Although every hunter doesn’t experience buck fever, every hunter knows exactly what it is and where it comes from. Buck fever is a natural phenomenon when rushing adrenaline collides with a hunter’s extreme anticipation and the body purges the overload in the form of shaking. Every hunter has fought it or surrendered to it. Here is how you can master it.
Train for It
Just like in sports, the military or certain occupation, simulating an activity in a repetitious manner creates familiarity and muscle memory. When our minds and bodies get used to practicing these tasks, they remember and help the body to repeat the performance without the conscious mind ordering them to. In other words, practice encountering a huge trophy animal in your mind and with your weapon (unloaded always). I have friends who practice drawing on TV animals as they watch hunting shows and DVD’s. It might seem goofy, but it all counts as practice.
With the right attitude, you can beat buck fever before you even experience it. I have never suffered from extreme buck fever, but I have felt the fever and fought it, and beat it. My method involves acting like I don’t care about the animal when I see it. I mean, I try not to get excited so I tell myself that I just don’t care about taking the excitement all in and I try to be business like. It might sound corny, but it works. I also refuse to look at antlers once I recognize they are desirable.
Another trick I use to fool my simple mind, I never ever try to watch my bullet or arrow hit the animal. I follow through and let the impact happen without me trying to see it happen. No matter who you are, you cannot shoot and see the impact without altering your form, and I always abandon the hope of seeing my animal get shot so I don’t jerk or flinch.
To me, concentration is the hardest part of closing the deal on an animal. When my mind gets overloaded, I want to let my mind wander and start to notice stupid things. Don’t do it, just keep your head in the game and concentrate on exactly what you are doing. Concentrate on being quiet, then move on to concentrating on getting a good rest or shooting position. Finally, concentrate on squeezing off the shot and stay fixated on your aiming spot.