In Sports Applications

August 04, 2009

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Paul (Apolloswabbie) Eich finds himself on top of a mountain wondering if his CrossFit training will pay off.

In retrospect, you might say it was all part of life’s rich pageant. At the time, I was preoccupied by an immediate concern: how the hell would I move a 500-pound elk carcass through the deep snow, down a mountain and into a vehicle before the sunset brought mountaintop cold, coyotes and perhaps mountain lions?

It was January 2009. I was pursuing a boyhood dream of hunting elk and found myself testing CrossFit’s claims to produce a general physical preparedness that lends itself well to unknown and unknowable challenges. It was Day 4 of a five-day elk-hunting trip, and my CrossFit workouts had already paid off. Early on, I’d figured out that a Pose-style forefoot-weighted step was best for a good snowshoe stride. As I made my way up the mountainside, I noted that CrossFit has fundamentally changed how I move

When I saw a herd working its way up the next ridge, I arranged my gear to enable a long belly crawl. When the rangefinder told me they were only 325 yards away, I settled into the snow. The cow collapsed at my shot.

All of a sudden, the day began to feel like a CrossFit WOD:

Dead Cow Drag
Before the sun sets:
• Pull a bunch of off-balance 300-pound deadlifts
• Backtrack 20 meters up a mountain to grab 40 pounds of gear
• Run/slide back down to animal and repeat until one mile is covered.

It was beautiful in a very CrossFit way.



40 Comments on “The Dead Elk and the CrossFit Question ”


wrote …

I Hope the elk was as exited about your efort as you...


wrote …

since when is killing a beautiful living being
for "sport"


wrote …

I wonder how much Elk steak makes up 1 block of Protein.


wrote …

Congrats Paul! what grain load and everything were you using to take that elk @ over 300?

A real inspirational trek, thanks for sharing with us!


wrote …

Awesome article, Hunting season is just around the corner for me. Gonna start shootimg my now tomorrow


wrote …

Maybe the second round, he can do the same to you.


wrote …

"I wonder how much Elk steak makes up 1 block of Protein. "

I always count cooked deer and elk as cooked beef, so 1oz/1block protein...just in case that was a serious question.

As someone on the boards once said, "it doesn't get much more Paleo than that!"


wrote …

Great job. For the haters above, I'm curious to know how you might believe eating the meat you purchased at a store is any different than hunting and harvesting wild meat for yourself. If any of the paleo ideology is true, then you would have to agree that part of our instinct involves an urge to pursue and dominate prey. sometimes it manifests as "sport" and other times it manifests as a functional and honest way to harvest lean protein sources like this. Not all hunters are trophy seekers and the fact that Eich shot a cow in this case proves that he probably isn't either. Herds across the west must be managed and can't be with the absence of predators that have historically prevailed in this region(wolves). Since they're no longer around in proper numbers, someone else has to manage the herds. I don't mind filling that niche.


wrote …

I am so happy that we live in a society where every imbecile is given the same opportunity as everyone else. I am constantly entertained by their simplicity and stupidity. If only we could enslave them somehow and strip them of their finest meats and cheeses.

I enjoyed your article Paul. I wish that I could have been there as well.


wrote …

Great article.


wrote …

Great article Paul. Right now I am stuck in the L.A. area so a little difficult to get in hunting so your article was alot of fun to read. What type of rifle were you using, optics, load, etc.?


Daniel Staton wrote …

I cannot believe my eyes when I read some of this uneducated animal rights rhetoric. I never comment, but when I read some of those negative posts on a CrossFit Journal posting it's like we don't live in the same world...Meat, Vegetables, Nuts, Seeds, etc... review your CrossFit doctrine. Tree huggers can go hungry for all I care.

Great harvest of a mature cow, very tasty meat in the freezer, and sounds like the animal was taken in a very ethical manner.


wrote …

I CrossFit so I can hunt!


Jesse Gray wrote …

Great article! I can't think of a more all around crossfit experience, diet and exercise in one! Crossfit prepares one for the unknown and the unknowable which could easily be a definition of wilderness. Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing. To those who disprove of hunting, perhaps you would prefer if no elk were hunted so they could breed past a critical population point and starve to death?


wrote …

I'm not a hunter but that made me want to go do it. Good job swabbie.


wrote …

Love the story .... never really considered the crossfit angle into my hunting but I guess it does make a lot of sense.

Hunting season is just around the corner as my freezer is getting bare of the venison and elk from last season so this is getting my excited!

