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PostPosted: December 1st, 2014, 12:17 pm 
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On Nov. 29th I had the good fortune of being in the right place at the exact right time. I had a buck come in to 15 yards and after a tense standoff where he rubbed every tree in sight and made 2 scrapes he finally presented me with a slightly quartering away shot. I remember picking a spot and then everything fell apart. I skipped my arrow off of his back just above his back legs, no where near my intended aiming point. As I watched him lope away out of my life I realized that I had just blew the chance of a lifetime. I searched the woods until dark that night but I already knew the outcome. I found no blood and just a little hair at the impact site. Here is a trail cam picture of the buck.
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Narrow ten.jpg
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My question to the experienced big game hunters is this: How do you personally beat buck fever? I know that is what it was as I centered a leaf at the impact site with a blunt before I got down. Any tips for practicing under pressure? Any advice is appreciated. Thanks to all.


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PostPosted: December 1st, 2014, 12:55 pm 
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Well, if you are saying it was buck fever only because you made the shot after the buck had left you may be right and you may be wrong. If you were overly excited or distracted by those big antlers or the situation then it might have been buck fever. On the other hand, if you were calm as you took the shot and still missed your arrow may have hit one of those "invisible" small branches that deflected your arrow to the side and high. I can't say which it was, but I wanted to point out that buck fever wasn't the only possible reason.


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PostPosted: December 1st, 2014, 1:00 pm 
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Gidday mate, all I am thinking about is "what do I have to do to kill this animal" keep you're mind focused on that and you should be right.
Cheers
MOOSE.

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PostPosted: December 1st, 2014, 1:03 pm 
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Richard Flett wrote:
Gidday mate, all I am thinking about is "what do I have to do to kill this animal" keep you're mind focused on that and you should be right.
Cheers
MOOSE.

Now that's a hardcore PBSer....gets up and by 0700 he's on the PBS website! G'day Moose.


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PostPosted: December 1st, 2014, 1:11 pm 
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OK - 1 know the wind direction and current so you know before hand if you can play the time out and not get busted by the deer winding you - 2nd know you have strong back cover and enough cover in front of you so you have confidence you can draw smoothly without getting busted - 3rd see the deer before the deer sees you and make your moves accordingly - 4th do not take your first shot opportunity in the gray areas (edge of your range, too close, too far, less preferred angle) and wait for the deers solid presence inside your 100% effective kill range - 5th take your first shot within that 100% effective range - remembering to always stand up get your bow arm shoulder pointed to the deer or shot window - remembering to point/draw/anchor/release same as your perfect practice - remembering to aim/point directly at the opposite shoulder and keep it there through proper point/draw/anchor/release/follow through. Never look at antlers as soon as you make the personal decision to "shoot" or "not shoot" - Always maintain conscious observation of the deers eyeballs,ears,tail,front legs as these will tell you the deers frame of mind.

So this works for me - keeps me busy enough where I rarely get "buck fever" - although it happens - 2005 I missed a 550# bear at 12 paces - UNBELIEVABLE - and was so jelly legged I almost fell outta the stand - and I am not even afraid of bears just was totally memorized and blown away - but generally by following the steps stated and reminding myself of these constantly I can shoot very well and go years without a mental break down.

Good luck - glad you picked him up on a camera
Cory<><
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PostPosted: December 1st, 2014, 1:52 pm 
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Thanks everyone for the comments.

Larry, I was a lot of things when I drew on that buck and calm was not one of them! Seriously though deflection was a thought that I had but when I calmed down afterward I could not find anything that would have deflected the arrow. I don't remember much from the actual shot so I'm sure it was just a lack of concentration on my part. I don't know if buck fever is the correct term, but I have a history with some bad misses and all of them involve antlered deer. Maybe it is performance anxiety or something like that. Thanks for pointing out that the miss could have been caused by something else.

Cory, that routine makes a lot of sense. I think I will start to incorporate something like that into my routine. I don't really get many shots at game each year so it is something that I will need to practice every time I shoot.

Richard, excellent advice! That is exactly what an alpha predator should be thinking...


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PostPosted: December 1st, 2014, 2:31 pm 
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Great topic. I learned a long while back to practice as unemotionally as possible. What I mean is that I shoot with very calm demeanor and really could not care less what happens with the arrow. I only care about form and execution of the shot...what I can control. As strange as it may sound, the less I care about where the arrow ends up the better my shooting becomes. We've all seen the guys who tie their heart to every arrow they shoot and struggle with making accuracy happen. They invariably blow easy shots and berate themselves for it. Totally counterproductive.

