By Martin Truex Jr., NASCAR Driver, #56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry
As a professional driver, I know one of the most important aspects of racing is anticipating what lies ahead, then reacting accordingly. The same applies when hunting whitetails.
When I'm behind the wheel, I try to anticipate all possible scenarios. Although I'm not traveling at 200 mph in a deer stand, I still anticipate potential problems and search for anything I can take advantage of to get an edge. Just like racing, I focus on staying one step ahead of the competition.
If you are hunting in heavy cover, look for shot openings where deer will likely appear. Be prepared to stop them in the opening with a grunt or mouth bleat. Have these kill zones mapped out in your mind before a deer arrives.
If you are hunting over a greenfield, what will you do if the buck of a lifetime approaches from directly behind you? Think it through ahead of time and be able to react in any situation. One thing about deer that is predictable is they will be unpredictable.
It all starts with your feet.
If I hear something unusual - sometimes just a stick popping - I immediately point my feet to the right of the general area I believe a deer will appear. As a right-hander, this aligns my body into proper shooting position. Lefties, point your feet to the left of where you suspect the shot will occur.
If you don't like to hold your weapon at all times, have it resting somewhere that requires minimal movement to access. Anticipate and practice your reaction should a deer suddenly come into the open.
Have you ever noticed whenever you hear a story about a hunter blowing a shot opportunity, it's often because he or she wasn't quite prepared when the moment of truth arrived?
In the driver's seat, big things happen in milliseconds. In deer hunting, shot opportunities can begin and end within seconds. You have to be ready in order to succeed. This requires focus.
I wonder how many big bucks are still walking around because hunters were distracted or didn't remain alert.
You've been hearing squirrels and birds rustling all afternoon, then, after being lulled into thinking about something else, you hear another squirrel rustling behind you, so you don't reach for your weapon. But this time, the squirrel weighs 220 pounds and has 12 typical points.
Don't assume. Don't lose focus. The best hunters, much like race car drivers, have laser-like focus, anticipate and are mentally prepared for success.
Safe Driving and Good Hunting,