Bernie's Journal, Pg6
"Hunters Are People Too"
(Being the ongoing Journal of an Average Guy, Family Man, and Retired Marine - who just happens to be a Hunter and Outdoorsman - - - and a "Bit of a Nut"! )
This page last updated: Nov. 09, 2005
03/10/2004 New Starts
10/14/2004 1st Traditional Whitetail
10/24/2004 "Candy" For The Heart
11/13/2004 Bread On The Waters
12/11/2004 Story Behind The "Spirit Arrow"
05/19/2005 Guest Writer - "Moments"
06/14/2005 Turkey Bone Pickin' In NH
09/24/2005 Great Night (or...
10/23/2005 Birthday Doe
Entry, July 25, 2003
Those four letters strung together in that order taunted me for the better part of three months or more. From the time big Gene Thorn first started reminding folks on the "LeatherWall" that the time for the annual ATAR was fast approaching. ATAR is Appalachian Traditional Archery Rendezvous; even the name reeks of tradition and great fun and frolic. Remember some of the old movies depicting rendezvous of the old fur trappers and traders - like "Across The Wide Missouri"? It isn't anything like that! (hearty laughter) Not near so wild and rowdy but very family oriented and even more fun for anyone involved or interested in traditional archery. It is held at Winter Place, near Ghent, West Virginia. Winter Place is a beautiful ski resort with all the mountains, ski chair lifts, and lodges associated with that sort of attraction. Of course the second weekend in July it is verdant green instead of snow white and is turned over to the Traditional Bowhunters of Southern West Virginia to hold their three day rendezvous - though a lot of folks get there on Thursday or earlier. From the time I first read of it, it beckoned to me like a beautiful siren, to the mariners of old. The LeatherWall is a cyber space forum at bowsite.com for the subject(s) of traditional archery. You can learn there, instruct there, be entertained there, and "meet" some very interesting, knowledgeable, and even amazing folks there. However the interactive nature of the format tends to make you want to meet some (most) of the large membership in person. It becomes swiftly apparent that the best way to do that is attend one or more of the many traditional archery shoots/get-to gathers/rendezvous held around the country. Enter ATAR, the closest one to my location that seemed to be drawing the folks I most wanted to meet. There is one held annually in Hickory, NC that is fast becoming a big draw though.
The only objection my wife had was her perceived notion that I tend to doze off while driving. I don't really but I do yawn a lot and get close to doing so - it runs in my family. I try to tell her I only doze on the downhill portions but that doesn't seem to help her outlook much. I set about making plans while being urged on by the contributors to the LeatherWall posts on the subject. At first it was a piece of cake, deceptively so. My local friend and trad shooting buddy, Tom Anderson was more than all for it and would gladly accompany me. He also would be happy to prod me in the ribs now and then to assure my alertness. An easy planning of the trip was not to be my lot though. A couple weeks into our planning, when Tom mentioned the dates of the shoot to his wife, she had to remind him that was the weekend she had paid for a spot in a large craft show. She (a sweet person by the way) is into that big time and it forms an important part of their family budget. Tom is the only guy around she knows who is big enough to set up her extensive display for her. Scratch shotgun rider number one. The ambush of my first fellow traveler was only the beginning, he was to be followed in kind by about five others from around the state. I must say they all were willing but then fell from the stage coach before it ever lurched to a start - for valid reasons, all beyond their control. Hell, I couldn't even get angry with any of them. Still came the urgings for some kind of work-around from cohorts on the "Wall" who were pulling for my making it to my first trad shoot/rendezvous. One lady wildlife artist who shares my nickname even threatened to, "come down there and drag your butt up (there)." I couldn't help but laugh and asked her if she thought my wife would count that as a shotgun rider. She and her significant other, another wildlife and portrait artist of high note, were a couple of the folks I wanted to meet in person. There were others and I was beginning to feel rather disheartened and about to conclude it was an ill-fated plan. I was numbering the other "friends" I would not get to meet on this one time that they would be so close and yet so far away. I did not want to cause my dear wife and lifelong helpmate the extra discomfort of worrying about me. Yet she knew how badly I wanted to meet and shake the hand of "Thunder" Bill Wooster, The founder and hard working fund raiser for Windsong Ranch, dedicated to Life Challenged Children and mentioned previously in these Journals and my Hot List of links. The retired bull rider/cowboy, elk hunting guide definitely numbers in the amazing - though he doesn't think so. His life and most all of his waking moments are now dedicated to his quest "for the kids" and their families. It does the heart good to read, hear, and see, what the traditional archers fellowship thinks of this unassuming man and his works and the support they tender to him and it.
Also there was Dave Landis ("Doc Nock") who pitched in to help keep the Windsong fund raising threads on top at the Leather Wall that I had enjoyed e-mail communication with, along with "Country Girl" Dina and her husband Tom of Florida, Gene "WVhunter" director of the shoot, "Dead Horse" and "longbeard" both of NC, "yellow hammer", Dave Bartholamew of VA, and still more. Well I met all of them and many more and let me say right here and now I was not disappointed by any of the folks I met. What a group! It all came about because my Rose, a couple days before time to take to the road, after I had finally given up the ghost, said one evening, "Well, I never died from worrying about you while you were in the Marine Corps or even off on hunting trips to SC, so just go on and go by yourself - but promise me you'll be careful." Trust me on this, she didn't have to repeat it but it made her that much more a part of my heart. When I returned from ATAR I posted the following on the LeatherWall in a thread about the shoot.
"OK, I got a good workday under my belt for the boss, assembled some arrows and even sold one of his personal recurves (an old Shafer Silver Tip) for $450.00 Makes me happy when I can return the favor of his selling some of my bows. So now I can return to what I've been itching to do all day - talk about a grand experience. As I indicated this AM top of the list is occupied by my meeting Thunder Bill Wooster - for the kind of work the rascal does and how much joy he gets out of doing it. As I said while up there, it was also worth the trip just to meet and make friends with Dakota, the Weimeraner and the little white Scottie dog, Major. How could Major not be the happy little guy he is with the so very pleasant Gene and Sandy (Thorn) for parents. Also enjoyed my talks and laughter with Dakota's Dad, Mickey ("shaftcaster"). What pleasure I derived from meeting and interacting with Dave (Doc Nock) Landis, Jason Wooster, Bernie Patrick & Hawghead (Edsel Duty) the artists, Country Girl (Dina)and husband Tom (poor little mal nourished GIANT with a sense of wit to match his size), Bob Morrison (Gentleman, with a beaming smile and bow making talent & knowledge to match his friend, O.L. Adcock's), longbeard, yellow hammer, Dave Bartholemew (the strap held and made it easy getting the huge target home in my Ranger, Thank you Dave). The generosity of Lonnie and of a man whose name I didn't even catch that moved me to tears (other stories). I'm making this too long, know I'm forgetting some names, and still leaving some stuff out on purpose to have something to put on my website. I cannot say enough good about the Rendezvous, the folks putting it on, and all those attending - and the friendly, helpful attitudes of all I came in contact with (which was a lot of people, as I spent most of my time hanging out around Thunder Bill's Windsong Ranch set-up). Bless all of you and I hope you'll all revisit the subject at hand when I tell you I've posted my write-up. Too much good feelings and happiness for this poor ol' hoss."
