Conflicted


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Vicious-Peanut
November 27, 2010, 03:04 PM
Hey everyone, I am a bit confused and figured you guys are the best to asks this to.

So left me preface this by saying I have been hunting with relatives about twice a year for few years now, but this was really my first year of having my own rifle set up and everything.

Anyways, last night I sitting in my stand and a few does came out them a large 8 point (by far the biggest deer I've seen) but at this point he was one of the only bucks I've seen so I didn't have much experience to gauge him with. So I watched him then he ran away. Later a few smaller bucks (6 and 4 points) came out. I watched them, then they ran away 20 or so minutes later.

My question is, while I was watching the big buck my heart started racing, I got butterfly's in my stomach, I just overall got nervous. I attribute this to me never having shot anything bigger than a bird (and only one of those). I guess my question is how do you know if you have what it takes to shoot a deer? I mean I want the meat, I want the horns, but I just don't know if I can pull the trigger. Is everyone like this their first time, or am I just not cut out for this?


Thanks in advance.

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heeler
November 27, 2010, 03:09 PM
Sounds like a classic case of buck fever to me.
Took me years to get over that.
Hunt long enough and kill a number of deer and it will pass.

UglyAllDay
November 27, 2010, 03:27 PM
I think what you felt is totally understandable. I got a late start to hunting (last season I took my first buck) and I felt the excitement and rush you were feeling with that buck. As you mentioned you plan on eating the meat and appreciating the antlers and those are good things. I can't say I felt the moral struggle associated with taking an animal because I believe hunters do more for the conservation of animals than most realize. It's the money, time and energy put in by hunters that allow proper game management, and the overall well being of a species. Take ethical shots, remember you are part of a bigger picture and get others involved. Hunting is not what everyone wants to do and one can enjoy firearms without ever hunted but if it's something you stick with I believe it is one of the most enjoyable experiences you can have and it is being part of a tradition.

Vicious-Peanut
November 27, 2010, 03:31 PM
Thanks guys.

Ugly, I understand how hunters perform a very important task in the ecosystem. Also I feel much better about meat that lived a normal, wild, life than meat that was kept in feed lots and killed with a bolt gun.

I guess I won't really know how I feel about shooting one until I actually do it.

Arkansas Paul
November 27, 2010, 03:34 PM
I don't get nervous anymore shooting does, but if there's ever a time that a nice buck walks in front of me and I don't feel butterflies and my heart doesn't speed up, I'll stop hunting. Period! That feeling is what it's all about amigo.

Sam1911
November 27, 2010, 03:35 PM
I mean I want the meat, I want the horns, but I just don't know if I can pull the trigger. Is everyone like this their first time, or am I just not cut out for this?
If you don't feel the urge to do it, don't do it. Don't let macho bravado push/shame you into something you don't feel like doing.

On the other hand, don't let a society full of Bambi fluff sentimentality keep you from accepting your place as an apex predator, either -- if you want to take on that role.

For my own part, I could shoot does from now until my kids are ready to load my ashes into shotshells and blow me into space. I've never seen a set of antlers that made me want to shoot the creature wearing them, and I don't hang them on walls, so they don't factor in for me.

In other words, if its the "horns" that have you hung up, take does and enjoy the meat.

Or, don't shoot either, and just enjoy watching the wildlife.

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
November 27, 2010, 03:35 PM
heeler, I have been hunting and taking deer and various other big game for 40+ years and it has YET to pass for me. I think when it does pass I will quit hunting.

OP, that is the rush you get when your body is flooded with adrenaline in expectation of a kill. Also known as "Buck Fever". We all get it, you just have to learn to control the rush and steady yourself. Breathing usually works well. You will find yourself holding your breath a lot of times during this and that accentuates the problem. Sometimes you will find yourself breathing heavily which has the same effect. Just control your breathing to slow deep breaths (quietly). Focus on the deer and not its antlers, acquire the target in your sights, slowly squeeze the trigger between heartbeats, collect deer, pat self on back, rinse and repeat as needed :)

heeler
November 27, 2010, 04:13 PM
Freedom Fighter,I used to get the fever so bad that sometimes it was hard to make a shot.
Having hunted for over 46 years and having killed far more than 75 deer in my life one day many years ago I pulled up my rifle to get a shot at a pretty nice nine point buck and the fever was totally gone.
Killed the deer and have not had that happen since.
Everyone is different.
I talked to a young guy a couple of years ago that had been only hunting for six years and had already killed 12 deer and when we were on the subject he told me he had never experienced buck fever and just shot the animal as if he was lining up on a target.
Go figure.
It certainly stumped me.

hardluk1
November 27, 2010, 06:34 PM
Kill a couple doe's and go and sit when you can just to watch those deer and you will learn to get control over buck fever. Then one day big daddy buck walks out and it happens again. I don't get worked up like i use to but when you do see a deer you want, Stop looking at them horns some much. it only takes 30 years to learn to deal with it.

joshk-k
November 27, 2010, 07:30 PM
Only you'll know in your heart and spirit whether taking an animal's life is something you are comfortable doing.