Next time don't forget to post your time!


wrote …

Guessing based on the comments that the 'haters' didn't read the article, but I appreciate the defense of hunting by several above. Many posted have addressed the issue well - my thoughts follow.

Clearly the ethics of hunting, food, and consideration for animal suffering are important. I have always hunted, my grandparents were farmers, and I eat meat all day every day. I have also gone out of my way, my whole life, to prevent animal suffering. I am reconciled with the idea of hunting for sport, even with its seeming contradictions. I eat every animal I shoot, and relish the quality of that food for myself and my family. I don’t hunt for food, I hunt because I want to hunt.

I feel lucky to live in a time where folks can get their food by allowing others to kill the animal, process the meat and deliver it to the local grocery store.

I feel lucky to live in a place where a small group of very passionate people with strong empathy for animals is not allowed to use the coercive power of the State to inflict their ethic on others.

Animals face a hard death – they will be eaten, hit by a car, freeze to death, or starve. They will not, as we used to say when I was a police officer, live long enough to die in bed.

Many if not most game animals would not be alive except for hunters. Hunters have paid for the reintroduction of deer to most states, elk to many states including Utah, wild turkey, and other species to areas from which these animals were driven by deforestation.

I appreciate anyone’s empathy for animals. I feel it very strongly myself. I do not accept moral equivalence of human and animal life, although animals do and are unconcerned about either. There’s no getting around the fact, however, that life is tough and death is certain for all animals and my choice to hunt them does not shift that equation in the slightest.

Evan, Michael, the rifle was a M700 Sendero (26” bbl), chambered for 25-06. The bullet was a 100 grain Barnes TSX will a full charge of Magpro. This load registered approx. 3400 fps muzzle velocity over a chronograph. Even that light bullet delivered full thoracic penetration – albeit, no large bones were struck. I wouldn’t use that gun again for a mountain hunt – with scope it was over 11 pounds; too heavy!

I appreciate the many kind comments very much – no way to know how much interest a ‘hunting’ story would generate. Jared - laughing! Four days.

My thanks to Daniel Freedman for making this a CFJ worthy article. Paul


wrote …

By all the "haters" comment I assume that they don't realize that they would die if survival was their specialty. The whole purpose for Crossfit is so we are successful for what is unpredictable. Plus, how do they think we got our food back when we were hunters and scavengers.

Crossfit so we can...........(fill in the blank)

CF 4life


wrote …

Great story. I have my hunt coming up this winter. I love it,"I CROSSFIT SO I CAN HUNT". That would be a cool shirt.



Well written, and didn't expect to see anything less. Following every thread here and don't like to post. I am beginning to see so many people instead of appreciating another man's hard fought battle they in turn would like to see him falter, be laughed at instead of supported.
All together they would rather then have him ridiculed for his deep down desire to finish a job he started, regardless of the obstacles he faced. Were they life and death to him? No.

Was there death involved? Yes, and food for his family and himself. Selfless to say the least for he not only found true friendship, respect and admiration not from the haters, or from the CF crowd, but those he never knew were watching, studying to see not what he presented in persona, but in his true self and determination and humbling as it was to accept the help once given him.

To those that hate, I take nothing from you for that is all you will ever know. You will be in the pitch, arena only as clean up to some one else's conquest, or victory. For no matter how the person was victorious you will somehow be little it by your ignorance and arrogance.

To you I say this.

Bleed here, and now for you will know what it's like to have a little inclination of a true warrior in battle that bleeds way too much, and keeps on going with out so much as look over his shoulder to see who heckle's him.

Well done Swabbie.


wrote …

#7.... It was a serious question and thanks for the info. I have access to game meat pretty much for free and was thinking about substituting some in. OK so it was only a half serious question. I also wanted to poke some fun and some light in to the previous 2 posters.


wrote …

Very cool. Now I'm curious how many crossfitters hunt.


wrote …

good on you man. life only gives life. Crossfit is not for everyone and neither is hunting. My Bow is tuned and i too am ready for Deer and Elk season. With out Crossfit there is no way I would be physically able to process and properly care for the meat. I have often carried 90 pound plus backpack 6 miles in order to pack out my trophy. There is an old saying "if i have to explain it you wouldn't understand anyway" so it is with Hunting and Crossfit. Not for everyone....thank God.


Olivia de Santis wrote …

You guys have a low tolerance for other opinions - I don't see any "animal rights rhetoric" - were some posts deleted? #1 & #6 look like jokes to me.