I do now want to relate here the two stories that touched me deeply, while at ATAR. The first one came about while helping out at The Windsong Ranch set-up. There are many ways to contribute to and/or help the cause of Windsong but one is a novelty shoot Thunder Bill saw somewhere and has made a little more advanced model of for his purposes. So I need to explain that. For a five dollar bill, which all goes to the charity, you get three shots. The object is to hit any of three playing cards placed along the body of a 3D deer target at about 15 yards distance. For each card you hit you are awarded three raffle tickets for some great gifts that folks donate to the cause for fund raising. At ATAR it was the winner of the drawing's choice of a Bison back pack (high dollar, great gear) or a dozen hand made wood arrows plus a Side Stalker leather quiver. All very desirable gifts. Now the novelty part comes in. Each card is "pinned to the deer by a pin and a string attached to a rat trap back close to the shooting line. The rat traps are set under three different sets of PVC pipes that are built into a stand in front of the shooter. You can use your bow and arrow or one provided by Windsong promoters. You are given three golf balls. You take one in your bow hand fingers, along with your bow, you drop it in one of the pipes, draw your bow, and shoot at the corresponding card. Simple, right? Not quite, as the ball rolls down the Rube Goldberg pipe, drops onto the rat trap, which springs and snatches the pin out that is holding the card to the deer, allowing the card to fall - usually before your arrow hits it's mark. You usually have from 3 to 5 seconds, which really is plenty of time for most shooters. Invariably folks rush it though, causing them to be less than accurate. Still a lot of raffle tickets were won and entered in the drawing. It's a lot of fun and draws a lot of shooters. By the way kids get to shoot free, from closer, without the cards, etc., and are put in a drawing for a free bow, as I recall. Both drawings are held at the end of whatever shoot you are at. Now, again as I recall, the most hits anyone got for any one five dollar go was two cards nailed, translating into six raffle tickets. The gentleman who won the most raffle tickets donated them all through us to a young archer we had the distinct pleasure of meeting at the shoot who is life challenged. This young man, like so many of the kids who find themselves in that position, speaks at fund raisers and information programs and is so impressive in his attitude. I was so moved by the man's act that in trying to relate it to some prospective shooters later, I choked up so bad I had to turn it over to Bill's son, Jason to finish the story for me. Bill Wooster sees this kind of dedication and generosity so often that I don't know how he stands up under it.
The second event was completely different but no less moving to me. I was watching another novelty shoot but one put on by the club holding ATAR. Collecting money from the contestants was a big mountain of a man, a club member, named Lonnie and his girlfriend. I was watching Bill's 24 year old son, Jason and some other shooters trying to hit a long distance target. A little girl (probably ten-ish) with blond pigtails was watching her older brother and father shoot and talking a little with Lonnie and his lady. It turned out the little girl's name was "Sammy". She was very polite and well behaved but sunshine pleasant and obviously having a good time. These traits encouraged the couple to engage her in conversation. Sammy spoke quietly so I can only assume some of her answers but I could hear the couple as they had to look back towards me to talk to her. I found out later, the child's blond hair also held a special attraction for Lonnie. Suddenly he said to Sammy, "Would you like to have a nice, brand new longbow?" I didn't catch her answer but assumed it was in the positive. The next I caught was Kathy (as I recall her name) saying to Lonnie, "Now, you'll have to tell her the story if you give it to her." He replied, "I will, if I decide to." Kathy then addressed Sammy with an explanation, "What he needs to hear is that you will appreciate it and take good care of it," apparently in reply to a query from the youngster. Sammy then looked directly at big Lonnie and whatever she said, the apparent earnestness of it must have served to satisfy his mind and heart. He then told her "the story", in a soft voice but every word carried to these old ears like the ringing of a crystal bell. "You see, I had the bow built for my wife but before she ever got to use it she died." He quickly added, "Before she died though, she made me promise to find a little girl to pass the bow on to. I'd like you to be that little girl." Later the couple made sure Sammy would be there the next day and that it was all right with her folks. It had been a few years since Lonnie had lost his wife but somehow he had not been able to carry out her wishes and his promise until he saw Sammy. He later told me that it was how nice she seemed - and the blond hair. His wife had been a blond also. (The next morning I had the chance to talk to Sammy's Dad and comment on her behavior and personality. He told me she had always been like that.) Jason returned from the shooting line to find me with tears streaming down my face. With concern, he asked if I was OK and what had happened, all in one breath. I managed to squeak out that I had just witnessed a beautiful thing . The young, former soldier observed that it was hard for him to believe I had been a full-time Marine. I managed to laugh through the tears and said, "Oh, well it's all right for us to have feelings too." Then he joined me in relieved laughter, knowing I was back to myself. I later found out from Gene and other members in Lonnie's club that it was no surprise to them as that was just the kind of nice guy Lonnie is. Bless his heart!
Thank you Appalachian Traditional Archery Rendezvous for the fun, friends,
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Entry, March 10, 2004
I have been shamefully absent from these journal pages. My last story was after ATAR, 2003 and here it is approaching ATAR, 2004 and we are already taking steps towards that event - second week end in July . More on that later. My delinquency in attending to my journal has been prompted by occurrences, some negative and some positive. I don't care to dwell on the negative but some mention must be made just to cover the obvious. It has not been an easy thing to bring myself to but here goes. I felt I had to end a friendship - never an easy thing to do. A long time friend and hunting partner just became to pushy and controlling, in my perception, for this ol' Marine to tolerate any longer. A part of this took form in too many derisive comments about my open display of symbols of support of our troops. The worst part of it is I am sure he does not fully realize the extent of his progression in that direction and certainly never meant to cause the reactions/results it has. He even wondered why some folks didn't do return hunts with him often, except for me. Be that as it may people change and grow and unfortunately not always in the best manner for some of those less tolerant people around them. I am not always the most tolerant in those matters, Lord forgive me. Regrettably, perhaps, we will never hunt together again but that is my choice. This in no way changes the fact that we had many good hunts and times shared and they will of course remain in these journals and in good memories recalled, for both of us, I trust. The only thing more I will say on this subject is that due to the preceding, I lost my best place(s) to hunt. Now I must renew old contacts and places plus locate new ones. Well, while that is time consuming, we all know it can be fun and rewarding as well. There is no doubt that the hunting season for me in 2003 suffered sorely from my decisions, as my lack of reports indicates, but so be it. That was last year and I do feel, since I did have new places, generously offered, to hunt immediately, that it may have just been my turn for a "skinny" year, no matter what had occurred. There were deer where I hunted and they were harvested by old and new friends alike but this old hoss didn't even see deer period, not to speak of anyway. I had two good sightings, one never came in close enough for my traditional bow , the other was very close and I shot and missed. Just over her back, so close she jumped as/after the arrow passed over her back. As it embedded in the ground behind the doe, she danced sideways across it, hitting the nock with her lower leg and snapping my beautiful wood arrow off at the ground level. Snapped it like a piece of wood, you might say. Talk about adding insult to injury - "there take that you smart alecky bow hunter, you. That'll teach you to shoot arrows at me." Other than seeing a couple of fox one evening, which I passed on for fear of scaring some unseen (or imagined) deer nearby, I had no other sightings close enough to mention. Better luck this year, I hope, I hope, I hope. Oh, I did stick to my resolve of hunting with only my traditional bow all season with the exception of my black powder rifle. Well, I did of course carry my shot gun on the few rare occasions when I accompanied neighbor Jabo and his two Beagles. That was to no avail for me either. Though all others in any given party (never more than a couple) connected with harvests, all the highly intelligent deer ran around me like I had the plague. I'm checking my underarm deodorant as we speak. I did make my annual trip to the Lake Mattamuskeet area and friend Tom accompanied me. However recent high winds and excessive rains had razed that beautiful area. Waters were way too high and what dry land there was lay in tangled disarray. We didn't even get to hunt and it was pretty much the same for most all hunters around there. Very few harvests were registered there this season. Later, at end of season, due to unfortunate combinations of wind, weather, and boat failures at inopportune times the Annual Mosquito Ditch Hunts scheduled never got off the ground either. So, onward and upward, with optimism - - - it says here in fine print.
