….. asked if I could recommend some good books about hunting in Alaska and about living here. Several of the books which came to mind have a little about both, so I started mentioning some authors and titles…… a couple of these books I have reviewed in previous columns and Casey Ressler, the Frontiersman Valley Life editor, has reviewed a couple others.
I started out by mentioning Tony Russ, his books, and his publishing company located in Wasilla. The first Tony Russ book I read, The Manual for Successful Hunters, is the best pure Alaska hunting how-to book I have ever seen. He provides tips and suggestions based on his own hunting experiences and writes in a very easy-to-read style. I mentioned his Sheep Hunting in Alaska (get the second edition), and his Bear Hunting in Alaska books also. I have read the sheep hunting books (both editions) and have the bear hunting book as the next one on my books-to-be-read pile. I also mentioned Rich Hackenberg’s book Moose Hunting in Alaska, also published by Russ.
– Howard Delo – Outdoors in Alaska – Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman
“Russ, a well-known Alaska big game guide, deals with the details, the fine points too often over-looked by casual hunters. Read this book from cover to cover and I promise you will be on the road to the ranks of the top 10 percent of hunters who take 90 percent of the game.”
– Ken Marsh, Former Outdoors Editor and Editor of Alaska Magazine
THE MANUAL FOR SUCCESSFUL HUNTERS: WHY 10% OF THE HUNTERS TAKE 90% OF THE GAME is an invaluable reference for all North American big game hunters. This book covers all the skills and techniques needed by successful hunters from the Southern deer woods to Alaska’s Brooks Range. With almost 200 meaningful photographs and 40 illustrations which support the volumes of information filling these pages, this book is full of relevant advice for beginning hunters as well as seasoned veterans. Whitetail hunters will find invaluable information about how to improve their success wherever they hunt and moose hunters can learn necessary skills to get them through a wilderness experience. Dozens of typical hunting books would be needed to compare to what this one edition has to offer the hunter who wants to improve his success on any species of North American big game animal
The Manual for Successful Hunters: Why 10% of the Hunters Take 90% of the Game
by Tony Russ
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART I. THE BASIS OF SUCCESS IS EDUCATION
Chapter 1. BECOMING AN EDUCATED HUNTER 13
Hunter Education. Past Successes and Future Prospects for Hunting.
Chapter 2. WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT 19
Basic Concepts of Management. Effective Management.
Chapter 3. RESPONSIBILITIES & ETHICS 25
PART II. THE HUNTER
Chapter 4. PHYSICAL CONDITIONING 27
Conditioning Strategy. Cardiorespiratory Conditioning. Strength. Flexibility and Agility. Stamina. Pain, Injuries, & Therapy. You Are What You Eat. The Real World.
Chapter 5. NUTRITION FOR THE HUNTER 43
Nutrient Types. A Balanced Diet. Eating Habits. An Eating Strategy for Hunters.
Chapter 6. WATER & THE HUNTER 53
A Hunter’s Water Needs. Water Quality.
SECTION III. VITAL SKILLS
Chapter 7. FIRST AID 57
Bleeding. Broken Bones & Sprains. Burns. Diarrhea. Frostbite. Heart Attack. Heat or Sun Stroke. Hypothermia. Insect Bites. Neck & Head Injuries. Poisoning. Shock. Snakebite. Stroke.
Chapter 8. SURVIVAL 61
Preparation and Confidence. Staying Warm and Dry. Heat Transfer. Fire. Lost?
Chapter 9. CAMPING 77
Site Selection. Setting up the Tent. Knots to Know.
Chapter 10. PHOTOGRAPHY 85
Subjects to Photograph. Composition. Hunting Cameras and Film.
SECTION IV. HUNTING GEAR & FOOD
Chapter 11. KNIVES & SAWS 91
Knives. Sharpening Tools. Knife-Sharpening Procedure. Axes, Hatchets & Mauls. Saws.
Chapter 12. CLOTHING 101
Heat Retention. Camouflage. Other Clothing Considerations. Fabrics. Waterproof Fabrics. Layering. Clothing Selection.
