Archive for May, 2008

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Published by SEAL Archer on 15 May 2008

A tired bow and the ghosts of the volcano

A tired bow and the ghosts of the volcano

It was a cold rainy morning. I walked around the cactus, trying to avoid the spines that tried to reach out and attack me. The sharp edges of the volcanic rock cut deep into my lug-soled boots as I climbed higher against the driving rain and into the cloud shrouded hillside. Razor bladed sawgrass provided a lifesaving grip, but only to a gloved hand. It was steep, almost vertical, and a single slip could be fatal with a 400 foot drop that awaited me if I lost focus, if even for an instant.
They were here. Sign was all around me. Droppings, hoof prints, bent and nibbled twigs, and bits of hair clinging to rock and bush. Their trails often leading to meadows, but just as often to the bottomless abyss I spent the day trying to avoid. They are the ghosts of the volcano.
This day was a first for me, and a transition into a more challenging hunting lifestyle than I had previously experienced. I was bowhunting for feral Spanish Goats in the Waianae mountain range above the beautiful Makaha coastline on the leeward side of the tropical island of Oahu. Unlike the better known Koolau mountains on the windward side of the island, with its spectacular display waterfalls, the Waianae range is usually dry, covered with cactus and sharp rocky outcroppings. The range, less that 20 miles to the west is more like the Arizona desert than a tropical island. This was not my first time on the mountain, but one that helped me develop more respect for both my quarry and the legions of primitive hunters that shared this experience before me. The journey, however, was not quick and painless.
On a hot sunny Saturday, many months before, I joined a friend on a hunt for these goats. Outfitted with high power rifles, we hiked up behind a resort to reach the high meadows where he had heard goat herds were plentiful. His story proved to be very true as there were hundreds of goats all over the hillsides. The lay of the land, while hard to navigate, proved too easy at providing shots of 100-200 yards. A herd of 50+ animals would look across a ravine at us and freeze in that 3D-target pose, taunting us to shoot. As a Navy SEAL, my job insisted that I use stealth and cunning to effect my mission, and getting in really close was part of the job. My off-time activities required no different discipline, so taking an easy shot was not an option for me.
I calculated that a 50 yard shot would be much more challenging, so proceeded to move in closer. The terrain, with its dips, gullies, and 10’ grass makes a simple stalk much harder than first observation would make one believe. That said, a single fatal 50-yard running shot on a nice horned Billy proved to be unfulfilling and would be my last.
As a career sailor, family man, and multi-hobbyist, my budget did not allow for me to rush out and buy the latest high tech bow and arrows to move me in the direction I needed to go, but I needed to fulfill my hunting drive. A trip to Virginia to pick up a diving system proved to be just the ticket I needed to reach my goal. Perusing the want ads, I found an ad for a compound bow with accessories for $65. I arrived at the residence where a woman showed me the bow her brother had left in her garage years before. It was a beautiful thing. An early 1970’s Browning Cobra compound bow, one piece of dark walnut from wheel-to-wheel with a thin layer of black glass backing. It was much lighter than the more modern composites and drew 47# at 28 inches. She told me it included 9 arrows with target tips and 5 broadheads, mounted quiver and pin sights. She let me walk away with the bow for $45, a great deal for both of us.
Practice, practice, practice. I sighted in my “new” bow at 20, 30, 40 and 50 yards. After several days, as I was getting much better at hitting the target, the brittle plastic sight pins started to break and fall off. I managed to keep one on the bow and positioned it for 20 yards, the distance I decided as my personal shot limit. After all, the challenge of getting close is what made me transition to archery. Once I could hit an 8” paper plate from all angles and body positions while estimating my distance, I felt ready to head back to Makaha.
The island of Oahu has very liberal hunting rules and I was allowed to take one goat and one pig per day, with the season open all year. However, getting to the animals and taking them proves much more difficult than the numbers would appear.
As I started, I am back on the mountain and the weather is terrible. Clouds poured over the Waianae range’s prickly back and pelted me with rain as it tried to toss me off the cliffs before I reached my objective. I followed nearly invisible trails as they snaked through the rocky outcroppings and elephant grass. The herd posted nanny goats as lookouts, sounding an alert when I approached inside of an imaginary 50yard circle. As I would crest a ridge I would be greeted by hundreds of tails disappearing over the next ridge. The 20 yard limit was much, much harder than I could have imagined after getting my first 50 yard goat.
With the wind in my face I rounded a trail to find a small Billy blocking my path. He was 10 feet from where I stood. Reflexive action and recently developed muscle memory positioned the bow in my outstretched arm, the peepsight aligining my eye with the single 20-yard pin. Before he could move, my pin just below his jawline, I released my arrow. Time stood still. I could see the arrow flex, the plastic vanes starting to rotate as the arrow slid over the rest and left the bow. The animal stood still as my arrow sailed cleanly between its broad horns, over the cliff into the rocky ravine beyond. My heart dropped just as fast and missed a couple of beats as my arrow missed its target. At 10 feet, the Billy was too close to me, and was something I had not practiced.
An hour later I saw the back end of a large horned, brown billy round a corner in front of me. I could hear his padded hooves on the rocks as he circled back on a ledge above me. I leaned into the cliff face to nock an arrow and draw the string. The trail was less than 2 feet wide and the drop was not something I wanted to think about. I pointed my arrow upwards in the cocked bow and slowly leaned out across the trail. My movement caught the goat’s eye and he peered down at me…from 8 feet away. This time, shooting instinctive without my sight pin, I “felt” the arrow into his chest and watched him vaporize.
I waited about 30 minutes, sitting on the trail, pondering the outcome. I knew it takes some time for the broadhead to do its work, and I needed the time to hydrate and get my heartbeat back down to a normal level. The vision of the events played over again in my mind as I sat looking at the sparkling azur coastline 2500 feet below me. It took me about 10 minutes to negotiate to the point above me where the goat had been. A pile of long chest hair told me that my arrow had been true.
All my reading of bowhunting articles, practice, and my patience while sitting on the trail had paid off. Following the blood trail was as easy as following a painter splashing bushes with a soaked 8 inch wide paintbrush. I could picture the blood spurting from the clean wound with every step the goat took. The animal ran less than a hundred yards, losing several parts of my broken arrow along the way, before coming to rest in a 50 foot deep ravine. As the adreneline started to drain, I climbed down into the ravine and got down to the task of dressing out my kill.
In the spirit of the native hunters, I wanted to honor this animal for giving his life to me by using every part of it that I could. My son and I tanned the hide and made a quiver for his small target arrows, while the feet became part of a rack for our bows and arrows. The horns and skull were European-style mounted and the meat fed many friends as I danced around a BBQ fire and recounted my hunt.
My arsenal of bows has since been modernized, but my first compound is still my favorite and most productive with fish and game. The secondhand bow, once doomed for the landfill, became a legend in the hands of a believer in the true spirit of the hunt.

