At the 2017 ATA Trade Show, the archery and bowhunting industry’s largest trade show worldwide, bowhunter and fitness junkie Cameron Hanes shared his favorite hunting stories, and discussed how wild game fits into his fitness lifestyle. He even shared his favorite elk recipe: panko-crusted elk steak. And yes, it’s as delicious as it is healthy.
Hanes starts his day by running to the top of Mt. Pisgah, a 1,531-foot mountain near his Eugene, Oregon, home. After his run, he hits the gym to lift weights, and then shoots his compound bow. Despite his rigorous training schedule, he isn’t training for the Olympic Games and he isn’t a professional athlete. Instead, he’s preparing for bowhunting season.
Cameron Hanes is the author of several books on bowhunting and is a regular contributor to bowhunting magazines. He is known for his physically intense style of bowhunting called backcountry hunting. Hanes packs a backpack with everything he needs to survive for a week and hikes 10 miles into the mountains. After harvesting an animal, he carries it out on foot. A single elk can yield over 300 pounds of meat, resulting in several heavy backpack loads of meat. As you can imagine, this type of high-altitude hunting requires a bowhunter to be exceptionally fit.
Diet and exercise are the pillars of a fit lifestyle, and wild game makes up a large part of Hanes’ healthy diet. According to Hanes, his family eats wild-game meat for about 75 percent of their meals. “I feel like I’m fueled by the absolute best protein,” Hanes said. “It’s wild. It’s not processed. It’s just pure protein.”
There is no denying the satisfaction that comes with harvesting your own organic wild meat. Hanes’ most memorable wild game meal came from an old bull elk he shot at 11,000 feet of elevation deep in the Colorado wilderness. “I processed it right there, built a fire and ate it in the mountains right where he died,” Hanes said. “To me that’s just a beautiful circle of life. It was empowering.”
So how do you get started harvesting your own wild-game meat?
“There is no shortcut,” Hanes said. “No one is born a great archer or a great bowhunter. Go to a pro shop, find a mentor that can give you good advice and that will really shorten up the learning curve. Then it’s just a matter of shooting arrows through the bow. It’s just reps.”
Practice, persistence and hard work are Hanes’ secrets to success, which explains why his moto is “keep hammering.”
“Once you get those reps in and you really begin to appreciate the beauty of an arching arrow hitting the X – there’s no feeling like it,” he said. “You’re just going to fall in love with the game.”