I normally start in April/May. 25 or 30 lbs in my ruck, hiking a mile or two to start. I have a route that has up and down hills on the equivalent of a gated road. There are several spots that have steep trails/hills heading up off the road so I climb/crawl up them and walk back down through the woods to the road. By the end of summer, I get up to hiking 3-5 times per week with close to 40 lbs in my ruck walking up to three or four miles. How do the other elk hunters get into elk hunting shape?