Chapter 13. FOOTWEAR 117
Selection of Footwear. The Right Fit. Break-in Process. Waterproofing. Field Care of Footwear. Socks. An Effective Sock Strategy. Foot Medicine.
Chapter 14. CAMPING & OTHER GEAR 127
Tough Fabrics for Gear. Tents. Sleeping Bag, Pads and Cots. Stoves and Cooking Gear. Map and Compass. Packs and Duffels. Miscellaneous Gear. Hunter’s Checklist.
Chapter 15. FOOD 155
Basic Considerations for Selecting Food. Suitable Hunting Foods.
SECTION V. FIREARMS & OPTICS
Chapter 16. FIREARMS 165
Rifles. Shotguns. Handguns. Muzzleloaders. Cartridges. Sights. Extras. Practice, Practice, Practice. . .
Chapter 17. FIREARM SAFETY 175
Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety.
Chapter 18. FIREARM CARE & MAINTENANCE 179
The Enemies of Guns. Cleaning for Home Storage. Transportation. Field Use.
Chapter 19. BALLISTICS FOR THE HUNTER 187
Ballistics Tables. Ballistics Concepts. Sighting-in.
Chapter 20. RANGE ESTIMATION 197
Methods of Estimation. Factors Affecting Accuracy. Rangefinders.
Chapter 21. OPTICS 205
Basic Characteristics of all Good Optics. Binoculars. Rifle Scopes.
SECTION VI. ANIMALS & THEIR SENSES
Chapter 22. GAME BEHAVIOR 211
Behavior Patterns. Daily and Seasonal Movements. Weather and Climate Influences. Behavior During the Mating Season. Effects of Hunting Pressure.
Chapter 23. GAME SENSES: SIGHT, SMELL & HEARING 225
Sensory Acuteness. Sight. Hearing. Smell.
SECTION VII. THE HUNT
Chapter 24. TRACKING SKILLS 239
Reading Tracks. Track Illustrations.
Chapter 25. SCOUTING & LOCATING GAME 247
“Paper” Scouting. Preseason Scouting. Common Signs. In-Season Scouting.
Chapter 26. PLANNING THE HUNT 261
Plan Early. Timing of the Hunt. Guides and Outfitters.
Chapter 27. HUNTING TECHNIQUES 269
Choosing the Appropriate Technique. Hunting Methods Commonly Used. Spot & Stalk Hunting. Stand-Hunting. Still-Hunting. Driving. Calling. Baiting.
Chapter 28. BOWHUNTING 313
Safety. Bowhunting Gear. Practice. Hunting Considerations.
Chapter 29. FIELD-JUDGING GAME ANIMALS 329
The Clubs Behind the Record Books. Principles of Judging. An In-Depth Analysis.
Chapter 30. SHOOTING AT GAME 341
How to Shoot at Game. Trajectories. Where to Shoot. When to Shoot.
Chapter 31. RECOVERING GAME 355
The Hunter’s Response after the Shot. When to Start Tracking Wounded Game. Tracking and Reading Sign of Wounded Game. Approaching Downed Game.
Chapter 32. CARE OF GAME MEAT 369
Plan Ahead. Prepare to Clean. Cleaning the Animal. Meat Care in the Field. Transportation. Aging, Preserving & Cooking.
Chapter 33. TROPHY CARE 385
Basics of Trophy Care. Trophy Desired. Transportation. Home Care.
Chapter 34. MEMORIES 393
CATALOG OF GOODS AND SERVICES 398
Guiding Services. Art. Books.
PART II. – THE HUNTER
Chapter 5 – NUTRITION FOR THE HUNTER
Hunters who have a basic understanding of nutrition are better able to provide the proper fuel for their bodies. When our bodies are properly fueled we can hunt longer and more effectively. We won’t suddenly run out of gas just before a difficult stalk or lack the necessary alertness while on a stand. Good nutrition and eating habits not only provide plenty of energy for the hunt, they also affect our long-term health and physical abilities—both of which can significantly affect our long-term hunting success.
Food calories come from three basic types of nutrients—proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. A healthy diet contains some of each of these three nutrients. A knowledge of how our bodies respond to each nutrient, which foods supply these nutrients, and the role vitamins and minerals play in nutrition will help hunters “balance” their diets both in the field and at home.
