Kansas Whitetails – Buck Fever Theory


Whitetails bucks, just something about them…. 

Kansas Condensed

Buck Fever Theory has taken hold of my hunting interest. What makes a hunter shake uncontrollably, his heart explode through his chest, his head clear on purpose but lost in the fog. Moments when you are absolutely certain the target animal can hear your heart and feel your thoughts. How do you control this powerful feeling? I’m not exactly sure but that’s what I want to explore. For me this isn’t about shot process or beating target panic. This is about conquering my instinctual response to an intense situation. Specifically I’m examining my fight or flight response. 

I listened to great audio book a friend recommended to me called “The Rise of Superman.” This book took aim at individuals who experience FLOW, a state in which you control the flow of adrenalin in near perfect decision making. The author spoke mostly on extreme athletes who completed stunts or feats such as free solo climbing, Olympic athletes performing runs with tricks that have exponentially grown in difficult over the past two decades, and jazz musicians performing music accustitcally in sync without knowing each other’s notes. The extreme athlete performing in near life or death performances, the do or die mentality. All of these extraordinary capabilities fascinate me, and I couldn’t help but apply them to my life. I’ve experienced a few life or death situations being born, raised, and living in the last frontier. In moments of dire circumstances, there was no buck fever, there was no hesitation, there was only do or die.  Facing down charge bears, giant bull moose coming to call in deep rut, and climbing faces for sheep and goats that humans do not belong.

Growing up playing contact sports, my exposure to Adrenalin occurred daily. My flow of Adrenalin doesn’t exist from day to day as I grow older as I’m not impervious to pain as I thought I once was. Every decision I make is to minimize the impacts that ache the injury’s from a past athletic life. I throw myself into hunting and can’t help but feel like I’m applying all of the athletics and fullness I train for to the activity that makes me truly happy. Hunting makes me feel young. Buck fever is ever present in my life here in Alaska. But nothing rocks my world like a wild whitetail entering and leaving my life like dust in the wind. Whitetails from a tree stand with a compound or a rifle, I can keep her together until after the shot. But for some reason with a stick bow in my hand, my Adrenalin spikes beyond control and controlled breathing and focus on anything but making a good shot go right out the window.

I don’t know what it is that separates the weapon choice and the way the Wiley Whitetails effect on me. This year I decided I needed to hunt them in the ground. Every aspect of the hunt and out smarting these animals is critical. There is no other choice but to be damn near perfect to get under 20 on the ground with one of the most instinctually sharp animals on earth. I wanted to test my theory of Adrenalin flow that I experience with animals here in Alaska. I would try and flip my fight response versus my flight response to an animal encounter on the ground. If I could convince myself, it’s me or him much like the bears and moose I encounter in close quarters… then maybe just maybe I could get to full draw, pic a spot, and let that buck have it. I need the Adrenalin flow pegged out, the thought of life or death and the need for perfect decision making.

Now it’s hard to say that Whitetails will give you that “life or death” situation as they are extremely afraid of hunters, even if they are enraged with the rut. They generally snap to consciousness once they get a sniff of human odor. They still most likely will approach down wind to confirm their suspicion of human tampering. You can fool a few of there senses, but not their nose even if you do practice a scent free approach. I will say this, I had several encounters on the ground and my nerves were calmer than ever. Put me in a tree stand with a stick bow and my nerves fall apart. Eventually I will get the monkey off my back by taking a whitetail with traditional archery equipment. One thing is for certain, I feel more comfortable eye to eye with these beautiful beast than 20ft up watching them pick apart the scene like a forensic scientist. More on this theory as I analyze buck fever through traditional archery whitetail hunting. It will happen someday, just not this 2020. I can’t thanks Todd of Mission Kansas enough for all the time effort and energy he spent showing us the ropes in Kansas, I’m certain I’ll be back to Kansas.