Nutrition & Hunting

The Hunt Doctors

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Mar 5, 2008
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Nutrition & Hunting

While many hunters start young, I did not. Though I grew up in a southern (well formerly southern town, Atlanta), I did not start hunting until well into my adult life. Because of that misfortune, when I did start, I had a lot of catching up to do. Acquiring the gear was a daunting task and expenses had to be cut somewhere. My rifle and ammo seemed like a poor choice for compromise, but in my ignorance, I compromised on optics. After all if the bullet hits the X on the range, then the game is in the fridge, right?

When the first day of deer season approached, I was ready. Right at darkness I heard a crashing sound. I lifted my binocs and could only see an outline, but there were antlers, lots of antlers. I pick up my rifle and …no X. I mean no X and no deer and no nothing. I put down my rifle and waited for the buck to pass and started to climb down. Bang. I heard a shot not to far off. Paul had nailed a nice buck. But how could he see?

What ensued was a lecture on scopes, binoculars, light and a review of physics that I endured with a nodding head. Having already shot more of the family budget then game, I maintained that wait until next year attitude all season, frequently hearing shots long after it was possible for me. I decided to buy a scope equal in price to my Winchester .308 and upgrade my binoculars to the same extent. This move really made a difference and now I had that exrtra 5 to 10 critical minutes of shooting time. I did better, but I was puzzled. I still heard shots after I had climbed down; it was legal shooting time, so how could I expand my chances on the big one? Scope upgrade to at least twice the cost of the rifle seemed a precious little return on investment. I decided to investigate my vision, (my original optics).

Having acquired a fund of knowledge I began a secret experiment. It was secretive because if I was wrong, no razzing was coming my way. We doctors just hate being called quacks. Sure enough medical science pulled through. I could actually see game another 10 minutes longer past sundown. In fact on days when we all had nothing on the ground (more often than not if you really like hunting), I developed a reputation for staying in the tree way later than my hunting buddies. I was asked: “ Did you get lost again?” Forget which way was down?” However after taking a nice buck while Paul was nearly to the truck, I knew I had to come clean. Paul listened intently, helped me retrieve my trophy and kicked himself all the way there and back.

Last issue we discussed truth about weight loss. This time the focus is on nutrition. Specifically how nutritional science can be applied to actually enhance your hunting ability. I know that the key word in the phrase Health Food Industry is Industry. Yet, there are kernels of objective truth out there that really make a difference. The trick is to separate the snake oil from the science and we’ve done that for you in this article.

Just look at our game and animal hunting companions. The make up of food plots and mineral supplements provided to Whitetail deer are increasingly utilized in a seasonal manner to enhance specific traits. Premium dog food has less to do with taste (just a guess honestly) than with the impact on the dogs eyes, coat, stamina and other desired characteristics. Just as we can list what we want to improve in our game herds and dogs we can list traits we want to improve in ourselves. This is especially true if you have crested 20 and the inevitable slide downhill has begun (or in our cases accelerated).

We hunters are gadget freaks. We buy clothing, optics, hearing devices and all sorts of stuff to enhance specific traits. Being in the real world environment we want better vision and hearing, more cold and heat tolerance, resistance to altitude sickness, more stamina and strength, increased cognitive concentration, odor control, and enhanced immune function to name a few likely targets. What we have found is that you can enhance all of these traits through the application of nutritional science.

Nutritional science is not a major topic in medical training. In fact it was only a few years ago that the American Medical Association actually recommended that all adults take a nutritional supplement on a daily basis. This is a seismic shift and is the result of science overtaking marketing in the arena of nutrition. To be fair, the AMA recommends a minimal intake for the prevention of disease and not the enhancement of function. They have published information on toxicity and the maximum safe intake of certain substances. The prevention of degeneration or the restoration / enhancement of function is still not a common approach in medical practice when it comes to supplement use.

Getting back to that “Industry” comment we made earlier, there is a whole lot of fakery and pseudoscience involved in nutritional approaches to health. We are advised by counsel not to be specific here, but an hour of cable TV generally results in at least one completely fake product being marketed. “Health Food” stores have shelves of supplements that actually have no purpose in the human body, yet are purchased by the uninformed public. What follows below is a listing of desired traits and the supplements needed to restore or enhance function. Let’s start with vision.

