Good topic. I had never trained specifically in the past for a hunt, though I was a three sport athlete in high school and was involved in track and field at the D1 college level. For a while I got very interested in distance training as well, and competed in a triathlon. I think too many guys try to model their training off of what they see others do, such as doing all endurance work because they see someone running marathons to train. I've hunted quite a bit of bluff country. It's not all a big endurance exercise. There are times when my heart rate remains stable but working. Though there are also times, going up short segments of a steep hill or climbing when my heart rate shoots way up, and I start breathing heavily and may feel a burn in the thighs (crossing certain thresholds into the anaerobic world and different energy systems) I never read a ton about strength training for hunting outside of some of Cam Hanes' stuff, but being strong really makes everything so much easier as long as your other ducks are in a row. So while my insight hasn't been proven in the mountains, here's how I'm setting up my training for my elk hunt this fall:
-Background/strengths: Explosiveness/plyometric capability, strength per bodyweight in core lifts
-Weaknesses: Aerobic Endurance, Anaerobic endurance, flexibility, balance
Back in the day, I would have added anaerobic endurance and balance to the strengths, but if you don't use it, you lose it. I've been lifting 3-5 days per week depending on the split and program. Instead of dropping that out, I reduce the total volume by cutting the number of sets in each exercise by 1 or 2. I've added balance and dynamic stretching to the warm up, and do more extensive static flexibility work after a lift. I've also started Hal Higdon's Novice half marathon plan, easily found by a Google search. My rule of thumb is that I can always substitute a run with a hilly hike with a loaded pack. It's good to start incorporating specific movement patterns, but I still treat it as endurance. If I start feeling myself slip into anaerobic (heavier breathing, muscle burn) I'll back off a bit. Heart rate monitors are helpful too. For anaerobic work (which typically can be improved upon extremely rapidly relative to strength or baseline endurance) I play a variety of rec sports throughout the year (soccer, flag football, softball). Closer to the trip, I'll add more hill runs. Example workouts (on a moderately sloping hill) might include 100m,150m,200m,150m,100m (walking back and started the next run right away) or 5x200m. The hill workouts they made us do in track were usually more intense and timed, but honestly, there's no point in striving for those numbers again without actual competition to prepare for.