It’s All About Mental Confidence with Dan Infalt

WTR Infalt | Mental Confidence


Everything starts in the mind. Thus, mental confidence is a massive thing when it comes to deer hunting. Dan Infalt, an old school hunter who runs a website forum called The Hunting Beast, gets into the mental confidence that reflects in the attitude of the hunter. Dan reveals that hard work combined with the commitment to hunt is the vital secret to his success as a DIY public land deer hunter. He shares how he mentally prepares to hunt 100 days a season, focusing on three to five bucks and relentlessly pursuing them in places few hunters would even bother to hunt.

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It’s All About Mental Confidence with Dan Infalt

It’s a pleasure to have Dan Infalt on the show from The Hunting Beast. Dan and I are going to do something unique. We’re going to do a three-part series. Dan, welcome to the show.

Bruce, thanks for having me.WTR Infalt | Mental Confidence

Anybody who follows Dan knows his abilities, his skillset and his ability to communicate. That’s why we’re having this three-part episode. The first one is on confidence or the mental aspect of hunting. Dan, you wrote a post on Facebook and Instagram and I picked up on it. I called you and here we are. Let’s unpack this and sit down and talk about the confidence factor that so many has to have if they want to kill mature bucks.

Everybody wants to talk about tactics, skill, what the new trick is and what the new gimmick is. We seldom talk about the mental aspects of deer hunting. I’ve come to see it with so many people I know. The skill level isn’t that different. You have people that know how to hunt the same as somebody else. The people with a negative attitude never seem to get it done. When you are in that woods and you’re going to your hunting spot, if you don’t believe in it, you don’t set up properly, you’re not quiet enough, and your mind’s wandering. If something comes out, they catch you anyways. That positive attitude, you went out there and you’re noticing what’s going on around you. You’re seeing if there’s a new sign or something and you’re thinking about the next hunt. You’re thinking about getting home or thinking about what’s going on the TV or what you talked about at supper time. You’re conscious on what’s going on around you. You got to get in the game. That mental thing is huge.

You touched on a bunch of different things because there are a lot of successful people. We’re talking about DIY hunters, public land hunters or it could be on your own farm. We’re not talking about guided hunts. We’re talking about DIY hunts. When you think about that, most people who successfully take a buck every year know something about deer hunting.

WTR Infalt | Mental ConfidenceThe successful people believe in themselves and it falls into everything. Even into your work life or anything, you get that guy at work. You know how to work with an apprentice machinist. They come to the shop. You can talk to the guy for five minutes and know if he’s going to succeed or not by his attitude. It’s the same with hunting. I can talk to a guy and I know that this guy’s a killer or he’s going to be out there holding on a tree stump. A lot of it has to do with your mental outlook on things. Part of the problem with that is with confidence. Where do you get confidence? You get it from success. You got to get those skills under your belt to get some of that confidence, which is part of the process. You can’t teach it. If you make somebody aware of it, they can try to take strides to improve their attitude.

In the hunting world, it’s decreasing because we don’t have enough mentors, we’re not recruiting and with the video age and all that. I have to think back to the guys who mentored me. They put me in a position to be successful. What’s your thought on that?

A lot of it has to do too with those people believing in what’s going to happen. When a guy is a good hunter and he comes to you and he said he’s going to take you hunting, you start thinking you’re going to kill a buck. He says he’s going to want to come here and he’s going to do this, he’s going to do that. Even if it doesn’t happen, you’re ready to go out with that guy again the next day because you believe in him. What we got to do is to get people to believe in themselves and dig deep and go out there and hunt.

Successful people believe in themselves. Click To Tweet

WTR Infalt | Mental ConfidenceThat’s hard to teach. I knew when the fish was there just like you know that there are mature bucks in the area. There’s no doubt in that.

What gives me that confidence is that scouting. They’re constantly searching for that deer and finding it. It gives me a lot of confidence and it makes me believe in myself.

It goes back to being a 365 hunter and taking all the pieces to the puzzle. Dan went out and found two different sheds for two different deer that were on his hit list last year. Now they’re going to be on his list this year. How many deer will you hunt this year?

I have no idea, but it’ll probably be quite a few. I hop around a little bit. I get onto four or five big bucks. I’ll go look for one and see what he’s doing and try and hunt him or I get a little too aggressive and screw things up. I’ll give them a break. I’ll go after another one. I usually have quite a few on my hit list. It’s usually three, four, five from the year before. I’ll think of one that I messed with a year before. I forgot about it and I’ll go after it. There’ll be new ones that come up that I sighted. I’ll see stuff shining during the summer and glassing. Shining is legal here. I’ll get a trail camera or something. I’ll keep hopping around and moving until I get onto a solid lead and I’ll hunt that deer down and kill it. That’s that belief that I can do it is why I do.