I told a fellow PBS guy once that when I get ready to shoot an animal I work at what I call 'chilling down'. I dump all the hopes and emotions and try to just stay flat-calm. I NEVER worry anymore about making a good shot on a great animal. In fact (heartless as it sounds) I just try to treat the shot like I would any practice shot. I think a guy shoots a better arrow when he's not under stress, so I work at eliminating it. Not having the slightest concern about where the arrow ends up is actually my way of achieving the best accuracy and most humane kills.


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PostPosted: December 1st, 2014, 3:20 pm 
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I'm far from an expert but I struggled with the same thing my first few seasons after going back to a recurve. I'll tell you a coulple of things that I do that have helped me.

1. I noticed that I got that same urge to get the shot off quickly when shooting in front of a crowd that I got when shooting at live game. So I started shooting in front of crowds. I'd go to 3D tournaments and shoot in a group of as many people as I could. I had to train myself to stop focusing on my surroundings and only focus on the shot.

2. When an animal is coming in and I know I'm going to shoot I always tell myself "settle down, because until you've actually made the shot this is nothing more than another the one that got away story". I know that sounds odd but it helps calm me down. I think I'm essintially doing the same thing as Kevin is talking about and dumping my emotions. This is just my way of doing it.

3. I go through a pre-shot checklist before I shoot. This only works for me if I do it in practice every shot so it becomes as much a part of the shot as pulling the bow back. Doing it in practice is the hardest part for me, it's easy to get lazy and not do it.

And I know this doesn't help, but man what a beautiful buck! I hope you get another crack at him.


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PostPosted: December 1st, 2014, 8:00 pm 
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Some great advice, as usual. Kevin, interesting perspective as I have never thought of it that way, I like it!
There are a lot more qualified people on here than myself but I went through the same thing. I personally believe, for me, it comes down to how I practice and confidence. I almost religiously only shoot one arrow at a target and try to keep everything as "real" as possible while practicing. As far as actually shooting at game. I try to let myself go into auto pilot and don't over think anything. Just sort of let it happen. But I do remind myself to pick a spot and get a good solid anchor.
One more thing I will say. I don't play golf but I think golfing and shooting a bow are a lot alike. There are so many little things you have to do right that a guy can pick up bad habits without realizing it. If I ever go out to shoot and for some reason am shooting poorly I will just quit and shoot another day. Maybe just a mental thing with me, but it works for me.

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PostPosted: December 2nd, 2014, 3:30 am 
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Gidday Larry! How it's going? I am up and away most days around the 5am 6am mark, currently watching a clearing that I know some red skins are using. The hinds are giving birth and kicking the yearlings off. Me hardcore? Na I'm still just a boy compared to you guys. What do you guys call it "Greenhorn"? Some great advice here Zach, here is hoping you get another crack at that buck! I would love to see one that big! Good luck bro!

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PostPosted: December 2nd, 2014, 8:03 am 
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Thanks everybody for the advice, I have a lot to digest here and incorporate into my everyday shooting. I strung up the longbow last night and took about 10 shots before it got too dark. I shot one arrow at a time and used a routine of pick a spot, draw, anchor, concentrate, release and follow through. I did this as emotionless as possible. I shot very well 8 times and the 2 that didn't fly where I was looking I just let go. I used the Aaron Rodgers approach: R-E-L-A-X (I might get strung up for quoting the Packers QB in Browns country) and I have to say it felt good.

I resharpened that arrow and am ready to go again. Gun season is in full swing here so I'll have to wait a week before I can get back out. I'm anxious to test out my new shooting routine.

Ethan, I have struggled a lot in the past by continuing to shoot when things weren't going well. I think if things turn south for me now I'll just unstring the bow and walk away for a while.


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PostPosted: December 2nd, 2014, 4:05 pm 
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Zach, if you ever want to get together and do some shooting I hunt down that way often.


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PostPosted: December 3rd, 2014, 8:16 am 
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David, I would enjoy shooting with someone very much! If you ever plan on being in the Holmes/ Coshocton area let me know.


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PostPosted: December 5th, 2014, 9:52 pm 
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Zach,

The good news is that your not alone, just human.
We all feel the weight of our bow and the weight of responsibility when we draw down on an animal.

For me I have to try to postpone the powerful emotions that can prevent me from making a humane kill, then let them back in after the shot. Easy to talk about hard to do.

Speaking for myself, I force myself to cheapen the whole event by whispering, "It's just a target, I'm in control and I get to decide when to shoot".

I don't tell myself to pick a spot. My training (practice sessions) have made that automatic. You might think it's funny but the last thing I say to myself is "Ok, The hand doesn't leave the face". It's something I heard Fred Bear tell a young boy during a practice session on one of his films. I don't know what it is....Maybe just his voice and the matter of fact way that he said it, but it just sticks with me. I even smile when I say it to myself.