Coming up this Spring is, of course, turkey season out of a ground blind (someplace) and club shoots. Our first club shoot will be a Memorial shoot for our deceased member Buzz Luhm at which we will dedicate a Shooting Lane and Target in his memory. I will be shooting and hunting this year with my new Adcock ACS longbow, seen on Gallery Pages 7 and 8 and am in the process of bonding with it now - daily. It is a great little bow in all ways. As we move towards summer of course ATAR will take place in West Virginia and Tom and I will attend, if all goes well.
March 21, 2004
This is just a
little report of our first of the season club /coalition shoot at Hubert
Archers (a "mixed" archers club). However it has a particular Traditional
Archery slant to it in that our club, in conjunction with my boss (at the
pro-shop/range, and also club VP) established it as the "First Annual "Buzz"
Luhm Memorial Shoot". Buzz was a traditional shooter, family man, and retired
Marine par excellence, who used Traditional Archery to focus his attention
away from his long bout with Pancreatic Cancer. He lost that fight a year
ago December - but only after a gallant and inspirational bout of "living
with it" (his words for it). I wrote some about him in these journals
about a year ago - Whatta guy! In keeping with the ceremony and to kick
off the annual shoot (and annual perpetual trophy), we dedicated a shooting
lane and target (bedded buck) as "Luhm Lane", which will be maintained
in his memory as such. The dedication was made by Retired Col Stroff, owner/operator
of Flatwoods Outfitters (where the lane is) and long time friend of "Buzz".
Our deceased friend's wife, Deloras, and his college age son, Nick, and daughter,
Christine were joined by his mother and other members of his family, who
came down from Wisconsin for the event. As Secretary/Treasurer of the club
I was called on to present bouquets of flowers to his Daughter, Mother,
and Wife. Did My eyes get washed out again yesterday? You betcha bippy!
"Buzz" was my main inspiration for switching from wheels to Traditional
Archery and I loved the guy's guts, attitude, personality, and demeanor
in the handling of his largest battle. We also presented a plaque with
a special wood arrow on it, that all the club members had signed, to his
son. Thanks for reading about a great "Traditonal Guy" and winner of the
First Place North Carolina State Traditional Archery Award 2002, the very
year that he passed.
Entry, October 14, 2004
1st Traditional Whitetail
I finally got what I choose to consider as my first whitetail trad score - but I guess I can't count it fully. Thank you, Lord, anyway. It was last evening (first time out since a week ago Thursday - due to some stomach and throat problems I'm dealing with). The reason I choose to count it is there was another guy in a tree higher than mine not 20 yards away (an accident too late to correct) who saw all the same things I did so it was verified by a impartial witness. I almost hated to post this, what with how well so many "firsts" are going right now - but it wouldn't be fair not to. I hit her fair and square but a tad higher than I would have liked, but we never recovered her (two hours last night looking for a starting point and five and a half hours this AM after backing off - times four of us - all good trackers). We all were stumped by the lack of blood (I mean not a speck - other than on the arrow). Sorry this is so lengthy but it (as with all of us) breaks my heart that we didn't recover her - yet I have good feelings for the choices, shot, follow up, etc. (unlike some failed recoveries in the past) I feel my ACS and I did our part well. At the impact the doe hit the ground so hard a person heard it who was 60 or 80 yards away - flat on her side. The arrow apparently turned upward some after entering (we found it bent a little after) and wound up going across her body almost straight (level from side to side) and was protruding the same amount on each side. She proceeded to screw herself in circles with her legs three or four times on the ground. I was in disbelief watching her but finally reached to nock another arrow (I usually do that right away without any thought) and she suddenly gained her feet and rushed away, running low - like a Greyhound. No blood on the ground! She ran right past the first other guy's tree and the arrow was still in place. We found the arrow in less than twenty yards (expecting a big gush of blood at that point - none. The broad head end/half was pretty well scrubbed clean from her antics on the ground but the fletching half was thoroughly soaked/coated with good clean, pink blood where it had been pulled through her. We backed off to give it time (and daylight) after searching and finding no blood there. Nothing changed this AM and only got progressively worse and more disappointing. Any of the four of us would have bet a months salary on a routine recovery and all have tracked/recovered many deer. It is almost like she disappeared from the face of the earth or disintegrated in her pell-mell flight. The only thing we can figure is the two holes straight across from each other and a little high allowed all the bleeding into the cavity and none outside and we never found anywhere that she laid down or stopped. In a way I hate to say it but I would have to bet that beautiful, crazy acting doe is dead somewhere. Thank you, Lord, and I am sorry I couldn't find her.
and gals, let the calling me crazy begin now - (weak smile).
The "Mojo" worked it's work, Woodduck, thank you kindly. Last evening I did climb back in the saddle and I am now blessed with my first "Fully" traditional Deer -YES! (The Mojo is a NC Buckeye, very like a NE Horse Chestnut and Woodduck sent me three of them for some "Trad Luck" before the Deer season started.)
Just at Colors
(sundown) again, they came in. At first I only saw the yearling, from my
front left but then I realized there was a nice doe with it, back in the
woods edge. I knew time was short as it was cloudy and I also could see
I would have to stand to make the shot on the doe, since she was more to
my left. I could make the shot on the youngster sitting down. It had caught
me flat footed, as it popped out of the woods right across from me - close.
If I stood, there was a good chance I'd spook it, spooking the Doe in turn
anyway. I took the shot from my Ol' Man's (double entendre) seat. The smallish
deer jumped, turned, and ran back into the relatively small patch of woods
between us and open ground. Thank the Lord he didn't run into the thick
side behind me, like the Sunday night doe had done. I could see almost
the entire length of the arrow sticking out from the far side as the deer
entered the woods, hanging in just by the fletching - the doe turned and
ran on an angle to join the younger one in it's flight. This time the arrow
had entered about where I wanted and exited lower - as any self respecting
arrow is supposed to do - HAH! On the ground, I found first blood at the
edge of the woods road that I sat on and marked it. I headed to check in
(with my gear) before signing back out for "Tracking", as on the previos
hunt - hopefully with some help. Not so- there were very few hunters out
last night and the one guy that was at the check-in point had his hands
full checking in a doe he'd taken with Black Powder. Well it's not best
but I've done it alone many times, so off I went, worrying about impending
rain. I must admit that because of the previous "happening" I had many
misgivings creeping in. Back at my stand site I found second blood and
third - but not much. I was getting worried. Then I spied the arrow - saturated
with blood - just as before - but also with no blood where it fell. "Please,
Lord, not again," I anguished. I cast forward and in a semi-circle looking
for precious blood, with no luck.
