Larry Cochran

Utah Buck 2010
Jan 8, 2011
Alpine, Ca
Possibly the greatest factor in hitting your mark is the state of mind you're in when you take the shot.

Everyone's heard of "buck fever":

By: Joshua Argall for

You've been sitting in your stand for a few hours and haven't seen much. You hear twigs break and leaves rustle and crunch. It sounds louder than the squirrels you heard frolicking before. You start to wonder what it could be. Your heart starts to beat faster. Suddenly a large buck trots into view. A rush of energy runs through your body. It's a bit too far and the shot isn't quite good enough. Eagerly you wait on the buck to come closer. By now your heart is beating out of your chest, your hands are trembling, and your knees are knocking into one another. After what felt like hours, the big ol' buck is finally within range. You lock your sights on him and squeeze the trigger. What a rush!

Unfortunately, that same rush may also mean a slight jerk when you pull the trigger or a tremble that makes it difficult to line up your sights. Your ability to stay calm may be the difference between hit or miss. Over the years I've learned the only way to maintain your composure at that crucial moment is practice.

Most of us aren't lucky enough to experience the opportunity to shoot a deer frequently enough that it becomes so routine we're able to control our natural reactions. We all can however, take the time to imagine the experience enough to prepare ourselves for the actual encounter. It's very important to really visualize the entire setting. Close your eyes and imagine your exact view from the location you'd be hunting from. See the trees or the grass and leaves moving in the wind. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face or the chill of the breeze against your skin. Smell the autumn leaves. Hear the birds calling all around you. Now, imagine that deer coming into view. See the rack, broad chest, and white tail. Stare into his dark black eyes. Visualize how calm you can be setting your sights on him, squeezing the trigger and dropping him right on the spot.

It's very important the visualization be as real as can possibly be. Let your mind go and really get into it. Set aside time to practice frequently. Make sure to practice in a place you will not be disturbed where you can apply your full attention without interruption. Be sure to breathe deep and evenly.

If you practice enough, you will gain confidence and remain calm when the time comes to put yourself to the test. It may seem a bit silly or make you feel uncomfortable, but don't be discouraged. These techniques have been used for thousands of years by people in all forms of sport and in many situations. I personally set aside 15 minutes twice everyday to practice relaxation and visualization. Since I began using these techniques I've seen the accuracy and consistence of my shots greatly increase. I know you will to!

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