What is your mental game?

HellsCanyon

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While hunting, I find that being able to control my emotions and talk myself through situations has really helped my success. From dragging yourself out of your bag on a cold morning to controlling your breathing and heart rate when you are in bow range to talking yourself into "one more ridge top". What do you use or what do you tell yourself to get to that position?

For example, and it way sound a bit corny, but when I killed my archery bull this last year, he was screaming his head off under 100 yards and coming in HOT! My heart was thumping out of my chest, breathing was short, body was borderline shaking. I took a deep breath and mentally told myself "You're a stone cold killer, you don't shake or get buck fever, you are calm when you shoot and celebrate after the kill" and I was able to control myself and my emotions and was stone steady making a 65 yard perfect shot.

Another common theme with my partner and I is we always say that we'd rather be lucky than good, and we can make our own luck by working harder than everyone else. We also have a mantra of "it only takes one"... most of you know what that means!

So, whats your mental game look like? Any and all situations apply...

Mike
 

Hardstalk

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Getting fired up I usually resort to music when hiking in. Jack3d always helps :) as far as emotion control at the heat of the moment I have been very fortunate to compete at high level timed events for years. The key to me staying in control is visualizing everything before it happens. If your prepared its not a shock. It weird I basically go blank. Everything becomes silent and I act like its just a routine that I have done over and over. (Even if Its the first time)

I equate hunting pressure to being called last out in a calf roping your sitting second and all you've got to do is catch to win. Don't let the different surroundings effect you. Just like the practice pen. Follow your fundamentals and don't reinvent the wheel.

Cool thread Mike!
 

jherald

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I get excited every time I'm out, even more so when I'm about to harvest an animal. One way I see it is I look at this way, this is meat, this is food, there is only one shot and it must count to make the hit. Then I breath slow to relax and clear my head of any second guesses or thoughts of making a mistake, because it's meat, it's food and it's important to make a humane harvest. There are no hurried or half-assed shots or desperation shots. I'll make it right on the first one or put in another stalk and make it right then, because it's meat, it's food and it's important enough to make it right.
 

LazyV

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The mental aspect is important obviously, but I use a breathing technique when I'm trying to keep calm. Inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds and start over. This is a commonly taught technique in occupations with huge adrenaline and heart rate spikes. It really works for me. As hardstalk said, I too try and treat it all as a routine, nothing to get excited about. And once I've decided that's the animal I want to take I don't look at the headgear anymore. That one helps me a lot.

As far as just motivation in general I use two things. I think about my friends who have been killed and how my problems such as getting over the next hill or getting out of my sleeping bag are weak sauce or I just picture my friends needing my help on that hill and it works every time.
 
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HellsCanyon

HellsCanyon

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The mental aspect is important obviously, but I use a breathing technique when I'm trying to keep calm. Inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds and start over. This is a commonly taught technique in occupations with huge adrenaline and heart rate spikes. It really works for me. As hardstalk said, I too try and treat it all as a routine, nothing to get excited about. And once I've decided that's the animal I want to take I don't look at the headgear anymore. That one helps me a lot.

As far as just motivation in general I use two things. I think about my friends who have been killed and how my problems such as getting over the next hill or getting out of my sleeping bag are weak sauce or I just picture my friends needing my help on that hill and it works every time.

Epic motivation right there....

Hardstalk,
I also use visualizing to help me especially with archery. When I'm shooting one of my practice sessions, I focuse on that target being that 200" muley and visualize that pin where it needs to be with a smooth perfect release... Like you said, once you get in that moment it's almost as if you've already been there and made it happen so it's not a "big deal" or nothing to get too excited over. As they say, confidence kills.

Mike
 

Hardstalk

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Now after the shot im not too sure what I do. I come too naked with sticks in mouth like I won a presidential election. If I were on tv I dont think the camera man would be able to keep up with my frantic pacing as I give an animal time to expire. Its more like a stand in place marathon than pacing. :)
 

littlebuf

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being a big dumb animal works for me. just take all the thinking right out of it.
 

cali_hornhunter

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I try to slow down control breathing and think about and go through steps mentally before the shot and not think about the horns and also just tell myself that you can't kill'em sitting on the couch
 
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HellsCanyon

HellsCanyon

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I try to slow down control breathing and think about and go through steps mentally before the shot and not think about the horns and also just tell myself that you can't kill'em sitting on the couch

I had the "you won't kill them sitting in the tent" conversation with myself about 90 minutes before killing my bull this year...
 

Backpack Hunter

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I don't know that I really do anything different mentally in the backcountry than what I do at my job or during "normal" life. I have talked to myself on occasion, but usually that is chastising myself for making a mistake or congratulating myself for getting it done.
Directly preceding the shot I'm looking for an opening, reading body language, and trying to time my draw. The shot itself is auto pilot, and directly after the shot I'm usually on cloud nine!
 

ohhiitznik

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I'm ice cold before a shot. After a shot I lose it. I've almost fallen out of a treestand a few times and had to sit down.