Protein is the most critical nutrient in our diets, as well as the most expensive. Proteins are mainly used to build and repair soft tissues (muscles included), but some proteins are used to simply maintain our metabolism. Proteins are made of smaller units called amino acids. There are twenty different amino acids—of which eight to eleven (depending on which expert you believe) are essential. Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body in sufficient quantities; we must get them from the foods we eat. Nonessential amino acids can be made by our bodies from other nutrients (carbohydrates or fats) we’ve eaten. Proteins which are called complete proteins have all the essential amino acids. Complete proteins can be used (as is) to build the proteins our bodies need—we don’t have to supply any other amino acids to use all of a complete protein. An incomplete protein, on the other hand, may not be entirely usable by our bodies as protein. It may be partially wasted, unless we supply the additional amino acids it is lacking by eating other foods at the same time that have these amino acids. Thus, not all proteins are created equal. Corn, wheat, rice, potatoes, beans and nuts are some foods with incomplete proteins. With a thorough knowledge of protein composition a person can combine these foods in the right proportions in a meal to get complete proteins. For most of us it is easier to rely on foods with complete proteins for our protein requirements. Of course foods with incomplete proteins should still be used to supply calories, vitamins, minerals and variety to the diet. In order of quality: egg whites, fish, milk, game meat, lean beef, and poultry contain high quantities of complete proteins.
Carbohydrates are the most commonly used nutrient to supply energy for our muscles. They are inexpensive and they also contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber necessary for optimal health. After digestion, energy from carbohydrates (or other nutrients we ingest and eventually use for energy) is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen, then turned to glucose when needed to fuel the body. Carbohydrates come in two forms—starches and sugars. Starches are called complex carbohydrates. Sugars are simple carbohydrates. Ingesting a large amount of a sugar—particularly without other nutrients—produces a sudden energy surge and then a sudden drop in energy. Starches supply the body with a longer-lasting, more even flow of energy. Overconsumption of sugars can also lead to diabetes in older people. Fruit and sweeteners (table sugar, honey, molasses) are the most common sources of sugar. Common sources of starches are potatoes, pasta, rice, beans, and bread.
Fat is the nutrient that Americans overeat the most. Overconsumption of fat, along with obesity, are the reasons heart disease is still the number one killer of men and women in America. Fat is not all bad, however. Some essential vitamins come associated with fats and oils as part of a healthy diet. Fat is also an essential nutrient necessary for good health, and it is very useful as a concentrated source of energy. One gram of fat has nine calories, compared to four calories in one gram of carbohydrate or one gram of protein. That is why animals put on fat for the winter. It is the most concentrated way to store energy to use until spring. It is also why people who have enormous calorie requirements—distance runners, mountain climbers, heavy laborers—eat diets higher in fat than most people. Fats come in both liquid and solid form. Unsaturated fats like corn oil, olive oil, or peanut oil are usually liquid at room temperature. Saturated fats (the ones usually linked to heart disease) like butter, cheese, lard and suet (animal fats) are usually solid at room temperature.
A Balanced Diet
Balancing our diets to include the right proportions of these three nutrients is not always easy, but greatly affects our current and long-term health. Eating too much sugar and skipping meals can cause sudden peaks and troughs in our energy level and cause us to lack staying power for long, strenuous days of hunting. The results of a poor diet over many years may be obesity, heart disease, poor circulation, or other infirmities which limit our hunting abilities. Just a little attention to their diets is all that is necessary for most healthy hunters to enjoy continued good health.
The Daily Value (previously called Recommended Daily Dietary Allowance—RDA) is the amount of a nutrient that a healthy person needs to maintain good health. These amounts include protein, calories, minerals, and vitamins. The Daily Values (DVs) are different for men, women, and children and are also based on age and weight. Various DV tables are available from different sources and their numbers differ slightly, depending on their source. The United States’ DV table is made by the Food and Drug Administration; the National Academy of Sciences also produces a DV table ; food manufacturers will sometimes use a scientific study to base their own Daily Value on; etc. However, Daily Values are consistent enough between different tables to be useful for diet management.
