Boone Smith has a vital reason for staying fit and healthy and it is literally a life or death situation. The host of Nat Geo WILD’s “Man v Lion” reality series gets up close and personal with his fellow cast mates…who just happen to be wild animals that would tear him limb from limb if they get a hold of him.
So it behooves Smith to not only prepare physically, but mentally, as well, to stay one (or 10) steps ahead of the wildlife.
We sat down with Smith and picked his brain on just what it is like to do what he does.
MuscleSport Magazine: Being out there in the wilderness, how do you prepare your body for the elements? (not fitness-related, but in general.)
Boone Smith: Certainly there is a physical element about being in the wilderness. But no matter how good of shape you are in, the most important element is mental. Usually people get into trouble when they aren’t using their heads. The elements can be hard on you, so being able to deal with being wet, cold, tired, and maybe a little beat up with a smile on your face is what makes the difference. It’s all about perspective.
MSM: You are known for carrying 60-pound packs for 20-mile hikes every day. Explain how your body feels after this.
BS: Tracking and capture work can be tough. You feel pretty beat up at the end of the day, and that pack feels like it gets heavier every day, especially with most of those miles being vertical. Sore feet and tired shoulders are just kind of the name of the game.
MSM: What do you do in the gym to get yourself in the type of condition the above takes?
BS: Strength and endurance are essential for the type of conditions I work in. It’s amazing how much less the muscles hurt at the end of the day when I have spent some time in the gym. I love the ‘chipper’ style CrossFit workouts. The mix of lifting and cardio at a high level are just what I need to have the stamina to track day in and day out.
MSM: Diet-wise, do you need to eat certain foods during these difficult treks?
BS: I never gave much thought to diet for a long time, but as I get older it has become very important to help me perform at a high level. I always carry lots of dried fruits, trail mix and jerky. All those foods not only give me energy throughout the day, but they give my muscles a little something for the following day as well. Combine that with some good energy bars and it is the perfect mix for nutrition and weight. Weight and space become just as important as nutrition when you are making long treks.
MSM: How about hydration?
BS: For the longest time hydration was a big issue for me. I would get so caught up in the tracking that I would just forget to eat and drink. That creates problems when your body has to be recovered and ready to go the following day. A good Camel Back hydration system has made all the difference. A good water filter has made me even more efficient during my adventures.
MSM: Any close calls with wildlife?
BS: The nature of capture business puts me in close proximity with big carnivores. It is a dangerous business, but experience and common sense go a long way to limiting the number of scars. I’ve had a few cats miss me by inches, and I can honestly say I have been scared a time or two. But that is also when I feel I am at my best; when things are going kind of crazy. Of course this is what makes it an adventure.
Boone Smith, a fourth generation cat tracker, who lives out his dream job in wildlife capture and research, with a focus on big cats. This modest guy thinks nothing of hiking 20 miles a day, carrying 60-pound packs, which also keeps him in tip-top shape. While most of us only get to see such wildlife on television, Boone gets up close and personal (by sitting in a clear box in the middle of the jungle surrounded by these animals) during “Man v Lion,” part of the “Fifth Annual Big Cat Week” on National Geo WILD airing in November.
“Man v Lion,” part of the “Fifth Annual Big Cat Week” airs on Nat Geo WILD November 28th at 9:00pm ET
Photos courtesy of Bullseye Communications