© 2008 Chuck Cardamon

10 votes, average: 3.10 out of 510 votes, average: 3.10 out of 510 votes, average: 3.10 out of 510 votes, average: 3.10 out of 510 votes, average: 3.10 out of 5 (10 votes, average: 3.10 out of 5)
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Published by Morgan Murphy on 15 May 2008

Baiting Black Bears.

Baiting.

Baiting has very high potential to becoming a successful hunt. If you’ve ever thought of taking a trip to bear

hunt you should consider southeast Alaska, this offers some of the highest number of trophy black bear in the

country.  But as with many of us we cannot afford to go to prime places of the such and settle with our

backwoods. This can lead to just as exiting of a hunt when you play your cards right.

   If you are going to take on a trophy hunt as you all know it’s going to require allot more time and much less

success. Personally here at TAO none of us are really hard trophy hunters and this probably explains our

great success.

      So with that said, find the area you’d like to hunt. Try to make sure you have a good numbers of bears

there. A good method of this is to go there a month before and stockpile the place with grease and meat. If

possible put a trail camera up.  It only takes bears a few days,  if that to find your bait site we reccomend for

the best success to let your bait set for up to 5 days before your hunt so the bears get relatively used to the atmosphere. 
   At  this point you’ll start hunting from either a treestand or a ground blind. If you choose a treestand we

highly reccomend Gametamers treestands because you’ll be sitting for long hours and these stands deliver

comfortable sits, we also like the feature of 360′ shot angles offering many more oppourtunities for shots.

Look at these treestands click Here.

    If you choose to tangle with them face to face! (ground blind) I like the old Double Bull Blinds and the

Ground Max Escapes. However Primos has just purchased both of these companies for 08 and changed some

things on them, i’m not sure if it’s for the better or the worse but… Here is the links. GroundMax and Double Bull.
     So you are going to want to take time off work and put your full effort into hunting them. Try a 5 day hunt

and hunt all day for those five days. Although the bears are like most animals and you’ll see 90% of them in

the early morning or late evening there are always those few that come out right smack in the middle of the day!
    I’m going to recap part of the setup situation. If you are baiting with a barrel the best places to bait are in a

very small meadow surrounded by large trees. If this is possible that is one of the best sets possible.

   What bait you should use,

      Now there are many debates on this question but bears are just meat eating pigs. They arent picky and in

otherwords they don’t know ketchup from a cows butt! But they do come in better to some prroducts than

others. What you should do is get a guinea sack or cloth and wrap about five pounds of meat in it (raw) then

hang at least 15 feet in a tree. This gets the scent traveling long distances and the bears come with more flow

and quality!  Then you should find a stump or fallen tree and bury 5 to 10 lbs of dog food then cover it with

grease.   The night before you head out cook up some meat. Cover it in BBQ sauce and  then the morning of

hunt microwave it before you leave (Very hot) try to leave in insulator and put in hunting spot.

                                                                                          Good Luck Out There This Year!
                                                                                                                 Morgan Murphy.

10 votes, average: 3.10 out of 510 votes, average: 3.10 out of 510 votes, average: 3.10 out of 510 votes, average: 3.10 out of 510 votes, average: 3.10 out of 5 (10 votes, average: 3.10 out of 5)
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Published by hotwax on 15 May 2008

Learn Archery In 8 Minutes – New Web Video

 

Hi – I’m a filmmaker that loves archery. I made a new “Learn Archery In 8 Minutes” video. You can check it out at Learn Archery In 8 Minutes

Let me know what you think!

Thanks,

Dave Huber

Learn Archery In 8 Minutes

 

http://www.revver.com/video/886608/learn-archery-in-8-minutes/

 

15 votes, average: 3.67 out of 515 votes, average: 3.67 out of 515 votes, average: 3.67 out of 515 votes, average: 3.67 out of 515 votes, average: 3.67 out of 5 (15 votes, average: 3.67 out of 5)
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Published by Wildwestbows on 15 May 2008

Of 8 year olds, Turkeys, and Largemouth Bass

The late afternoon sun scattered down on the rust-red slick rock of southeastern Utah, splitting into thousands of tiny facets as it reflected off the blue waters of Moab’s Ken’s Lake. Chuck’s 28-foot Tracker bass boat, the only thing making ripples on the water that day, slid smoothly towards the shallow haunts of the lake’s largemouth bass.

My 8-year-old son, Jorden, eagerly thrusts the bare end of twelve-pound test monofilament at me with excitement and the hopeful expression that I would fit its tagged end with hook, sinker, and his favorite color tube he knew would be the magic combinations to pry open the lips of his wary green adversaries. I promptly pulled the knot tight on the hook eye and turned to repeat the process for my son’s hunting and fishing partner that day, his cousin Clayton. Clayton, having never felt the pull of a bucket-mouth on his fishing line before, prompted Jorden to unload upon him the vast fishing knowledge young brain carried, which mostly consisted of an 8-year-old boy’s revised outtakes of old Bill Dance and Roland Martin fishing shows he had watched with me on Sunday mornings when it was to cold too be outside.

As the two boys eagerly slipped into fishing mode, Chuck, my uncle and our guide for the day’s many activities, gave off a half laugh and smiled as he turned away from the two boys and directed the boat towards an area sure to give the two young anglers the greatest chance to cure their itch. This fishing itch has been building in them for days leading up to this moment and after a full day like we had they were both ready to set the hook.

As the boat pulled along, KC, my girlfriend, sat quietly working on a bag of sunflower seeds and enjoying the full force of the sun warming her out of the cold winter that had been locked onto our home state of Utah for way too long. Feeling content, I set to fishing myself. And as so often happens in this serine environment, I find myself drifting peacefully along not only on the water I’m fishing, but soon it moves into the depths of my soul and my mind finds this to be a perfect opportunity to rewind for me the great moments of the day.