However I knew what lie the other side of the thick ahead of me - and I had never heard the two deer turn much. I backtracked out to the woods road and circled the patch of woods to the open field. Hoping to pick up sign on the far edge. Again, a good idea but no results - other than seeing a buck in the dark field, trotting away in sneak mode - "good, not really spooked." There is a couple of large Oaks the deer like to feed under at field's edge, just about right across from my stand position, so I went back to it after traversing the fields edge to no avail. Sure enough there was a good game trail coming out near the Oaks, as I had envisioned. Figuring they might have hit that trail, I decided to walk it into the woods from that side. Shortly after entering the thicker woods, the trail branched. As I pondered which path to check first, I spotted eyeballs glowing off the left branch, at about the right height for a downed deer watching me. My fear was it would be my wounded deer and that it would jump up and run. However, nothing to it but to check it out. As I turned my light and heading, I saw a dark, animal form move off a little and turn glowing eyes towards me again. I put the light full on them to find a large, beautiful grey fox. I mused aloud, as I do often when alone, "Hey, Brer Fox, are you trying to show me where my deer is?" I decided to move over to where I had first seen it's eyes. When I got there I scanned around with the beam, and there to the left was my georgeous first trad Whitetail harvest. I was never so happy to see a Button Buck in my life - not something I normally am pleased to find I've shot. Thank you, Lord, for this glorious night filled with the wonders of nature and the help of your creatures (and angels?) YES!
I also hauled him out alone but the 50 pounds, I later found he weighed, was not a burden on this beautiful night of memories to be cherished. Thank you all for joining me.
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Entry, October 24, 2004
"Candy" - For The Heart
This story was sent to me by cyber-friend and fellow
tradganger, Frank Butala. I include it here because it is too
warm to pass up, I think you'll enjoy it, - and "Hunters Are People Too".
Candy’s First Hunt 10-24-04
After her soccer game was over... I went out with my daughter on her first hunt. We went behind the Butala house in Penn Hills. She's twelve and her name is Candice. She was hunting squirrels with a Stevens double barrel 20guage shotgun... I was hunting deer with a JKTraditions Longbow.
After the woods settled down a bit she got tag-team-whooped by two squirrels that must have known it was the very first time she wore a hunting license. They got within five feet of us and then panicked as they realized their proximity. MAN they had fun with her and I can't remember enjoying such a sight. In an instant... she experienced her first dose of buck-squirrel fever and never even took her gun off of SAFE... but the look on her face [after those rascals vacated] was priceless.
As the daylight began to fade... I had her unload and rest the gun at her side while we looked for a deer.
Sure enough between fidgets.... the deer came... and I flat-out missed.First shot at a “traditional” deer... and clean missed a nice doe [with closely trailing rag horn buck] five inches over her back... at about 15 yards.
When I released... the string thwapped my forearm. The deer was looking right at me and it was one of them broadside "Here I am! Shoot me!" shots... like I had done something good this past week to deserve such an opportunity.
When she heard the string slap my sleeve... she balled up her muscles and ducked that arrow perfectly. My daughter was amazed at the deer’s reflexes... and I was befuddled.
The doe repositioned herself about twenty yards away on the other side of a thicket to our left... and barked for five minutes until the wind shifted... and then continued barkin' until we couldn't hear her... telling the other deer how "safe" it was.:)
With the compound bow... I would have smoked her.With the trad set up, however... I was "oh so humbled" and, not to mention, in front of the little one. Nothing wrong with being humbled but... in front of your daughter? For a very long moment it felt as if she "Just found out" I wasn't Superman or something. That was one heck of a slice of pie, I tell ya.
As I sat there re-thinking the shot a little more than I should have... Candice said with a smile and reassuring brow, "Don't worry dad.There will be other chances. Maybe she'll come back!"
Hearing that put things back into perspective, back where they were just a few moments before and I gotta admit... my hunting buddy made me real proud at that very moment. Sometimes it takes a twelve year old...
I have some "first hunt" pics to last a lifetime. Just the two of us... and every one is a trophy.
I love that kid.
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Entry, November 13, 2004
Bread On The Waters
Recently, Windsong/LLCON held a fund raising auction (with great success) on tradgang.com. I , as I love to do, got involved in making posts here and there with appropriate comments to urge interest and push threads to the top of the forum for more notice. As many did, I also donated some items and bid on some items too, even won a few bids. In general I had a great time and it gladdens my heart and spirit to help support this great cause to help Life Limited Children and I praise all involved that provide us with the chance to support. When the auction had ended I received one particular e-mail thanking me for "encouraging" the sender's efforts in the auction. He mentioned he was a former Marine and asked for my address, saying he had something for me. I assumed it was something Marine related, thanked him and supplied the info. When I got the package I was even more surprised than I expected to be. I of course responded with a personal e-mail but the following is what I posted on tradgang.com regarding the gift.
I don't know if I should do this or not but I feel I must. Ron T. sent me a gift which I received today and I am so honored and flabberghasted I must speak of it. It was one of his beautiful hand knapped clear glass arrow heads (which he apologized in advance for the "poor Quality" of, as he "did it in a hurry last night," - LOL) NOT! It was accompanied by a handsome self-arrow with another hand knapped head on it of either glass or obsidian in an amber color. I will cherish this gift(s) for the rest of my life and soon I will post pics and a proper description of them on my web site with a link on this forum so that we all may enjoy them and his gesture. A heartfelt, "thank you," Ron Thompson. Semper Fi!
In my e-mail to Ron, I asked him to tell me the particulars on the items so that I might post a proper description doing them accurate justice. His reply follows:Bernie,Here ya' go.....I pulled the arra from my quiver, carried it and it's twins hunting most of this season. The shaft is Multiflora Rose which grows wild here in N. Central Ohia, halfway between Cleveland and Columbus. the point is knapped from the bottom of an alcohol jar that I got from the Met. Lab. where I used to work (retired). The sinew is from a New Mex. Elk that A buddy in Taos, N.M. sent me. The fletch is from one of my Ohio Turkeys. The finish is TruOil. The glass point is just that, regular plate glass, but they look kinda' neat....All that I usually ask of the people that I give these to (haven't sold one yet!), is that they pass on the tradition. You have already done that and more with your enthusiastic support to benefits such as Thunder's.As in the Marines...."some got it, and some don't"....you have it my friend....Semper Fi.RonBless you, Ron Thompson, for those kind words. Try to tell me that the community of traditional archers/crafters isn't a grand place to "live"! Oh yeah, hopefully you'll find a picture or so on Gallery, Pg9 of the arrow and points. (Today, for some reason my computer has decided not to respond to my relatively new Vivitar Digicam - I have no idea why. I will continue to try to correct the problem or use some other means, so please check back for the pictures.) When all else fails, go to Wally-world and get prints made from your memory card and scan 'em in - more than one way to skin a digicam! Pictures are now up.
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Entry Dec 11, 2004
Story Behind The "Spirit Arrow"
Icon 1 posted November 05, 2004 03:07 PM Profile for Steve Pray Author's Homepage
by Steve Pray of B4K (Benefit for Kids)
Here it is. This may be a little long but I promise you it's worth the time to read it.
I know many of you here have seen or at least heard of our B4K Dream Arrows made for us by Mark Detmer each year for our shoot. I just wonder how many of you know what these arrows have done over the years.
Oh they've raised a bunch of money for B4K over the years Mark has made them for us, heck the 3rd Annual doz. have so far brought in $3,930 for the kids so far all by themselves. The doz. Mark made this year already raised $780 and they aren't done yet. That is HUGE for an organization like B4K but what these arrows have done in other ways may be far more important than any of us have realized. I thought you may like to hear of some of the "magic" these arrows have brought to those who have been blessed by them.
A few years back a young boy was suffering from night terrors that several of us here witnessed. If you've ever seen a kid with night terrors you know how truly scary it is not only to the child but to those around them also. At our shoot we opened the box of Dream Arrows that mark had sent for the shoot and the little guy just happened to be standing there. The instant he saw them he started shaking and almost hollered "DREAM ARROWS, I HAVE TO HAVE ONE". He grabbed his Dad and told him several times how much he had to have one. Until that day the arrows had never been called "Dream Arrows" it was at that moment they got their name.
