By M.R. James, Founder/Editor Emeritus
TAKE A MOMENT. Flash back to July 2002. Imagine that somehow you've swapped identities with Bowhunter Editor Dwight Schuh, and you suddenly find yourself standing in his size 13 Scent-Lok Silent Stalk camo sneakers. As Dwight, you've already enjoyed a good spring, tagging a pair of strutting Nebraska gobblers and a record class Saskatchewan bruin. You've also hit a couple of jackpots in the annual license lottery, drawing a resident Idaho moose license and nonresident Montana elk tag in a favorite Big Sky hunting area. Anticipating a truly great year, you're preparing to launch the '02 summer/fall bowhunting season in the Territories with an early August quest for shaggy muskoxen. That Arctic trip will officially begin 5 busy months of seasonal travels to various bowhunting camps scattered all across North America.
Yes, '02 promises to be a year to remember. You're shooting pinpoint groups on the practice range and rigorous preseason workouts have left your 50-something body well conditioned. Even that nagging ache in your left shoulder can't dampen the enthusiasm and optimism you feel.
But then you visit your doctor, simply to check out the source of the persistent bow arm discomfort. And his diagnosis slams you like a kick to the gut. Your left rotator cuff is separated, torn completely in two. You need corrective surgery, immediately. To delay the surgery until after bow season only increases chances the operation will fail to successfully reattach the torn tissue. Bluntly speaking, such a surgical failure could effectively end your bowhunting career.
So what would you do?
Think carefully before answering, keeping in mind that to Dwight Schuh bowhunting ranks somewhere just below God and family and country on the short list of things that matter most in life. Understand that to him bowhunting's not just part of a successful writing/editing career; it's a challenging lifelong passion. A way of outdoor life.
Now, with these facts firmly in mind, honestly answer the question. What would you do?
Here's what Dwight did
He immediately scheduled corrective surgery, hoping against hope he'd be able to salvage some days afield at the tag end of the '02 archery season. But during the early days of post-op recovery, the germ of an idea formed in his active mind. MaybeÃ‚€¦if onlyÃ‚€¦He reached for the telephone and called Kansas bowhunter Drew McCartney, president of the Physically Challenged Bowhunters of America.
"Sure," Drew told Dwight, "shooting with a mouth tab can be learned in relative short order." And Drew should know. After losing an arm in a work related accident, Drew has continued to bowhunt by drawing and releasing arrows with his teeth. He's collected deer, bear, cougar, and other game animals, as have dozens of other physically challenged bowhunters. Drew promised to promptly send Dwight some mouth tabs.
Dwight's next call was to an old friend, Randy Walk, Hoyt's president. Could Randy help him find a suitable left-handed hunting bow, muy pronto? If so, and if Dwight could master shooting the bow one-handed, using a mouth tab, he just might not have to forgo all of his planned 2002 hunts. And in a matter of a few short weeks, Dwight was consistently grouping arrows in the kill area of his McKenzie targets at distances out to 30 yards. "I was really surprised how quickly I picked up the technique," Dwight said. "Soon I was shooting almost as well with a mouth tab as with my release."
The results? Let's just say you'll be reading stories of Dwight Schuh's unusual but very successful one-armed muskox and moose hunts in 2003 Bowhunterissues. And his amazing hunt for that Idaho bull moose will be broadcast next summer on this magazine's American Archertelevision show. Even as these words are being written, Dwight is busy hunting whitetails in a couple of states. So there'll likely be more Schuh successes to report.
Admittedly, Dwight Schuh is not your average bowhunter. While many (most?) would have written off the '02 season, or maybe resorted to using a crossbow or some firearm, he found a way to continue to bowhunt, using conventional tackle in an unconventional manner.
That's exactly the kind of dedication and passion that sets Dwight apart from other less serious editors, writers, and bowhunters. And that's precisely the kind of leadership example that sets Bowhunterapart from its competitors.
You should be as pleased as I am to know that this magazine is in such creative and capable handsÃ‚€¦even if on occasion Dwight uses only one to get the job done.