Mental health has been a hot topic for decades. Influencers, vloggers, doctors, twitter “experts”, they all come up with fancy hashtags and shout to the high heavens “get medicated” or “work out more” or “go to therapy” in order to alleviate stress and depression. And while these may be viable suggestions, I’m of a different mind.
Go turkey hunting.
There are several studies that demonstrate the benefits of spending time outdoors and in nature, including the positive effects on mental health and immunity.
A 2019 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that spending time in nature, specifically in forests, can lead to a decrease in cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress. The study also found that exposure to phytoncides, organic compounds released by trees and plants, can boost immunity.
Another study, published in the journal Ecopsychology in 2015, found that spending time in nature can lead to improvements in mood and self-esteem. The study found that just 20 minutes of outdoor time was enough to make a positive impact on participants’ mental health.
Finally, a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2019 found that spending time in nature can reduce symptoms of depression. The study found that outdoor activities, such as hiking and bird watching, were associated with a decrease in depressive symptoms.
Ask any turkey hunter, and they will tell you that spending time outdoors can have a positive impact on both physical and mental health. As for turkey hunting specifically, it can provide an opportunity to get outside, enjoy fresh air and sunshine, and engage in physical activity. All of these factors can contribute to improved mood and overall well-being.
It’s not always just sitting in a blind – especially if you hunt public land. Often, turkey hunting requires hunters to walk through wooded or swampy areas, which means hiking up hills, through streams, and over rough terrain. While not always an easy feat, it’s not always fun – especially if you’ve packed on a few extra winter pounds, but it can be a great way to get exercise while enjoying the great outdoors.
Physical activity helps to reduce the levels of cortisol in the body, which is the hormone associated with stress. Exercise also helps to release endorphins, which act as natural stress-relievers. Regular exercise can also help to improve sleep quality, reducing stress levels even further.
There’s nothing better than meandering through the woods, calling softly, feeling the sense of mother nature all around you. And walking through the woods on a quiet morning is sure to release endorphins, which act as natural stress-relievers.
With the current turkey hunting structure here in Wisconsin, even if I wasn’t able to procure a tag for every week, there’s still the opportunity to go scouting. Putting in the miles will not only assist with mental and physical health, it will more than likely increase the odds of a successful hunt.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, turkey hunting is the fastest-growing type of hunting in the state. In 2020, over 90,000 hunters went out for the spring turkey season, and over 30,000 hunters went out for the fall season. The majority of hunters hunt on public land, which means they are walking long distances to find their prey.
Anyone who knows me is well aware that I am perpetually on a diet. I love beer, smoked meats and avocados. I will probably never be skinny, but I’m always on the lookout for the latest diet trend,
Maybe I’ll take up the Wild Turkey Diet.
How exactly does turkey hunting help with weight loss, you ask?
Well, let me impart a statistic I came across that actually surprised me: walking through the woods for hours on end can burn a significant amount of calories. According to Harvard University, a person weighing 150 pounds can burn up to 400 calories per hour while hiking. So, if you’re out turkey hunting for 4 hours, you could burn up to 1,600 calories! That’s equivalent to running 10 miles.
I mean, I knew walking and such burned calories, but I was blown away the more I dug into the subject at just how many calories.
Not only does turkey hunting burn calories, but it also helps build muscle. Carrying a shotgun, decoys, (I’ll say healthy snacks, but let’s be real, they’ll probably be mini Snickers) and other hunting gear can be quite heavy. This weight can help build muscle in your arms, back, and shoulders. And of course, walking on uneven terrain can also help strengthen your legs and core.
But turkey hunting is not just about the physical activity. It’s also about the mental challenge. Turkey hunting requires patience and strategy. You have to know when to move and when to stay still. You have to be able to call the a hot tom in close without scaring him away. This mental challenge can be just as rewarding as the physical challenge.
All in all, turkey hunting is a great way to get exercise while enjoying the great outdoors. Spending time in the woods can have a positive impact on both physical and mental health. As for turkey hunting specifically, it can provide an opportunity to get outside, enjoy fresh air and sunshine, and engage in physical activity. All of these factors can contribute to improved mood and overall well-being.
With over 90,000 hunters participating in Wisconsin alone, it’s clear that turkey hunting is a beloved activity. So, grab your shotgun (or your bow) and your hunting gear, and head out into the woods for a great day of hunting while recharging the ol’ batteries!