As the auction that night and the card raffles the next day passed the little boy had yet to get his "Dream Arrow". As things sometimes go the last of the "Dream Arrows" went up in a card raffle and it looked as though the little boy and his Dad would be leaving without one. But fate had other plans. Bill Wooster's Dad had won a "Dream Arrow" the day before in the auction and knew about the little boys hopes to take a "Dream Arrow" home with him. Mr. Wooster wasn't about to let him leave without one. He had Bill take up a collection for B4K and in return for the generousity of many he presented the little boy with his treasured "Dream Arrow".
A few weeks after the shoot the little boys father posted that amazingly the little boys night terrors had stopped since he had received his "Dream Arrow" (remember he named them) and wondered if the little boy saw something in those special arrows to help him through whatever it was that troubled him. Magic??? You tell me.
Two years ago at our shoot we met our first Outdoor Wish Kid. He was a frail little 11 year old named Mark Austin with a disease so rare only 7 kids in the world had it. The disease affected each child with it in different ways and to date had always proven to be terminal. Mark's wish was to hunt for a Buffalo and B4K with the help of Huron Point Sportsman's Association was able to set it up. At our shoot that year of the many people there Mark was one of the lucky winners of one of our "Dream Arrows". As he left the shoot that evening he clutched his "Dream Arrow" close to him as if was protecting him from something. Now I wonder if in fact it was.
You see Mark Austin attended our shoot this year and brought his Buffalo head for everyone to see. He also brought something else with him, his "Dream Arrow". As he handed me his "Dream Arrow" he said "since I'm better now I'd like to give this back to you to help raise money so you can help other kids like me". I found out later that evening as did everyone in the crowd that Mark is now in FULL REMISSION from a disease that had taken the life of everyone else striken with it. However Mark had something none of them had, he had a "Dream Arrow". Did the "Dream Arrow" make the difference?
5 weeks before this years shoot our board member Lee Morrow's wife Sammi (my cousin) went into the hospital striken with cancer. They found it in 4 different areas of her body and the prognosis isn't good. Prior to the shoot they had no idea of when or if Sammi would be able to leave the hospital. The pain she was in and the treatments she is undergoing just wouldn't let her go home.
Our daughter Jackie has been staying with Lee and Sammi since taking a job in New Jersey where they live. She had come home for the shoot and we talked of Sammi often. jackie, April and I decided that should any of us win a "Dream Arrow" that it would go home with jackie and she would give it to Sammi in the hopes of lifting her spirits. We did a card raffle for 6 "Dream Arrows" and on the 3rd card April won a "Dream Arrow" with one of her two cards. At that time I told everyone what we planned to do and asked them to say a prayer for Sammi. Not 10 minutes after April won that arrow Jackie was on the phone with Lee and he told her "Sammi's coming home tomorrow".
Now I don't know if that "Dream Arrow" had anything to do with it but I'd like to think it did. I'd also like to think that "Dream Arrow" will help protect Sammi and help her fight the battle she now faces.
Do the "Dream Arrows" that Mark makes for B4K have "magic" in them? I don't know but look at the picture of our B4K logo at the top of this post and then think of the card that April won the "Dream Arrow" with that we so desprately wanted for Sammi. She won it with the 4 of Hearts.
Remember, Our kids are our Future
Thank you Steve Pray of B4K for the background and thank you Mark Detmer for the very special arrows you build for such worthy purposes. I consider myself blessed to be lucky enough to have one of them (see Gallery, Pg9, Row Three)
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Entry, May 19, 2005
Guest Writer - "Moments"
A Cyber friend has provided me with a perfect chance to show and tell of my site's Logo (from the index page) true essence in real life. The life of a young, respect filled hunter who has learned his examples well from his father. Many hunters, more than you may think, take the time to thank The Lord for our harvests and show respect to the animal at that "Moment" of truth. This young man, who always does that, will be joining the brotherhood of Traditional Bow users in our way of hunting this season if all goes well, and we will welcome him and his ethics. Two pictures of Tim Golder, Jr. can be viewed on Gallery, Pg10, Row Seven.
Tim Golder, Sr writes about his son, Tim, Jr. and
I once read, “life is made up of moments”. This couldn’t be more true than the moment my son
Tim and I recently shared. I can still remember the first time I took him into the woods. He was
just two months old and my wife and I were shed hunting. She’d carry him for a while, than
we’d switch or stop for a quick bottle of formula. From there it was onto camping trips and 3-d
archery shoots. He’s probably had more bows, shot more arrows and lost more arrows in his
lifetime than most adults. Like me, he just loves to watch those arrows fly!
The past few years have taken on a more serious tune with the approach of his 12th birthday.
Safety courses have been completed and more recently, bowhunter education. Blunt tips have
been replaced with broadheads, as well as safety belts, camo clothing and extra treestands. My
once young son has grown into a young man and sharing quality time with Dad now means,
sitting a well used deer trail with bow in hand.
His first week in stand produced a few sightings with most deer browsing just beyond bow
range. The second week came and went with quite a bit more activity and even a few
opportunities. One evening, I watched as a nice doe feed up to within fifteen yards of his stand,
but he wasn’t comfortable with the angle and decided to pass on the shot. A few nights later he
grunted in a dandy eight pointer, but light was failing as the deer finally closed the distance to
twelve yards, well within range, just too dark for him to be sure, so he passed once again. His
respect for both the animal and his abilities exceed those of most veteran bowhunters. I couldn’t
have been more proud of his decisions.
All those passed opportunities and long evening hunts finally came to head his next trip to the
woods. Storms had been forcasted for late in the day and clouds had been rolling in since late
morning. The wind, which had been out of the east had now come around from the west, making
our field stands prime for the afternoon hunt. Expressing more interest in the neighborhood
football game delayed his return home and I ended up heading out by myself. Not long after
getting in stand my cell phone vibrated with an incoming call. It was my son, who was anything
but happy with my decision to leave without him. Determined to hunt that evening, he had his
mom drop him off and I watched as he climbed safely into his stand.
The sky had an angry look in her eyes all afternoon, dark and light clouds filled the sky as the
predicted rain began to fall. Deer movement was incredible and I had seen at least a half dozen
does and one nice buck only half an hour into my sit. The rain intensified for a brief time and
than petered off to a fine mist. Bow in hand, I sat patiently as a nice six pointer made his way
towards my tree. I had grunted only once and by his response, was confident he was heading my
way. A few seconds later I heard a faint voice calling Dad! Not sure exactly where it had come
from I slowly turned to my left. There, several feet from my stand was my son, tears in his eyes
and slurring his words, not an arrow in his quiver. I slipped down the tree only to be hit by a hug
that would knock an elephant off it’s feet. He said that he had shot a huge eight pointer thirty
minutes prior and that he had snuck out of his stand quietly, marking exactly where the buck had
stood, what tree he had run past and the last place he saw him. I smiled, knowing that he had
done everything I taught him, except for the part where he had used his arrows for trail markers!