This day started months before as the computer screen blinked to life when I flipped the switch on the front of the tower that stood to the side of my desk. As is my normal routine, email is the first thing to be opened to start my day. A handful of updates and FYI’s about young men and women that fill our small juvenile detention facility inundate my inbox, most of which are quickly deleted and forgotten about. But one catches my eye, an email sent from the State of Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources Office. I have been chasing one of the state’s elusive turkey permits for almost seven years now and my heart begin skipping beats as I click the message. My excitement is quickly ended as I read the ever-so-typical “UNSUCCESSFUL,” mockingly written larger than needed.

 “Oh, well,” I tell myself, as I have so many times, “Maybe next year!” As I continue looking through my electronic stack of correspondence, I come upon another message from the Wildlife Division. Thinking it only a duplicate copy as so often happens with state agencies, I open it and allow my eyes to focus on one word, “SUCESSFUL.” Now having never seen this grand word come to me in this format before, I forced my eyes to read it again and to my elation the word hadn’t changed!

But now, confusion sets in, slowing my thought process and forcing me to scratch at my forehead. How could one email read unsuccessful and yet another completely to the contrary? Then it dawns on me, my son!  For the first time in Jorden’s young life, he was eligible to be included in the draw and so I placed him in with the intention of building up “bonus points.” The State offers these points as a consolation prize to those of us unable to draw permits. I carefully inspected the letter again, my hopes confirmed. Jorden had drawn one of the rare permits! 

As a father, my heart swelled. The vision of my son and his first turkey hunt danced joyful jigs as fanfair and music played in my head. There are few moments in a father’s life that bring such joy and excitement. The opportunity to build memories in any fashion are one of those great moments that top the list.

 I remember my first big game hunt with my dad like it was yesterday. We hunted Dall sheep on the Wrangle Mountains of Alaska, where my dad lived since my parents had divorced years before. The full curl plus sheep, proudly hangs from my front room wall today as a constant reminder of that great first hunt with my dad and now the door stood open, heavenly music played, and a warm bright light forced its way through the open door frame offering me and my son the chance for the same great trophy!

The rap-tap-tap of a small one pound bass pulls me from my thoughts. Jorden and Clayton rush to my side, eager to get the first look at the fish.

“Want me to get the net for ya, Dad?” Jorden asks.

I laugh, and reply, “No need, just a dink.”

With no less excitement, they watch me pull the fish over the edge and carefully remove the hook. I hand the fish to Clayton to give him his first up-close look at what he had only seen on TV. He lowered the fish gently back into its watery home and the two boys return to their endeavors with newfound hope and I return to my daydreams.

The bedside alarm clock sounded its dreaded chirp as I force my hand to shut it off. Sleepily I add up the hours of slumber I had accumulated over night, three was all I could account for and those were hard fought. The turkey hunt had fallen in the middle of my graveyard rotation at work. This makes it hard to force yourself to sleep when you have been trained to stay awake, then force yourself awake when you would normally be going to bed. I fight off the tired feelings, promising myself a nap in the woods around mid-day as Chuck knocks on my bedroom door to ensure I’m on my feet.

Three thiry A.M. never seems as grand as when it’s the start of a day in the field. I work Jorden and Clayton awake and return to my room to find KC in her camo hunting clothes, tying up her boots. What a sport, I think to myself, as I dress myself to do battle with the weary Merriam turkeys. KC is not only a girly girl, but a hunting girly girl. My favorite kind of girl!

Thirty minutes later, two men, two young boys, and one girly girl close the doors on the fourwheel drive Dodge to make our way to the small mountain meadow where Chuck had seem a Tom and his hens feeding earlier on in the week. The headlights soon reveal the small, two-tracker dirt road that we had walked on our scouting trip just days before. The engine died and the sounds of a soft wind dancing between the tall ponderosa pines filled the air. The five pairs of camo boots hit the hard-packed roadway in a silent, single-file assault. I think to myself, it’s hard enough to fool a scared Tom and his harem with one or two people in the woods. It would be a true miracle getting five people to pass the turkey’s high standards of perfection. But I pushed it out of my mind, not wanting to jinx the whole hunt, not today, not for my boy. I exchanged the feeling of setting my son up for failure by inviting so many people alone on this trip with the hope and excitement that I knew he was feeling for the chance to hunt.  

We found the meadow that feeds the wild turkeys days before. A slow-moving stream had forced its way cutting the field in half as a handful of deadfall logs lay tossed about in the grass, awaiting the warmth of the soon-to-come morning sun. We placed the two hen decoys and then the small Jake decoy along side the stream bank and quietly took our positions scattered along the end of the paddock. I cleared out a hole in a low hanging cedar tree and forced my way back to its trunk to lean on as I sat on the ground. Jorden worked his way into position between my knees, using my chest as his backrest he quickly settled in. I quietly loaded the Charles Daily youth 20-gauge and placed it on safety as I handed it to him. I reminded him again, as I had almost daily, about the process he had to go through to make the shot.

 “Slowly move the gun towards the tom, make sure you’re looking down the rail to the bead, place the bead over the turkey’s eye, quietly push off the safety, and softly squeeze the trigger.”

The look he gave me said it all without even opening his mouth. “I know dad, I know!”

We pulled our face masks over our heads and settled in as the skies began to reveal that we were in for a beautiful sunny day. Chuck, KC, and Clayton sat to our right and slightly behind us, each blending in with the background as they started to play the symphony of Turkey. Chuck offered the soft box call, replicating the lonely wants of a turkey hen, KC duplicated the feeding cluck to a tee and would throw in a forceful gobble at just the right times to round out the melody. I think to myself, she’s cute and can call in a turkey. How lucky am I?  

An hour passed as we listened to hens clucking and purring all around us, yet never revealing themselves. Now, as any father of a young boy knows, the good Lord only supplied eight-year-olds with a minuscule sized bladder and an hour was all it took to fill that little gland to its breaking point. And I’ll tell you, it’s hard to keep a young boy still when the pressure had built up to emergency status. It’s amazing to me the dances a young man can create when he’s force to hold still and has to make. As Jorden’s wide eyes told me, the time had come and there was no waiting any longer. Unknown to me, the good Lord had only equipped Chuck with the same size holding tank as Jorden. So, as the two of them quietly made off into the bushes, I took the time to rub some blood flow back into my cold sore cheeks. When the two bladder brothers returned, we quietly made the choice to head up to a larger meadow we had walked through on our route this morning.

As we made our way there, Chuck spotted a hen feeding in the larger field, His mime-like hand signals directed us to set up out mock turkey herd in a lower section of the large, grass-covered opening, not a word being uttered. As we sat up our display, I spotted a downed log that still had some branches on it, laid just in front of a cedar tree. The fallen tree would provide the perfect place to conceal a small boy and his large father.

