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Drinking beer makes it harder: The author, putting her newfound Big Buck skills to the test.

Up until two nights ago, the name “Big Buck Hunter Pro” didn’t hold much meaning to me. It was just another sports bar game. But when I got word that there was a new HD edition and a nationwide tournament coming to a sports bar near me, I just had to give it a shot. (And in all honesty, certain other members of the GeekWire team thought it’d be funny if I entered the tournament.)

The deer can’t see you if you’re wearing your camo, right?

For those of you unfamiliar with Big Buck Hunter Pro, allow me to enlighten you. Big Buck Hunter Pro (now Big Buck HD) is a coin-op bar game. It has found its home right alongside the dartboards, pool tables, and shuffleboards in the bars of America. What makes Big Buck such a fan favorite, aside from the exhilaration one feels while unloading virtual bullets into unsuspecting deer, is the community aspect. As we all know, bars are a great place for socializing. Big Buck allows you to play with your friends in the bar and nationwide. Not bad for an arcade game.

Never having actually played the game myself, I figured I better brush up on my shooting skills before going head to head with Big Buck champs. So I practiced a couple games on the older non-HD version and tried a few unsuccessful “sites.” I was immediately reminded of the days of my youth playing Nintendo’s Duck Hunt (except Big Buck has a larger gun). How hard can it be? I was ready to take on the pros.

Just like in the game!

Upon first seeing the new, improved HD version of Big Buck, I was amazed at the sheer size of the thing. It dominates the other games. I was also surprised by the number of people who came out to try it. Even the iconic “Big Buck Girls” showed up. (I was a little disappointed to see they didn’t show up in their signature camo, but rather changed into it — a little like seeing Santa Claus without his red suit.)

Among the players were two seasoned pros who had played in national championships. They were good. They always got the coveted three bucks (and critter bonus!). From them, I observed the skills needed to master Big Buck: shoot often and aim well. Also, adopt a good mid-distance stance, too close will earn you zero street cred and too far will earn you zero points. The pros also shoot a lot, they don’t wait for that “perfect” shot, they take whatever they can get.

Needless to say, I didn’t even place. In fact, my accuracy rate was a whooping 10 percent by the end of my second game (hey, at least I shoot a lot). I did however, have a great time playing and an even better time watching the people who knew what the hell they were doing.

Want to test your shooting skills? Big Buck HD is at Lucky 7 in Kirkland.

Emily Shahan is GeekWire’s Cultural Attaché. Reach her at

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