Every hunter, man or woman, who ever has stopped halfway up a hill, gasping for air, drenched in sweat, pulse racing, attached to a rope with a dead deer at the other end, has said it.
I’ve got to get in shape before next season.
Well, here’s your chance.
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, the sportsmen’s group focused on protecting public lands and waters, is coordinating a “Hike to Hunt Challenge.” (www.backcountryhunters.org/hike_to_hunt_2019) It’s part competition, part fundraiser.
“It’s amazing what a little competition will do for self-motivation,” said the group’s president and CEO, Land Tawney. “Last year Hike to Hunt was just what I needed to get ready to climb steep hills and follow my black Lab, Tule, across the prairie.”
It works like this: hunter/hikers register for the event, something that costs $40 but gets them an annual membership in the group — or extends their existing membership by one year — plus some swag.
All set a goal of how many miles they plan to hike by July 31 (the challenge opened June 1). They solicit supporters to donate to their cause, with the money going to Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.
Their success — in miles and money raised — gets tracked on the group’s website.
Participants not only get in shape but also have the chance to earn $30,000 in prizes in three ways.
First, there’s registration. Three prize packages worth $1,200 each will be awarded at random from among those who sign up.
At the same time, additional prizes will be awarded to the top seven fundraisers. The first place package is worth $5,000. Seventh place still is worth $800.
Second, there’s hiking. First-, second- and third-place prizes will be awarded — in men’s and women’s categories — for those who hike the most miles. Prize packages will be worth $2,200, $1,200 and $900, respectively.
Participants must download Under Armour’s “Map My Hike” (https://www.mapmyhike.com/app) app to document their mileage.
Third, there’s a social media element to the challenge.
Each week, hunter/hikers who post images of their hikes on Facebook or Instagram highlighting that week’s theme — and hashtagging Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and corporate sponsors — can win.
Already, prizes were awarded for things like most miles hiked opening weekend and most artistic route. Upcoming themes center around the best costume worn hiking, the most unusual junk found while walking in the woods, most elevation gained and best camp spot, among others.
Participants can hike alone, with friends or as part of an organized event. Several are scheduled, like a two-day backpacking trip through Tiadaghton State Forest in Pennsylvania and day hikes in the Sandia Mountain Foothills in New Mexico.
This is the third year for the challenge, and Ty Stubblefield, chapter coordinator for Backcountry Hunter sand Anglers, expects it to draw more participants than ever.
The prizes are a nice motivation, he said. But the larger goal is to raise awareness of issues facing sportsmen and public lands and waters.
“I’m looking forward to Hike to Hunt not only to keep me motivated to stay in shape but, more importantly, to grow the great community we’ve built over the past three years,” he said.