We took our positions, doing out best to become a silent part of the forest. Time passed and butt cheeks grew numb as Chuck played his box call. KC had laid down on her side and was taking the mountain nap she had promised herself at 3:30 this morning, too. Clayton also become victim to the warming sun and soft mountain breeze as it played off the trees we sat in. Soon I noticed him laid to the side, sound asleep as well. It wasn’t long before I could feel the deep breathing of Jorden, his back on my chest, as he too had fell to the sandman’s call.

Chuck’s calling had slowed and my eyelids became noticeably heavy. I think if I would have had a good head-rest, I’m sure I would have been sound sleep myself. But as it was, I was only allowed to drift in a comfortable place, halfway between sleep and wake. The soft sound of a far off gobble slapped me back to reality. Finally, I thought to myself, something to get excited about, even if it was miles away.

I looked back at Chuck who gave me a confirming head shake as he softly kicked KC’s foot. She slowly picked her head up and wiped the drool from her cheek as Chuck whispered to her, “They’re gobbling down the canyon!”

     As KC sat herself upright, Chuck played soft clucks on his slate. Then it came again, another gobble! This time it seemed to be miles closer, coming from the field we where in at daybreak. I felt Jorden’s body tense up as he turned his eyes to meet mine. I whispered in his ear, “That’s him, Buddy, that’s the Tom we have been waiting for!” Jorden just shook his head in agreement. The young man was on a mission! I helped Jorden position his shotgun to greet the bearded Merriam when it made its long-awaited appearance. Chuck called again. This time the Tom’s thunderous reply caused my heart to skip a beat that big boy’s report had come from less then twenty feet behind us. This Turkey was lonely and wanted a girlfriend right now!

This is where the whole hunt should have been busted! You see in the excitement of talking turkey no one thought to wake Clayton up from his slumber and as the Tom delivered his last gobble the bird was only eight feet away from Clayton. Now, not being used to having wild turkeys yelling in his ear while he sleeps, Clayton sat bolt upright and started throwing his head around like he had ants on his nose and his hands were tied behind his back. As soon as Chuck saw this and blasted a look at the young man that froze him in place like a statue, Clayton turned his eyes without moving his head just to catch the up-close Tom as he strutted pass. I’m really not even sure that poor boy even took a breath for the next ten minutes. Chuck’s look had done that good of a job.      

At the close sound of the turkey behind us, I could feel my knees start to shake. The more I fought to hold them still, the more violent they reacted. Jorden turned and whispered, “You’re shaking my gun!” I shifted my eyes down to the 20-gauge barrel and indeed I was! The barrel was dancing around like water droplets in a hot frying pan. Then in the corner of my eye, he appeared!  

Slowly he walked into the field from the wrong direction, I had positioned Jorden for the Tom to appear on our left, but the bird had his own plan and showed up on the right. My knees stopped shaking instantly. I could feel Jorden start to swing the shotgun. I whispered, “Not yet.” And he stopped his motion. The Tom stepped into the clearing and blew up to twice his original size. His tail fanned out, and his wing tips racked the ground as he seemed to vibrate and emit drumming sounds from deep inside his chest. The Tom cut a beeline to the foam Jake decoy that sat just ten feet from us the whole time in full feather expansion.

As the Tom passed between us and the thickest part of the dead tree we where hiding behind, Jorden instinctively moved the barrel to encounter the Tom as it reappeared. The kid’s a natural I think to myself. I could see Jorden lower his check onto the stock and I could feel his breathing slow to a steady rate. The Tom danced up to within a couple of feet of the Jake and that’s when the hand of God stepped in to help my son. A small breeze picked up at that moment, turning the Jake decoy to face the approaching tom. This reaction from the foam decoy did nothing but fuel the fire already burning inside the mass of feathers. The Tom closed the distance to the decoy and without warning struck out and pecked the decoy right on the head, then stood there looking the Jake up and down waiting for a reaction that never came.

I whispered to Jorden, “Now! Shoot now!” I could feel him tense up and pull the gun up closer to his shoulder. The small index finger gently pushed the safety button and retuned to the trigger.

“Shoot son, shoot!” I whispered as the Tom’s feathers laid back down as he walked around the back side of the decoy further inspecting it.

“He’s behind the decoy, I can’t shoot,” Jorden replied.

“Shoot thru the decoy, I’ll buy a new decoy for next year. Shoot him!” I said.

I could see Jorden’s finger pull on the trigger from inside his camo gloves. I watched and waited for the report of the round as the Tom stood only ten feet in front of us. Nothing happened. I could hear Chuck and KC behind us whispering shoot, shoot, shoot! I looked down to see Jorden’s finger pulling on the trigger for all it was worth. What the hell, I thought! Then it hit me, the safety! He hadn’t pushed it all the way off. I reached up to the button as the Tom started walking away from the decoys and pushed it the rest of the way clear.

 No sooner did I feel the click, the gun fired pushing Jorden’s shoulder into my chest! The Tom started flopping around on the ground in an attempt to fly away from the number-five copper-coated shot but he only stirred up dust. Jorden jumped to his feet, threw both fists into the air and started dancing and yelling, “I did it Dad, I did it, I did it!” The shouts came from behind us in a chorus of congratulations. Jorden reached down to the shotgun that lay on the grass and placed it back on safety, giving me the thumbs-up, and took off on a run towards his newly-bagged trophy. I meet up with Chuck and KC as Clayton came running past towards Jorden, who was kneeling down in front of the still-flopping Tom. “Thanks, Chuck!” I offered, “Thanks for all your help,” and sealed it with a firm handshake. I put a big hug around KC and thanked her as well. We all walked up to the kicking Tom and stood around it as the last of the nerves faded and the turkey begin to lie still on the ground and the memories firmly mounted on the wall of my soul.

 I turned my eyes to the sky and offered up a brief word of thanks, not just for the trophy Tom but for all the miracles we witnessed this great day. As I turned my eyes back to my son and his first-ever trophy, he pointed his finger and slowly touched the tom on the top of the bald head as if to say, tag, then looked up at me and said, “Now can we go fishing?”

I smiled as the memory played over and over while the waves gently rapped the side of the boat, Jorden set the hook on a bass as we drifted past a bush. He reeled it up to the boat then turned and gave me the thumbs-up with his tow head blond hair all a mess and what looked to be the leftovers of a chocolate bar on his chin, still wearing the turkey hunting camo from this morning. I thought to myself, you know, as a father, I think I’m doing pretty well.  

