By Alex Comstock
In my mind, there is nothing more frustrating than putting yourself in position to send an arrow at a mature buck and then having the opportunity slip through your fingers because you couldn’t handle the final moments of the encounter. As a hardcore deer hunter, there are countless things we are doing throughout the year to try and cross paths with a mature buck. Along the way, especially now as many of us are transitioning out of the 2017 season and beginning our preparations for 2018, it’s important to remember to prepare for that final moment of truth as well.
One of the best out there at handling that moment is Ben Rising, a notorious big buck killer. I reached out to him recently for insight into how he handles a big buck encounter. Take a look at our Q&A below and for more from Ben, be sure to listen to his appearance on the Wired To Hunt Podcast.
Q: In your time hunting, you’ve taken giant buck after giant buck. Are you the type of hunter that gets more worked up as you see a buck approach, or are you pretty calm until after the shot?
Ben: I am typically as cool as the flip side of the pillow until after the shot. That’s when my nerves kick in a bit more.
Q: Do you feel as though there is any type of preparation you can do in order to help execute during the moment of truth?
Ben: Yes this is all about preparation. I always try to play any possible scenario in my head a few times while shooting at my target in the back yard. Visualize that buck coming in, play it in your head, think about different angles and shot placement. Then execute each shot as if it was “the shot” at your target buck.
Q: During a big buck encounter, what is running through your head? Do you have any type of mental checklist or anything like that you run through?
Ben: I don’t have a checklist per say, this is where practice and preparation comes in. If I’ve practiced and played this in my head hundreds of times while target shooting, my subconscious and muscle memory take over and execute that shot just as I’ve done hundreds of times at my foam target.
Q: As a younger hunter, did you ever have any experiences that taught you how to handle a big buck encounter better?
Ben: Yes, one particular instance comes to mine. It was a big mature 8 pointer. I drew my bow and simply didn’t take the time to really settle in and let my muscle memory take over. I rushed the shot and hit him in the shoulder and wasn’t able to recover the deer.
Q: In a perfect world, would you prefer a big buck to “appear out of nowhere” and take you by surprise, or be able to see it coming from a distance to get prepared for the shot?
Ben: Definitely coming from a distance. This gives me time to get my head straight and just let it play out like I know I’ve done so many times in the back yard.
Q: If someone asked you for advice on handling the moment of truth, what would be the first thing you’d say?
Ben: Practice, Practice, Practice! It’s a mental game with your own body really. Practice and play the scenario in your head until you’re confident in yourself and your equipment. If you know you can, YOU CAN.
– Alex Comstock – WhitetailDNA.com