With a Bow in Hand, Adventure is Everywhere
November 04, 2010
Adventure is the essence of bowhunting; you could ask 100 archers why they head afield and get 100 different answers
Although traveling to exotic destinations is always exciting, most bowhunting adventures are found much closer to home. Editor Christian Berg took this Pennsylvania spring gobbler during a quick Saturday morning hunt in May.
For hardcore archer Corey Benge (Go Time!, p. 41), adventure meant backpacking 22 miles into Alaska's Chugach Mountains and pushing himself to the physical limit on a fast-paced quest for Dall sheep. For Tim Hooey (The Month For Moose, p. 32), adventure meant flying into a remote area of British Columbia, where the dangers of isolation and grizzly bears stood between him and a trophy bull.
For frequent contributor Eddie Claypool (Sleeping With The Enemy, p. 90), adventure meant literally wandering in the wilderness in search of bulls and bucks. And for BOWHUNTING Adventures Editor Patrick Meitin (Powder River Double, p. 73), adventure meant ditching the "guided" portion of a guided mule deer hunt and piecing together his own spot-and-stalk puzzle.
Without a doubt, hunting new species, traveling to new places and going steep and deep into the wilderness are adventurous experiences. From the scenery and isolation to the physical and mental tolls such excursions exact, there's plenty of excitement to be had.
But as BOWHUNTING Field Editor Bill Winke so eloquently describes in Wonderful Whitetails (p. 60), adventure can also be as close as the edge of your yard or the woodlot behind the family farm. That's something Bill discovered as a 13-year-old Iowa farm boy carrying a Fred Bear Whitetail bow, and more than a quarter century of hunting has only heightened his passion for those legendary Midwest monsters.
The value of various bowhunting adventures, whether they be exotic excursions or after-work hunts close to home, is something I have certainly come to appreciate in my own life. My first "big" bowhunting trip was a Quebec black bear hunt, and I can still remember the trepidation I felt when the guide dropped me off at my stand -- which happened to be nearly 50 miles from camp -- on the first evening.
As he drove away and the forest swallowed the sound of his engine, I felt truly alone; and though it seems silly in hindsight, just a little scared. After only an hour on stand, a violent thunderstorm moved in with strong winds, crackling bolts of lightning and some of the most torrential rain I have ever seen. Needless to say, I didn't kill a bear that night. Heck, I didn't even see a bear. But it was definitely an adventure, and it taught me that when hunting in Canada, you never, ever leave camp without your rain gear.
While long-distance bowhunting trips are a great way to expand our horizons and test our field skills, hunting close to home is the bread and butter of big-game pursuits. These local hunts, often lasting just a few hours after work, or before the kids' Saturday morning soccer games, keep our inner fires burning and offer invaluable escapes from the stress and pressure of work and family obligations.
One of my most productive whitetail stands is on a suburban hillside not far from an interstate highway. If you climb into that stand before sunup, you can see the lights of a shopping mall in the distance, and the sound of tractor-trailers applying their air brakes is as prevalent as chirping birds and barking squirrels. Wilderness, it ain't. But come late October and early November, that hillside is a magical place that throbs with excitement generated by rutting bucks and estrus does. When a chase ensues and deer are running in your direction, I can tell you from experience the adrenaline rush is every bit as real as it would be under similar circumstances in the Texas brush country or Canadian bush.
Which just goes to show that when you belong to the bowhunting brotherhood, adventure is anywhere you choose to find it.