a ton of rucking. I thought I knew a lot about rucking when I finished that. After in competing in and prepping for TrainToHunt, I know so much more about selecting a pack, about packing a pack, about adjusting a pack. That I know, come hunting season, is going to come in incredibly handy when it comes to packing out meat and packing in.
Will: Yeah, you want to be comfortable when you do it if you don’t want to be in pain.
Ben: I took my kids out in the wilderness a couple of weeks ago and had that Kifaru pack and was able to just carry everything we needed in that pack, and it does make a big difference. Now how about, in addition to the pack, shooting mistakes that you see beginners make when they’re trying to get into something like this? And please don’t shove me under the bus too much.
Will: You know I think the hardest thing for shooters, and I think you can attest to this is the yard of judging, and one of the downfalls to the archery community is the lack of really good coaches. I was fortunate enough that I went out and found a good coach to get better for the TrainToHunt events, and I have to travel three hours to go get coached. Or sometimes, he’ll meet me half ways. I mean once in a while, he’ll come up, but I’ll travel three hours. Other guys will travel up from Pennsylvania. He lives in Southern New York, and guys who come from Ohio. So that tells you there’s one guy that I know of for the Northeast, and I’m pretty active in all the social media and on the uptake of what’s going on in the industry, and I know of one guy.
Ben: There’s some low-hanging fruit for you people who know how to shoot out there. Get into shoot coaching. Yeah, I agree. I thought because I’ve been using my range finder and I’ve been shooting, and I got a nice bow. I invested in a nice bow. I was pretty confident going into yesterday. We walked out there under that course with twenty different animals hidden out in the forest, and we were walking through there taking shots. I was confident in going in and thought that I knew how to judge yardage, and I didn’t know a thing. It was incredibly humbling, and that’s probably one of the number one things I learned out here was you have to be an accurate judge on yardage.
Will: Yeah, think about this. You don’t have to have the best, there is a technique to shooting. A proper set up and all that, but if you have a terrible set up, a terrible technique, a terrible anchor point, a terrible everything but you can repeat it every single time that you shoot, you will hit the same spot every single time you shoot. But if you don’t know the yardage, it doesn’t matter because you’re going to go up there, you’re not going to feel confident. You’re just going to release a bad shot. If you don’t want to shoot bad shots, don’t release them.
Ben: In your opinion, if you could give folks the number one tip, this is a completely self-serving question by the way, if you could give people the number one tip for judging yardage, what would your tip be?
Will: My number one tip would be find a coach, but my second number one tip would be there’s a crossover method, they call it, where you stand on one foot. Well say you stand on your left foot, you stand over your left foot, and you draw a line from the right side of the end of the animal to your left, and your ground with your mind, and then you stand on your right foot. You have to have a wide stance for this, but you stand on your right foot, and then go from the left rear end of the animal back to your right foot, and you’ll be able to tell kind of where halfway point is between you and the target based on where those lines cross, and it’s a lot easier to judge ten to fifteen yards which normally, at most, maybe it’ll be thirty yards to the halfway point for a sixty yard target, but it’s a lot easier to judge up to thirty yards than it is to judge straight out to sixty.
Ben: So you judge that half way point, and then multiply by two?
Will: Yup, exactly.
Ben: Interesting, okay. Got it. So we’ve got packing, selecting the appropriate pack and knowing how to pack it, being one skill that would tend to get neglected or fly under the radar for folks who want to get into this sport. We’ve got knowing how to judge yardage, being a good judge of yardage. If you had to choose one more thing that you think that folks should really target, getting into TrainToHunt, what would it be?
Will: Training, I mean I’m assuming most of your listeners are coming in pretty fit, so I’m going to give you all the benefit of the doubt that Ben’s got you squared away with what you’re doing physically, and I’m sure. I’ll give him credit, he came in here and dominated the meat pack. He just blew the doors off this thing, and I think I don’t know what the other people came in from the first heap, but he smoked the TrainToHunt challenge course today. I don’t know what he got for his shooting, but he was flying. So he can help you out in the fitness side, or Kenton can help you on the fitness side.
Ben: And also, there’s the TrainToHunt website, and Kenton and I talked about this. They actually give you, it’s like a wod, right?
Will: Yup, they give you the workouts.
Ben: A daily wod. One thing that I noticed that really, still even though I’m relatively fit and have a decent HRR, right? That heart rate recovery, and if you want to, by the way, learn even more about heart rate recovery.
Will: I would like to learn about that more actually.
