July 16, 2013
Question: As a guide, I am in the woods either hunting or guiding about 100 plus days a year. I get more shook up over a big whitetail than I do with a monster elk or mule deer. Do you have a big game species that makes your blood pump more than others? — Jeff Dysinger, Prescott, Ariz.
What Gets Me Fired Up
Jeff, I have hunted whitetails since I was a kid and they still hold a lot of attraction for me, but I think the degree to which I get worked up depends on the situation surrounding the shot. I get worked up on every shot I take at game, so I think it comes down to situation.
Here's an example. I once shot a woodland caribou in Newfoundland that really tore me up. I snuck behind him for several hours across the bogs, slipping from bush to bush until he finally bedded. I was able to sneak within 75 yards of him, but that was it. My only option was to sit there and wait until he got up. Six hours later, I was still sitting there! Finally, as the afternoon approached he stood and started walking in my direction. I had ranged everything within 50 yards, yet I still lost it when the bull came past at 35 yards. I had no idea how far he was nor which pin was which. It was a total meltdown.
In hindsight, I know he was 35 yards away and at that time I remember thinking, "the right pin has to be somewhere in the middle of the stack." I put the middle of the stack on his chest and shot. The shot turned out perfect, but I have to admit, I was really struggling to think logically.
One other time I had a big whitetail heading my way from all the way across a five-acre field. It took him about two minutes to get to me and just before he offered a shot, he hit my scent trail on the ground and blew out. I remember, at the time, that was the most shook up I had ever been in a tree stand. I was fidgeting non-stop and my heart was beating out of my chest.
Again, one time I had a really nice bull elk come screaming across a small meadow right past at 30 yards. I shot him, but I remember that one too as having been really intense. It seems that when the opportunity happens fast I am much better at controlling my emotions because I have to get to work. When I have time to think and the encounter lasts a long time, I tend to get really worked up.
Also, along that same lines, whenever I have stalked game, that has led to much greater intensity than when I was waiting in ambush. It always felt like any false step would blow the deal and since I was in control of the action, the pressure to do it right was squarely on me. It was my game to lose.
I love it all. In fact, some of the most intense adrenaline I have ever dealt with came with trying to shoot my first turkey with a bow. Man, those things tore me up until I finally got it figured out and killed a few and then it was not as big of a deal any longer.
If I could just hunt one animal it would be the whitetail, and I would be hunting it in my own backyard. I love that experience, but when it comes to intense experiences in bowhunting, I have had that with nearly every species I have ever hunted. I hope that never stops. It is the adrenaline rush, at the end of the day, that we enjoy about bowhunting. Sure, the meat is good. We love to eat it, but the memories of the hunt revolve around the excitement of the moment. The more the excitement, the greater the memory.