The Onset of Buck Fever

By: Nick Simonson , Fishing Buddy
06/10/2010 3:43 PM

I didn’t think it would happen to me. I thought I could avoid this onslaught of excitement, of gear-spinning thoughts, and yes, above the buzz of the caffeine from my morning coffee, the slight adrenaline rush that comes with the mere suggestion of it. But as of 8:07 a.m., on June 6, 2010, when a good trip around the lake for some largemouth would have at least kept it at bay, I came to grips with the fact that not only had it happened to me, it is now part of who I am – Buck Fever.

There were no deer hunters in my household growing up. The fact that I ended up hunting at all was a small miracle. My initial forays into the sport were unsuccessful, but a couple of mind-altering experiences in the last few seasons have hooked me on the chase, the rush, and the lure of ghostly deer with antlers that cast shadows the size of oak trees. With each passing season, buck fever besets upon me earlier and earlier. Last year, it was September, when I first started to get comfortable with my bow. The year before that it struck in October, as I hung my first stand in the woods. Two years ago, I was spared its effects until opening day.

But this year, the fever is in full effect well ahead of schedule. And it didn’t take much to bring the symptoms to a simmer either. Cooped up by the intermittent rains and occasional clap of thunder, and having read the Sports and Outdoors sections in their entirety, I was left with just the circulars in Sunday’s paper. Suddenly, the world went quiet and all I could hear was my pulse pounding in my ears. A mere two page spread in the Gander Mountain ad sent me up into a tree on the year’s first sale-priced ladder stand and had me poring over dozens of digital photographs on the back of a new trail camera. Food plot mixes and new models of compound bows were splashed against the backdrop of a big 10-pointer munching turnip greens in the sun-dappled field on the local fleet store’s half-pager.

My breathing quickened and I attempted to bring myself back to the moment. Surely that wasn’t sweat on my brow, as I cautiously reached my hand up from my coffee cup and rubbed the furrow on my forehead. It was probably just some condensation coming from the steam of my third cup of the morning. I looked at the wet sheen on the pad of my index finger and slowly curled it and I shivered with a twinge of adrenaline – I mean, caffeine – as the slow squeeze was transferred to an imaginary trigger with that same 10-pointer in the crosshairs of my scope.

“Are you alright? Did you do something to your finger?” my brother-in-law asked me quizzically, apparently having taken in my reaction to the equipment, gadgets and images that were spread out before me.

Like being caught talking to yourself about some private matter when you think you’re all alone, but really aren’t, I suddenly and almost embarrassedly became aware that I wasn’t in some stand on the edge of a clearing, that the only monster buck was the one still chowing down on the glossy page before me, and that it was still a full three months and change before the bow season opened and five months away from firearms deer season.
“No, no…I’m…fine,” I responded shakily, thinking that I’ve told much more intricate lies more convincingly in the past, but I really couldn’t remember any of them at that particular moment.

Blinking away the first of what will be many illusions and delusions of the seasons to come, I turned the page of the advertisement to the camping gear and canoe section and folded the back page of the paper in half, hiding the specials on bulk perennial seeds. I stepped to the sink with coffee cup in hand, and took my final sip of the morning. Looking out of the kitchen window, the breaks in the clouds signaled that the rain was going to let up soon, which would help get my mind back to summer and help me shake shake this confounded fever. After all, it is only June, and there were still plenty of bucks – I mean bass – to catch on the nearby lake…in our outdoors.