Handling excitement when hunting, can we train for it?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Dave King, Jul 7, 2006.

  1. Dave King

    Dave King Well-Known Member

    May 3, 2001
    I was out again last evening making deer dissappear and during the dead space between my arrival and the calming of the location I got to thinking (dangerous stuff for me sometimes).

    I decided to test myself and see if I could detect some change in my physical condition once the deer began to arrive. I was standing just inside the edge of the treeline holding the muzzle end of the barrel with the butt of my firearm resting on my foot. I decided to take my pulse while quiet and expecting no deer, upon first detection of deer arrival sound, deer actually in sight (the deer I intended to shoot) and immediately post shot. (Okay... I was bored but maybe we can learn a few things if a few folks do this type thing.)

    Pulse check was a 30 second check then *2. Checks took about a minute a piece as I waited until the second hand was in the 12 or 6 o'clock position. So a 4 pulse event took at least 4 minutes of time.

    I took my pulse four times during the quiet time before the spot calmed back down, 66, 68, 66, 66 so average ~66 bpm (beats per minute).

    At the first sound of movement in the woooded area I was occupying, 70, 72, 70, 72 so ~ 71 bpm average.

    Once a suitable deer was in sight (in this case the first deer). She arrived about 140 yards out and was feeding in a direction that would take her out of sight soon so only three pulse checks (I was rushed as I had promised a deer to my neighbor), 74, 74, 76 so average ~74 bpm.

    Just after I fired the shot at the deer, 80, 74, 68.

    For the first three checks I didn't need to move about, just sand still and hold the firearm. In order to shoot I needed to move my position to crouch behind a low straw bale used as a rest.

    It seems to me that I still get a bit excited about deer but I don't think I'm in any danger of having an excitement induced heart attack either.

    Anyone else have any observations or care to do a short "study"? Maybe we can train ourselves to calm down (I had a buddy that got wicked "Buck Fever" until he went through "counseling" with me).

    Maybe we can get Ian to write an article... "Deer hunting... THE FIRST PROCEDURE IS TO TAKE YOUR OWN PULSE ."

    (I really enjoyed the book, THOG and still apply law #3.)

  2. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

    Jan 20, 2004

    By my standards you are 'stone cold'. My huntin' buddy laughs at me every time I see hide let alone a 'shooter'. If its a doe or 2 or 3 point I probably duplicate your numbers. If a good 4X or any elk I may get back to your numbers the next day....

    My first buck, a real nice western PA 9pt, when I was 16, ran 60yds in the open at the shot. I didn't even see it! Also, the world was BLACK just prior to and at the shot. The deer made two long jumps, according to the blood spatter' prior to the shot. That's gotta be a bit more than "wicked" fever.

    47yrs later its only a 'bit' better.

    Maybe you could coordinate w/Shawn and tag a counseling session to the tail end of one of his classes for folks like me.

  3. gonehuntingagain

    gonehuntingagain Well-Known Member

    Mar 16, 2003
    I'd bet that the larger the rack, the higher the pulse will be (this applies to other things as well /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif ).

    Anymore when I see a doe, I get a little jump and feel that short jolt of adrenaline - but if I saw a huge buck, I know that I would be as giddy as a little school girl and my pulse would skyrocket.
  4. 300win

    300win Well-Known Member

    May 9, 2006
    When we all began shooting it was a dream to hit a target a 1000 yards away, now it expected to happen every time. It is a mechanical act to range, acquire position, target and then to fire. Now if you can just ignore all that horn. The more you hunt and shoot the more of a natural reflex it will become. I am lucky, where I live we can buy as many extra tags as we want so it is easy to take the edge off early in the season. I also shoot allot of coyotes to stay sharp. A coyote is always a good challenge with no bag limits. Few things get the heart pumping like a group of coyotes charging a call. If you can condition yourself to focus on the task at hand for just a few seconds your success rate will climb. That is one reason I prefer long range hunting. It is allot easier to stay cool while looking through a scope at a buck from 900 yards than it is to see one bust from cover at your feet. That being said, I could sit around and tell stories for hours. Some would make you laugh and some would make you cry. I think a missed chance every once in a while keeps our egos in check and keeps us trying to improve our skills.
  5. 257speed