The most disagreement about Daily Values surrounds vitamins and minerals. Most people are aware of the fabulous claims some advocates make about mega-doses of vitamin C or E. There are even some that claim we need over 100 trace minerals to maintain good health. Books have been written on each one of these claims alone so this basic explanation of nutrition won’t dwell on these claims. Let it suffice to say that there is some controversy about vitamin and mineral Daily Values and plenty of literature exists if you want to read about these in depth.
The DV for protein for a 30 year old, 160 lb man, doing moderate activity is about 60 grams. A 30 year old, 120 lb female, doing moderate activity needs about 50 grams of protein. (The actual DV formula is 0.37 x bodyweight = no. of grams of protein) You can adjust the protein DV up or down proportionally for your weight. Many sports trainers and most bodybuilders claim this requirement jumps tremendously for those involved in strenuous exercise—like distance running, heavy weight training, or hunting in the mountains all day. It doubles or triples according to some. This would mean if you are on a very physical hunt (like a Dall sheep hunt when you climb mountains with a pack for 8-14 hours a day) a 160 lb man might need 120 grams of protein (100 grams of protein for a 120 lb female in the same situation) or more to maintain and rebuild body tissues. A person on a strenuous weight training program would have the same elevated protein requirements. I do not claim to be an expert, but I have been involved in heavy weight training for over twenty-five years and also been on many, many sheep hunts and I tend to agree with the high-protein advocates. I have tried it both ways and more protein sure seems to help; I am able to build more muscle while training and I don’t lose as much on week-long sheep hunts. It also seems to be logical—since your calorie requirements on a grueling hunt doubles or triples, your protein requirement should also increase significantly. However, there are still some experts who insist exercise doesn’t increase the DV for protein and large quantities of protein might even be harmful to our livers.
The DV of calories for a 30 year old, 160 lb man, doing moderate activity is about 2,800. The DV for a 30 year old, 120 lb woman, doing moderate activity is about 2,000 calories. The calorie DVs are slightly higher for younger people and slightly lower for older people of the same weight. The way we “balance” our intake of nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) to get these calories greatly affects our health.
Carbohydrates should make up the bulk of most diets (diet here means the food a person eats, not a reducing diet), both in size and calorie content. Carbohydrates are inexpensive, of great variety, bulky so they make us feel “full,” and accompany many essential vitamins and minerals. A commonly recommended proportion of calories from proteins/carbohydrates/fats for healthy people is often 10/60/30. That is, 10% of your calories should come from proteins, 60% should come from carbohydrates, and 30% should come from fats.
If you follow this 10/60/30 recommendation, you would be getting only the minimum amount of protein for a moderately active person. However, if you are on any exercise routine or have a physically demanding occupation, this should be increased; 20% is a better amount for proteins, and I often get 30% when I am in heavy training.
The other critical part of this calorie ratio is fat (fats and oils are both in this group). Fats are moderately costly and found in many foods. Americans have averaged over 40% of the calories in their diets from fats in the 1980s and 1990s. This is part of the reason Americans are overweight (one in three of us are obese) and have a high rate of heart disease. Experts began recommending 30% in the mid-1980s as a stepping-stone approach to eventually getting the number down to 25% or even 20%. The theory was 30% was a reachable goal since Americans averaged over 40%; then 20% could be recommended after we reached 30%. An ultimate, reasonable goal for fat calories in your diet is 20-25%. A better calorie ratio is then 20/60/20, or 30/45/25 if you are into heavy endurance training or bulking up with weight training.
To find the protein/carbohydrate/fat calorie ratio of one food, an entire meal, or a daily diet, use the following formulas:
-protein grams x 4 = protein calories, then take protein calories –: total calories x 100 = percent protein calories
-carbohydrate grams x 4 = carbohydrate calories, then take carbohydrate calories –: total calories x 100 = percent carbohydrate
-fat grams x 9 = fat calories, then take fat calories –: total calories x 100 = percent fat calories
Food example: Skippy Reduced Fat peanut butter; two tablespoons have 190 calories total with 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein, and 15 grams of carbohydrates; so 7 x 4 = 28 (protein calories), then 28 –: 190 x 100 = 15% of the calories come from protein, then
15 x 4 = 60 (carbohydrate calories), then 60 –: 190 x 100 = 31% of the calories come from carbohydrates, then 12 x 9 = 108 (fat calories), then 108 –: 190 x 100 = 56% of the calories come from fat; so the calorie ratio of Skippy’s is 15/31/56
(Labels only list whole grams—not fractions so the totals do not always equal exactly 100%.)
