Bowhunter's Diaries

Hopefully, I’ll never be seen walking around nude in the Saskatchewan with my bow in tow and fighting sleet...

I’m a hunter. I’ve been hunting Earth’s little creatures and wandering things for years – deer, hogs, ducks, dove, quails – whatever. Nowadays, I feel pretty comfortable sitting around a fire and sharing my stories with other hunters without novice nervousness. I can hold my own.

However, I am not a bowhunter. And until I do become as proficient with a bow as I am with my rifle, I will never feel completely comfortable walking into a Cabela’s with an unadulterated strut. The strut all good hunters have when they can walk into the behemoth and say to themselves, “Yeah, I know 13 different ways to harvest a javelina and six different techniques to field dress a giraffe. I’ve been awake 47 hours in the freezing rain naked and caked with mud for camouflage with nothing but my compound to keep me company.”

Nope, that’s not me…yet. Hopefully, I’ll never be seen walking around nude in the Saskatchewan with my bow in tow and fighting sleet, but you get my point. Let’s begin bowhunting.

From what I can tell, folks who weren’t raised bowhunting face an arduous task of getting into the sport – whether they’re currently rifle hunters or not. I mean, bows are hard. They’re kind of like math until you learn enough about them, with all their fiber optic sites and little frilling things tied to the bowstring. Cams? I thought those were on cars. Anyhow, time to buy a bow.

Okay, so we’re walking into some chain hunting/fishing outdoors store. Dum de dum…walking through the parking lot…dippidy de doo. The automatic doors open, and OH MY GOD, MAJOR OVERLOAD. Crap, gotta go look at the fishing rods, the guns, the mounts - stare aimlessly at the aquarium fish for a while…oooh, barbeque pits.

After 73 minutes we’ve made it to the bow section, and we’re looking at 1,546 bows and literally more than a million accessories. A million. Where to begin. Hmmmmm. Pride keeps me from going to ask for help right off the bat because I am a hunter, right? I think I shall just stand here a moment, pull down a bow and look at it as if I know what in the hell is going on.

This is going nowhere. Well, I think I should change my shopping tactical strategy. I have no idea what I’m doing. I walk over to the “Bow Pro” desk and ask a middle aged diesel mechanic/bowhunter/hunting chain store employee if he can help. It instantaneously becomes apparent he’s more interested in displaying his knowledge of the sport more than really being of any useful assistance.

After a few minutes of his mindless monologue banter about his great white exploits as a hunter, he starts to rag on me about how I would never want to show up at his deer camp sporting the Browning Micro Adrenaline “youth” bow I’m still gripping in my hand. Although these comments at first make me want to graciously drop him in a Burr/Hamilton-type manner, I try to remain a civilized god-fearing gentleman and explain that I’m looking for a smaller bow, as I will solely be bowhunting throughout the year, will be using no blinds, and would like something small and light.

I ask some serious questions about why this 32” bow would not be perfectly suitable for whitetail hunting. I mean, it doesn’t really say it’s a “youth” bow, but the accompanying literature does make me think it’s for a small framed hunter. Now, I’m 5’9” and weigh about 175, so I’m a mid-sized guy and don’t really think I qualify as a “small framed hunter.” On the other hand, however, I am interested in purchasing a smaller bow that is easily packable across various terrain. Not to mention, the Sioux on “Dances with Wolves” used small bows, and I thought they looked pretty sharp. Now this bow has a maximum draw weight of 50 pounds – enough for any whitetail I’ve encountered.

But what about elk? Maybe I’d be screwed with this bow. My fiancée and future kids someday might need a smaller bow. This bow is more inexpensive but may prove suitable for someone else I want to take bowhunting once I’m a Billy at the sport. I bring these facts up to the guy, and he sees he hasn’t touched my psyche with his philosophical deer camp machismo. Although his bright red helmet of hair’s brow furrows, some Sam Elliot-looking hombre comes around the string of bows and tells me he used one a couple years ago at a camp and hasn’t used anything since. Now, this is all quite strange to me, as I had initially wanted to only look at smaller bows – not necessarily micro bows, but, as events have it, I’m becoming interested in this machine. How odd life is.

“Hey, thanks man,” I tell Sam after 15 minutes of his helpful education (evidently this guy has been hunting since Roosevelt was a mess cook). As he leaves with a friendly nod, I notice my readiness of the coming season has grown with our conversation, and I turn around to continue my Hobbit-like journey down the rows of remaining bows and arrows. I only hope that one day I will be able to purchase one of these mysterious and primitive weapons with all their intricate computer generated Advantage camouflage and titanium cams – so I can be free of this outdoorsman store trap that sucks you in and never, never wants to let you go.


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