Happily a vegan crossfitter for 1.5 years - unless there's some kind of crazy apocalypse, the only hunting I need to train for is finding a 300lb sack of soy beans on sale and dragging it back to my cave!

(I have no comment on the article... just on the so-called hate)


wrote …

I was formerly put off by hunting. I now realize that aside from raising your own cattle, it's the most responsible way to consume meat. There is no obfuscating the food chain, unlike with industrial beef raised on grain in poor conditions.


Luke Terry wrote …

Regarding comment #7, I recall a chart from one of my nutrition classes showing the average protein content for a variety of game meats, with several domestic animals as well. Game meats all wereabove the average for beef, which was the highest of common domestic animals. Antelope was the highest protein content, which makes sense considering they can achieve Interstate Highway speeds. Talk about explosive.
Here's a sweet PDF with game meat nutrition info from the University of Wyoming :

Operationally, the protein advantage of game meats is not greater than ten percent, so I would assume that game can be thought of as an equivalent to standard red meat blocks.

As for the debate on hunting--humans produce an enzyme in our gut, elastase, which is specific to breaking down a protein ONLY found in animal flesh, elastin. We evolved eating game. We are hunters at our core, from our ancient pre-history, and are well-adapted to eat meats in moderation, and appropriate to the high energy economy of Crossfit and other sport.

Nice work, Paul, and hats off to you & the other hunters of Crossfit. I hope to re-enter the realm of the hunter, after more than a decade, and return to bowhunting.


Olivia, I think comments #1, #2, and #6 (as of now) were intended as a form of rhetoric. They add nothing to Paul's story and barley qualify as articulate comment, even if they disagree. They are, to paraphrase from a Supreme Court dissent, the "inarticulate grunt" of "free speech". (Check Texas v. Johnson, I think).

As to Paul's article, I can't really comment (fairly) because I'm so biased. I am proud to call Paul my friend and supremely proud of his effort. Though we've only met a few times, we are yet very good friends through CF.

I'm impressed really because I know Paul wears women's underwear and paints his toenails. (Please, Tony, don't delete that!)

Great job, Swabbie. That's a quality shot at that distance under those conditions, but I would think a slightly higher caliber and slightly "cooler" load for Elk, but I've never hunted Elk so maybe I'm way off base. Also, I remember being in OCS and at Basic School with my old M-16 and thinking how f'ing heavy 8.2 pounds could be after 10 miles with a 60lb pack on, especially carrying it at port arms.

Keep in touch, Paul and maybe we can set up a hunting trip this fall if Janet will be so gracious.

Dale Saran


wrote …

Thanks Dale, thanks for checking in.

The load - probably not ideal, but with an all copper bullet I knew it would hold together and the velocity made the range/tranjectory calculation much less critical.

Dude, I would love to get a hunt in with you - we'll find a way.


wrote …

Nice article. Reminds me that I need to call the butcher in Texas who's been holding meat from my winter deer hunt.

Crossfit is great for hunting. When my guide and I were dragging that deer through the brush, I was noticeably less winded even though he's younger and does it more often. When I went hunting in Africa a few years ago, I was well prepared to help hoist elk-size antelope into the truck.

For the vegetarians in the community -- I think those who give up meat out of concern for animal welfare often don't consider the wildlife habitat that's lost to farming practices, or the birds and animals incidentally killed by farm machinery, or the deer, elk, and antelope shot on crop depredation permits.

For my fellow hunters in the community -- happy hunting!


wrote …


Great article, and I just loved reading both the Love and Hate comments.

I by the way have my eyes on a 300lb black bear here this fall and plan on bringing him down with my trusty 308 Win..

Good Hunting, Good Meat, Now everyone let's Eat.

Tom Rolen


I think you're making an unfounded assumption. There are new vegetarians every day, and not all of them have come at their choice from every angle, but there are also long term vegetarians who have carefully researched and weighed their choices. I'm sure you've seen the same in omnivores; some are born into the diet and never give any consideration to why they eat what they eat, while some have considered their diet very deeply.

Either way, this article isn't about vegetarianism, and there's no reason to start making it into "teach the vegetarian why they're wrong".


replied to comment from Olivia de Santis


I'm aware of all those points. That's why I said "THOSE WHO give up meat out of concern for animal welfare OFTEN" fail to consider all aspects of the issue. The phrasing indicates that some give up meat for other reasons, and that some surely do consider the issue fully. On the other hand, some surely do just think "Killing animals is bad, therefore I won't eat animals." Those people are missing a part of the equation that I think doesn't get mentioned very often.

