A stick snaps. Leaves crunch in a slow, steady rhythm, the unmistakable cadence of approaching game. The sound grows louder as you scan the brush, searching for the first glimpse of movement. Suddenly, antlers appear through a tiny opening and your heart races. The animal stops and seconds pass like hours. As your bow-hand begins to tremble, the beast steps forward and the shot seems eminent. By now you can feel the physical pounding in your chest. Bill Jordan thrills to this sensation year after year and takes deliberate steps to handle the pressure.
“The hardest thing a bowhunter has to do is to make that final shot,” says the President of Realtree Camouflage and a major influence in the outdoor industry for nearly two decades. “Call it buck fever or whatever, but you have to control your nerves and emotions to face that animal. At times an approaching deer doesn’t bother me, while at others, my emotions try to gain the upper hand. I have had many hunting experiences and try to eliminate as many mistakes as I can. Releasing that arrow is critical to a bowhunter’s success.”
Jordan practices simulated hunting situations, such as shooting at unknown distances, becoming well acquainted with his hunting gear, and shooting from tree stands. Once on the stand, he follows a mental practice regimen that boosts confidence. “I play ‘what if’ long before a deer comes into view,” says Jordan. “I make sure I know the range to likely travel spots and have the hunt planned out in my mind. Of course, deer don’t always do as I plan; yet I try to be ready for any circumstance. I take the bow from the hook, come to full draw at shooting lanes, and concentrate on picking a spot and putting the arrow where I want it to go.
“When game approaches, I’m mentally ready and not caught off guard. When I settle that pin behind the shoulder, I’m looking at one spot on that animal, whether it is broadside or quartering away. I try to control my emotions before the animal comes into view and pre-play the hunt in my mind.” In order to reach the moment of truth, a hunter must predict the travel path of a game animal, especially the whitetail deer. “I’m fortunate enough to hunt some great places around the country,” says Jordan, who puts up 50–100 tree stands a year, sometimes 15–20 in a single week. “I like to hang my own stands and thoroughly enjoy hanging stands for others. Before picking a site, I look for food sources and transitions between food and bedding areas. Always keep the wind direction in mind, especially prevailing winds. In a really good spot, I may hang two or three stands to accommodate changing scent conditions.”
Jordan anticipates shooting problems, avoiding a situation where the morning or evening sun will be directly in his eyes. He frequently sets a stand for a day or two and then changes it at midday, especially at times when the rut and a food sources work together. “I like to hunt places frequented by does, since a female presence usually draws a big buck’s attention,” he says. “I hunt in my mind 24 hours a day,” says Jordan enthusiastically. “I lay in bed at night thinking about the consequences of doing this or doing that; reasoning why deer are where they are and what their next move will be. I get the biggest joy out of hunting, not as much shooting at game as tactics and strategies, like playing a chess game. I have been so blessed by so many things… I sit on a tree stand and just love it.” Realtree camo fans will be thrilled with the new Hardwoods HD pattern. Using the latest 3-D imaging, the Realtree patterns are printed in bold limb and leaf combinations that will blend into any terrain. For more information, check the web at www.realtree.com or phone 1-800-992-9968.