Ben: Listen to the podcast that I did with Dr. James Heathers where we talked about heart rate variability and heart rate recovery and using something called breath ladders to actually increase your ability to recover your heart rate. It’s essentially doing deep nasal breathing during hard workouts is the short story, but what I found was that I still think, even though I feel like I’m a fit guy, shooting well while gassed. Really getting your heart rate up through the frigging roof, right? Not just doing five burpees and taking a shot, which I have to admit. That’s probably more of the type of training I did, but instead, going two minutes at a full-on glycolytic pace and then taking a shot. I know my yardage judging was a little bit off, my ability to kind of get my pack packed appropriately and set up appropriately, but then also that shooting while really, really tired.
Will: Here’s where, I would say coaching comes into play with my coach, the B-game and A-game. If everything goes right, when I come into this challenge, there’s no B-game, only A-game which means the only thing I have to do is stare at what I want to hit. When I shoot, I couldn’t tell you where, say the ten-yard or twenty-yard pin is in my field of vision. It just disappears.
Ben: Really, so you don’t look at the pin and line the pin up with the target? You just look at the actual target and you’re looking kind of like through your pin?
Will: Yeah, when you shoot, the best way for aiming is you bring your bow up, so you’re looking through your peep. You got your pin out there. Once you got it to the right height, it should disappear and you should be looking at where you want that arrow to go. ‘Cause at that last second, he always says your front hand will go to it. Your bow hand will go towards where you’re looking at, and it’ll send your arrow where it’s supposed to go. Like if I gave you a ball right now and I said, Ben, hit that sign over there, you can either hit it or come really close to it, and it’s because that old, what did we use to do to get food?
Ben: We would use throwing sticks.
Will: Beers and sticks? We have great hand-eye coordination thanks to our ancestors, and so it’s that same hand-eye coordination. That pin is a distraction.
Ben: Yeah, that’s a very interesting observation. I talked a little bit about this when I interviewed Chris McDougall, the guy who wrote the book “Natural Born Heroes”. We didn’t talk a lot about this in the podcast, but he certainly talks about it a lot in his book about how one of the skills that humans have for both self-defense as well as catching prey is this skill of hand-eye coordination and specifically being able to throw objects, curl objects or manipulate objects to be able to move through space that you don’t see many other animals on the face of the planet doing, aside from monkeys throwing their poop. The ability to be able to combine that with winding up and then releasing your fascia, right? Like turning your hips and that type of thing. In the case of the bow, the fascia for you is the cam, right? It’s something on the compound bow, but ultimately, its an interesting observation that if you look at this as being something similar to throwing and using that hand-eye coordination appropriately.
Will: The bow should be an extension of your body, that’s what it really becomes.
Ben: Well mine is certainly not yet an extension of my body. I have a little work to do.
Will: It’s a new body part.
Ben: Mine still feels like a new body part, exactly. It’s like back when I started doing triathlon, that bike with the skinny wheels fell like a foreign object underneath. Now it’s like natural, I can hop on a bike and I feel like it just molds to my body, but it’s interesting, anything like that.
Will: But for you, it’s time. You just need the time to train for that. You got to work on your B-game long enough to start developing the A-game.
Ben: Yeah, well folks if you’re listening in and you’re interested in getting involved with this whole TrainToHunt thing, and maybe you don’t hunt but you just want to get a taste for it as a gateway to getting into hunting, a few resources for you, of course, the traintohunt.com website, the previous podcast episode that I did with Kenton Clairmont. Will Bradley is here with me, and his website is at naturalbornhunters.com.
Will: Yup, naturalbornhunter.com.
Ben: Naturalbornhunter.com. If you want a link in the show notes to all these resources, you can go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/hunting. That’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/hunting, and I’ll put plenty of resources there for you.
Will, I’m going to put you on the spot here. If people have questions about TrainToHunt, about selecting equipment, about that type of thing, would you be willing if they left them in the comments section, would you be willing to hop in every now and again and maybe pipe in and give people a few pieces of advice. You can say no and be a [beep] if you want.
Will: No, ain’t nobody got time for that. Yeah, I’d love to. I’ll pop into the show notes or your Facebook page, wherever you are. You can hit us up at TrainToHunt, hit us up on our Natural Born Hunter Facebook page and Instagram, wherever, and that’s the thing. If you have questions, this community will welcome you with open arms. We love new people who show an interest, and they will help you with anything. I think Ben’s experienced that. You want to do this? We’ll help you do what you can to put yourself in the best spot to win. We can’t win it for you, but we’ll help you do whatever it takes, and that’s one thing Phil Mendoza, my co-host from the podcast who’s the current TrainToHunt national champion says is I don’t want to beat anybody who doesn’t feel like they’re competing at they’re best. I want everybody to be at their best. He makes my arrows, he makes Matt’s arrows, he helps all the other competitors with their bow set ups and everything. When I was competing against him, after I met him, we became friends, and he would give me just tons of advice, and it works. If you’re interested, just hit us up.
