I’ve written of this before, but it’s such an important event in my life I think it’s worth recapping for anyone who missed it.
A few years ago in February of 2013 I was on a hog hunt in Georgia. Every hunter in camp had an American Semi-Longbow, or a “Hill style longbow” if you will. There were folks from coast to coast and Canada in camp that weekend and it was a wonderful hunt regardless of all of us being universally skunked.
Among the group there were two gentlemen who had hunted all over the world, including several Africa trips each. The crowd gathered around these guys as they talked around the fire at night, but in the early mornings there were just a couple of us who came to them to pursue more info before they went after pigs. Of many pieces of helpful advice, here is the one I clung to: Figure out the biggest and toughest animal you ever want to hunt, buy a bow suited for the job, and start there.
I spent quite a time reflecting on this. Surely if I waited until “retirement” at an official age of 67, would I be able to draw a heavy bow for truly big game? Surely not! Being already 38 years old I needed to make a plan quickly while I was still able to draw a bow sufficient to penetrate thick and heavy boned animals. Whatever I lack in knowledge and finesse at this age can be overcome with sheer poundage and arrow weight.
It wasn’t lost on me that these gentlemen were around 70 years of age as they conveyed this to me. They were still hunting internationally, but their bows were drawing in the forty pound range. They had the benefit of fifty years of experience, decades of tuning expertise, and an impressive idea of what the word “sharp” really means. In this I saw the beauty of what I call “the arch of the bowhunter.”
Two years later I hunted hogs in South Carolina with a fantastic gentleman 81 years young. He’s taken plenty of big game and gone on many fantastic adventures. These days he hunts with a longbow in the low 40s and I would be terrified to be on the receiving end of one of his arrows. Still shooting wood shafts and broadheads with stunning sharpness, he is likely more lethal at his age as I am at mine.
Thus an interesting aspect of the arch: While I’ll need 40 more years to get this level of experience, I can’t wait to get that experience before I pursue the really big game. Having now passed my 40th birthday, I realized I was at that crossroads. I had to choose now if I would pursue any of the truly big game of this world before I lost the ability to physically draw a sufficient bow for the task. I have accepted the challenge, and I will hunt a magnificent animal in 2017!