How to stop adrenaline.


Dylon Fisher
January 1, 2012, 12:56 PM
To give a example, yesterday after about 4 hours of sitting totally still in my favorite stand a big doe walked out from the woods. When I say big I mean BIG. I couldnt tell exactly how big, because it was a good 85 yards away. That is a pretty long shot on my lease. It was a perfect broadside shot. I tried to put the crosshairs behind her shoulder, but I was shaking from all the excitement. She heard me click my safety off, and she started to stare at me. I knew she was about to run so I let a shot fly. After about 2 hours of looking for blood with my dad. We determined it was a miss. Anybody got any tips to keep the excitement down. Thanks

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January 1, 2012, 01:23 PM
Keep hunting. It only improves with experience. It will improve though. Just don't rush the shots, and don't feel like you have to make the shot. There's no shame in passing on a shot because you're not steady enough to make it. We hunt for many reasons. One is because it is exciting. Your nervousness is normal. Experience will help you control it.

I've found that some of the best shots I've made were made when I did not have enough time to think. I shot a 168 inch 5x5 whitetail when I was 17. I didn't have time to think about it, and the shot was available. It was a perfect off-hand shot into the rib cage. If I'd have had to wait for the shot, I think I'd have just soiled myself and probably shaken the scope right off my rifle.

Confidence will come.

January 1, 2012, 01:30 PM
Yep, practice. Practice shooting so you are confident in easy shots. Keep hunting and the more experiences you havee, the more you will learn to control it. Keep at it, good luck!

January 1, 2012, 01:48 PM
When I quit getting the "RUSH" I'll quit hunting. Don't let it bother you, just store it back in the gray matter for the next time you have a shot and use it to increase your own self-discipline. Everyone needs a miss every now and then to keep us humble. Thats what makes it hunting instead of killing.

January 1, 2012, 01:57 PM
When I quit getting the "RUSH" I'll quit hunting..

Same here. The ability to control it till one gets the job done is one of the true challenges of hunting. Once the fun is gone, it's just work.

January 1, 2012, 02:51 PM
Don't think to hard...I always ease my safeties off using the index finger and thumb.

To tell the truth though, when I shot my deer last week, I don't even remember flipping the safety off.

I get the shakes sometimes when squirrel hunting, but didn't when I shot a deer last week. I think I had too little time to think about it before I even got my shot off. Not to mention it was so far away, I wasn't thinking "I can't miss this one", I was thinking "this is going to be a hard shot"

January 1, 2012, 03:05 PM
Dylon Fisher wrote:

How to stop adrenaline.

I don’t know that you can “stop” it…but you can learn to control the excitement to some degree.

To give a example, yesterday after about 4 hours of sitting totally still in my favorite stand a big doe walked out from the woods. When I say big I mean BIG. I couldn’t tell exactly how big, because it was a good 85 yards away. That is a pretty long shot on my lease.

Dylon does your weapon have optics….or open iron sights? With optics (and a rest) 85 yds. should be a “chip shot” for most modern firearms/cartridge combinations.

It was a perfect broadside shot. I tried to put the crosshairs behind her shoulder, but I was shaking from all the excitement.

Dylon…feeling “excitement” is perfectly normal…but experiencing an adrenaline rush to the point that you lose your fine motor skills…is something you will need to overcome. By “overcome”…I mean control it…until AFTER the shot is completed, then you can shake all you want. ;)

Basically, nothing will do more for learning to calm down than experiencing some success. Most people actually get nervous because they are uncertain of their ability to accomplish the task at hand but want so BADLY to do so.

There are certain mental drills you can go through that will help relieve some of the anticipation of a deer showing up and you getting the shot.

Also, if you are dead certain your equipment is “on” and reasonably certain you are able to make the shot (as a marksman), then all that is left….is to control your breathing and talk yourself through the shot.

She heard me click my safety off, and she started to stare at me. I knew she was about to run so I let a shot fly.

Classic “panic shot”, shot opportunity is perceived to be lost (or about to be) and the shot is rushed. Never “let a shot fly”, take only those shots that you feel confident in making, or don’t take the shot.

MISSING your target (or worse…wounding it) only solidifies any doubts you may have about your abilities and works against you in the end.

Practice and be confident you can make the shot on any reasonably positioned animal. When you KNOW you can hit your target….then there is only the excitement of the opportunity to control.

After about 2 hours of looking for blood with my dad. We determined it was a miss.

My hat is off to both of you for your diligent search. Many folks will stop looking for blood sign after just a few minutes. Good job!

Anybody got any tips to keep the excitement down.

Keep at it, have confidence….your JOB is to MAKE the shot. Once you have a few deer on the ground….the excitement part (though still there) will take care of itself. Best of luck to you…and keep us updated.


