Have you ever had a whitetail deer standing real close looking the other way while the wind is blowing from the deer towards you? This deer appears to be totally unaware of the danger near him. The draw is silent yet, suddenly for no apparent reason other than some dang sixth sense he tenses and bolts away out of range only to stiff leg around for a few minutes before fading off out of sight.
During my half-century of hunting a scenario like this has happened on more than one occasion. I’ve sadly shaken my head in defeat while racking my brain trying to figure out went wrong at the moment of truth. And not just deer, other animals such as turkeys, elk, coyotes, fox, cats and bears at times have appeared to have that sixth sense warning of danger at the very last moment. I have always thought something unnoticed went wrong, some movement, noise or scent and then redoubled my efforts to avoid making whatever mistake it was. However, in March another possibility was unveiled to me.
Early this year the upper left side of my body seized into pain shooting down my left arm causing my hand to go numb to the point where a needle pushed through it did not produce any feeling or pain. Needless to say, this is always a good reason to seek medical attention. Thankfully a heart attack and stroke were ruled out. The doctors suspected nerve damage and referred me to the neurology department.
An MRI showed nerve damage at the base of my neck, so the Doctor ordered an EMG (electromyography) and this was when things got interesting as they relate to hunting.
During the EMG I discovered when my muscles are moving and tensing they make noise, a lot of noise, the electrical static coming out of the EMG speakers was astounding. As soon as I heard that racket all those deer described earlier came to mind, and I remembered they came to attention just when my muscles were tensing for the draw or lifting the gun. I immediately asked the doctor if any research has been done to determine if animals can hear all those sounds. He was taken aback by that question; apparently, it had never occurred to anyone to consider the possibility. Of course, my next request was when the test is complete could we experiment with different muscle moves. He agreed.
I learned that if I quickly bunched up my bow pulling muscles, the noise went off the chart and when I ever so slowly tensed those same muscles for a draw the sound produced was much more moderate, almost a flat-line. We spent an additional 40 minutes as I experimented with different combinations of internal muscle movement while the doctor measured the sound levels and strength application. We discovered I could apply the same pressure with and without noise. Hmm…
Fewer deer escape me these days than did at the beginning of my hunting career. Buck fever does not have much effect on me anymore, and I’m smoother during the seconds of shot preparation and shooting. Perhaps there is no sixth sense, rather just a case of a very finely tuned sensory ability on the part of the prey.
Here’s a video of a basic EMG test. Mine was much more extensive, as in a lot more needles were inserted into me but the principles were fairly close to the same as shown here.