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Rookie Hunter Can Expect Full Recovery From Buck Fever

CHICAGO TRIBUNE.COM From the Archives – Buck fever comes in different forms, often marked by a lapse of control. It is nothing you’d confess to having. Men just aren’t supposed to quail at the squeeze of a trigger.

I have no idea where my first shot on a live deer actually went. The deer idly looked around, then continued grazing. It was a practiced shot I should have made. But after two years of hoping in the woods, I blew it when my time came. I still remember the pounding heart and wobbling barrel.

My confidence crumbled. I sat on a log and let the deer amble away. I remember the cool air knifing through my coat. I was drenched in sweat. Now, that was buck fever.

I’m past it now. For years I’ve been capable of clinically shooting deer, and I usually hit where I aim. In fact, the annual shotgun seasons are more larder-filling enterprises than strategic hunts these days.

Oh sure, I scout well enough to out-think a bunch of whimsical, itinerant deer. I celebrate the triumph of being in the right place at the right time. But it’s not like bowhunting, where you must fool a deer up close, and on the deer’s terms. Bowhunters rarely shoot from more than 20 or 25 yards. Shotgunners-especially with today’s high-tech rifled barrels and Sabot slugs-can be comfortable at 80 yards or more. The challenge, the sporting test, involves getting close enough to make a decision. Is this the deer I want? Can I kill it cleanly? That’s why the real deer-hunting season begins in earnest for the rest of us now that shotgunners have left for another year.  [full article]

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