I’m smiling to myself because you said, “I’ll get on that deer and I’ll kill it.” Once you decide to do that, he’s going to do that. That takes a lot of time and a lot of hunting skills. It also takes that confidence that he knows he’ll get in the right situation with that deer and the odds tip in his favor, not to deer’s favor. Why does that happen?

WTR Infalt | Mental ConfidenceFor example, let’s take two guys. I and another guy and the other guy has got a negative attitude. We both go in the woods and we both hunt ten days in a row. Neither of us sees a deer. That guy’s like, “I’m done with this. I do not see anything. It’s too hot out. Something’s going on. I got to try a different property. I got to do this. I got to do that.” I think, “I’m ten days closer to killing that buck. I know he’s not in these ten spots. He’s going to be in my next one or the next one. I’m getting closer.” That’s the belief. It’s the whole mindset of how you look at something.

Another huge one that we should probably touch on is one thing that affects your attitude is the people you hang around with. I won’t haunt with negative people because they’ll make you negative. If you go out with your friend and you’re like, “It’s rainy so they’re not going to hear us approach.” They’re like, “I hate hunting in the rain. This is stupid. You’re going to get wet.” All they do is complain at you and bring you down. “Why would you do that? Why would you go out in this?” Instead of boosting you up and saying, “You might be able to get them. You might not get closer in. Maybe the wind, he won’t see you.” You can’t have those negative people around you if you want to be successful.

That’s true in any part of your life. We’re talking about hunting here, but I heard a long time ago that the people that you run with, the books you read and your thought pattern will determine where you’re going to be five years from now. In my life, that’s positively true.

You got to believe in yourself and believe in your game plan. Click To Tweet

It’s the power of positive thinking. There is more of that than what people believe. It’s not just sitting in the tree. If you’re sitting in that tree and you do not believe something’s going to happen, you will leave early. You don’t want to walk out there and cross the river to get to an island where you think a buck is going to be if you don’t believe it’s going to be there. You got to believe in yourself. You got to believe in your game plan. You got to stick to it and do it.

WTR Infalt | Mental ConfidenceHave you ever read any of Barry Wensel’s books? He had a thing in one of his books. He would do nothing but concentrate on having a buck come at 6:45 AM. He’d get this tree stand, he’d get set up and he would do nothing but shut his eyes and say, “A buck is going to come.” He’d go through his mantra. You couldn’t call it ninja or yin and yang. I can’t tell you why it happened, but he had documented him killing deer with that technique. It’s hard on your brain because most people can’t concentrate for a minute before they have to think about something else in their brain. Everybody does it. Our brains wander. Our brains never shut down. You get his book and read it. You’d go, “Holy fright.” It’s almost conjuring up the deer. The mental power that he did, it worked. I’ve used that successfully for fishing. I’ve never been able to hang in long enough to bring an elk in or a deer in or whatever else I’m hunting. I can’t say I ever did it, but I always wondered what that was all about. It’s such a mental process. I talk to people all the time. If you think you can do it, you can. If you don’t think you’d do it, go do something else.

You got to believe in you. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?

This is what hunting is. It’s one-on-one. You’re challenging the wildest critter in your neighborhood.

WTR Infalt | Mental ConfidenceEspecially when you’re getting those big, mature bucks and you’re hunting in places like I do. Probably a lot of the readers are going into public land and pressured land. I might hunt in a property where, in 2,000 acres, there’s one buck I’ll shoot and there are twenty other people trying to kill it. If I’m not in the mental game of going after that thing, I’m not going to get him. Going back on what you’re saying about Barry, when I’m sitting on the tree, I’m usually looking at the trails coming from where I think that buck is going to come from. I’m thinking about what he’s going to do at home when I shoot him. Where am I going to take my shot? At what point am I going to draw my bow if he’s on that trail and if he’s doing this or that?

Another guy might be sitting there thinking about, “What am I going to do about this thing going on at work?” because he does not believe it’s going to happen. When that buck comes out, I don’t have the nerves that that guy has. I don’t freak out because I’ve already thought about where he’s going to be. I’ve always looked at those trails. I’ve already thought about where I’m going to shoot, where I’m going to pull back, the bow, how am I going to get this done. It all comes more natural to me, that whole power of belief. Believing in yourself is making me think in that direction where I’m already planning out the kill. I’m performing because of that.