For me it's the single biggest reason for shooting high. The problem is that powerful urge to see the impact of the arrow causes me to peek. If I peek, my bow hand will also fly way an equal distance in the opposite direction and I will shoot high and a bit left every time. Combine that with a crouching deer at the sound of the shot and the outcome is bad.

Saying..."Ok ,the hand doesn't leave the face," takes me out of the emotion of the shot for an instant to force that hand tight to my face. If my hand is tight to my face I won't peek. I believe from my experience that it works for me.

The point of all this is that. Even though a guy might be able to squelch a lot of emotion he might still have one subtle flaw in shooting form that can unknowingly become magnified by the excitement of a shot on a live animal.

For me, I've picked a spot and have a radar lock on it, but I need a reminder to prevent my form from unlocking during the excitement.

Hang in there..................We're all in this together!


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PostPosted: December 7th, 2014, 4:37 pm 
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I dont know if anyone can or really wants to "beat" buck fever- thats why I hunt. Now I do want to be able to control it and be able to make the shot when it counts. To do that I train.

Basically sprint as hard as you can until you are really breathing hard, pick up your bow and shoot one broadhead tipped arrow @ a 3d target preferably. I do this in the summer before season, helps me figure out my breathing pattern and simulates buck fever really well.

Helped me out a lot

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PostPosted: December 8th, 2014, 8:10 am 
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Duane and Jacob: Thank you both for the advice. I know the feeling of excitement when I get close to any animal is a big reason why I hunt and I don't think that it will ever leave, I just need to try and control it long enough to make one accurate shot. I really like the Fred Bear quote, and that definitely holds water. I have really been working on my follow through this weekend and I am shooting well. I have never sprinted before taking a shot but that also makes sense to me. I will incorporate that into my practice sessions for sure.


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PostPosted: December 8th, 2014, 8:29 am 
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Excitement and big loads of adrenalin are part of why we hunt. Having these blow up your shooting abilities is not a good thing, especially if it leads to a wounded and suffering animal. That is why I advocate for learning to push all that emotion and excitement completely out of the way when an animal is close and shot anticipated. There is nothing wrong with going into cold-predator mode and being analytical. The outcomes will average much better in the long run. There is plenty of time to get excited and have a melt-down after the shot.


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PostPosted: December 8th, 2014, 1:05 pm 
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Quote:
1. I noticed that I got that same urge to get the shot off quickly when shooting in front of a crowd that I got when shooting at live game. So I started shooting in front of crowds. I'd go to 3D tournaments and shoot in a group of as many people as I could. I had to train myself to stop focusing on my surroundings and only focus on the shot.


Some good advice from Aaron...

I am blessed to live in an area where I have the opportunity to have a lot of deer around me each year. Letting deer walk by and passing up the shot does a lot for me to keep the adrenalin down when I do decide to shoot.

I used to have the BIG problem of always hitting a deer, but rarely hitting them where I wanted to. The whole "pick a spot" didn't work for me. Now, when I see an animal that I intend on shooting I visualize its internal organs. I know it sounds funny but once I go into "killer mode", the animal is transparent to me. I can visualize where its heart is inside of its chest. I concentrate on that and always try and place my broadhead right on across the top of the heart. It takes a lot of the emotion out of the shot for me as I am shooting at a lot smaller target than the whole deer and I tend to be more detached about the shot itself. Like Kevin said, it is just another shot. Afterward... heck yeah I get excited most times.


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PostPosted: December 9th, 2014, 10:39 am 
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Zach, I like the topic. Should I deny having had issues at times holding it together? I'd have a wonderful 9' brown bear (including a good number more big whitetails, caribou, etc) in the house if I was able to always execute. I like Randy's idea of the internal organs. My problem over the years has been an ability to pick a spot on living breathing animals at times, but it tends to come and go. Of course, the human element is what makes this endlessly fascinating.

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PostPosted: December 9th, 2014, 11:59 am 
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I think Kevin summed up my feelings nicely, we all have the responsibility to shoot to the best of our abilities despite our nerves/emotions on any game animal. They deserve it. I hope I'm not drumming up bad memories for anyone, especially MViehweg on that brown bear (one of my dream hunts that may never happen). I am going to try and attend as many 3D shoots as possible when the season comes around. Maybe a few PBSers would like to join in? I can see myself dealing with the same emotions there as in the woods. Thank you Aaron for that suggestion. Anyway I will keep my eyes and ears open for any upcoming shoots this spring.


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