Dale and Paul,

Yow, I agree an 11-lb. rifle is heavy for mountain hunting. I'd have counted that as part of the WOD!

On another point, the folks I trust most on bullets say the X-bullets work best at significantly lighter weights and higher velocities than conventional lead core projectiles, and may work better still if they hit bone. I've only used them in a .375 H&H (270-gr. at 2700 fps), and they did work great, especially with shoulder shots.



replied to comment from John Frazer

Thanks John - 11# rifle on a mountain hunt was stupid, but it was so much more accruate, with much better optics, that even after carrying a 7# Kimber the first day (thus knowing how much the 11#s would suck) I couldn't leave it behind. Next time - better scope/load for the Kimber.


wrote …

39 days to go till elk season here in Montana. Thanks for the inspiring story!


wrote …

Great story, I also CrossFit to hunt. Check out CrossFit Dan Staton he writes CrossFit based hunting fitness articles for several publications and has a blog at


wrote …

I grew up hunting elk, deer antelope and big horn sheep. My first big game was a big horn ewe, taken down from 200 yards with an old remington 25-06, since then I took two elk (one from 400 yards) with the family Ruger 270. I haven't hunted much since my teens, mostly out of pursuing other activities and life just sort of taking over. I've always wanted to get back into it and this article was pretty inspiring. My dad was a hardass when we would hunt. Being a military guy the hunt was more of a tactical assault plan than a hunt. Hours were poured into contingencies for what we would do depending on where the elk were specifically in the areas we typically knew them to be. veritable "raids" were launched upon knob hills and across valleys where we spotted the animals, as younger members of the family acted as sweeping mechanisms to drive game towards the shooters. Damn I miss that. a typical day would have you putting in about 12 miles on foot: 6 in the morning to one location, then back out, then 6 up to the evening hunt location, it was hard, arduous and often miserable. I remember being 13 years old, weighing about 140 lbs and rucking 60lbs of elk leg on my back in the middle of the night in whiteout conditions. somehow we always made it back to camp. Good good times and this story just really reminds me of them.

that said, anyone know any good places for elk in Washington state? I would love to take it up again.


Adam Kemmerly wrote …

I wish I could have that opportunity. All of the elk I have bowhunted spend their nights in meadows munching grass, drinking beer and laughing at my stalking skills (whie-tail deer are easier).
I have however helped field dress quarter and carry out 3 other elk. My problem is that they seem to die down mountain when all of our gear is uphill. Damned inconvenient of them.


wrote …

As others have said, which almost brought a tear to my eye, I crossfit so that I can hunt. At 38.5 years old I realized that I was overweight and out of shape, and that climbing trees and hunting solo deep in the swamp wasnt something I could sustain without a change in lifestyle. Its been my part of my life ever since I can remember, and the thought of being too out of shape to hunt the way I wanted to hunt was too much to bear. After a year with a personal trainer I made some progress. After 4 months with crossfit, I made real progress. Turned 40 in May, and am looking forward to the pig/deer drag this fall, knowing that I am stronger than I have been in 20 years. (Dragging a 100 lb pig through a cypress swamp should be an event in the games)

Cheers to Paul all that enjoy the solitude of the woods and the spirit of the hunt. It feeds my soul and my family, for which I am eternally grateful. And deer season starts tomorrow here in South Carolina!


replied to comment from Apollo Swabbie


Great reply to the common question of "Why". If someone hasn't hunted and killed game before they will never understand the mix of emotions that you feel when come upon the animal you just killed. And yes, I would describe many of the animals I've killed as beautiful.

I started crossfit to prepare for a 10 day hunt in South Africa and was in the better shape than I had been for many years. I didn't have to get my hands as dirty as I usally like, but dragging a mature kudu through a patch of thorn bush and rock really made me thankful for CrossFit. As did the three days stalking wildebeest through the bush.

I've also said it many times before, I hunt because I want to hunt and animals die of disease, starvation or from preditors. Nature is neither nice nor fair. The skinned out hide of a mule deer fawn killed by a moutain lion will getting you thinking about the pain we inflict vs. the local preditors.

One suggestion though, learn how to quarter game! It is much easier to get out.



replied to comment from Scott Jones

Scott, great commetns, concur on quartering but that evening, didn't have time. To get her out by sunset, it was drag or bust. Paul

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