    257speed Well-Known Member

    Mar 29, 2004
    I think exposure has a lot to do with it. Before I began guiding other hunters, I would get excited at the sight of animals. After a number of years of numerous close encounters with animals, which were mostly low stress for me, since I wasn't shooting, I find that I don't get nearly as excited. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy the experiences, but manage to avoid the fever most of the time. The exception is when i am coyote hunting. This still gets my blood flowing good as a coyote suddenly appears and comes running in.
  6. abinok

    abinok Writers Guild

    Nov 25, 2004
    Lanny Bassham "With winning in mind"

    I had problems with "performance Jitters" back in my 3p and precision air rifle days. Shooting a match, after i threw down a couple of solid "pinwheel" tens, id know I was pulling ahead of the 2 guys I mainly competed against... and it never failed... there would be a 7 or 2 in the next few shots to knock it back down. The "gut matches" we shot which was basically the high pressure course of fire used to determine ties at nationals didn't help any either. I spoke to Lones Wigger about it when he came to coach our team and he turned me onto this book. He had a lot to say on the topic... since it basically cost him a medal the second time he went to the olympics. I don't have enough space on my wall around my loading bench to hang all the hardware this book helped me win.
    Youve heard the saying about "ice water in his veins..." here is how to get it.


  7. Ian M

    Ian M Well-Known Member

    May 3, 2001
    Great topic Dave. Something I am thinking about. Really interesting info you provided, would enjoy trying that in the field with my trusty blood pressure meter. Hmmmm.
  8. yotefever

    yotefever Well-Known Member

    May 27, 2006
    I don't get as excited with guns as I do with a bow but I think that is due to the close proximity of the critter.
    I do have a big problem with coyotes when they are close and don't think I could take my pulse unless I bought one of the machines that take pulse and bp. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif It sure is fun doing some howling and watching them come to the call.
    It'a amazing how much pressure you can put on yourself during a competition. At our IHMSA Internationals in 2004 in Ohio at the Tusco rifle range my goal was to shoot a perfect 80 and I messed up my first couple of chances and was in my last catagory in which I had a chance. I was down to the last 5 shots with 75 down and thought I made it and relaxed and lost concentration and shot the second target first, thereby loosing both targets getting a 78 /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif
    I did get a few tips from some MN shooters that were spotting for me and I hope they will get me to my goal in two weeks when I try it again.
    I think I will get that book, I always like more tips/help /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif
  9. Mysticplayer

    Mysticplayer Writers Guild

    Jul 27, 2001
    Dave, if your pulse ever stops climbing when you see a game animal, you may as well stop this and take up golf or lawn bowling.

    That's the whole point, getting a little excited!!!!

    Now the key is channeling that new found energy to do some good. Here sports psychology will be of great help.

    The goal is getting your body pumped up so that it is alert and energised to complete the task, however, training allows the mind to think 'slowly and calmly' during the body excitement.

    Exposure to game animals will always help but give a mental tune up a try. Also watch stimulants like Caffiene and sugar, smoking, alcohol. Breathing and directed relaxation are also great skills to learn. Keep yourself well hydrated too.

  10. Ian M

    Ian M Well-Known Member

    May 3, 2001
    I have this scenario unfolding in my mind...
    Guide says, "There he is, that's the biggest buck I have ever seen!!!"
    Ian, "Uhh, hang on a second, I have to get a reading and make notes..."
    Guide whispers, "Don't turn that damn little machine on again, no, dont' push that button!!! He's a Booner, he's coming closer..."
    Ian, "I have to get a reading for my buddy Dave. Only takes a second!"
    Guide, "You idiot, thats the second Booner this week you spooked with that damn (*&)^% machine!!!"
    Ian, "Now you've gone and done it, your yelling is making my heart-rate speed up like crazy... Can't you keep better control of yourself! Dave isn't going to like these numbers."
    Guide, "One more buck, that's all. Just one more buck. If you do that damn machine thing I'm going to wrap those wires around your *#&$%^ neck!" And you won't be sitting down because that freeking machine will be so far up your...."
    Ian, "Calm down, calm down. Here, how about I hook you up for a while and we can get Dave some numbers from the trusty guide perspective..."
    Guide, "Just tell me one thing - how in hell can I get my hands on this Dave guy. Hooking yourself up with all these wires is the dumbest thing I have seen in all my years of guiding!!!"
    Ian, "Look, that big buck is coming back over the ridge. He's trotting straight at us following that doe. Get down before they see us. OK, now I'll just get one quick reading for Dave..."
  11. Ernie