He went on to explain the shot in detail. The buck had appeared without a sound 15 yards from
his stand, heading towards the field. As he passed behind a tree Tim stood up and brought his
PSE compound to full draw. Shooting three fingers under, he carefully placed the tip of his
arrow on the deer’s vitals, his point of aim for a fifteen yard shot. He grunted softly bringing the
deer to a stop as his arrow buried to the feathers about 4 inches in back of the shoulder. A bit
farther back than he would have liked but well within the vital area. The deer spun quickly,
crashing off through the brush. At that point, mother nature threw us an awful curve ball. Heavy
rain began and continued for the next 20 minutes. By the time we had gotten to his stand, not a
drop of blood could be found and darkness was upon us. We headed towards the last place Tim
had seen the deer and found one track where the deer had turned to head up the hill. Other than
that one track, we had nothing to go on. The whole woods was blanketed in 2 feet of wet,
dripping green briar and red maple leaves. Every leaf looked blood stained. I was positive that
we’d find his buck but explained that it may not be until morning. Understanding the concern in
his eyes and mine, we started to do a body search of the immediate area. We walked side by side
20 yards a part, back and forth through the 150 yard strip of woods, nothing. I told him that I
would head back to the truck and grab a fresh set of batteries. I wanted to take a look down the
valley, before we called it a night. Half way down the valley we noticed a set of fox eyes about
sixty yards away. I thought it wise to at least see if the fox knew something we didn’t, so we
headed over to where we had seen him. Nothing. We picked up the closest trail to the fox and
continued down towards the creek bottom, frustration and disappointment apparent in both of us.
At the bottom of the valley the trail turned hard right and there he was, not five yards in front of
us! As I turned towards my son he was already wrapping his arms around my neck with the
greatest hug we’ve ever shared. The excitement, frustration and relief all disappeared and left us
with nothing.............but a “moment”!
As I walked over to the buck, I could here my son giving thanks as he knelt over the deer
stroking his back. I grabbed an antler raising the deer’s head, amazed at what I was seeing. This
buck had every bit of a 20 inch spread and points sticking out everywhere! I counted nineteen
points over half an inch long! Sixteen of those were over an inch long! The base on the right
side was a good five inches and the left side I couldn’t get my hands around due to the points
sticking out. What a gorgeous, healthy animal he had taken. I glanced over at Tim who was
standing there, not saying a word. I told him he had done well. His reply, “seriously Dad, a
small basket rack would have been just fine with me.”
The drag was short, with his mom and sister meeting us by the road to help load the deer in the
jeep. Back slaps, hugs and big smiles continued well through mid-night. We called everyone we
knew, took a roll of film and enjoyed the inter loins for our Sunday morning breakfast. I will
never forget that hug, standing in the dark of night, tears running down our faces. Moments like
that is what life is all about........
Moments like that is what being a dad is all about.
Thank you, Tim and Tim, Jr. for this fine example of "Hunters Are People Too" - Bernie
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Entry, June 14, 2005
Turkey Bone Pickin' In NH
These posts by myself, and David's reply (on tradgang.com) tell the story. See the pic's of the calls on Gallery, Pg10
Since this is not a part of the Wing Bone Trade, I started a new thread.
You will recall my "Home Boy" David K. (Hntrdflk) took The Little Delta
bow out and harvested a beautiful bearded hen Turkey with it in NH. Shortly
after that I got a message from David saying he had heard I was still looking
for wing bones and if I wanted his/"hers" they were mine. I sent a message
back that I loved him and his offer (I was born and raised in NH). I received
them soon after, nicely cleaned and protectively packaged in tinfoil and
a plastic baggy. Nothing was said, nothing was asked, nothing was promised
but the results are my pleasure: One for David, One for me. Thank you again,
and yours will be in the mail soon - hope it brings you even better hunts
in the future, my brother. Oh, the design on the front, for those not familiar,
is NHs famous "Old Man In The Mountain" which just a few years back finally
fell to dust in the White Mountains. NH sons grew up in his shadow for
centuries, I'd guess. Rawhide thong has two Whitetail antler buttons on
it, Image of "The Old Man" is Acrylic paint done in transparent style,
wrapping is imitation sinew, and part of the writing on the back notes
that it was a "Bow Taken Bearded Hen".
I don't know what to say, I am sitting here at work and my eyes are welling up. You see, I am having kind of a tough week here at work, and then I see something like this done for me, you have no idea what this means. In addition, I had sent out the feathers from that bird to Mickey, knowing they would be put to good use. Yesterday when I get home there is a box from Ohio on my deck with a bunch of processed feathers in it.
The two of you have no idea how much I appreciate what you have done, you have both managed to put a smile on my face during a tough time.
Thank you Bernie, rest assured the call will accompany me on many future hunts.
And Mickey, I know I have thanked you privately, but here is a public thank you for the feathers.
[thumbsup] to both of you.
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Entry, Sept 24, 2005
Great Night (or...
who says close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades?) Yep, the
deer ganged up on me tonight - Score: Deer 4, Bernie 0 - LOL BUT did I
ever have a ball. I was hunting the evening hunt on Camp Lejeune, Marine
base. I looked at my watch after what had been a bad start - so soaked
with sweat I had to wait almost a half hour after I got in my stand to
put my mask, gloves, and hat on. I was listening to terrible construction
sounds going on out on the nearby golf course (it finally stopped about
5:30), and I had knocked my pee bottle off my stand. It had rolled under
a bush where I couldn't retrieve it with my grapple line. (Get the impression
I knock things off often? LOL) Anyway, my watch said three minutes until
Colors. I told myself that the Deer only had three minutes to show if they
were going to get there when they did the night before. At that exact minute
I heard a sound to my left, rear and then it all began to turn good - kind
of. The first deer moved out across the woods road I was sitting on. She
did it so fast I couldn't even rise but I had my bow half way up - and
had to hold it there for about five minutes. Owwww! About the time I felt
I could rise I realized another ... no, two other, deer were coming down
the other side of the road to join the first in the over-story directly
across from me. The first one was standing pretty much facing me and she
was daring anything, anywhere to move. The other two took their cue from
her (all slick heads and about the same size). They kept me pinned down
while they milled around not 12 yards away but always under the over-story,
or facing toward, or directly away, from me when they stepped out from
under it. I was finally able to stand up as it started getting darker.
About that same time I realized a fourth deer had joined the others. Well,
at least I was not in a strained position now, and maybe the fading light
would encourage one of the deer to make a mistake. I heard more noise to
my right front - another deer? Nope, I finally made out a Raccoon right
at the base of a bush and realized it was getting too dark where I was.
I looked back at the deer and then at my watch. I had four or five minutes
left of leagal shooting time, in spite of the darkness. Those buggers had
kept me at bay for a full half hour and at least three draws, and subsequent
let-offs. I then noticed the fourth deer was stepping out into the road
and giving me a perfect side shot. It looked a little bigger then the others
and I drew back. At the same time, it lifted it's head just right to let
me see it was a spike horn. Thank you, Lord, for that little moment of
clear sight. Bucks must have five points at least, in the bow only areas
on base. Probably the same five inch spike I had seen there, in velvet,
the first night of the season. For the fourth time, I let down. Then I
sensed the first deer to have shown up was moving to leave, giving me an
angling away shot. One last time I came to full draw but again, thankfully,
I realized I really wasn't sure which end of it was which - It was
too dark to be shooting. Couldn't pick a spot with a pick axe in that poor
light. One final time I lowered my string, and my bow also. At that point
in time it dawned on me; I had a silly grin plastered across my face.
What a night ... and the deer were even leaving now, so I wouldn't have
to spook them to get back to check-in on time. Can't beat that with a big
stick. "I'll see some of you "ladies" another night, I hope."
