To Beat Buck Fever, Aim Small

Follow this very simple tip to vaccinate yourself against a very serious bowhunter disease

By: Lynn Burkhead,

Archery Target Panic Buck Fever

The practice of choosing a small spot to aim at on a 3-D target helps fight off the curse of buck fever when it really counts. (Photo courtesy of Lynn Burkhead)


Ronnie Parsons is one of the best bowhunters around.

The thing is, few people outside the state of Texas – or those who pay attention to the Pope & Young Club record book listings – are familiar with the 70-year old bowhunter from the Lubbock area.

But they should be since earlier this fall, Parsons, who began bowhunting whitetails back in the early 1980s, arrowed his 43rd Pope & Young-class buck.

According to West Texas outdoor writer Brandon Ray, Parsons took the buck, a solid 140-class 12-point last month on his lease near San Angelo.

With such a track record, one would think Parsons has learned how to deal with the malady that affects many hunters, a dreaded case of “buck fever.”

You know, the nationwide ailment where the sudden appearance of a good set of headbones causes a hunter to develop a serious case of the shakes.

Believe it or not, the veteran Parsons has to deal with the ailment just as surely as a rookie deer hunter does.

“A lot of people say they don’t get excited until after they shoot,” Parsons has told me. “Not me. When I decide to shoot, my heart starts racing.”

It’s just he understands the goal is to be able to control the chest thumping, lung heaving malady in such a way he is able to execute a shot that is quick, effective, deadly and humane.

And the key to such a shot is to think small, not big.

“(To be successful), I have to pick a small spot and concentrate on that spot until I shoot.”

By doing that – picking a small spot and focusing intently on it rather than the headgear that a white-tailed buck is carrying – Parsons is able to make a good shot time after time.

“Who was it, Mel Gibson I think, in (the movie) The Patriot, that said ‘Pick a small spot, miss a small spot?’,” queried Parsons.

“It’s important to pick a small spot on the buck when you’re preparing to draw on him. Ignore the horns. If you don’t ignore the horns, you’re going to get rattled and miss him or hit him bad.”

Obviously, with more than three dozen bucks in the P&Y record book, that’s something that rarely happens to Parsons – a miss when he lets an arrow fly at a Lone Star State buck.

And with plenty of time remaining in the 2015-16 deer season across Texas – and with the state’s generous limit on bucks – Parsons will be looking to tag P&Y buck number 44 between now and early January.

While continuing to learn more and more about the grand game of bowhunting whitetails.

“You probably learn a lesson every time you go,” said Parsons. “Every time I go out, I guess I learn something.”

Including another lesson on how to keep beating back the malady known as buck fever.


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