Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Houdini Effect

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo

Bucks seem to appear out of nowhere and vanish into thin air. It’s so common, we expect it. Houdini couldn’t preform such magic or could he?

The magic isn’t in the buck’s movement. In reality, it’s a problem within our own minds. Understanding how we see and what we don’t see can greatly improve your hunting success.  More often than not, the deer moved in plain sight. We just failed to see it.

A deer’s eyes are on the sides of its head to help in the detection of movement. Our eyes are located on the front of our faces to ad in depth perception and focus. However, we are only able to achieve sharp focus in about 1/1000th of our entire field of vision. Everything outside of our center of vision becomes blurry and darkened. It’s a loophole in our brain and the deer take advantage of it. This ability to focus keeps us from seeing a lot of what’s going on around us.  It’s the same tactic magicians use to fool us with “sleight of hand” tricks.

Let me explain:

Have you ever seen the magician’s trick where he hides a ball under one of three cups? Quickly, he moves the cups around and we are to guess which cup the ball is under. We get it wrong almost every time. While we focused on the cup the ball was originally under, the magician slides the ball to another cup. We missed it. This happens because our minds have trained our eyes to focus on objects and not on the gaps between objects.

Humans focus in extremely high resolution. This leaves our peripheral vision capable of only low resolution.  Our minds can only focus on one thing at a time. We draw associations of where we expect the deer to appear or re-appear, when the buck doesn’t show where we expected, we sharpen our focus and miss any movement in our peripheral vision. A lot of this movement is in plain sight, believe it or not. An enhanced field of vision is an illusion.

The more we concentrate our focus, the less we see in our peripheral view, and the more action we miss. This tendency to focus on objects, rather than the gaps between objects, is called unintentional blindness.

As hunters, our eyes focus on trees, rocks, and limbs. We wait for a deer to appear and miss a lot of going on in the gaps. Those gaps are where the deer are moving.  We just missed it. The brown color of the deer just makes its escape easier.

Try not to let your mind see what it expects to see. You’ll be amazed at how much more you’ll see, if can lose this concentration and become more aware of everything around you. It doesn’t matter if you are still hunting, tracking or stand hunting, if you ease up on your concentration and instead look into the gaps, you’ll see a lot more deer.


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