Meal example: Skippy Reduced Fat peanut butter (two tbsp. = 190 calories total with protein/carbohydrate/fat ratio of 15/31/56) sandwich with reduced sugar fruit spread (two tbsp. = 88 calories total with ratio of 0/100/0) on whole wheat bread (two slices = 160 calories total with ratio of 20/61/19), an 8 oz. glass of 1% milk (8 oz.= 100 calories with ratio of 32/57/11), a medium-size apple (apple = 70 calories total with ratio of 0/100/0). Total calories for the meal is 608. Combined ratio of protein/carbohydrate/fat for the meal is 15/60/25 which is a fairly good ratio for one meal.
Daily diet example: Depending on how many calories you want to get for the day, add two, three, or more meals to the peanut butter sandwich meal analyzed above plus snacks to get the daily calorie goal while keeping the ratio for the whole day in the right proportions. If one meal comes out heavy on fat, compensate with a low-fat meal. Every food or meal you eat will not have precisely the correct ratio of protein/carbohydrate/fat, but the idea is to “balance” the diet over a day’s time; sometimes even over a week if necessary. However, the optimal diet will have the target ratio met at each meal. Fat and carbohydrate both contribute mainly to our energy stores, so you balance these out over a day’s time with each other to some extent. However, dietary protein cannot be kept in our system intact for more than a few hours. And the average person can only use about 30 grams of protein at one meal. Protein is either used to build and repair our bodies within a few hours or it is broken down into smaller components and used for energy. So we need a constant supply of protein (ideally every 3-4 hours) for optimal health and optimal results from heavy exercise. If our diet is protein-deficient for one day or even one meal, it has a negative effect on our performance and health. That is why protein is the most valuable nutrient.
The typical eating habits of Americans are not conducive to healthy diets. For the most part we get enough protein in our diets because of the large quantities of high-quality protein foods we eat—like red meat, fish, poultry, and dairy foods—and because most Americans lead a sedentary lifestyle requiring only a minimum amount of protein. The problem is that many of these high-protein foods also have a high percentage of fat. Instead of eating only 3-5 oz of meat or fish (which supplies the maximum supply of protein an average person can use at once—30 grams), we often eat 10 oz, 12 oz, or more. The excess protein is not entirely wasted because it can be used for energy or stored as glycogen for future use. (However, if not used within 48 hours, it will be stored as fat.) But the amount of fat accompanying these large pieces of protein-rich foods is: 1) rich in calories—remember that one gram of fat has 9 calories versus only 4 calories for the same gram-size chunk of protein; 2) eaten with a lot of other calories to produce a huge caloric intake which is seldom used before the next meal; 3) already in fat form so it can easily be stored by the body as (of course) fat.
There are three obvious solutions to this problem eating habit. First, eat less meat, fish, or poultry at one sitting. Second, eat cuts of meat with less fat and trim visible fat. Most game meat has similar quantities of high-quality protein as beef, but much less fat within the meat. Venison, for example, has one-third the marbling fat (fat you don’t see in the meat) of beef. Trim visible fat from red meat and don’t eat the skin or fatty tissue next to the skin on fish or poultry. Third, be sure to eliminate fat and as many calories from all other parts of the meal if you do eat a large portion of meat, fish, or poultry accompanied by a a lot of fat.
There are other reasons why limiting the amount of fat in our diets can improve our health. If you are overweight, reducing calorie-rich fats is the easiest way to quickly reduce total caloric intake. Then, you can replace a few of those calories with bulky, but much less calorie-rich foods like fruits and vegetables which will make you feel fuller and leave you more satisfied. Also, eating more fruits and vegetables will increase your vitamin and mineral intake and help you meet or exceed those DVs. The amounts and types of vitamins and minerals we need for good health is so controversial that getting more of these nutrients is always a good idea.