Ben: So it’s Will Bradley, naturalbornhunter.com. All the show notes are at bengreenfieldfitness.com/hunting. Thanks for listening in to our podcast episode here up on the top of Silver Mountain, looking over the children playing in the playground you probably heard a little bit of in the background, looking over the TrainToHunt finish line, the beautiful trees. Will and I may actually go down here after recording this episode and take a few shots down at the 3-D course out there in the trees. I just want to finish by encouraging you. If you’re listening in, get out there. Whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, whether it’s getting in the trees, park, nature, and anything else you want to add in, Will?
Will: Yeah, you hear all the kids in the background, but it’s because people are bringing their families. It’s a family sport, guys are doing it with their girlfriends or husbands. People are doing it, their kids are out here. Some of them are competing, or if they’re not old enough to compete, they bring them in and they just hang out.
Ben: Rumor is they’re going to add a youth division too this summer, so my kids have already asked me to step up their bows that they have back home to something a little bit more competitive, and we’re heading down to Tamarack, Idaho here in five days to go compete down there. So it’s a great family event too.
Will: It’s really cool when you hear Ben’s kids yelling “go daddy, go daddy. You’re doing awesome.” It’s a very cool competition that you know, and if you want to just come and check it out, just come hang out for a day.
Ben: That’s right, so check it all out, bengreenfieldfitness.com/hunting. Will, thank you dude.
Will: Thank you.
Ben: Alright folks, thanks for listening in. Have a healthy week.
Last weekend, I competed at the TrainToHunt event in Northern Idaho.
And on the day this podcast is released, I’m competing at a second TrainToHunt event in Southern Idaho.
If you have absolutely no idea what a TrainToHunt event is, then I’d highly recommend you listen in to my previous TrainToHunt podcast with Kenton Clairmont. In it, Kenton and I discuss why bowhunting is probably the most appropriate example of ancestral athleticism and functional fitness that exists, and why I’m personally getting more and more into the bowhunting scene.
I also talk quite a bit about hunting fitness in the episode “How To Build Primal Fitness And Endurance By Hunting: An Interview With A Bowhunting Triathlete.”
Today, I interview Will Bradley (pictured above), fellow podcaster, TrainToHunt director and host of the Natural Born Hunter podcast.
Will was born and raised in upstate New York, where the concept, image, and ideas of hunting are deeply rooted in the culture. Although Will wasn’t “born” into a hunting family, his love for nature and the outdoors has always run through his blood. He spent many hours upland bird hunting and fly fishing with his grandfather in Adirondacks in his youth, and in 2012, Will took this passion for the outdoors to the next level, as he purchased his first bow. Will is a passionate bow hunter, and an avid CrossFit athlete, and as the paths of fitness and bowhunting began to intersect, Train to Hunt became the obvious choice for Will as a way to express and share his appreciation for the sport.
Here’s Will’s take on being what he calls a “hunter athlete”:
“My whole life, I have always had a desire to take on new challenges and push myself out of my comfort zone. Being a hunter athlete is a never ending challenge, where the word comfort is seldom used. You have to always push yourself past your limits physically and mentally to find success. A hunter athlete must go farther than others have travelled before and push themselves well outside the boundaries of what is thought to be conventional hunting. It is on the edge of these limits that we define our sport. There is no offseason and there are no breaks. Becoming a hunter is one of the best decisions I have made in my life.”
In this episode, you’ll discover:
-How a construction worker from upstate New York got into bowhunting…
-Why Will thinks sitting in a tree stand for your hunting still requires a fit body…
-Whether this whole TrainToHunt and hunting fitness thing is a passing fad…
-What Will’s workouts look like, and what he eats…
-The biggest mistakes people make when getting ready for something like TrainToHunt…
-The best way to estimate your yardage when shooting…
-How to fill a pack the right way…
-And much more!
Resources we discuss during this episode:
This podcast was brought to you by Onnit, where you can save boatloads of money on things like sandbags, kettlebebells and walnut butter. Do you have questions, comments or feedback about Train To Hunt, hunting fitness, shooting, packing, or any other topic Will and I discuss? If so, leave your thoughts below…