14 votes, average: 3.14 out of 514 votes, average: 3.14 out of 514 votes, average: 3.14 out of 514 votes, average: 3.14 out of 514 votes, average: 3.14 out of 5 (14 votes, average: 3.14 out of 5)
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Published by Schreiber on 15 May 2008

Meditation through Archery

The act itself is simple enough, anyone can pull back a string and let go. But it is oftentimes the simple things in our lives that give us the greatest pleasure. There’s no better feeling than standing with a bow in my hands and taking aim at anything. It is almost as if another world waits for me beyond the draw and once I have that string pulled back this world slips away, melts into something that exists around but not within me. I have achieved what the Buddhist monks would call complete consciousness, where I am free of worldly cares and possessions. Nothing moves in my peripheral as I take aim at the target. There are droves of people behind me and all around me and I can feel them there, but I do not see them and I do not hear them. I can feel every breath I take as I have never felt a breath before, the air is cool as it reaches my lungs and I hold it there for a moment as it grows warm inside me and upon its release I can feel the warmth sweep through my nostrils and over my fingertips which are white with the pain against the stress of the string, but this isn’t a terrible pain, instead it is a welcome one. The type of pain that reminds us of pain and pleasure and to take them together as one entity, one that cannot exist without the other and knowing that the ecstasy of release is imminent. My only thoughts lie on the task at hand, I have for the first time ever found total control of my body “Your left arm is shaking, stop it.” And it stops. “You must stand straighter” and I do. Upon the release I feel the force of the vibration through the string and the energy exerted upon the arrow and I can stand for just a second and feel absolutely at ease with the world. And then snap back to reality upon hearing the most glorious sound of arrow tearing paper.

15 votes, average: 3.60 out of 515 votes, average: 3.60 out of 515 votes, average: 3.60 out of 515 votes, average: 3.60 out of 515 votes, average: 3.60 out of 5 (15 votes, average: 3.60 out of 5)
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Published by Possum_Cop on 14 May 2008

My Bride Archery

by Aryn Corley

Last year, I almost walked away from the sport of archery.

I sat on a hunting stool in the middle of the woods near a food plot with my bow in hand. I was cold, hungry, and dejected while trying to decide the fate of my archery career. The whole time, I didn’t care that ticks were feasting on me.

I had only been “throwing sticks” for a couple of months up to this point. I’d shot at hay bales, foam blocks, old tires, and the occasional lawn gnome. In my mind, I was as lethal as a rattler’s bite if anything had gotten close. Yet, several opportunities materialized and I got nothing in return. The only thing I had to show for my effort were the receipts for the gear I’d purchased.

Maybe I should’ve taken up quilting?

I feel compelled to mention at this point that I’m a “Squirrel Sheriff”, a “Minnow Marshall”, a “Turtle Trooper”, a “Raccoon Constable”, a “Possum Cop”, or more commonly, a Game Warden.

As a Game Warden, I’m expected to have a certain level of expertise when it pertains to hunting and fishing. However, I always found myself limiting contact with archery hunters for fear of being engaged in a conversation. I knew absolutely nothing about archery hunting and worried about not being able to communicate with archers.

My co-worker, Game Warden Brian Scott, changed all that for me when he took me bow fishing one day.

During that fishing trip I was amazed that I could actually shoot fish. For someone who can’t even catch a cold, let alone a fish, it was exciting! Brian was surprised that I had some natural ability for someone who’d never picked up a bow before. His accolades instantly caused me to have delusions of grandeur. I envisioned myself shooting with the best archers to ever nock an arrow: William Tell, Robin Hood, and Cupid.

It wasn’t long after our bow fishing trip, I got Brian to help me pick out a bow from a local pawnshop run by a Lebanese man. Since I was his “cousin”, I got a great deal on an “almost new” Golden Eagle Predator bow. This was going to be my first deer-hunting bow. I figured that shooting deer was probably just as easy as shooting lethargic buffalo fish.

The first time I hit the woods I was sitting in a freshly logged area amongst some downed pine trees. My bow had been rigged out with some extra stuff Brian had laying around his kit. I felt like the little brother who’d gotten to wear his older brother’s letter jacket after he went off to college. I was also happy that my foray into a new hobby wasn’t going to show up as a blip on my wife’s financial radar.

A yearling deer and its mother emerged from a clump of trees only tens of yards away from where I was sitting. Being the ethical hunter, I opted to take the doe and leave the yearling orphaned. Rather than take the yearling and deny it a chance to someday wander into oncoming traffic. I launched my first arrow with my first bow for the first time at a deer.

Sadly, the old arrow I’d gotten from Mr. Scott lost most of its fletching. I was so focused on shooting the doe I didn’t even realize I was shooting an arrow that was barely fit to pick boogers. It flew sideways and skittered off into the brush. The two deer, totally unimpressed by what happened, ran off into the woods. I shrugged it off. I was undaunted in my determination to make archery history.

Strike one.

My next mission involved watching two mature deer bedded down in some tall grass on a fire lane. I was sneaking in to get a closer shot using top-secret methods taught by the United States Army. Basically, I was being really quiet.

As I approached, the two deer decided they wanted to move. So, they got up and started off down the road in my direction on the other side of a line of pine saplings. Both deer were oblivious to my presence and they loped into my “kill sac”. This time, I had brand new arrows. I launched my first store bought arrow with my first bow for the first time at a moving deer.

THWUCK!

That was the sound of both the arrow impacting and the word I said as I saw my arrow embedded in a small pine sapling. How could I have missed? I was disappointed.

Strike Two.

After having suffered two humiliating defeats the score was Deer: 2 and Overconfident Novice Archer: 0. I felt that Karma had to swing in my direction and my time to shine would be just around the corner.

My third situation was in the top of a downed oak tree using it as concealment.

A small herd of antlerless deer came along the trail lined up end to end. When the lead deer stopped to investigate a clearing, the whole caravan stopped and was lined up sideways in front of me like a carnival shooting gallery. My adrenaline spiked. This was the opportunity I had been wanting. Lady luck finally had her gaze upon me. I line up my target, pulled back on the release, then…

BOINK!

I watched my arrow glide upwards about six feet in the air then come straight back down. Apparently, when you have your finger on the release trigger when you are drawing back you get a premature discharge. Ironically, the deer all turned and looked at the motionless arrow. I slowly tried to grab another arrow from my hip quiver but with no luck. The ends of the arrows were mingled in the branches of the downed tree, like gum in a little girl’s hair.

