Senior Celebration

Most of us in hunting agree that we must recruit young hunters. "They're the future of hunting," we say. At Bowhunter we heartily agree, and we have published many articles about starting kids in bowhunting.

At the same time, the hunting community seems to take older hunters for granted, as if they're irrelevant. That's a mistake, especially with Baby Boomers now becoming senior citizens -- and comprising a significant percentage of the bowhunting population. Thus, in this issue we celebrate older bowhunters in a special section called "Senior Moments".

Now, maybe I am promoting this idea because I'm getting old enough to glimpse the Golden Years myself. But I think senior bowhunters merit recognition for numerous reasons:
They are the forerunners, the pioneers who have blazed trails for the rest of us. Many who started bowhunting in the 1950s and '60s bridge the traditional and modern eras.
Seasoned bowhunters can pass on a wealth of knowledge to younger generations. We all would do well to listen and learn.
Many old-timers remain highly skilled bowhunters, and their accomplishments deserve recognition equal to that given to young hotshot bowhunters.
Some aging bowhunters have faced incredible hardships, yet they persevere, enjoy, and excel. If nothing else, their stories are inspirational.
Older bowhunters carry financial clout. Author Cliff Dale wrote: "According to the AARP, more than 78 million Baby Boomers wield an estimated buying power of $2 trillion. Without question, archery and related industries are, or should be, benefiting from this emerging group."
Senior bowhunters get just as excited about bowhunting -- perhaps more excited -- than do many youngsters. If you do not believe that, read "Senior Moments." Those guys are into it! At a personal level, all of these points motivate me to commit even more deeply to bowhunting. At age 63, I'm not over the hill, but, as I've said, I'm old enough to glimpse the golden glow.

Does that mean I should concede my active lifestyle to old age? Not a chance. In past issues of Bowhunter, I have written about my growing interest in exercise and long-distance running. As part of that interest, in April I ran in the Boston Marathon. Sure, Boston is a big event, and I just wanted to say, "I did it!" Yes, I was pleased with my time -- 3:58.

But those are not the main impetus behind events like Boston. Bowhunting is. You see, advancing age has not dulled my spirit for the hunt, only sharpened it. In reality, that medal from Boston is only a symbol of my desire to enjoy every remaining moment of my outdoors life; my drive to climb mountains each fall to chase elk, moose, and bears; my hope to fulfill lifelong dreams.

In regard to that last point, I have applied for certain big game tags for 30 years --desert bighorn sheep in Nevada and Arizona, for example -- without drawing. Given the terrible odds, I'll probably never draw. But the dream lives on, and as long as my heart keeps beating, I will keep applying. Maybe some day I will draw a tag.

What if I'm 75 or 80 years old when it happens? I darned sure don't want to blow it then. I must be ready. And I will be. That Boston medal says so.

No, senior bowhunters are not irrelevant, primarily because every one of us is headed that direction. Like it or not, we'll all have our senior moments. Be ready. And celebrate!

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