He knows how he’s going to kill that deer when that deer comes out. He’s not going to have to duck. He’s not going to have to shift. If he does, he’s not always going to do it. I’m set up in my tree stand. I’ll have one, two or three firing solutions done within fifteen minutes, twenty minutes of sitting in that stand. As soon as he gets to lighten up, I know, “If he comes here, I can do this and that.” That’s exactly the same thing that Dan’s talking about. You have to prepare yourself as if, in the next five minutes, that buck of a lifetime is going to walk out. Get off your cell phone. It’s fun to take pictures. If I have a buck coming through that I’m not going to shoot, then I relax. I don’t even touch my bow. I click the camera. I use my phone. I don’t have camera gear. I take some pictures. I’ll throw it on Instagram or to wherever I want to throw it to and share it. Cell phones are the bane of people hunting. There are people reading that has completely blown a shot because they weren’t prepared. What do you think about that?

WTR Infalt | Mental ConfidenceThat’s what I hear a lot and the whole mental thing, “I’m worried about how I’m going to get this done. I believe a deer is going to come on.” I try my bow. I try shooting it. I try standing up and stuff. I can’t believe how many times a person has told me that they saw the biggest buck they ever saw. It came out. They’ll stand to shoot. They have to stand because of the position they are in. They couldn’t stand. They couldn’t get the bow back. It’s like, “You didn’t try that. It never crossed your mind for two hours you’re sitting there?” It crosses my mind because I’m worried about those things. I believe it’s going to happen that night. Every time I go hunting, every time I step in those woods, I have a game plan. I have a buck I’m going after. I believe I’m going to kill it. 99% of the time, I fail but I brush myself off. The next day, I go out there and again, I believe I’m going to kill it.

You get confidence from success. Click To Tweet

I want you to take this to heart. Everybody can’t be Dan Infalt. It’s not going to happen. You’ve seen his trophies. You’ve heard him talk. What I want to share with you on the show is if you want to up your game, then start incorporating what Dan’s talking about. It’s the confidence you get. It’s your mental process. It’s your mental belief system that says, “I’m going to do this.” If you’ve been successful, think about the successful times you’ve had and you knew you’re going to kill that deer. There was not a doubt in your mind that you were going to smack a buck that morning or that night. It was going to happen. Once you get in the ninja state, once you get in that state or frame that some people in sports called the zone, once you get there, then you know it’s a matter of time.

If someone puts me in a negative mindset, I won’t even hunt. I will not go out not believing I’m going to get something done. I don’t want to ruin it. I want to go in my spots with a positive mind and that belief that I’m going to get it done and get it done.

WTR Infalt | Mental ConfidenceHow many days do you think your archery hunt each fall?

It’s from 70 to 100. I hunt about every day of the week. I miss a couple of days.

In Wisconsin, you can take one buck with your bow and one buck during rifle season. You can use your bow during rifle season in Wisconsin. You can hunt both seasons with a bow. You’re going to spend 100 days to close the deal. How long does it take to pull your bow back and release it?

It’s for a minute. A lot of people don’t get that either. This goes a little off topic. Many people told me, “I do everything you to do and I do everything you say, but I’m not seeing a deer you’re seeing. I’ve seen one big buck last year.” “How many did you hunt?” “I hunt on the weekends. I hunted about ten times.” That’s not even a fraction of what I hunt. My success can’t be compared to that. The amount of time I’m putting in is so much more. I’m going to have more successes for the time I’m in the woods.

From the time you see a deer to the time you shoot that deer, is it about a minute probably?

Yes. Sometimes it’s longer. Sometimes they come in slow and hang around, but it was half an hour at most, out of that whole season.

WTR Infalt | Mental ConfidenceYou’re on top of a deer for half an hour. You’re investing all that time. It’s an investment. If you want to be a mature buck hunter and we’re not talking about Booners, we’re talking about the biggest deer in your neck of the woods, the 40 or whatever it is public land deer. You have to invest the time. If you had a crappy day, you had a fight with your girlfriend, your best buddy, you had three flat tires or it’s a bad day, don’t go hunting. That’s what I hear you’re saying.

Take care of the problem that you have and take that day off.

Do you think that the bucks are drawn to you in any way because of your attitude?

I don’t believe that, but I believe that my attitude makes me prepared when they come on. It makes me last a little longer. It makes me get up in the morning when my alarm clock goes off. It gets me to go that extra mile across the river. It gets me to enter the woods in a different way, instead of walking from point A from the truck down the road, straight to my stand and climbing that tree. It gets me to scout my way in, looking for more signs because I believe there’s a buck there that I can hunt and kill him. I go out of my way to do those things because of my attitude. I don’t think that it has some magnetic pull or something. I do believe that it’s put me in the right situation when a buck does cross paths with me. How many bucks do you think would come into guy’s tree stand, where he was going to sit? When he hits the snooze button and slept in, we’ve seen millions of deer slip people over the years.