In the beautiful dichotomy that is the predator/prey relationship, I successfully and single-handedly interjected a third element: the dork. All of the deer playfully scampered away leaving me crestfallen and sitting in a dead sideways tree. Lady luck took her ball and went home.

Strike three.

As I sat on that stool I decided to stay married to my new passion. I felt like I couldn’t leave her after we’ve been through so much together. After all, she was my bottle and I was her bum. Those experiences she taught me showed me I was capable of being persistent as well as patient. Despite my failures, archery and I will stay a couple.

Well, at least for another year.

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Published by bowhunter on 14 May 2008

Challenge On Taneum Ridge

CHALLENGE ON TANEUM RIDGE

A True Story by

by Dick Cress (bowhunter)

Arlington, Washington

 

My life as a hunter began when I was ten years old, and bagged my first Indiana cottontail. Since 1963 I have been a devoted bow hunter. In the years since, there have been many exciting times hunting: In the Tarsus Mountains of Turkey for Russian Blue Boar; Texas for Rattlesnakes and Jack Rabbits; Mid Western U.S. for Whitetail; The Pacific Northwest for Blacktail, Mule Deer, Elk, and Black Bear; and Canada for Black Bear and Moose.

 

Many animals, large and small, have filled my larder. But the 1993 Deer and Elk Season in Washington was to be one of those years that I returned home empty handed. Although my freezer remained empty, that year like so many others was a memorable hunt, the highlight of many years afield.

 

My hunting then was concentrated on Taneum Ridge in Washington’s Cascade Mountains. Nearly a half-mile from the forest service road, on the backside of this ridge is an abandoned logging road about three miles long. Midway down this old road, on the western edge, is a pile of old logs about five and a half feet high; I know because I’m five-five and just miss seeing over it. What makes this area so special is at the end of this pile [to the South] is a quarter acre area, that’s a frequent bedding site for both deer and elk.

 

As a bow hunter, I wear camouflage clothing, grease paint, and scent pads to mask my human smell. I always stillhunt this ridge, into the wind and it takes a whole day. Experience has taught me to approach this woodpile slower than normal and to be ready for anything.

 

However on this day, I wasn’t prepared for the startling event that would become the crowning experience of my many years of hunting.

 

With a gentle breeze in my face, I could hear the raven’s raspy crow overhead and the roar of mountain bikes on a ridge two miles west. My bow, out of its sling, had a broadhead tipped aluminum arrow knocked on the string and my fingers positioned for a quick shot.

 

My face was only eighteen inches from the log pile, as I moved slower than ever toward the shoulder of this old, decaying timber. I was as close as I could get, to turn the element of surprise to my advantage. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement on the log pile and slowly turned to check it out.

 

At that instant, growling and snarling reverberated in my ears. A studied hunter, I instantly identified the creature as a Badger of about twenty to thirty pounds and around twenty-four inches long. His broad, low-slung body was covered in a beautiful Blue

Dun Gray fur, with vibrant white stripes that met in a “V” on his head, just above his nose. He was as surprised at my presence as I was of his.

 

His snarling grew more vicious with each passing second. Frozen in the heat of the moment, is the memory of his vicious grin of razor sharp teeth, gnashing at me, while the long claws of his short forefeet, raked at the decaying bark of the old fir tree on which he stood.

 

Less than eighteen inches from my nose that short carnivore stood his ground. I was too close to shoot . . . I could have stabbed him with the arrow, but had no desire to take that risk. I could just imagine a writhing, twenty to thirty pound, ferocious Badger impaled on a twenty-eight-inch HAND HELD arrow. It would have been exciting and dangerous, but not near the fun of the next few minutes.

 

Unable and unwilling to shoot, a second or two passed as I considered my options. There were none . . . but knowledge and experience of other unexpected wildlife encounters. I was too close to back off, and if I tried, part of me would have been his afternoon lunch. On a hunch, I started snarling and growling back at him. When he snarled, I snarled, when he growled, I growled, he shook his head, I shook mine, he pawed, I pawed. He stood his ground and I stood mine. He couldn’t have known who or what I was.

 

That ole Badger and I exchanged mock charges, growls, snarls, bad breath, and general orneriness for fifteen minutes. It was so much fun . . . challenging one of God’s creatures on his terms . . . and enjoying every minute . . . of that standoff, on Taneum Ridge.

 

I couldn’t help but wonder what this creature was thinking of me as we postured around that old wood pile. Though I was enjoying the battle, I was uncertain of what its outcome would be. In time . . . this majestic, gorgeous animal . . . tired of the challenge, slowly turned, and waddled off that old timber pile and out of sight.

 

Strangely, I hoped he would return to continue challenging this strange aberration in his territory. I waited another ten minutes in contemplation. Every fiber in my body quivered with excitement, as I stood in the sunlight on that lonely ridge. The euphoria was greater than shooting a  and Young record Elk. This encounter was greater than any kill I have ever made . . . and I’ve made my share.

 

Looking back on this encounter, it is the highlight of my hunting years. Nothing can ever surpass the excitement of that afternoon . . . with that Badger . . . on Taneum Ridge.

Dick Cress

 

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Published by soularcher on 14 May 2008

Cubicle Psychology…

Cubicle Psychology…

 

Joe Shuhay

 

I’m not sure if it’s the few good memories that I have of my dad, if it’s the chill-up-my-spine adrenaline rush when a shot presents itself, or if it’s the peace and solitude that I only get when in God’s green woods.  I do know that something draws me out there.  It’s something I just can’t put my finger on.  I can say that I almost always leave the woods feeling refreshed, and recharged.  I find myself thinking that if I could, I’d spend most of my time there, among the pines and oak, breathing in the cold fresh air of morning, awaiting a glimpse of movement, or traversing a ridge in pursuit of the elusive Hart of lore.  A good weapon in hand, me versus the unknown.  This is what I live for.

 

7:59 a.m., and I sit dejectedly into my padded swivel chair of my gray, artificially lit cubicle for another 9 hours of staring at a computer screen.  “How did I get here?”  I look out of the office window down the hall from me.  The bright morning sun falls on the green spring leaves of a nearby maple tree, and I feel a yearning deep within my soul to venture outside, feel the warm sun on my face, and hear the wind in the trees. 