There are a few pitfalls to avoid when reducing fats in your diet to reduce calorie intake. People often make up for eating lower-fat foods by increasing the amount they eat. Some of the fat-free foods often have plenty of sugar in them to make up for lost taste, so you can’t eat these foods with abandon—they may still have lots of calories. A calorie is a calorie no matter what type of nutrient it comes from. Furthermore, America’s obesity problems has two causes. In addition to eating too much, we don’t get enough exercise. Americans currently eat 10% fewer calories than they did 100 years ago, but they are more obese now. Reducing calorie intake is the answer to one part of the problem, the other is getting more exercise. We have machines to carry us, mow the lawn, move the snow, blow the leaves, open our doors and windows, open cans, and even brush our teeth. The more we use these machines the more we will need to: A) reduce our calorie intake or B) get regular exercise doing something else.
An Eating Strategy for Hunters
The last part of this short course on nutrition for the hunter is a daily eating strategy to control your weight, maintain a consistent energy flow throughout the day, and sustain your health. After rising in the morning, your blood sugar is low after fasting all night. While you slept, your body has used stored glycogen to recover from yesterday and maintain necessary functions. You should replenish these glycogen stores soon after rising by eating at least 500 calories by mid-morning. If you don’t, your body will take glycogen from muscle stores—your muscles will then function at less than 100% until these glycogen stores are replaced when you do eat. Also, when the deficit becomes great enough your body will actually break down your muscle protein to use as energy, so you will lose muscle size. This is counterproductive to good health and weight control since muscle tissue uses more energy than other tissue types, thus the more muscle mass you have the more energy you expend during any physical activity.
Furthermore, a good breakfast should contain a good quantity of carbohydrates because these are most easily digested by the body to quickly replenish glycogen stores. Fats and proteins are much harder for the body to digest to use as energy—eat these in moderation in the morning. One more reason to eat a good breakfast is the body’s survival reaction to lack of food in the morning. The body will overreact and by evening—even if you have eaten a good lunch—your hunger will be insatiable and you will tend to overeat to compensate. Plus, evening meals—and breakfast skippers often eat two—are usually much larger and more fat-laden. This is a cycle that is hard to break because evening overeating eliminates hunger in the morning. Breaking the habit takes a few days of sensible eating at dinner until the morning hunger returns.
Once a good breakfast is eaten with plenty of carbohydrates, some fats and ample protein, follow it with a (balanced) lunch with enough protein, carbohydrates, and fats to provide energy until the next meal. It is actually easier to maintain a balanced diet, get ample protein, and sustain energy levels if four or more (smaller) meals are eaten, rather than the standard three. The basic strategy about daily eating is to eat an increasing amount of protein and decreasing amounts of carbohydrates and fats as the day progresses. Eating a surplus of fat or carbohydrate in the evening tends to lead to excess glycogen in the system at bedtime which may be stored as fat—depending on the situation. These should be eaten early to provide energy for the day, then plenty of protein should be available in the evening meal to repair and rebuild tissue after a hard day.
There is one more useful nutritional strategy concerning eating habits and exercise. Not only does diet account for 80% of the results of a physical training program, the timing of the follow-up meal is also important. To get the most from workouts, eat at least several hundred calories of carbohydrates and 10-20 grams of protein within one hour of finishing your exercise, as well as plenty of cool drinks to rehydrate your body. After exercising, your glycogen stores are depleted and need to be replenished immediately. Otherwise, your body will take more glycogen stores from the muscles—or even use muscle protein—for energy. Also, to begin rebuilding muscle as soon as possible you should get some protein into your system. For the best results from any training program, feed your muscles immediately after a workout.
Even a basic understanding of nutrition can help hunters eat properly to maintain energy levels and good health. There is no need to always count calories, constantly read labels for DVs, or follow a strict diet. Just learning the basics about nutritional contents of common foods, then remembering and following some general guidelines about healthy eating habits most of the time is all it takes. Hunters who do pay atttention to their nutritional requirements improve their chances of success.