When Andre Alipate goes bush he carries everything he needs with him on his back. And for that type of hunting you need to be fit, but not just gym fit, hunt fit.
Andre, a founding member of The Red Stag Timber Hunters Club, is well known to television viewers as part of the popular hunting series which has achieved a strong following with its spectacular filming, its genuine sense of hunting ethics, and the sheer Kiwi blokiness of its protagonists. These guys aren’t just out there to shoot anything, they’re selective trophy hunters, but primarily hunt first and foremost to eat and harvest clean organic meat for family and friends.
Andre says the best way to keep fit is to keep hunting, as often as possible. But that’s not always practical when there’s a living to be made and a family to care for.“We’ve recently had our first child, and I haven’t been in the bush as much as I’d like,” Andre says.“But it’s important to maintain a level of fitness so that when it is time to hunt you can hit the ground running, and make the most of your time in the outdoors and be an effective hunter. “The nature of backpack hunting is that you have to take everything you need with you, and more often than not the animals we hunt are found in some of the most remote, wild, gnarly and unforgiving corners of New Zealand. As a result, not only do you have to reach these places, you also have to function and think at a high level when you’re in there, and then return home in one piece once you’ve harvested your meat and bone. Fitness has played an important role in the way I hunt, especially on some of the longer trips I do, and it’s something I don’t overlook.”
When training for these kinds of hunts Andre utilises a functional, constantly varied high intensity style of strength and conditioning with an applicable and “real world” transfer over into a backpack hunt type scenario. Andre believes that fitness training should prepare you as much as possible for the sort of stimulus you are likely to encounter when hunting, whether it’s the high peaks of the south or steep hills in the north. Having a good cardio-respiratory and aerobic endurance base is a key component, he says.That can involve trail running, walking with a loaded hunting pack, rowing, cycling, and swimming, just to name a few. In conjunction with developing a good “engine” from endurance/cardio work, high intensity and functional strength training is used to develop a holistic strength and skill base.
In the gym Andre prescribes a form of training that aims to use the whole body. For example, the bicep curl is fine for building big biceps, but isn’t very functional or transferable on the mountain or in the outdoors on a hunt. “We try to use movements that involve multiple joints of the body, like jumping, pressing, pulling, squatting, hingeing and carrying odd objects, things that utilise the whole body. They move the largest loads the longest distances, and are also core compound movements in everyday life.
“I’m a details man,” he says. “I always make sure my gear is prepared and ready for the hunt, the same is true for my fitness. It’s something I don’t overlook in my preparations. The reality is that hunting (in New Zealand generally) is a physical pursuit and requires some level of fitness to be effective.“
Our recipe for developing good fitness that is transferable to hunting revolves around constantly varied functional movements, often performed at high intensity. Routine is the enemy. We programme in a way that is constantly changing on a day to day basis just like the sort of thing you would encounter in the back country whilst hunting – we employ this constant variation approach to training all our athletes, and with intensity it has led to dramatic gains in fitness.” Intensity is essential, Andre says, and is a fast track way for people to “improve work capacity and power output. Completing more work in less time is the aim”. It’s a form of strength and conditioning sometimes adopted by special forces operatives to improve fitness and resilience. And it’s that sort of fitness which can sometimes make all the difference to the success and survival on a back country hunt.
'Hunters Club' has Canada, US audiences in sights
Reported by Otago Daily Times
A television hunting show featuring three Otago hunters is about to be exposed to millions of potential viewers in Canada and the United States.
The Red Stag Timber Hunters Club, featuring Wanaka's Dan Curley, Dunedin's Sam Yule and Queenstown man Anto Hall is about to start streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Ninety-six million households subscribe to Amazon in the United States alone.
The show is in its fourth season, after being picked up early on by SKY Television and broadcast by the pay-TV provider and on Prime.
It is already broadcast in more than 20 countries, including Russia and France, and will air in 25 by the end of the year.
The show features two other hunters along with the Otago men, Andre Alipate, of Hamilton, and Tim Barnett, of Nelson.
Its cameramen and producer is Dave Shaw, who studied zoology and film at the University of Otago, and started off filming for Cow TV on Dunedin's Channel 9 (now Channel 39).
Mr Curley said the show began after he hosted The ITM Fishing Show's Matt Watson in Wanaka about four years ago, taking him fishing and hunting.
Mr Shaw was Mr Watson's camera operator, was impressed with what he saw and suggested they collaborate on a pilot episode of a new hunting show.
``We're just about to air our fourth season, and it's just getting international traction,'' Mr Curley said.
The fourth series takes in hunting in areas including Perth River on the West Coast, Three Kings Islands, north of the North Island, the Chatham Islands and Stewart Island.
Mr Curley said hunting was sometimes poorly represented on television.
``What we show is sustenance living, and truly selective hunting.''
The hunters on the show would head into the bush for a week and leave perhaps 30 animals they saw, targeting just what they had come to hunt.``The whole philosophy behind it is earning the right to take that animal. Immersing yourself in the outdoors, and respecting the outdoors is a massive part about it, as opposed to the kill, which is 1% of the show.''
While the Amazon move would mean a financial boost, all three Otago hunters had day jobs, Mr Curley said. He was a land development consultant, Mr Yule was a builder and Mr Hall worked for the Queenstown Lakes District Council.
However, the larger potential audience meant it would be easier to negotiate with sponsors, who would get a bigger reach. It also meant there was more than just enjoyment to be taken from hunting expeditions.