I realize that no hunter is immune to a rattling bout of buck fever, but one morning recently I was struck nearly immobile with a pounding heart and ragged breath. Maybe it was because my freezer is completely empty of venison for the first time in years, and at the truck I’d told myself not to wait, to shoot the first eating-sized animal that showed its muzzle. Maybe it was because I knew how fast this situation could turn downhill.

Two does quartered in behind my ground blind, headed straight for the invisible scent plume that spooled downwind. I knew I had just a few seconds to try to twist into position and get the gun up, and as I raised the front-stuffer the first doe froze, stamped the ground, and worked her nose back and forth. Uh-oh.

My heart was jack-hammering. And I don’t mean just a moderate case of a racing pulse, but a what-is-this-alien-beast-ripping-open-my-ribs hammering. I could feel the heart valves slamming shut like a screen door in a storm. With the gun up, using an old ironwood as a brace, my crosshairs jerked from side to side. I had the doe in my sights for a few seconds, before the pair bolted downwind, so I never really had the shot in hand. Still, I was left shaking my head. What the heck? Buck fever over a couple of middling-size does?

On the one hand, I’m glad I still get so jacked up at the sight of a deer. On the other hand, that freezer is still empty and I’d like to channel a little Cool Hand Luke the next chance I get.

So help a brother out. What’s your prescription when the deer shakes hit?

Photo: Oakridgebbq