When I got back to the check-in station, the night was further enhanced by a young Capt. who was waiting for me to come in. His name is Scott Ference and we had been talking on tradgang.com forum and by e-mail. He had seen my name on the sign-in sheets and was waiting so we could finally meet. We had "talked" about Canes, arrows, our bows, and selfbows and I had put him in touch with Mickey "The Ferret" Lotz for selfbow help. He got it, in spades, and almost has his first one finished. Unfortunately his computer is down now and while he can monitor "us" (on tradgang) at work he can not post from there. He is genuinely thankful to all on tradgang.com and especially Mickey for all the info he gleans from that great forum. He also is a super nice young man and representative of the US Marine Corps. We'll be hearing more of him on tradgang, I'm sure, and I'll be seeing more of him, hunting on base, and shooting on my home range - hopefully. Oh yeah - in his pack he also had a hand made Dean Torges Tree Seat from Torges' web site. That's how Scott hunts (that and stalking). Been meaning to build me one of those - getting harder to carry and use my climbing stand all the time, especially in the heat; and I wouldn't have to worry about knocking things off of the tree seat, since it's at ground level - LOL.
(Of Sept. 26)
My next night was another night of abuse (blissful abuse, that is) by even more of God's wily creatures. I had been in my tree climber less than an hour when I heard critter noises to my front, in the patch of woods across from my little "wide spot in the woods road". At first my scan uncovered nothing. Then I noticed multiple movement. Four Raccoons, all the same size, were making there way through the underbrush, angling towards my site. It was something to watch, as they kept themselves evenly spaced, like the four corner posts of a mini-wrestling ring. When they arrived at my open shooting area it looked like they planned to set up housekeeping. The last thing I needed was four spooky sets of eyes there when/if deer started arriving. I didn't need to worry I guess, as basically Raccoons are not scared of much in their world. I started out spitting at them like a cat - they glanced at me, briefly. I growled like a dog or something - they considered my feeble attempts fleetingly. I expected them to start laughing at me and holding their little sides at any minute. I tried clapping my gloved hands, to no avail. While I pondered this problem, three of the "corner kids" moved off as quickly and quietly as they had come. They seemed to have a purpose in mind. Perhaps they were headed for the water trap on the golf course. The forth rascal waited a bit and then fallowed like the rear guard. Apparently they didn't know, nor care, why I was perched in a tree, in their woods. Ten or fifteen minutes later a parade of whitetails started moving in, out, and around my area of visibility in a manner that was exciting, frustrating, and pleasurable all at the same time. The action continued until the end of legal shooting time. Due to the trees and bushes surrounding my stand, I am only viewing an area about the size of a tennis court ... and a half, perhaps. Most of that is heavily screened by limbs and bushes so that my shooting area is like looking down on about two pool tables. You can see this makes for a pretty well defined, "Shoot, Don't Scoot" viewing screen. And on this night the deer were filling it with activity of coming and going. I counted what I believe to be nine different deer, along with numerous departures and returns of the counted four-legged blessings. There were does, yearlings, one "new to me" spike buck with a three inch nub on one side and about two inches on the other side, and a Fox that played and displayed for me in the parade of wildlife. I was both exhausted and exhilarated by "curtain time". My only two shot opportunities were foiled by my old friend, the large Fox (traitor) and the "newbi" Spike horn (he'll get his one day). The poor Fox just showed up at the wrong time, as a doe had just moved in and turned broadside to me when he burst onto the scene. She exploded back into the underbrush, and under the limbs, like she had been poked with an electric prod, in one big sideways leap. She then stood there, screened, for almost five minutes, before calmly sauntering away like nothing had happened. The other possible shot was a doe that suddenly appeared way (relatively) down the road to my right. I wasn't even sure which side she had come from but she headed, hesitantly my way. I remember thinking. "Well she has a ways to go to get here and probably will never make it before changing her mind." However I watched her agonizingly slow progress. She picked her stilted way down the woods road towards my location. I was already standing, from other "almosts", and just as she finally only had one more big branch beside me to clear, a healthy looking spike strolled out from right down beside my tree. Naturally, I swear I could have shot him about three different times (remember - bow only area - bucks must have minimum of 5 points). The desirable doe had stopped behind the large branch to watch the young buck enter the clearing. I had to bend down a little to see her legs, to make sure she was still there. She finally decided he was not a threat and moved into position for me. I came to full draw carefully, keeping the buck in the corner of my eye. He was busy looking on down the road the opposite way. I was already squeezing my back muscles together when the spike horn felt, heard, or sensed something he didn't like and bounded to the cover on the other side of the road. Luckily, I stopped my near release as the doe literally swapped ends and lit out the way she'd come, only to veer into the woods and come back to, it looked like, commiserate with the young buck, before they also wandered away in the thick stuff, like old friends taking a Sunday stroll. My friend, the large Fox, came back for one more curtain call, as I was starting to "unclimb" my tree - to remind me how lucky I'd been to attend the performance.
(of Sept. 27)
I was running late, we had been busy with Daughter, Granddaughter, and
Great Granddaughter, and running other errands. I no more then got aboard
Camp Lejeune when the sky started darkening ominously. It appeared the
strong storm, that had been predicted for after sundown, was in a hurry.
It started sprinkling before I got to the check-in station and by the time
I was headed for my area, "It was raining cats and dogs and there was poodles
in the street." Visibility was also a little sketchy while driving. I sat
in the truck on the side of the road near the Golf Course, waiting to see
what it, and therefore I, would do. It slowed, stopped and I went into
action, like I had good sense. Well, it wasn't too bad. It rained a little
more before I got into my tree but no more soakers. The trees and bushes
were dripping water big time but the deer should move. I had just settled
in when movement blow my tree reminded me the forest was not going to give
up much in the way of sound tonight. I slowly glanced down to find it was
a Raccoon entering the clearing. Almost immediately a smaller Fox than
the usual one exited the woods a little further to the right, turned at
the woods road and headed towards the " masked bandit". I watched as the
Raccoon fixed the intruder with a frozen stare and the fox stopped in his
tracks, one foot raised, apparently seeing the coon for the first time.
A Mexican standoff was in progress, it would appear. Finally they both,
at the same time, turned and walked away. "Who blinked first," I wondered.
It seemed neither was afraid of the other but just did not choose to share
the same real estate - at that moment. I sat, listening to the dripping
of the recent downpour, and trying to decide if I should put my umbrella
up. It was going to be a short hunt and i was already partially wet (especially
my posterior extremities). I still had not made up my mind when either
sound or movement jerked me to the realization that three deer were entering
the sparser area at the edge of the road right across from me. Even there,
they are too screened to shoot at and it is very seldom the deer come from
that straight across. They may have been caught by the rain while headed
for the Golf Course, and bedded down in the smaller patch of woods in front
of me, and were now moving back. It was a doe and two youngsters. How young
quickly became apparent as they moved into the opening that is the road,
without waiting for the doe. While she hung back, teasing me unknowingly,
I became aware that the two smaller animals each still had spots on their
haunches and shoulders. The doe started to move into the clear but one
of the "kids" jostled her shoulder and they both moved back into the cover
of the bushes and overstory. The second of the two young'uns brazenly stayed
out in the open, padding back and forth, tempting me with a multitude of
shot opportunities. It's turnings had also allowed me to stand and while
I waited for the doe to come back out I was really torn between shooting
or not - many times over. I rationalized that at least it would justify
my wet condition and would be another traditional bow harvest. On the other
hand I could just picture myself dragging that little critter into the
check-out point. One thing that keeps me from dropping the string, until
things are just as I want them, is that this is a very unique area to hunt
and I love it that way. The little one would look right up at the tree
every now and then (as some others do) - but not with fear, just
curiosity, like it was doing to other points around it. All of the
deer choose to keep coming back and moving through that open spot, which
is situated about mid distance of that woods road, from end to end, with
relative lack of fear. In my opinion they do that, both, because of it's
central location, and because I am very careful not to do anything to spook
them unduly. Of course the ideal situation would be that only one deer
be in front of me anytime I choose to shoot - but I guarantee I am not
waiting only for that scenario - LOL. To continue, last night the choice
was taken out of my hands by my friend, the big Fox entering the scene
from the left. The young deer scurried quickly to the safety of its Mother's
side. By then it was darkening pretty seriously in the bushes but I could
make out enough legs, haunches, tails etc to determine two more deer had
joined the two in the bush and the one just leaving me, for a total of
five. Perhaps they also were bedded over there, as I had not observed any
crossing the road. They were milling around some, and then all of them
at the same time headed off towards the Golf Course, on the other side
of the woods, as if they had an appointment. Perhaps they had a 7PM Tee
Off Time. The Fox flicked his bushy tail a few times and walked proudly
and silently on down the road. The end of one more great night of sights.