January 1, 2012, 03:44 PM
For me, trying to control it is too exhausting. They key for me is to have the confidence to know that I CAN control it. I let the shakes do what they want until it's game time. Then, when it's time to go, I take a deep breath and mentally shake off the excitement, and focus on the task at hand. When the adrenaline really hits me I know that I can control it for a minute or so at a time. That's the best I can do, but that's enough.

Even though you knew she was about to run, that's the time when you need a deep breath and relax a bit and focus. It only takes a couple of seconds, but 99% of the time you have a couple of seconds, and 100% of the time you're better off taking those seconds to focus.

January 1, 2012, 04:36 PM
Flint and the others nailed it pretty much. One thing I am having a hard time with is the fact that the deer "heard" your safety clicking off at 85 yards. While yes a deer's hearing is pretty sporty, that must be one hell of a loud safety click for it to hear it at 85 yards. My guess would be she picked up on your movement rather than hearing the safety. Maybe work on slowing down your movements because a deer can pick up a finger wiggle at 100 yards. Their eyesight is only slightly lower on scale than their sense of smell.

January 1, 2012, 05:11 PM
Talk to your doctor. Propranolol.

Might make dragging the deer out tougher, and has other side effects; talk to your doctor. :scrutiny:

Regular exercise (with pushing-the-limit moments) can help. Other than that, stress-control. Breathing. Focus. There are actually courses on this stuff, but until you try them in the field, you can't tell if they'll work for you.

January 1, 2012, 09:55 PM
Recommending a drug for the shakes while aiming at game? C'mon!!!! Even the mire mention of it concerns me. Hunters simply have to learn how to deal with it as any excitable moments in life. Don't need drugs to do that. It's called mental toughness not drug induced influences.

January 1, 2012, 10:04 PM
i use the delay technique. by this i mean that when you see a deer pause before you even pick up or point a weapon. pick out one distinct feature (NOT size or antlers!) and laugh or marvel at it. i usally pick out a fat belly or a doe's big butt. :) now focus just on the area of your shot only and let it rip.

this process really only takes a second or two and i havent ever lost a shot on a deer that i wouldnt have gotten anyway. it calms the nerves and takes some of the pressure off. make it fun!

January 1, 2012, 11:01 PM
+1 janobles, I think that is great advice, and encompasses some other previous advice, as an aside, I don't have a problem with ppl mentioning all real options... we do all have a mind to choose, as we have done in the past.

January 1, 2012, 11:47 PM
It gets better with experience. Bow hunting is much worse LOL.

January 2, 2012, 12:11 AM
bow hunting really is 14 times worse, not only do you usually have to hold still longer to get them in range, but when you're fighting off the shakes you have the resistance of your bow working against you.
One thing that helps me, if I have time to do so, is to look away from the deer (at the ground beneath it, for example, moving my eye balls, not my head) for a second until I calm down. Usually I tell myself that I probably won't have a good shot even if it does come within range, so there's no reason to get excited anyway. Once I do that, and I am calm, I raise the rifle/bow put my sights on a hoof and follow the leg up to the vitals. That way I'm never thinking about rack size or if he or she can make eye contact with me. I still follow all rules of safety and make sure the shot is a safe one with my peripheral vision, but I only FOCUS on the vitals, which are pretty bland, and not exciting enough to induce shaking. After the shot flies, the tremors always resume. And it feels great!

January 2, 2012, 12:11 AM
As others have said, you cant "stop" the adrenaline, but, you can learn to control it.

Take a breath and mentally tell yourself to slow down.

I also agree, when the rush ends, so does my hunting.

I get that rush everytime I see a deer, I have learned to take a breath and slow down, then concentrate on making a good shot ( and yes, I still miss an annoying amount ).

Do NOT rush the shot, its possible to take a fast shot without rushing it, learn to speed up the process of alighning the sights and getting a good enough sight picture, then squeeze the trigger just fast enough to cleanly break the shot.

by the way, after I break the shot, especially if its a hit, I am usually shaking so badly I can barely clear my gun ( LOL )

January 2, 2012, 01:36 AM
When I quit getting the "RUSH" I'll quit hunting. YEP!
Bowhunting is much worse. YEP!

Even at my age, (60), last time I bowhunted, and heard a buck snort/wheeze while he was coming in to the waterhole, my heart started pounding so hard my body was rocking side-to-side a little bit. Most fun you can have for free and it sure the hell beats my reactions sitting at my desk...

