It’s sometimes hard to remember, the game is often won in the last few seconds of the last quarter. If you have set your sights on exclusively buwhunting mature white tails, you have taken on a tremendous challenge. Each day in the field pursuing this mossy horned survivor has a way of wearing down a man’s morale, thus exhausting his patience and deflating his anticipation.
Following many of my whitetail seminars I get a chance to speak to fellow whitetail hunters. Over the years I’ve learned quite a bit from these hunters and quite a bit about them as well. I’ve talked to hunters who’ve confessed that after a few weeks of waiting for a chance to harvest a monster buck, they’ve settled for much lesser bucks. Other hunters have admitted that when they’re hunting one stand, they end up convincing themselves they should be hunting another stand location. One hunter said, “After I missed that buck, I couldn’t bring myself to hunt anymore that season,” and another bowhunter told me, “I was shaking so badly, I just wanted the buck to leave so I could sit down.” We have all been guilty of having a mental toughness breakdown at one time or another. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but we have to recognize it for what it is and work on overcoming it with a positive, confident attitude. In fact, three years ago I had one of the most disappointing seasons ever, at times I literally felt ill. But there was no way I was going to let it beat me. I stayed out of the timber of two or three days to get my head straight, regrouped, re-planed and got back in the game. I had to remind myself, hunting is not defined by a season, if you’re a hunter, hunting is a lifelong pursuit, and every season, successful or not should be appreciated and enjoyed.
Assuming a hunter is familiar with the basics of bow hunting whitetail, and trophy white-tails exist in the area he hunts – then the two most important weapons he can carry into the timber are patience and persistence. The key to being a consistently successful big buck hunter is being able to mentally muscle-up when the roller coaster of emotions you’re on is at its nadir! One minute the massive buck is walking towards your stand and your heart is beating out of your and chest, as he approaches your shooting lane you come to full draw, suddenly he stops and stares right at you. You can’t shoot him and can’t let down. After 40 seconds at full draw your bow arm starts to quiver so he decides he’s had enough then swirls and runs out of your life… that’s when your emotions hit bottom.
However, try to keep things in perspective, bow hunting whitetail deer should be a personal peerless pursuit. Hence, any deer harvested ethically and legally is a personal trophy. But, if you’ve decided to untie your boat from the dock and push off into deeper water, there’s no turning back – stay mentally tough and don’t settle. Yet, if for some reason during a burst of adrenalin and excitement you mistakenly turn lose an arrow, don’t be too hard on yourself, a tender loin roast is mighty fine, and there’s always next season….
- Dan Perez