The Big Game Cycle

Each of Bowhunter's issues has a slightly different focus, so that a full year of Bowhunter presents a complete picture of bowhunting. The annual Big Game Special celebrates bowhunting at the extremes and, in so doing, creates a snapshot of the essence of big game hunting.

Most big game hunts start with big dreams, and these are what fuel the passion. During four decades of bowhunting, Fred Richter (" Elk Heaven," page 22) had never taken an elk. But the dream would not die, and at age 60, after 40 years of dedicated bowhunting, Richter realized his dream by taking a great Colorado bull. For C.J. Winand, written accounts of moose hunting fueled his moose fever, and his story in this issue (" Moose Fever," page 78) details his cure in the Yukon. No doubt his account will spread the fever to others.

If you think the dream is unreachable, don't believe it. In the past, I've written about playing the tag-drawing systems in various states. You might think, "Why bother? I'll never draw," but you won't if you don't apply. In Montana's Missouri Breaks, the drawing odds for bighorn sheep are less than one percent, and Jake Dahl (" The Sacrificial Ram ," page 74) applied there specifically so he would not draw a tag. Yet he did. Playing the lottery plays a big part in modern big game hunting.

Can anyone doubt the role of physical conditioning in big game hunting? Maybe you get tired of hearing about it, but reality doesn't change -- the better your condition, the more you can put into a hunt, and the more you'll get out of it. To prepare for his long-anticipated mountain goat hunt, Eyad Yehyawi (" Glacier Ghosts," page 62) worked out like a fiend, and his efforts were rewarded.

Big game hunting and adventure are synonymous, and Neil Summers might be the ultimate adventure bowhunter. That's probably why he launched his company, Bowhunting Safari Consultants, more than two decades ago -- to give him a legitimate excuse to bowhunt far corners of the world. When you read his story about bowhunting in primitive Papua New Guinea (" Another World," page 44), you might get the impression that his bowhunting there is more about bagging adventure than about bagging the resident Rusa deer.

In some cases, adventure translates to danger. Pat Lefemine, owner of Bowsite.com, travels the world over with his bow, but when he returns to Africa a third time for Cape buffalo (" Black Death Chronicles," page 70), you can't help but wonder if he's not seeking to go beyond adventure into the realm of danger. Certainly, the potential for danger adds to the spice of any big game hunt.

Companions play a part in all big game hunting. Mike Ruspil articulates the value of a good partner (" Closing the Deal," page 82), as he writes about his relationship with his late friend, Bill Poggi. And he relates fond memories kindled by that relationship. While killing big game is a worthy endeavor, collecting good memories in the field may be the ultimate goal.

Isn't that the way it is in big game hunting? We all love to live in the moment and experience the adventure, but the real trophies are the memories. Ironically, the cycle doesn't end there. Good memories only fuel more dreams, which propel us to new adventures, and we're driven to continue that wonderful pursuit called bowhunting for big game.

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