    Ernie <strong>SPONSOR</strong>

    Jun 18, 2007
    If you want to see what your heart rate is doing just get yourself a cheap heart monitor that cyclist and runners use. It goes around your lower chest, just above your sternum and It will come with a watch (no wires /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif) and will give you constant readings of your heart rate.
    I have no thought about wearing it when jogging in place or doing some kind of exercise then practing shooting, but it is a good idea.
    Mentally, the further away it is (to a point) the calmer I get.
  12. Dave King

    Dave King Well-Known Member

    May 3, 2001

    Guides are like that, they get all excited over such minor things. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

    I have to slap mine around all the time in an effort to remind them that I'm the one that is the source of their income. They insist on getting me up at ungodly hours and dragging me through muskeg up to my eyeballs in search of the illusive hair pig, swamp donkey or whitetail deer. I'd much rather wander around camp eating donuts doing surveys and checking vital signs...(this does upset some of the other hunters a bit).

    What do you figure your heart rate got up to with the Brownie charging camp??

    Jerry Teo

    Getting a handle on too much excitemement is sort of what I was after when I started this thread. My hope was that there were a few folks out these that had done a similar "test" and could relate some numbers or indicators. Granted, it take a whole lot for me to get fairly excited and I was surprised my pulse went up at all as shooting deer is a very common event for me (in years past I killed many hundreds per year).

    I've had guys alone with me on hunts that went berserk at the sight of a deer (any deer)... I'm certain some of them had a heart rate near 1,000 or so. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

    I'm not making this up: I had a fella with me one time that managed to launch an arrow backward out of a bow. We were in a tree stand and he got SO flustered that when he drew the bow the broadhead hit the riser with such force that the arrow bounced completely out of the bow and fell from the tree stand after twirling over the guys shoulder. He then knocked another arrow (a bit of fumbling) and shot using the wrong yardage pin (as best I can figure). This same fella missed a standing deer at about 15 yards, he was using a scoped shotgun that time around. He couldn't remember anything about the shot(s), where the deer was standing, where is ran to or what his sight picture was... all he knew was that there was a deer and he needed to shoot at it to kill it and other than that everything was a blur for him. I hunted with him for about 2 full seasons before he would calm down enough to make sense of the entire shooting event (spot, select, examine, aim, shoot, follow through, exit route, assess the shot and events, etc)
  13. speedbump

    speedbump Well-Known Member

    Mar 28, 2002
    There are several ways to handle the situation, and sports psychology techniques are some. Mental imagery (I like Basham's books too), breathing techniques (IN,2,3,4; HOLD,2,3,4; OUT,2,3,4; HOLD,2,3,4), etc. Try the breathing techniques - they'll work as you sit in front of the screen.

    Some of the best stuff there is gets used by biathlon competitors. Ski/run over hill &amp; valley, then physically/mentally dropping pulse, BP, &amp; breathing rates to take shots is what it's about. The nature of the sport in fact. Dave, I'm sure you've shot courses of fire too that require you to run for a certain time/distance to elevate pulse, BP, breathing before taking the shot. Pain in the @$$ to force yourself to do at the range, but it has some merit. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crazy.gif
  14. Dave King

    Dave King Well-Known Member

    May 3, 2001

    Yeah, I've run some and shot some at competitions, its sort of automatic for me now but there are times when I find myself "willing" my heart to slow down a little.

    An Federal Agency short sniper course offered to State and Local LEO and ocassional guests had a competion each day "the shirt shoot" that's a run and shoot offering. The run got a little faster each day and the distance seemed a little longer too! The group I was with won (4 of us) the "shirt shoot" each day, I was lucky enough to win two days in a row and was allowed to keep the shirt (ala Tour De France style). We were there as guests and really had a great time but we were the geezers too, there was one fella older than us and he also shot quite well. The young fellas sure could run but they choked pretty badly too on ocassion.