Imagine for a moment that you are sitting in your treestand or hunting blind. You hear a twig break in the distance, and the deer that you have been stalking all hunting season finally steps out in front of you. Suddenly, your pulse quickens, your heart pounds and you begin to feel out of breath. Your hands and arms begin to shake. Do you know the condition that I am describing? Of course you do. Many people refer to this as buck fever. For most hunters, this feeling of excitement and rush of adrenaline when you first spot an animal are a fundamental part of the hunting experience. For some hunters, the physical effects can be more intense than for others. But, how do you keep yourself under control enough to make a lethal shot on the animal?
The following five tips should help you combat the effects of buck fever when you are crossbow hunting this fall:
1. Practice Breathing Control
Your heart pounds quickly and you become out of breath because your bodyxe2x80x99s nervous system has triggered a release of the natural stimulant adrenaline into your bloodstream. When your body receives this adrenaline injection, it increases blood flow to your muscles, which now require more oxygen to function properly. Feeling xe2x80x9cout of breathxe2x80x9d is your bodyxe2x80x99s way of telling you it needs more oxygen. As soon as you begin to feel this way, try taking long, slow, deliberate breaths to provide your body with the extra oxygen it now needs to function in this heightened state. By doing so, you will settle into a breathing rhythm. Strive to maintain that rhythm until after you have taken your shot.
2. Focus on the Kill Zone, Not the Antlers
Seeing the animal that you are hunting in the woods is very exciting, especially if it is a large-antlered, mature buck. However, once you have identified the deer as the one you want to harvest, there is no longer a need to focus on the antlers. At this point, you should turn most of your attention to the spot on the deer where you want your shot to hit. Focus only on making the safest, most accurate shot that you can. You will have plenty of time to admire the deerxe2x80x99s antlers after you have recovered it.
3. Always Have a Stable Rest
Nearly uncontrollable shaking, or tremors, can be another symptom of buck fever. One way to combat this shaking is by having a safe, stable rest upon which to shoot from. Resting the crossbow on a treestandxe2x80x99s shooting rail or resting it on a monopod when you are in a blind can greatly reduce the amount of shaking that is transferred from your body to the crossbow itself. Reducing this shaking increases your chances for the arrow to hit the deer exactly where you are aiming.
4. Trust Yourself
You have worked very hard throughout the summer months to practice shooting your crossbow. You have developed a shooting routine during this practice time that entails rhythmic breathing, establishing a sight picture and trigger control. You have shot tight groups with your arrows with field points, and you have maintained these groups with broadheads during practice. You are confident in your arrow and broadhead combination, and you are confident in the consistent performance of your crossbow. It is at this moment, when the animal is in front of you and has presented you with the opportunity to take a shot, that this confidence will help you overcome the nervousness and anxiety that you may feel about making a good shot. You know exactly what to do and you know that you have proven to yourself that you can do it consistently.
5. Take Time for Yourself After the Shot
You have now taken the shot and watched your arrow hit the deer in the spot where you aimed. Instantly you see the deer turn and run away. Before you do anything else, take some time and allow yourself to calm down as much as possible. It is at this moment, when you are most excited, that you might make a mistake that could put your safety at risk, like failing to secure your crossbow or rushing to get out of the treestand and falling from the tree. You want to give the deer plenty of time to expire before beginning your search, and this waiting period is an excellent time to gather your thoughts and formulate a plan for tracking the deer. When your breathing and heart rate have returned to near normal and the tremors stop, then you can exit your stand or blind, re-cock your crossbow, and begin your search.
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