In this blog I want to cover something that a lot of hunters struggle with and that is “Buck Fever.” The thing we love the most about hunting big mature bucks is when you see a shooter working your way. You get that immediate shot of adrenaline and your heart just starts pounding. Those are the moments that we work for all year.
As great as that feeling is, I have messed up my fair share of encounters due to that buck fever. Losing the ability to think clearly, rushing shots when I should have waited, moving when I knew I clearly should not have. About 4 years ago I shot a really nice 8 pointer right in the shoulder. I rushed the shot, a mere split second encounter and that was when I was really digging into why I wasn’t successful. I was excited, and that element of surprise also added to it. I had to change the way I went about the closing seconds. I started going into kill mode. I now identify that it is a shooter and then I don’t look at the antlers again. Since doing that small thing, which is very tough and takes a lot of discipline to do, it has also had the opposite effect on us as well. I know if I can execute in those final moments that I will be able to look at the antlers for the rest of my life, no need to work myself up more than I need to.
I still get excited and overly jacked up, don’t get me wong, but not looking at that rack has allowed me to stay a little cooler in the heat of the moment. In 2018 I was planning an all day sit when this buck came through the brush. I had seen it was a buck and he had his head down and I thought what I had seen was about an 8-9 inch G2 on his left side which would have been his far side from me. I went into kill mode I picked my window and as he stepped into it, I let it fly. After all my encounters is when I get that rush of adrenaline, that uncontrollable shaking. When I shot this buck I was thinking 120-125 as I had a back view of him bounding off the ridge to a creek bottom where he died. Walking up on this buck was still exciting it just wasn’t what I thought I had shot because I was in kill mode and didn’t take a that extra second to re-evaluate what he was. Still proud as hell and to bring him home and enjoy that time with my son is something I will never forget and it will never get old no matter the size of the deer.
Bud Light was a buck we had on cam, knew he was a 2.5 or a 3.5 year old deer we were hoping to pass. We have Choas and Bud Heavy as our target deer both 5.5 and 4.5 respectively. Bud Light was working a cedar edge as I looked out the back of the wagon blind and I thought it was Choas. I caught the slight swoop up in the end of his main beam, which is the most identifiable characteristic that Choas carries. After a slight panic and re-arrangement in the wagon blind I opened the window to see Bud Light “Choas” now running away. I stopped him, scoped him, and felt the kick of the gun and Bud Light “Choas” dropped. Not even the thought that it was Bud Light in my mind I called Homey and told him Choas was dead. What an experience with my son on his first hunt with my wife in tow. Walking up on the dead buck I could tell about 45 yards away we did an uh-oh.
As too much of the same when we were on top of the deer immediately knew it was Bud Light. I didn’t look at his rack again as I went into kill mode, knowing he was 20-30 yards away from being gone, out of my shooting range, in my mind there would have went my chance at a buck we have chased for 2 years and have yet to encounter on the hoof, Choas. It is still another buck under my belt and for my son to be able to see me shoot a deer and experience success on his first legit hunt and see the front end of all the meat he enjoys is a memory I will never forget and if I had to do it all over again the out come would be much of the same.
Buck fever can really mess with you as a hunter especially on those long all day sits when it has been slow and a shooter buck suddenly appears from the brush. Those are the crucial moments that can define if you are successful that year or you are going to have tag soup. Have you messed up and had too much “Buck Fever” or go into “Kill Mode?”
This week’s blog is brought to you by ECW Hunting Calls Goose Line.