Age Related Eye Disease (ARED) is a very real condition that as the name suggests results from normal aging. Sometimes this aging process is grossly accelerated and the illness can be very severe, but most commonly is incremental and just accepted as part of life. Remember how as a kid, an adult would always ask, “How can you read in that light”? As we get older we are more likely to report that we “… just don’t drive so well at night anymore.” These are the typical ARED symptoms that we all over 30 can expect to experience. The basic problem of ARED relates to eye pigments concentrations diminishing with aging. The solution is replenishing the lost pigments (thereby restoring normal eye function) via nutritional supplementation. We’re not talking carrots here but a mixture of pigments such as Lutein, vitamins (A, E, C) and minerals selenium, zinc and copper are required to restore or enhance low light vision. There are scores of commercial products available. The problem is that many are incomplete, others contain non-sense additives, and still others contain toxic quantities of certain minerals. The complete products are also quite expensive, running near $1.50 per day. None of the products currently available also contain any nutrition designed to enhance any other traits we desire. They are a strictly solo purpose supplement which means you must purchase many different products to achieve your goals. However this may present a risk of toxicity from taking to much of the same compound present in many different supplements.

Diminished hearing can be combated with selenium, folate, B complex and anti-oxidants. There are products that contain these substances on the market and they work. Again the issues of cost and overall utility must be considered. However, ringing in the ears and decreased hearing have been successfully treated with dietary supplements.

In a previous article on altitude sickness the usefulness of Ginkgo in prevention has been described. The use of Ginkgo products in the area of cognitive function and concentration is practically mainstream these days. Paul and I can admit to a missed trophy (more than one actually) due to poor concentration, how about you?

Human odor can be effectively diminished with a number of products readily available. Soaps and detergents have come a long way in the past decade as have charcoal containing clothing. The most problematic area remains breath odor. Clothing solutions to breath odor are less than ideal and not well suited to warm weather hunting. Minty freshness isn’t a natural deep woods smell and doe in heat gum isn’t an appealing option (trust me it has been considered). Most of the mouth odor originates in decaying food particles stuck in our aging and receding gum lines. Nutritional approaches to this problem have been studied and (while this sounds gross) actual stink measurements have shown that mouth odor can be reduced substantially with the right combination of anti-oxidants and certain minerals. There is also evidence that our body odor can be reduced as well. We also recommend a product called Cammo Breath, though chewing gum is not an option for everyone, this product does a great job of covering up mouth odor.

Immune function and cold tolerance are greatly affected by nutrition. The water soluble B vitamins are most useful here as well as the ever present anti-oxidants. Being water soluble there is little risk in taking the high enough doses required to get the desired result though anti-oxidants are not without some risk themselves.

At this point if you don’t feel overwhelmed with information, we’d be surprised. We have not listed the quantities of the supplements because it is very confusing. The correct amount for one problem area may not be helpful with other target areas and safety is of course paramount! Also many of you are probably asking just how many pills per day and at what cost? Truthfully I can tell you the answer to both questions is a lot. At one point I felt like putting all these things in a bowl and cutting up some strawberries and pouring milk over it all and calling that breakfast.

We have been working on these combinations for several years now. We all agree that while testimonials are not the same thing as proof, personally experiencing the benefits of modern medicine is a powerful thing. We have been consulted by Robinson Outdoors, Inc in the development of their new product “Sportsmen’s Edge”. This is a daily supplement that contains the RIGHT stuff in the RIGHT amounts to actually get the results published in medical journals regarding the enhancement of the traits we listed above. The proof isn’t from some marketing internet site or sales brochure but from real honest to goodness scientifically accepted research studies. The best part is that it is very reasonably priced, (far less than the multi-pill approach), and is formulated into two pills per day.

Like the doctors of yore, we have guinea pigged ourselves for your benefit. Both of us are very impressed. The significant benefits we received from the handful of pills approach is now greatly simplified. Further, the regular ‘ol once daily vitamin is no longer needed as this product covers routine health needs completely by providing a truly complete multi-vitamin/mineral supplement all in one product. So whether you want to obtain the correct nutrients individually by amassing numerous bottles or by getting a complete formula in this new product, you can greatly enhance your hunting abilities and general outdoor activities with nutritional approaches.

As always enjoy the outdoors and be safe.
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