What is it? Why do we suffer from it and is there a cure? Target panic or buck-fever. It is all the same thing. It is a normal human reaction that occurs when the body suddenly gets an adrenalin injection. We all suffer from it. Some just more than others and we never know when it is going to get us.
I have been bow-hunting for 27 years and every now and then it creeps up on me like a Mamba waiting to strike.
Don,t laugh now but the worst for me is a Rabbit. Yes, Bugs Bunny. They are just evil. I HATE them for what they do to me. I don,t get buck-fever, even when hunting a Lion or Elephant but a Rabbit just kills me. When ever there is one in my sights and I come to full draw, the world spins and the Rabbit becomes impossible to hit. I find my heart beating at 200 beats/minute and I sweat like an open tap.
I had a great client once that hunted everything with me and he was an excellent shot. One-shot-Sam. One year he wanted an Elephant. Just a normal Ellie. At 25 yards and full frontal I thought that this Jumbo is already in the salt. The early morning sun was directly behind the Ellie. He did not know that we were there. As his ears opened, Sam,s 458Lott went BANG!!!! I can clearly remember a ray of sunlight shining through the hole in his left ear as the bullet flew 3 feet of target at 25 yards.
He did get his Jumbo but needed some help. He was soaking wet and he forgot to breathe.
That is the secret. It starts with breathing. Picture this: You sit in a blind and it is comfortable but not much is happening. You feel drowsy and the birds make your eyes droopy with their song. Then a monster Kudu appears out of nowhere and by the time you see him, he is already at the water. You grab your bow and???.
What just happened? Your body was in a state of rest. Your heart beat at a rate of maybe 65. Your breathing is slow, deep and even. Then, within 2 seconds, your heartbeat jumps to 120+. You take a deep breath to help speed up the oxygen reaching your brain. You start to shake and your muscles tremble because of the adrenalin rush. You come to full draw and then you want to calm everything down like on the range where you practice. You will punch the trigger of your release, that I promise you!
The only way to counter that is to breathe. You have to force yourself to do it because it is not a normal thing to do. If you take deep slow breaths, it will help your muscles to absorb the adrenalin flow evenly. It will keep your eyes from twitching and it will balance out the oxygen versus adrenalin ratio in your system. Only then will you be able to calm your subconscious enough so that muscle-memory can take over and you can make a good, fast, clean kill.
Being a fulltime PH for so long and learning from my own mistakes, I have realised that something a simple as breathing can cost you a lot of money. Nowadays I listen with a keen ear to all my clients breathing just as they mount their gun or pick up their bow to make a shot. My first words will always be- (breathe and calm down).
Everything needs a good strong foundation. Even when doing archery. It starts with breathing, then your stance or posture, and then all the other little things that gives you a good rhythm. Just look at a tennis player just before they serve. They bounce the ball and then take a deep breath. A Fly-half just before he kicks for goal does the same. Good concentration needs plenty of oxygen and the only way to get it is to breathe.
If I could follow my own advice, I just might get over my Rabbit fever.
A real trophy bunny are a serious business....:biggrin2:
A good piece of advice Fritz. I've had a few of those rushes myself. I have found relief by closing my eyes and saying, "it's just a deer"-regardless of the species in front of me. In my mind, I visualize a mule deer back home. This calms my nerve, and allows me to begin focusing on a spot. I begin to concentrate on my breathing. Yes, breathing is indeed the key!
I have not got the buck fever before the shot for many years.
I sometimes get it after :)
I wonder how I will be when I stalk with my bow and get ready for the shot in SA next year .
Will I be a cucumber or a leaf? :D