 

Throughout the day my mind drifts to hiking and scouting, shed hunting, open fires and the like; but mouths need to be fed, and bills have to be paid…

 

There is a part of a man that no one can touch, something wild and dangerous, something that is forced to live in the gray area between the cold oppressive bars of the rat race, and the limitless wilderness.  Most boys are raised to suppress their “wild” part in favor of what is considered to be more socially amicable qualities. This goes way beyond raising our children to have respect and manners.  In these days of sexual immorality, and metrosexuals, boys are emasculated, and taught to be “nice guys”.  Then society laments the lack of “real men” in society.  No toy guns or bows, no aggressiveness.  Those boys grow up, and society then asks them to be leaders at work, on the battlefield, and in the home. 

 

Most men today live lives of quiet desperation in their offices and garages, watching action shows on television rather than living out the very things that we are programmed to do. They are slowly dying inside for want of less rat race, and more wilderness in their lives.  That reason alone is enough to understand why we hunt, and what is so attractive about the out of doors.  Don’t get me wrong, I love being a father. For me it’s God and family first.  But God also put this love of hunting and the outdoors in my heart, and I plan to pass this on to my kids, and anyone else that is interested. 

 

There is a part of a man that no one can touch, something wild and dangerous, something that is forced to live in the gray area between the cold oppressive bars of the rat race, and the limitless wilderness…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Published by KurtD on 14 May 2008

Rating System

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18 votes, average: 3.56 out of 518 votes, average: 3.56 out of 518 votes, average: 3.56 out of 518 votes, average: 3.56 out of 518 votes, average: 3.56 out of 5 (18 votes, average: 3.56 out of 5)
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Published by nijimasu on 14 May 2008

Dawns and Sunsets

 

I was probably in my late teens the first time I saw “the boys,” camped in the deer spot I had been told to check out.  They all seemed ancient to me even that first year.  The oldest one of the four was truthfully at least 80 years old then, I later came to find out.  His hair was white, and always perfectly oiled back, even when he was wearing his hunting hat.  He stood about 5’6”, and was somewhat slight of frame, but solid as a rock.  When he was hunting, he always wore a one-piece jump suit with the old duck-hunter style camouflage on it, and carried a very nice compound bow with orange aluminum arrows. Camped with him were two brothers who were “only” in their 70’s.   Bringing up the rear of their group was a stray cousin who they treated like “the kid,” presumably because he was only in his 60’s.  “The kid” carried a battered recurve, and rather than wearing camo, usually wore a blue plaid shirt and jeans to hunt in.

My hunting partner Steve and myself dismissed them without much notice the first few years we hunted that area.  We’d slow down and wave politely as we drove past their camp, but always ended up chuckling at the idea of them out hunting.  Never bothering to find out their names those first years, we simply referred to them as “the boys,” and the visibly elder octogenarian as the “extra-old boy.”  Jokes were made about beating deer to death with canes, or walkers with wheels on them that could serve double-duty as deer carts if need be.  We were teenagers in small-town southern Idaho, and being ignorant came pretty easily to us.

 After we had gained a year or two, and I suppose some degree of maturity, we did start to be sincerely concerned about the welfare of the gentlemen — though we still chuckled at the thought of these white-haired men out roaming the woods.  We never really talked to them, but we would make a point of driving past their camp after our day of hunting, even if it was a little out of our way, just to make sure the lights were on in their big wall tent, and that they were home.  Every year they had their camp set up by Labor Day, and they stayed put there for at least two weeks.  We came to respect them for their persistence, and truthfully, I think I took it for granted that they would always be there — like they were part of the mountain — despite the obviously inevitable. 

Steve and I really weren’t so great of hunters in those days.  We were young and tough though, and we thought nothing of hiking up canyons and down cliffs for ten or more miles a day. We would always see plenty of deer bounding out of their beds and we’d send arrows after them, so we thought we were great hunters — even though our arrows never came close to connecting.  We had heard archery hunting was supposed to be tough, and we figured that if we just put in enough time, one of us would get lucky sooner or later.  Wasn’t that the way everybody did it?   I can remember one particularly “tough” day when we had forgotten to bother bringing any food with us.  We’d gotten into a small herd of does and ended up chasing them hither and yon through juniper-covered coulees for several hours.  Eventually, I just up and fainted.  When I came to, Steve was standing over me laughing and calling me a pansy.  It never even occurred to us that someday our bodies might not be invincible.

One evening well after dark, the lights weren’t on in the boys’ tent when we drove by, so we took the turn-off to their camp to see if things were all right.  We were a little worried, but when we got closer we were relieved by the sound of voices and laughter.   When we got to where we could see behind the tent, there was a good campfire burning and the four men were standing around it with beer in their hands. One was tending a griddle propped over the flames in the dark night.  We stepped out of the truck, and the smell of frying liver and onions was delicious and thick in the air.

“You fellas musta’ smelt that from the road, eh?” greeted  “extra-old boy” as we walked over.  “Ya like fresh deer liver?”

I’m glad it was pretty dark, because I wouldn’t have wanted him to have seen the mixed look of shock and jealousy on my face.  We were pretty hungry after our fruitless day of hiking and wasting arrows, and we gladly accepted their offer of a hot meal.  They were happy to celebrate their kill with us, and I was happy to try my first venison liver. 

“Yep, Dale got her with his recurve behind camp this evenin’.”

Dale (the kid) told us his story:

“Well, I’s just walkin’ the little canyon like I usually do back here when I saw her.  She just stood up real slow to have a look at me, so I pulled back and let ‘er fly.  She took off down the crick an I thought I’d missed her.  Looked fer the arrow and blood and the like and didn’t find nothin’ so I went on my way abit, but when I come back, I found this here piece a’ cedar arrow a’ mine I’d shot at her.  It was just layin’ where I would a went if I were a shot deer.  I looked around a little bit and there she were- four hooves straight up in the air –hee hee!”

Steve and I were pretty excited to see that someone had been successful, but we still chuckled about how lucky Dale had been to get that deer.  How could somebody who moved as slowly through the woods as those guys did ever be lucky enough to get close to a deer?  Steve and I always spent days cruising the ridges and valleys, covering as much ground as we could. We always saw plenty of deer, but we never found the ones that were foolish enough to stay put and let us to shoot them. Besides that, how lucky did the guy have to be to just happen to find the spot where a mortally wounded deer would end up?  “Million-to-one odds,” we decided.   We laughed about it all the way back to our camp.

A year later on opening day of archery season, two deer were hanging by their hams in the boys’ camp. We had stopped by just to say hello on our way into the area.  It was late afternoon then, and Ollie (the extra-old boy) and Chris (one of the brothers) came out of the tent to greet us.  By the size of their grins, I could tell that they didn’t care that we’d disturbed their naps.