I just harvested my first big game, an elk, a few weeks ago. I felt no more or less solemn as I prepared to take the shot as I have in the past with small game or birds. For me, it's a pretty powerful spiritual experience, and there's a lot of "stuff" wrapped up in the process and the act. I also found that when my sights were where they needed to be, I knew it and was able to take a nice, clean shot. After shooting, I found myself just shaking with the adrenaline. I mean knees quaking shaking!

I think that if you've stepped out into the woods with the goal of harvesting an animal, you've already probably done a lot of the moral wrangling that you might feel you need to address. Now's the time to put that meat in the freezer. You'll never know unless you do it.

I went to donate platelets last week and my iron count was off the charts. I said, "I've been eating elk every day for the last week!" It's been lovely to give nice gifts to friends and kin over the holiday, and we've got various plans in the works for the other body parts, including leather and percussion instruments.

I wish you the best.

Josh

HOOfan_1
November 27, 2010, 08:01 PM
I sometimes get buck fever when squirrel hunting. You sit there for 4 or 5 hours completely still, then you hear that tell tale rustling in the leaves or scraping sound as they climb up or down the bark on a tree...and my entire body just starts shaking sometimes.

joshk-k
November 27, 2010, 09:55 PM
I would also recommend going ahead and putting the sights on the animal, if you haven't been. Put the crosshairs or irons where they should be to take a nice, clean, killing shot. (Make sure you know where that spot is!) Then, if you feel it's time, you'll already be right there. You can always not pull the trigger if you decide you're not up for it. It seems like if I were in your shoes, it would not help me figure this dilemma out to have animals repeatedly walking away after 20 minutes of watching them.

Josh

M-Cameron
November 27, 2010, 10:02 PM
you might want to practice shooting at some deer silhouettes or even one of those deer dummys that they practice archery on....

..this will get you used to shooting at a deer form so it wont seem so "foreign" when you do it for real.....try and get to the point where you dont even really have to think about it and after a while it will just come naturally.

cottswald
November 27, 2010, 10:26 PM
Thanks guys.
I guess I won't really know how I feel about shooting one until I actually do it.
Unless I'm mistaken, this would indicate to me that you have a problem with the "ethical" part of shooting a deer, which is very different from "buck fever" as described above. You may be struggling with the anticipation of guilt after killing the animal. Many people experience this and never take up hunting because of it. If that's the case, here's soemthing you might want to consider:

In the wild (void of man) all animals are destined to die gruesome and painful deaths. Far and few between are the animals that age gracefully and simply don't wake up one morning. Barring famine, disease, or starvation, the vast majority of animals will die at the hands of other animals. It's a bloody and merciless process.

Have you ever heard an owl take a rabbit during the night? Can send a bit if a shiver through ya! I've seen Osprey begin to feed on the entrails of their catch well before breathing has stopped. Even a great Bull Moose, once he's past his prime, will eventually lose his keen sense of sight and hearing. His response to danger and potential threats will contiually decline as he ages. Eventually he becomes easy prey for a pack of wolves or coyotes (a torturous process that can take hours or even days).

My point is, that when after careful planning and preparation I can take out an animal in 30 seconds or less, I just don't feel bad about it. It's a much more merciful death than they would otherwise experience, not to mention the reward one receives from properly harvesting the animal.

Think it through and try to make the best "cognitive" decision you can, but don't make yourself do anything you'd rather not. There are lots of fascinating things to experience in life and hunting is only one of them.

rodensouth
November 27, 2010, 11:31 PM
I've only meat hunted until this year (I'm 39), and have hunted on and off since 13.

This year my dad had game cam shots of decent bucks and stated "If ever there was a time to wait for a big buck, this is it".

Well, I watched many does I'd normally take and a few small bucks. Then this nice 8 point came in and I got the "buck fever" that I thought wasn't in me. I'm glad I took him, but I had all sorts of decision making going on in my head that made me not sure if this was "the one".

If you really want the meat, start there. If you don't want to take a nice doe or legal buck, it might not be for you. Either way you are cool for being out there experiencing the hunt and DECIDING.

After bringing him home, I couldn't believe I had anything to consider on the stand. I passed several legal deer next few days waiting for the big un. Strange stuff.

I think we may have felt the same thing, but I'd pulled the trigger more.

Good on you for trying it out and thinking about it!