I started getting ready to vacate my stand.
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Entry, Oct 23, 2005
Between those last entered hunts and the one this entry is about, I have enjoyed a fantastic and blessed season of sweet frustration - I love it. I have only had one night of not seeing any deer, and that was in a different spot. I have seen more deer while hunting this year than I ever have had the good fortune of before. However, (there's always a "however") It continued to plague me with pleasure the same as the three nights above. Many deer seen but only small ones and "spikehorns" (males are illegal in that area unless a five point or a button buck) offering me shots I could/would take. I have three different Spikhorn bucks visiting me on a somewhat regular basis. I was still enjoying every minute of it and seeing "my" two Fox friends, Squirrels, and Raccoons to add to the interest. I was hunting about three evenings a week most of the time and the numbers of deer seen, on evenings after the hunts above, went something like this: 6, 3, 5, 4, 6, 1, 6, 19 (yep, 19, counted 15 and saw some more than once), the next night dropped down to a mere 7 but two were sighted twice for a total of 9. A lot of hunters during this period were not seeing hardly any - of course a few wise guys were actually harvesting one now and then - LOL. Oh yes, on the night I saw 19, I actually decided to take a shot at a half way decent sized yearling. Clean miss (better than a bad hit) - I forgot I had moved my climbing stand up a couple more notches on the tree, therefore I forgot to pick a lower spot and shot just over her back, as pretty as you please. When my Birthday rolled around on Wednesday, the 19th, I had just worked the two days previous and not hunted. I was ready and I always like to hunt on my Birthday if possible. Each year that I can go, I feel certain I will be favored with a harvest - but it never had worked. The closest I ever came was I did get a Marine Corps Birthday (my secondary Birthday) Buck a few years back though, and chronicled it in these Journals.
On this particular Birthday, as I got my gear ready and across the now familiar roadside ditch, I thought about "my day". It had been busy but my wife and I had been sure to give me enough time to get my "nappie-poo" and still get off for the base and my hunt in plenty of time. So, why was I running a little late - again? Oh yeah, I had stopped at the check-in station to chat with another bow hunter. I'm always a sucker for a chance to yak up traditional bows, shooting, and hunting. Oh well, that was a pleasurable part of my day too. I resisted the urge to hurry, as it was hot enough to sweat even without adding that. I wound up in my tree and settled into my climber, with all my "ducks in a row", a little before five anyway so it all worked out well. I sat and enjoyed the "being there" - in the quiet - wait! It's six PM and I haven't seen anything but Doves. That's late for no sightings, for me, during this year full of those blessed favors. I gave my Primos Li'l Can another run of bleats and thought to myself, "OK folks, any time now, sunset's only about a half hour away." At ten after six I was contemplating another round. Ah, a sound behind me arrested my thoughts - finally. I eased my head around a little to check out whether it was a deer, some other critter, or just wishful thinking. I picked out the movement of a small deer through the thick bushes behind me, but headed on a angle that would bring it out on the road too far away. Carefully, I reached for the bleat can and sounded it three short times. I was rewarded by an immediate change in direction of the wood sprite, that put it on course more towards my small openings. I rose to my feet, slowly and got set. Thinking to myself that unless this was one of those Spikes, and it seemed to small to be, and it gave me a shot, I was going to take the chance, even if it was the button buck. At this time, I reasoned, it might be my only chance at a Birthday Deer. Thank you, Lord, and please help me be right. While those thoughts played through my mind the small deer picked its way cautiously towards my stand and the woods road in front of me. How I love those times of hunts and sightings. I could tell now it was a small doe and she stepped out into the road and almost at the same time angled herself broadside to me. I started my draw, having already committed my mind set. She turned straight away at about half draw but right back before I hit anchor. It was like time froze at that moment in my day - then the arrow was hitting the gift. She jumped, and lit running, straight away from me into the shroud of bushes on the other side of the road. I could hear her running a little but then it was very quiet again - too quiet it seemed. My image of the hit placed it a little further back than I would have liked but I felt good about the angle and felt she would not go far. As I sank back into the welcome relaxation of my Ol' Man hammock style seat, I murmured, "Thank you, Lord, for that hit." It almost startled me in the quiet of the woods. I realized I had at some point affixed another arrow to the string and was in waiting mode again. I decided that was a good idea in any case, and we are allowed two harvests a day. Just as sundown approached, two more deer worked behind me on the same path that mine had originally been on. They did not respond to my bleats and crossed the road too far away, what with the cover between us. I was pretty sure they were the brother and sister team I had seen often this great year. At quarter of seven I decided I had waited long enough and as long as I could, at any rate. Besides the rubber feeling in my knees had dissipated by then - LOL. I prepared to "unclimb" my tree.
There was a moment of "heartstop" when I found no blood in the road but I was using only a small penlight from my fanny pack. I put my gear together, in the roadway and then entered the woods a little ways and in a very few minutes found not only the arrow but also first blood. The small doe must have kicked the arrow the rest of the way out, as she ran, putting almost a right angle bend in it near the fletching in the process. It was soaked and the feathers drenched in good blood. I now felt certain I would find her no further, and perhaps even closer, than I had the button buck from the previous year, in the same area. I decided the best thing to do was go stow all my excess gear in the truck and check in, then back out again for tracking. This year there were plenty of hunters at the station but I singled out the Game Warden and made my report quietly. I told him I was pretty confident of the hit and she was small enough to handle by myself. Since there were still deer in that area, I didn't want a lot of "trackers" anxious to help. He understood and just told me to be careful out there. I called my wife to share the news and warn of a late return home. I then returned with my cart, camera, marking tape, and five cell light. It picked up first blood, beyond the arrow, easily and I marked the spot. Flashing the light ahead I spotted a large spraying of red all around where the deer had cleared a small downed sapling. Also more on a piece of dead limb and a pine cone beyond that. While marking those spots, my light flashed ahead, high, and picked up reflecting eyes. Recalling the fox who showed me where my deer was the previous year, I decided to range ahead for just a little before continuing tracking. After a couple dozen steps the eyes turned away and departed towards the golf course. I told myself I'd better return to my tape markings - and good trailing practices. While retracing my course I was flashing my light right and left around me, just in case. About half way back to my last marker tape, there was my doe, laying just to the left of me. After thanking the Lord in good shape for my fine fortune, I took a couple of quick pictures (see Gallery, Pg10, Row Nine), and then called Rose again, to let her know of the super quick find. What a Birthday for a 70 year old kid! I recovered my few marker tapes and proceeded to wheel my Birthday Doe to the truck.
After BDay Doe (Nov. 09): The weather turned hot again, I caught a cold and didn't hunt for a week and a half, and the next six times I went out I saw nothing, zip, nada, zero, zilch. Perhaps my "great season luck" will return on Journal, Pg7 - see ya there.
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