 “The doe,” Chris explained, “took a spine shot.”  “I was right up on this hill this mornin’, first thing.  I could see her butt stickin’ out of the trees, and I could tell by the way she was flickin’ her tail around that she knew somethin’ fishy was goin’ on.  I went around and waited by the fence on the other side a’ the trees and sure enough, here she come.  But instead of jumpin’ over the fence like you’d expect a big ‘ole deer to do, she tried getting’ under it all sneaky-like.  Didn’t work!   We backed the pickup right up to her.” 

Ollie’s spike was another good story.

 “Yep, I was back here behind camp aways when I saw him a eatin’.  Trouble was, all I could see of him was his head. I figured I better shoot, so I put my pin on him when he was lookin’ at somethin’ else and let loose.  He dropped right there and never made another move.  Game warden accused me a’ shootin’ with a gun when he saw there weren’t no holes in the meat, till I showed him the poor critter’s noggin and he tried yankin’ the arrow out to look at it. Wouldn’t budge!  I ain’t much fer puttin’ deer heads up on the wall and such, but I think this’n just might end up on the barn door!”

I don’t think you could find any hunters happier with or prouder of their animals than these men were, regardless of antler size or Pope and Young score.

Setting up our camp that afternoon, I think it finally dawned on Steve and I that the old boys knew what they were doing, and that he and I were complete idiots.  Thinking back now, I wonder what kind of jokes they must have made about us, watching us stampeding over the ridges, killing ourselves day in and day out, and doing nothing but herding animals into their honey-holes. 

The next day, after some hard thinking, I decided that maybe I would hunt a little more thoroughly than usual, near camp, –kind of near where our elder neighbors hunted, just by coincidence, of course.  In my head I kept trying to picture how the boys would move through the woods and tried to see if could duplicate it.  Funny as that must sound, it worked, at least to an extent.  I remember that dark, cool day well.  The fine mist of a rain that can’t decide if it really wants to fall or not was beading up on my face, finally dripping, and carrying with it the wild- amazing scent of wet sagebrush.  I remember how quiet the dampness made the soft earth of the worn deer trails under the pines, and marveling at how quiet I could be walking in it if I just tried.  I looked up the hill next to me and saw him- a nice fork horn – looking down at me unalarmed.  The first arrow hit the dirt between his hooves, and surprisingly, he didn’t budge.  The second arrow cracked into a quakie right in front of his face, and he trotted off.  I felt both ecstatic and disappointed at the same time.

After digging my arrows out of the dirt and wood, I had enough sense not to try to shoot the now dull blades at an animal again.  I quivered them and took out a nice arrow with a good, heavy broadhead on it, heavier than what I had been shooting.  I slowly stillhunted deeper into the pine filled draw. Just when I felt a real “deery” kind of spider-sense tingling come over me, I was startled by a whisper right next to me in the pines.

“Seen much?”

It was Chris, the brother who had taken the doe at the fence opening morning.  He wasn’t even wearing camo, and I hadn’t seen him.  He was just out for a walk, trying to see “a few good ones.”  I told him about my near misses, and he started grinning for me.  Then we heard a crash.

Not 30 yards away, stood a dozen deer.  They had walked right in on us.  My eyes immediately gravitated to the huge 5X5 standing in the middle.  I think it probably must have been harder to miss a deer than to hit one, with that many standing so closely together, but my mismatched heavy broadhead sure did do the trick for me.  It plowed into the pine needles underneath the big buck.  I’m sure that if anyone else had seen me blow that shot, they would have laughed or cussed or made fun of me for the next week.  Chris simply asked, “Where did it hit?”

We checked the arrow for blood, just in case, and Chris noticed my assorted broadheads.

“You might do better if these were all the same, ya’ know.”

I upgraded my equipment that next summer to arrows that all matched, and I practiced until I could hit things with them.   I guess after my harsh lesson, I had finally gotten around to thinking about how maybe Ollie’s pegging that spike in the back of the head was something more than chance. 

The following Labor Day is one of those memories that stay like a clear, beautiful, perfect photograph in the mind forever.  Steve and I had hunted together that morning, and then split up around noon.  I had sneaked around for a couple of hours by myself when on a sun-blasted hillside, there were deer just standing up from their beds.  I don’t know if they had seen or smelled me or were just getting up to stretch, but they stood there simply looking at me. The sun was shining hot on us, and black-and-red grasshoppers made their clack-click-clackity-click noise and flew away from my feet. The breeze blew some of my long hair over my face and I released the arrow.  The does ran off, the two-point fell over, and I stood there with my mouth hanging open.

When I came past their camp with my buck, I think all four of the boys were in danger of infarction.  They were honestly happier about my success than I was, and that is indeed saying something because I was beyond ecstatic.  There was a deer hanging in their camp, but I never did hear the story about it- they kept asking me about mine, and I couldn’t leave until I had gone over every detail several times.  Steve told me later that when he was coming back to camp himself a few hours afterwards, he had stopped in to see the boys, and they were still excitedly talking about my kill like it was the most remarkable thing they’d seen in ages.  I’m not sure if that was a compliment or not, but I took it as such.

That was well over 20 years ago.  The mule deer herds of southern Idaho aren’t what they used to be, and neither are Steve and I.  Between then and now, Steve suffered a spinal injury that has left him partially debilitated.  We still meet together to hunt somewhere every year, but now we hunt understandably close to camp or roads. We talk about “the boys,” and wonder what they would think of us now—now that we resemble them more closely than we do our old selves at times.  Like them, we now cover less ground and do so at a slower pace, but we end the season with more meat than those ambitious kids we once were ever did.

 I scouted the old area two summers ago and found the once deer track-pounded trails to be overgrown with cheat grass and sun burrs.   The campgrounds were all empty.   I did stop by the camp spot where their wall tent had once stood, and thought about “the boys.”  I looked at the meat pole still nailed to the trees where the spike with the terminal headache — and no telling how many other fine animals — had once hung.    I looked at the fire ring still black from countless fragrant cook-fires.   I soaked up the whole feeling of that place again, rich in memories of dawns and sunsets and laughter in between, and I prayed that when I’m 80, I could still be carrying a bow and finding animals like the beautiful deer that used to inhabit those South Hills.  I prayed that like the men that had hunted out of that camp once upon a time, I too might be able to somehow pass something on to someone who desperately needed it someday.

            I smiled.  I thought I saw a young buck trot behind the camp.  A ghost maybe?  I don’t know, and I don’t suppose it matters.  It did make me wonder though, what I might see were I to come back and spend some time again there some Labor Day…

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