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
November 27, 2010, 11:51 PM
Freedom Fighter,I used to get the fever so bad that sometimes it was hard to make a shot.
Having hunted for over 46 years and having killed far more than 75 deer in my life one day many years ago I pulled up my rifle to get a shot at a pretty nice nine point buck and the fever was totally gone.
Killed the deer and have not had that happen since.
Everyone is different.
I talked to a young guy a couple of years ago that had been only hunting for six years and had already killed 12 deer and when we were on the subject he told me he had never experienced buck fever and just shot the animal as if he was lining up on a target.
Go figure.
It certainly stumped me.

Heeler I generally feel it AFTER anymore. Most of the places I hunt nowadays I wouldn't have time to feel anything beforehand. Damn ghosts appear out of nowhere from them thickets and it is either shoot now or wait till the next one pretty quick! But afterwards it is a knee shaking good time! I hope that feeling never goes away!

Op, after re reading your post, I have to agree with cottswald here. You seem to have more of a dilemma with your "killer instinct" than with buck fever. Read closely what cottswald said as it is great advise as far as figuring out where you may wish to stand in the food chain. I too hunt for groceries. I have yet to see a recipe for Antler Stew that looked at all fit to eat :) I have been witness to starvation of wild game and it is by far the saddest thing I think I have ever been witness to. I am happy to be in the class of those willing to help keep the herd at a holdable quantity.

Art Eatman
November 27, 2010, 11:53 PM
Yeah, just write off that feeling as "Buck Fever" and don't worry about it. Happens to lots of folks; sometimes it attacks, other times it doesn't.

Lots of funny stories about how it hits folks. Some have been known to crank a Model 94 until it's empty--but never pull the trigger. Same for bolt-actions. Some guys wind up just aiming at the middle of the brown, totally forgetting about aiming at a specific place on a deer.

Just guessing, but the more time spent in the boonies, even when not interested in shooting anything, the less excitability about seeing trophy-type critters. :) You get sorta used to seeing critters, and familiarity helps.

Years back, I had a "pet" buck which hung out near a woods road in my back pasture. I'd often do a late-afternoon fence-check and meddling-around walk. That buck would actually keep track of me, off to the side and a bit behind. I'd get an occasional glimpse. Big rack, big body. Neat deer. This went on for three or four years. I even had him in my scope, one season. No quivers, no shakes, but I don't shoot old friends. :D

Zombiphobia
November 28, 2010, 12:50 AM
Visualize the deer as a mere target and food on the table, take careful aim, exhale and squeeze. Most shots are missed due to nervousness. Just relax, the deer won't shoot back.

pat86323
November 28, 2010, 01:11 AM
i got buck fever real bad the first time i ever took a shot. I made a questionable shot but luckily my dad was on the other side of the canyon and pulled the trigger at the same moment and made a great shot. Since then ive only got buck fever real bad one time. Usually i think the adrenaline rush actually helps me, my heart pounds at near heart attack rate but ive been able to make the shot then after the animal is down i get the shakes and all that jazz. Try to learn to use that adrenaline, thats what its there for.

Robert Wilson
November 28, 2010, 01:19 AM
I enjoy the hunt but take no pleasure in the kill. In Jose Ortega Y Gasset's words, "One does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted." (The OP may find his answers in Gasset's work, for what it's worth.)

Speaking for myself, I simply love to be afield, especially with a purpose. And as a meat eater, I feel an obligation to take an active part lest I forget how that fancy cut of beef made it into the grocery store. So hunting makes perfect sense for me.

walker944
November 28, 2010, 08:54 AM
I enjoy the hunt but take no pleasure in the kill. In Jose Ortega Y Gasset's words, "One does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted." (The OP may find his answers in Gasset's work, for what it's worth.)

Speaking for myself, I simply love to be afield, especially with a purpose. And as a meat eater, I feel an obligation to take an active part lest I forget how that fancy cut of beef made it into the grocery store. So hunting makes perfect sense for me.


Very sound comments and advice...sums up how I feel when I do get the chance to hunt. To me, hunting is almost a spiritual/religious/reverance experience. I appreciate being at one with nature in all of God's grandure. Unfortunately I don't get to hunt that often any more. I'd sure like to change that...

ZeroJunk
November 28, 2010, 09:44 AM
I love to deer hunt. I hunt sveral days a week and see a lot of deer. Lot of sixes and basket rack eights. I haven't decided whether or not I will kill a deer this year for meat.

If I see a buck that I am definitely going to shoot if I can you can bet I am going to be prettty exited. Otherwise, I wouldn't be hunting.

Vicious-Peanut
November 28, 2010, 11:07 AM
Wow, thanks for all the responses guys.

Robert, I will certainly take a look at Gasset's work. Thanks.

Cottswald, thank you. This is certainly a powerful thought. I can end it in a few seconds and savor every piece of meat or the animal can be torn apart while still breathing. Interesting to think about.

You guys have given me a lot to think about. What is weird to me is that sitting here, or even while walking to the stand I have absolutely no issues with the thought of shooting one. However, while watching them, such a beautiful animal, it gets a bit harder.

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