January 2, 2012, 01:45 AM
Shooting at life-size deer targets is good practice and if you get the ones with the vital organs highlighted they even a better teaching aid. I shoot at the smallest targets I can see in my scope at the longest range available to 1-Test theaccuracy of my loads,2-challenge my skills and 3-make me concentrate on breath control(take it in, let it half out-while solidifying your sight picture-and make the shot surprise you during the trigger press by not anticipating the recoil. It won't hurt you!
Go out some non-season days and just enjoy what you see in the woods, take pictures. After nearly falling from a tree stand surroundd by Punji-stakes of poorly cleared brush-I no longer climb a tree. I have several ground blinds and camo-burlap sold @ Wal-Mart washed and left out side in the weather for a bit makes a superior quick hide! You can dance a jig in a ground blind and the deer won't see it!. To top it off-get a stable shooting platform-shooting stick, window ledge, bipod. That removes all the OMG shake-your rifle is supported and all you have to do is breath and press.

January 2, 2012, 07:34 AM
Anybody got any tips to keep the excitement down. Thanks

eradicating caffeine and sugar that morning might help.

practice on other vermin/pests rats, squirrels, hogs etc.

January 2, 2012, 08:57 AM
Recommending a drug for the shakes while aiming at game? C'mon!!!! Even the mire mention of it concerns me. Hunters simply have to learn how to deal with it as any excitable moments in life.No. Hunters simply need to learn how to hunt. And what that is can be different for different hunters.

Everyone's different. Some people like to hunt with bows, or pistols, or rifles. Some will use chemical or electric warmers in cold weather. Some will use more technology, some less--often while decrying the more techno'd hunters as "not real hunters" or unethical. Whatever floats your boat.

I don't know what the OP's shakes are like. I don't know how he will eventually control it...or if he won't ever control it, and will eventually give up hunting. I'm informing him of an option that many folks in stressful situations (from public speakers to surgeons) use. And many others consider, and decide not to use.

You're suggesting he shouldn't be aware of the option? I didn't "recommend" he use a thing; what I suggested, twice, is that he talk to his doctor. And I mentioned other options, too.

Loyalist Dave
January 2, 2012, 09:11 AM
Of course learning to be a very good shot with the rifle may help..., but again it's different when you are actually looking at game that may be harvested.

The only thing that I know to control it is breathing. Slow, steady, open mouth breathing while thinking about controlling your breathing causes the heart rate to reduce a bit, and the shakes calm down to just quivering. Taking some time to not rush the shot, while doing the breathing exercise also helps. Then you follow the normal procedure, set up your sight or scope picture, unlock your safety (or in my case cock the piece), inhale, release half, hold the breath and squeeze until the rifle fires. :D

It will never really go away..., in fact when it does get to a point where you become good at controlling it, you'll get surprised at the sudden appearance of a very quiet deer, and it will happen again. :eek: It's normal; you're normal. Our ancestors had this ability from long ago when we were finger painting cave walls, and had to actually drop down on our meat from an overhanging branch with only a spear. Your body is getting ready for you to actually dispatch the animal with your hands and a pointed stick or sharp rock..., the fact that we have invented rifles doesn't erase that basic response. :D


January 2, 2012, 10:12 AM
I try to sort of view the animal as one of those cardboard practice targets with the kill zones and go for it like a target shot. Let the excitement come after the shot. Keep telling yourself to take your time and pay attention to your breathing. If you're long shots are going to be under 100 yards, and your eyesight is good, I'd either ditch the scope, use one with a 1Xsetting, or a red dot. The more magnification you use, the more exagerated any shakes will appear, and that's a real confidence killer. I like open sights (I prefer peeps with the apperture removed, using them like a ghost ring) on my woods rifles.

January 2, 2012, 10:20 AM
This is true of so many things, not just hunting. You have to do it a lot to get over the jitters.

Lloyd Smale
January 2, 2012, 10:33 AM
best lesson i learned is to take a couple deep breaths before you even put a finger on the trigger. If the deer bounces away while your doing it then so be it. Another trick i use is to allways have my binoculars in hand and even with a doe check it out first in the binoculars then take your rifle and again take a couple deap breaths.

January 2, 2012, 10:51 AM
I've had deer that were with one that I shot stand there and stare right at me after firing a 12 gauge and killing a member for their group. So I wouldn't necessarily worry that a deer is going to run off just because it looks in your direction. Chances are if the deer was spooked it would have bolted, if they stand there and stare it just gives you a nice still target to aim at. :D

So when a deer is staring straight at you just try to remain still or move slowly, take careful aim for the vital area and squeeze off the shot so slowly that it's a "surprise break".

I'm not saying that I don't get that same feeling of excitement when I'm hunting and a deer walks within view and my heart sometimes feels like it's going to jump right out of my chest. :) So you may not ever get over that, but hopefully you'll be able to control the physical shaking and eliminate the possibility of flinching when you pull the trigger.

I'd recommend a lot of trigger time to make sure that you are confident in your ability and know that you're not going to flinch during the hunting season. And as others have said, more time in the field hunting should help with the "over-excitement".

By the way, I applaud your diligence in spending that much time looking for a blood trail.

