Follow This Checklist to Beat Buck Fever

Buck Raking Dead Tree

Most hunters have experienced buck fever. If you ever watch deer hunters on television, you have seen them breathless, shaking and almost out of control. When you have to thread an arrow through a tight spot or put a bullet in a small opening a long way off, buck fever is the last thing you want to make a tough shot even tougher. Fortunately, there are some things we can do to cool our fever.

By Dr. Phillip Bishop

Checklists can take the pressure off by being common, and reducing the need for thinking too much. Here’s a pre-shot checklist for you to modify to fit your own situation:

1. Determine the range to several visual markers. Rehearse the distances so there is no question. Measure them with a range finder or tape measure using line of sight. Match a bow sight pin to each marker. Knowing an accurate range of every shot we might take while bowhunting will increase our confidence and reduce stress.

2. Always set up equipment in the same place, so you can reach your bow or gun without looking. Practice!

3. Decide when to draw. Practice!

4. Decide where the deer needs to be for a clear, confident shot. Draw your bow or shoulder your gun or crossbow to make sure there is nothing in the way.

5. Decide whether, when and how you will stop a moving deer. Practice your “stopping” procedure before you get down each time you hunt.

6. Be thoroughly familiar with your equipment. You need to be so used to your equipment that everything is automatic. Practice on the shooting range using the same situations that you will use in hunting.

7. Bowhunters should carry a field point and rehearse by taking a shot at a leaf or small spot just before getting out of the stand.

8. The goal is to be automatic. Practice your checklist enough that it becomes second nature rather than a list of boxes you have to think about to check.


DHSept14Cover_USWhether you are thinking of bowhunting for the first time or are a seasoned pro, you’ll discover the best tips on bowhunting in the pages of Deer & Deer Hunting magazine. Learn how to get proven results every time with expert advice from the pros.

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