Mountain Running

Training to get in shape for a upcoming elk hunt, or for that matter, any kind of mountain hunt can be a labor of love – or a love-hate relationship! As variety is the spice to life, interval training is the spice to your training program.  It will take your fitness to the next level and it may be just what it takes to get you up the mountain in short order and still be able to draw your bow and make a good shot on a once in a life time elk. 

In 2003, we had just finished a successful back pack archery dall sheep hunt in the Chugach Mountains of Alaska. My guide/outfitter, Braun Kopsack of Palmer, Alaska and I were waiting for the supercub to pick us up.  Braun said “Tony why don’t you come back next summer and run our mountain race, The Matanuska Peak Challenge.”  

Braun and his brother Lance started the race back in 1989. The 14 miles didn’t sound to bad, BUT the 9100 feet elevation climb in that 14 miles makes it the most revered mountain race in Alaska, and both Braun and Lance are some of the best on the mountain. Obviously, before I really thought about it I said “Ok I’ll do it!”  After a tremendous amount of training and sweat, I ran the 2004 Matanuska Challenge. I finished 14th out of 61 runners and 4th in my age group – I was 43 at the time.

Since then I have had a sick fascination for running and climbing mountains. 26 days after that race I was hunting elk in Ely, Nevada.  It took over 16 years of applying to finally draw that tag. On the 4th day I got this huge bull fired up to the point he started thrashing a small pinion pine, as he continued to rake I ran up the ridge in his direction. I was able to close the distance to 30 yards, but as I did he stopped and walked away. I needed 10 more seconds to get a clean shot off.  As the bull moved off I followed and was able to get with in 20 yards and send an arrow perfectly through the boiler room.  He piled up less than 60 yards away. I truly believe I would have never killed that bull that day if it wasn’t for my mountain running and interval training that summer.  I was able to get to the bull while he was still raking, catch my breath, draw my bow and make an excellent shot. 

Tony's NV Bull

Tony's NV Bull

So when your getting in shape for your next elk hunt, and your workouts become boring and repetitive, or you want to take you physical fitness to the next level, add in some mountains and interval workouts to spice up your life.

Braun Kopsack is one of the best bow hunters/hunters I have ever had the pleasure of hunting with and running with.  His hunting skills, knowledge of the animals he hunts, his physical condition, and his tenasity are insane.  Braun’s best known for his mountain runnning and dall sheep hunting in Alaska. 

Braun has the number #1 dall sheep SCI hand gun world record, he’s killed over 10 record class dall sheep with a bow (5 or 6 were top ten Pope & Young), he’s killed well over 30 dall sheep not including all the rams he has guided his clients to!  BUT you won’t ever hear all this from him!! 

A few years ago it was said by one of the most successful bowhunters of all times, and I quote, “Braun is the best bow hunter I know!” Coming for a man that has accomplished as much as this guy has that was speaking volumes!  If you ever have the pleasure of hunting with this man or running agaisnt him, you’ll quickly find out that he is quiet and very very humble! By the way Braun’s hunting gear of choice? You guested it!  Sitka Gear!