Food For Thought: Nutrition to Excel in the Field

Food For Thought: Nutrition to Excel in the Field

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: with Alishia Zemlicka of Ivory Nutrition Food can distinguish a great experience from a good one. Clients...

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: with Alishia Zemlicka of Ivory Nutrition

Food can distinguish a great experience from a good one. Clients look forward to the meals in camp almost as much as they look forward to the hunt itself. It’s important to appeal to your clients’ pallet while also ensuring they are properly fueled to perform at their very best.

The number one issue we hear from our friends in the outfitting community is that some of their clients cannot keep up with the physical requirements which are imperative to a successful backcountry hunt. Many of these clients come to camp and appear to be physically fit yet they still fall behind, so what’s going on here?


A friend of Burch Barrel who guides his clients on public land elk hunts in Montana told us that he had a client just last week who was too drained to complete a successful hunt. He had been eating poorly, his legs burned, he was tired, and he was too mentally foggy to put a stalk on a 360 inch bull they spotted in the late afternoon on the last day of the hunt. The hunter went home empty handed, and understandably bummed out.

Burch Barrel had the opportunity to talk to Alishia Zemlicka, owner and operator of Ivory Nutrition in Bozeman, Montana. She believes that hunters don’t have to be exhausted even when working their hardest in the backcountry. Alishia is an accomplished huntress who has spent more than ten years in the fitness and nutrition industry. Alishia has taken everything she’s learned and started Ivory Nutrition, a nutritional service geared towards backcountry hunters. Alishia stresses the importance of proper nutrition for a successful backcountry hunt and knows what big game hunters need to refuel their bodies. 

She explains that backcountry hunters can expect to burn an additional 1000 to 3000+ calories per day on a hunt than they would during everyday life (even with moderate exercise daily). Because backcountry hunting is so physically demanding, properly fueling our bodies is crucial if we expect to perform on these hunts. 

Whole foods are key. Alishia like’s to say “eat good to train hard, train hard to hunt hard, hunt hard to eat good.” Eating good means eating what we need to perform at our peak. 

Alishia says that it’s crucial for hunters to eat 3 meals a day with snacks in between meals in order to perform in the backcountry. Getting the necessary fats, carbs, and proteins from whole foods is imperative. Alishia recommends starting the day with a large carbohydrate dense breakfast. One of her favorites is an elk steak burrito with eggs and cheese. They’re easy to make and calorie dense. You can even make them the night before and eat on the go in the morning. Every two to three hours it’s a good idea to refuel with a meal replacement bar or a dehydrated meal. For lunch, Alishia recommends Brats or another form of high protein high fat. Lunch time is a crucial time to replenish energy from healthy fats, so foods like nuts, seeds, and avocados are great with brats. It’s important that dinner is large and where the majority of your protein gets mixed in. A tough day on the mountain means that our tanks are empty and need to be refilled, and our muscles are craving the rebuilding proteins that they need. Grilled elk or other wild game with veggies, and potatoes cooked on the grill in tinfoil is a great and easy option. 

It’s important to feed your clients well in the field and at camp. This means feeding them both meals that taste good and those that are high in calories and made from whole foods. Healthy fats, carbs, and proteins are imperative for your hunters to fully enjoy their experience with you in the woods. We encourage you to pass this information along to your clients ahead of time so that they can prepare for their hunt. 

To summarize, 

MORNING: Ex. Leftover Grilled Elk, Egg, Potato, and Cheese Burritos 

Carbohydrates in the morning give us energy for the day and support our mental fortitude. Healthy fats are the most calorically dense source of energy with 9 calories per gram of fat. 

SNACK: Ex. Nuts, seeds, or even half an avocado.

Morning snacks give us a boost of energy after our first major energy depletion. Healthy fats contain the most calories and are best suited for this job.

AFTERNOON/LUNCH: Ex. If back in camp, Brats, burgers, or leftover elk meat with a healthy source of fat is perfect. If getting back to camp for a hot meal isn’t an option dehydrated meals such as “Mountain House” are a great option.

SNACK: Ex. Meal replacement and granola bars. Nuts and seeds and a granola bar.  Afternoon snacks should have fat and carbohydrates for energy when we need it most. 

DINNER: Ex. Elk Steak, Baked Potato, Green Beans.

It’s important to refuel your body at dinner. It’s worked hard all day and now’s the time to pack in the protein to maintain and rebuild muscle strength that has been depleted throughout the day.


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