Re: So how do you get into shape???
BenY - you looking at this fall for your western mountain hunt? Many of the states have already closed their tag application period, although you can still buy an over-the-counter license & tag in some states.
I don't know what kind of condition you guys are in now, but it's certainly not too late to start preparing for a hunt this fall.
If you're not walking regularly. Start. Some jogging is good too, but high mileage or high intensity running can result in injuries, setting you back instead of moving you forward.
Some strength training is a good idea too. Particularly for the legs & back.
How do I do it? Well, I'm 55 years old, too heavy around the middle, but still a pretty strong hiker with decent endurance and strength. No, I can't hike and hunt as hard as I could 20 years ago.
I never let myself get really out of shape. Cross-country ski & snowshoe in the winter. Start hiking when the snow melts, first at lower elevations, then higher as the snow recedes. Haul out the ol' bicycle every spring, dust it off, pump up the tires and start putting in the miles. Long as I don't fall off the doggone thing, it's a fun, low-impact way to good conditioning. Don't expect to do it all on the bike though. Still need to hike, particularly uphill, particularly with a pack.
Increase the duration, load and intensity of your hiking gradually, week by week.
Hit the gym. Every day I that I work, I go to the gym. If I'm in the gym, I make myself do 30 minutes of cardio on one of those infernal torture machines. Then I work on weights for another 30 minutes or so. Some stretching is also a real good idea.
Watch the diet. This is my biggest weak point. Mama and I cook pretty well, and I enjoy a glass or two of red wine with dinner. Sigh... Yup. I just plain eat too much! So, until I change that, I'll likely never be under 200 pounds again in my life! We eat good stuff, mostly lean foods, but I'll gobble it down like I did when I was a 25 year old Marine. Hah! That was a good idea then, not now.
For me, the key is having fun. There's guys I like to work out with, and I meet them in the gym regularly. I also enjoy the heck out of cycling, skiing and hiking. That makes it fun.
Also... You can be smart about where you're going to hunt. Not all the elk and mule deer are taken up at 8,000 - 11,000' elevation... Figure out some lower altitudes, and maybe some milder country - that can be a real help. Consider a ranch hunt. Consider hiring somebody to pack you into a camp on horses... Be smart about it. A guy doesn't have to be an Olympian to hunt "out west" or I'd never get anything.