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Spring Hill
Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Buck Fever

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I’ve had the privilege of guiding a trio of deer hunters over these last ten days and have been having some great fun.  The only problem is, none of them have placed any meat in their coolers.  Now it wasn’t for lack of trying, as they each hunted hard and followed my directions to put themselves into position to get close and take a shot.  In fact, between them, they took seven shots in all.  None of their arrows even came close!

It happens….  It’s called buck fever and none of us are immune to it.  It affects us all, but in different ways.  These three, new to the hunt, simply weren’t prepared for it.  Imagine, hundreds of dollars spent on gear.  Endless hours devoted to sighting in and prepping equipment.  And finally, it’s what you’ve been waiting for all year long, your first hunt of the season.  Unfortunately for some, the thrill of the hunt becomes more than you can handle.

Imagine, that trophy buck you’ve dreamed about since last season suddenly appears in your shooting lane.  You ready your bow, set your sights and suddenly, you find it hard to breathe or keep your hands from shaking.  “Buck fever” has set in and unfortunately, there is no cure.  What triggers it?  Buck fever is typically described as the nervousness hunters get when they first sight a deer.  Many of us have stories about buck fever, which is why there’s no reason to worry. Apart from the embarrassment, buck fever doesn’t really have any lasting effects.

What it is, is a sudden surge of adrenaline that hits us all at once and for my three hunters, it really unglued them and apart from the shaking and shortness of breath, it really affected their ability to judge distance causing them to sling their arrows either over or under their targeted deer.  By the end of this most recent ten day hunt, I was feeling like the James Bond of deer guides; 0 bucks, 0 does, and 7 misses.  

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They may have left for home with empty coolers, but the lessons learned on these hunts will serve them mighty well in future hunts.  The biggest lesson I hope that they can truly learn from is to control that adrenaline, focus through the excitement and just hold it together until after the shot.  The biggest thing is to breath.  In through the mouth and out through the nose, just to focus the mind on the breathing, in and out.  It really helps.  

I know for sure that I still have a mild case of buck fever after forty years of deer hunting.  That surge of adrenaline is almost like a drug that keeps me coming back to the woods again and again.  When I lose that excitement and no longer feel that surge of adrenaline, I reckon it’ll be time for me to put down my bow or rifle and take up golf.   As always, if you have any comments, questions or just want to share your success from the woods, give me a shout out at [email protected].  God Bless and Good Hunting!


Toby Benoit
Toby Benoit
Toby Benoit is a best selling novelist and professional outdoorsman with thirty-five years of experience guiding and outfitting for big game all across America. Toby is a renowned archer and turkey hunting expert who manufactures custom game calls and is a regular judge at NWTF sanctioned turkey calling events across the Southeast.
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