Good hunting.

Double Naught Spy
January 2, 2012, 11:08 AM
This is an excerpt from my accounting of the first hog that I shot.

At that point, I had no idea what creature it was, but knew it was big based on footsteps I heard (deer maybe?). Then the noise started anew and the animal continued on around to my front left, still in the woods and out of sight, but making noise. Then the noise stopped again and I spied a shadow crossing the meadow in front of me. It was a half moon that was lighting the meadow. So the animal was out of the woods now. I took out my night vision scope and saw that this was indeed a hog and I promptly hyperventilated.

I have found that the absolute worst thing to happen to cause my adrenaline to flow is for there to be a tension buildup. I had sat in the stand on and off for 6 months before I finally got a crack at this hog. He was very bit and he made lots of noise and made noise in the woods around me for the better part of an hour. When the crunching of leaves sound would get louder as he approached, the tension would build and my adrenaline would flow. It was already coursing through my system in volume at the time in my story of the above quote. Apparently I had so much flowing through me, combined with the excitement of the situation, that I totally lost control of my breathing.

I find that on occasions where there is no preceding buildup of tension, the adrenaline does not flow or isn't noticed until after I have shot. So when hogs have just "appeared" out in front of me, no tension buildup, I have usually gotten the rifle up and fired fairly quickly without the adrenaline affecting my shooting.

Take a breath and mentally tell yourself to slow down.
I do this now and I usually try to take a deep slow 'cleansing' breath while lining up my shot and usually want to fire as my sights settle on the target and the end of the cycle. Sometimes the animal has moved and I don't have a shot at that moment. The cleansing breath will still give me a good 20 seconds of time for a shot before I need to repeat the process. Only a couple of times have I needed to repeat.

It won't help with your excitement level, but it will help with your aiming - try to use some sort of rest, bipod, etc. That will alleviate a significant amount of heartbeat muzzle bounce as compared to sighting offhanded.

I also frequently tell myself that regardless of what comes out of the woods while I am in the stand, I don't have to take a shot. The animals will be back sooner or later. As much as I would like to bag another hog or 50, I would prefer not to scare the off with a blown shot and I surely don't want to torture the animals with a poor shot.

January 2, 2012, 11:21 AM
I read in a book once ( Big Woods Bucks by Hal Blood ) that if you can, stop moving and take 3 big breaths, inhale and hold for three seconds, exhale then hold for three count then inhale and hold again for three seconds. Ive tried it a few time and it helps to lower your heart rate and get you a little more focused. Try that next time your about to shoot somthing. And like others have said, time and experience.

Sav .250
January 3, 2012, 07:03 AM
I don`t think you ever stop it but learn to control it. Once you lose the excitement of the hunt, your next hobby is ....bowling. :)

January 3, 2012, 11:47 AM
Don't hold your breath and stop breathing!

I found myself holding my breath when game came into sight. Then of course I was not as steady.

Breath deep and slow. I have to force myself to do it and it calms me.

Big Bad Bob
January 3, 2012, 02:35 PM
"The day I quit getting the RUSH is when I quit"

I agree so much with that statement,

however heres what I do. When I see my intended target, as I am bringing my rifle or bow up I take a DEEP breath in, somehow this settles me, and I slowly let it out as the crosshairs or pin settles on my aiming point. This really helps me "snap in" and focus on delivering the shot. Keep hunting though you will get it, every hunter as missed a shot at one point or another.

January 6, 2012, 02:00 PM
Plenty of advice here. some of it good...

I focus on looking at exactly where i want to put the bullet and try to get the same level of application on the accuracy as if i was target shooting.

I will also quit when i stop feeling the adrenaline rush.

It will get better the more you shoot

January 9, 2012, 03:02 AM
Stop it? I need it. When I shot my first (and only) deer a few years ago, I was using a .444 Marlin. That thing kicked my butt at the range every time. I saw the deer, took aim and fired.
I don't remember the kick. My ears weren't ringing afterward. That adrenaline actually made shooting for me, if not better, at least more comfortable.
Missing a deer completely is much better than wounding it inhumanely. Tuck it away, move on to the next one.

January 9, 2012, 04:56 PM
Oh man. Just imagine if you had been standing in the woods and a herd of elk walk up on you and you find yourself in the midst of a bunch of cow elk eyes and ears and you can't move a single muscle, not even to bring your muzzleloader up to your shoulder, you can't even risk another breath because they seem to sense that something isn't right here, so they all stop walking and just stand right there around you and the herd bull is screaming his face off, just out the back of the herd, but he doesn't have a clue you are there, just his ladies do.

I've been there.

January 10, 2012, 11:36 AM
Dylon. You should get one of those tripods or walking sticks you can rest the front of the gun on. It would probably take away 50% of that adrenilan shake for next time.

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