For motivation I just think about how many other people in the world have a much worse problem than climbing this hill to go chase after a huge bull. I think about all the slack ass people that can kill bulls and I train year round so why can't I? I think about my training and how I put myself through pain all year to be able to climb over this hill with my pack on my back and not die of a heart attack. I think how lucky I am to be able to climb these hills while my body is still in good shape and I need to take full advantage of that opportunity before I'm unable to climb the hills.

I tell myself bowhunting is easy.
I tell myself bowhunting is a game of inches.
I tell myself failure isn't an option.
I've been known to tell myself to quit being a pussy.
You don't want to look back on this hunt and be disappointed in yourself do you?
Give it your full effort or you'll be sorry for the whole year.

Those are a few things I say to myself to keep myself going. I also say that if 45 year old men are climbing these hills with heavier packs and getting along then what the hell am I thinking as a 28 year old about it being so hard?
When I'm about to shoot an animal I visualize my home target spot on the area I want to hit and then I make the shot.
 

G Posik

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I tell myself to kill an elk you have to be where they are. I train hard all year for the hunt and believe in, train hard and hunt harder. I also believe that the only easy day was yesterday. these are the things that keep me going when climbing or chasing.

when it comes to the shot before and after, I shoot my longbow almost everyday. Everything is a routine that is habit, I now put zero thought into it now. If I start trying to think about the shot, I will screw it up. So I just focus on the spot I want to hit and that is it. there is really nothing else happening around me but that spot. I tend just slip into auto pilot and it happens. Now after the shot I get all giddy and excited like it was the first animal I have ever shot. When the after shot stops making me excited like this it will be time to give up hunting.

Glenn
 

shanevg

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Sometimes (especially in August) I have a hard time getting out of bed or committing to another 3000+ foot climb or camping in the rain etc. I just keep reminding myself how often I dream of hunting year round and now I actually get to do it. Makes it easy to never skip a day in the field.

As far as the shot goes - I've yet to shoot any monsters so I haven't had to do the whole "don't look at head gear" thing. When archery hunting I just keep telling myself "this is just like practice, you've made this shot a thousand times" and just settle in and shoot. Worked perfect for me last year - I only took one shot with my bow and it was a perfect heart shot at 38 yeards. Deer ran about 20 yards and tipped over in front of me.
 

Liv2HntBigBullz

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This has some great motivation!

My go time saying to myslef is, "Aim small, miss small just pick a spot and smoke 'em"

I always pump myself up just before hitting the trail with, "Hunt hard and leave with no regrets."
 
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HellsCanyon

HellsCanyon

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^Yep! I always try to have the mentality of "Hunt my ass off, be smart, use your head, and leave it all on the mountain... whether I notch or tag or not I'll only be satisfied the rest of the year if I hunted as hard as possible and truly left no regrets on the mountain!"

Reading this thread is getting me jacked for sure thinking about my kills and my time in the hills!

Mike
 

Steve in nm

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I try to shoot my bow everyday and shoot my rifles at least once a week. and when i shoot weather its my rifle or a bow i build a routine,I do the same exact things the exactly the same way for every shot. Then when it comes to the real deal i can just go on auto pilot. And as far as the mental toughness you need to get out of bed at 4am on the 7th day of a hard hunt or getting to the top of that next ridge or gettin that last quater the 5 miles to the truck is basicly the same thing. I work out every morning at 4:30 for an hour then walk/run 10 miles every evening (Twice a week with my pack weighing at least 40#) and i do it 6 days a week,So i try and devlope my mental toughness doing that And when hunting season comes along its just a continueation.
Hope that makes sense.
Steve
 

Trout bum

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Great thread! The mental aspect of bow hunting elk was a challenge for me initially (extended solo hunts in particular). I took my lumps and was determined to learn from the countless mistakes I made. If I make a mistake now I have a short memory. Learn. Move on to the next opportunity. The expectation that it is easy had to be reworked. The prize is being there. Taking an elk home with me is a bonus. In my opinion, negative energy and regret have no place in the backcountry (or anywhere for that matter). My mantra is "everything can change in a second…be there when it does". I try not to get too amped and stay away from getting low by focusing on gratitude. I count my blessings for the opportunity to spend time in the backcountry and chase amazing animals. If I hunt hard; if I hunt smart, I will create opportunities. If I stay in the now, my attitude is the same on day ten as it is on day one. I tell myself to stay balanced; stay determined……and yeah, don't be a p#$$y! Bring on September!
 

2rocky

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When I get down on myself and my situation, I think to myself that there are thousands of people out there who would love to be as miserable as I am at that moment.
 
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