There’s a saying out West for elk hunters, “You snooze, you lose.” There’s a picture of a guy taking a nap in the sun. He’s been up since 3:30 in the morning and a herd elk slip on by him. It’s true. How many people have shown you trail cam or pictures and say, “I love to stand at 6:05, at 6:15 and the buck of my dreams walk by and nobody else is in the stand.” That happens.

It’s happened to me. If you’re not there, you can’t kill them. In the same standpoint, if you go in there with the wrong mentality, you might not get it done either.

I drew up a thing where the deer shows up ten minutes after you left. He was no more than a quarter of a mile away from you when you left your stand. He was probably 200 yards. He might even be better within 100 yards. He was waiting for you to leave. I think about that all the time. I know the buck is there, whether it’s on this side of the road or that side of the road. I know he’s within less than a quarter of a mile of me at any time during the day, no matter what stand I’m sitting in. He’s there.

When I hunt, I’m hunting cold spots to where I believe a deer is bedding. I believe that most of the time, I’m close to one of those bucks. It’s a matter of them getting up and moving for me to shoot.

If people don’t know your technique, the bedding areas, you hunt in high dense cover, typically swamps, outline that.

I have a lot of high-pressure stuff. I figure out where I believe those deer are bedding and I get within close proximity. What I believe happens is, those deer, those mature bucks that what I want to go after, they get up and they don’t move more than a couple 100 yards from that bedding area in daylight. Then it’s too late to shoot. You have to push that envelope in order to kill him. I’m usually right on top when I set up. I’m sneaking into these areas real quiet and setting up real quiet.

Is it a swamp covered with high bull rushes or is it thick timber?

I have all kinds of terrains. That’s what’s great about Wisconsin. We got a big variety. I hunt all over the place. I hunt in the whole country. I hunt swamps. I hunt marshes. I hunt the big woods. Every one of them is a little different. You can get closer in some areas. You got to stay further away in others. I prefer, in my area where I live, swamps because there’s so much pressure at this particular portion of the state. If you don’t have water around the bedding areas, they won’t hold big bucks because people will drive everything out. For whatever reason, the people don’t walk through the water to get to where the deer are. You’ll find these little dry spots in the water. I’ve been lucky hunting those types of spots, those isolated dry spots within water like little island spots in a wet area of cattails, tamarack or dogwood.

Are you setting up tree stands or are you hunting right off the ground?

Probably 98% of my hunts are out of the tree. I sneak in and I climb a tree and set up a stand.

Even that itself is an art form. Don’t you have to take the tree stand down on public land every day?

Where I’m at, you have to take it down every time you’re done using it. I have to get in there to sneak thing up. I remember I’m setting up 150 yards from his deer. It’s sometimes even closer than that. I got to set that stand up without making a noise, not getting noticed and be able to kill a deer. If you’re going to shoot them on the ground and pick a cover, you can’t get an arrow through anything. You usually get spotted trying to move. You can’t hear him coming because the cover keeps the noise from getting to you. When you get up in a tree, you can hear them when they rise. You can see him coming. At any time they get in a little open, you can take the shot. Sometimes I’m only six to eight feet off the ground, sometimes higher. Every situation is different. It’s getting in there and slipping in tight. That’s a big part of my confidence thing, is if you’re hunting like that. If you go in there not believing in yourself, you’re probably going to make too much noise. You got to believe a deer is there to sneak, to creep in there.

It’s dark when you’re setting up the stand. That’s an art form. Are you using a climber or a hang-on?

I use a hang-on. I make my own sticks in my hang on. I made some lightweight mobile. We started marketing these sticks. I’ve seen them on the internet. The stand will probably be next year. I made some small stuff that I can get into those trees. You said setting up in the dark in the morning. I do that, but most of my kill success in those bedding areas are usually in the evening. I’ll go under in daylight, while they’re sleeping in there and sneak up downwind and set up on them.

You got a PhD from Dan Infalt on the mental process and the confidence process. We’re going to close this section of the show. Stay tuned for the next segment coming up. We’re going to talk about marketing the outdoors versus being a hunter. Thanks, Dan.

Thank you for having me.

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About Dan Infalt

WTR Infalt | Mental ConfidenceDan Infalt is an old school hunter who started hunting in the 1970’s. He has taken many trophy bucks over the years, but spends most of his time these days helping others improve their skills.
Dan runs a forum website ( ) where people can talk back and forth about hunting tactics and woodsmanship He also sells in depth tactical DVD’s on that website and hosts annual scouting workshops.
Dan also has a site called where he sells hunting gear designed for mobile hunters. You can also find Dan on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.