Bowhunting: A Brief History

 In Archery, Hunt, Whitetail

owhunting has always intrigued me. From an early age, I can remember my dad bowhunting, or more accurately, I remember my dad shooting his bow in the backyard, honing his craft. I remember my dad’s ratty Mossy Oak Bottomland patterned get up, some of which I probably still have in a rubbermaid container in the attic somewhere. I remember the black and sage colored rubber dampeners he had attached to his bow string. I remember the brown plastic bow case with a majestic buck standing in a clearing of trees molded in relief onto the face. I remember when he shot one of his camouflage anodized aluminum arrows directly into another one – he told me it was a robinhood. I remember being captivated by this mysterious niche of hunting that somehow seemed out of reach, further I could grasp, but never so far away as to leave my consciousness…at least, that’s how I remember it.


few years ago hunting crept from the small enclave it occupied in my November mind and began to takeover most vacant parts of my brain (and a few that weren’t).  I started looking for any way I could to scratch the itch. It started with waterfowl, then moved into small game – furbearers and predators – before entering the world of upland birds. During this time I had put a compound bow on my “Want List.” In mid January of 2017, thanks to the wonders of the internet, I traded a mid 80’s Yamaha synthesizer and Peavey amp for a Bear Archery Venue. I had good set myself to be ready for the 2017 archery season and was putting in solid work when I, unfortunately and unintentionally, became the object of desire for three loose Rottweilers. Though I regained full use of my arm by the middle of July, the bow had by then been sent to the basement to collect dust and had lost priority status in my mind.


s is often the case with moves, things get shaken up and things that have been forgotten get remembered. When we moved in August, the bow came out of my basement and found a place in my shop and in my mind. The target found a new 50 yard lane with a strong backstop. And I found myself thinking about crisp fall mornings, trees now slipping into Ochre and Umber colored evening dresses, and the twang of a bowstring loosing its payload. I set to practicing. Set upon set, as long as my shoulder would hold up the bow. Some days more, some days less, but always with this abstract and ill-defined goal of “bowhunting” in mind.


am texted me a few weeks ago “Let’s go bow hunting sometime…I want to try and do spot and stalk hunts.” I think I said something to the effect of “Dude! Yes!” I finally had a firm goal in sight. We texted back and forth for the next few weeks (mostly Sam saying “You free tomorrow?” and me saying “Ahh, man! I gotta X, Y and Z”) but finally hooked up for an evening  hunt on a Conservation Area just east of town. We got there with 2.5 hours til the end of shooting light. With no clear plan and no experience on the piece, we looked at some topo and decided on a draw a few hundred yards into the piece. Halfway through our crawl to the draw sam freezes. I had heard something as well and followed suit. We each slowly nocked arrows and waited for the beast to appear. I saw nothing. What I found out after 3 or 4 minutes was that Sam was locked in a staring contest with a young 6 point at 55 yards.  He was locked up in the middle of the road we had just stalked down hidden by a couple of mature oaks at the apex of a bend in the path. He spooked, but not too dramatically, and after a few minutes we decided to follow down the game trail he had departed on. We pursued him for a hundred yards or so and dawdled on the edge of a draw for half an hour before heading back to the main road.


y that time, we had just under an hour to hunt and decided to stick to the road, maybe find an area of high traffic to set up near. Immediately proceeding this decision, I hear a hushed “hhsssst” from Sam and look over to seem him pulling a dart from his quiver. I squat down and quickly get a few range points before doing the same. Before I, or Sam, can make another move, a spike walks across the road. He freezes. 44yards. Same tune, but a different band. Try as he might, he couldn’t make peace with us and he better make his exit before we made it for him. At this point, with the remaining shooting light waning, we decided to head back towards the truck and watch over a clearing we had passed through on the way in. It was at this point that Sam spotted his third and final creature of the night. It was what appeared to be a middle aged man wearing a ghillie suit, wielding a crossbow, and draped over a lawn chair about ten yards behind where sam had come to rest, 30 yards down from me.


ot long after, we called it and headed back to truck, waiving at our new friend as we cautiously passed. While we didn’t put any meat in the freezer, time in the woods is never a foolish investment. Not only did it help to get us a little more familiar with a piece of public land neither of us had ever hunted, it also helped to demystify bowhunting. It is not longer this ephemeral or abstract idea. It is attainable, and I have done it! My goal this year is to harvest a young doe with a before the end of the season! Stay tuned.

In the mean time, you might want to check out the Whitetail Ledger or the Archery Ledger.

Date Method Deer Seen Deer Shot Deer Retrieved Yield Weather Temperature Miles Traveled Total Time Yield/Time Location Ownership Total Cost Yield/Cost
10/11/18 Archery 2 0 0 0 oz Clear 52 54.2 3:48:00 hrs n/a Webster County Public $0.00 n/a
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