Most people think of spring as the time of fresh beginnings and new life. As daylight grows longer, breezes warm, grass and leaves turn green, and young animals are born, most people see spring as the time of renewal.
Bowhunters have a different view. In the fall, as daylight grows shorter, breezes chill, grass and leaves wither, and baby animals grow into rutting adults, bowhunters feel a stirring. Come fall, they experience renewal, refreshing, and new life.
This October issue presents a cross section of that reality. In “No Place Like Home” (page 74), Bowhunter Founder M.R. James returns home to the pages of Bowhunter to tell the story of his return to the deer woods of Indiana after a 45-year absence. Can you sense the excitement? We all love to travel to hunt new animals in new settings. We call it adventure, and it’s good. But is it as good as going home and hunting old, familiar haunts? Probably not. We all have our roots, and, come fall, we love to explore those roots. Home ground is a very comfortable place to be.
Fall can be a time of redemption, too. If you’ve bowhunted for any length of time, you’ve blown chances. You’ve failed and then anguished over your failure. From closing day of one season to opening day of the next, you plan, scheme, and dream of redeeming yourself — of getting it right. In “To Bust a Jinx” (page 78), Curt Wells describes his whitetail plight. For two years, a jinx had plagued him, and he craved the opportunity to bust that jinx. He sought redemption and, come fall, he claimed it.
Come fall, some bowhunters sense the potential for winning. Maybe this is a weak analogy, but when I enter local runs, I tingle at the thought of some small victory: Maybe today I’ll win my age class. Maybe I’ll run my fastest time ever. Maybe I’ll beat that one guy who always beats me. I love the prospects. And the prospects of winning in the deer woods are far more compelling. For 10 years in his native Illinois, John Melchi (“Noble Rewards,” page 52) passed up buck after buck to wait for the big one — the winner’s trophy. Think of the anticipation he must have felt while waiting — and the thrill when he reached his goal! Fall brings with it a thrilling potential.
At the same time, it brings peace and calm. In “The Thinker” (page 96), Curt Wells quotes Matt McPherson, founder of Mathews Solocam, as saying, “I’m a deer hunter at heart… I’ve taken some good bucks, but I’ve never had one officially scored. I love the process of hunting, but it’s not my goal to be the next great hunter. Sitting in a treestand is refreshing to me. It helps clear my head.” What greater goal than to clear your head?
And what better time to do it than on stand come fall?
Fall promises freedom, a concept Jana Waller expresses well in “Independence Day” (page 60), as she finally escapes the bondage of fixed stands to roam and hunt on her own. Fall is a time to explore, investigate, discover, improvise, test, and try. It’s a time to spread your wings, a time to do it “my way.” Come fall, bowhunters experience a sense of freedom seemingly unattainable at other times of the year.
Perhaps best of all, fall opens vast opportunities to share the joys of the outdoors lifestyle and hunting with others. If experienced adults feel the excitement, think what youngsters and newcomers to the field must feel. In “Good Luck Charm” (page 114), Pat Lefemine reveals that his daughter, Abby, at age seven, has more drive and enthusiasm for the hunt than he has — lucky thing for him. In “Fanning the Fire” (page 132), Steve Sukut finds out that kids are never too young to ask meaningful questions. In “Pass the Torch” (page 120), Joe Lasch describes the privilege and pleasure he feels at mentoring his teenage nephew Ross Dary. Fall provides the venue for bowhunters to teach the value of the harvest and to inspire others to hunt.
To a casual observer, the coming of fall, with its growing darkness, chill breezes, and dying leaves, might seem like a time of decay and death. We bowhunters know better.
We know that, come fall, it’s time to celebrate new life.