Why I Bleed for Bowhunting
November 04, 2010
Passionate bowhunters are passionate about all things bowhunting.
As a bowhunter for over two decades, a hunting writer for much of that time, an editor for about 10 of those years, and a hunting TV show host the last half-dozen years, I have developed some opinions. Some things about the business of bowhunting I love, and some drive me crazy. This topic may seem a bit far afield for a hunting column, but because I bleed bowhunting, any input about that subject, pro or con, fuels my passion, and I just have to speak out.
I love interacting and learning from friends on internet message boards - even from moose camp.
Ending on a good note is always a nice idea, so I will start with things that drive me crazy and end with a few good tidings.
Things That Drive Me Crazy
- People who badmouth others on hunting forums. Internet hunting forums have gained popularity in recent years, and a lot of quality people post helpful information on them. At the same time, many people on these websites seem to take great pleasure in making questionable comments and putting others down, ruining an otherwise enjoyable experience for me and everyone else involved.
For example, I recently read comments from guys bashing the Pope and Young Club. Are you kidding me? P&Y is one of the most respected bowhunting organizations. The Club is all about honor and tradition, which, incidentally, are attributes that make bowhunting itself so special. In my opinion, if you bash P&Y, you are bashing bowhunting. And, honestly, reading negative comments about an outfit like P&Y just feels wrong and makes me wonder about the future of our cherished pastime.
I have also read many comments slamming guys like Chuck Adams and other high-profile bowhunters, saying, "Heck, I could do what (insert name here) has done if I had the money to go on all those hunts." To those of you who write such drivel, please, save it. Yeah, maybe you could, if you wanted it bad enough, sacrificed to the same extent as all those guys you see on TV and in magazine ads, worked for years to learn and love the sport of bowhunting, and respected the animals you pursue.
Bottom line -- most guys won't. And even those who have the passion, drive, and ability, cannot, for a variety of reasons, dedicate the time necessary to achieve bowhunting icon status. Family obligations are probably the number one obstacle. I can relate. I have tried to balance holding down a full-time job with working in this industry full time. Any time I go hunting, I use personal vacation time to do it. Point being, just because you aren't Chuck Adams, don't throw out something negative just to make yourself feel better. Chuck and 99 percent of the other pros out there deserve a tip of the camo hat; they have played a huge role in growing the sport of bowhunting to the exciting level it is today.
As a dyed-in-the-wool bowhunter, I will never compromise with an easy fix.
- TV hunters who trade their bows for rifles to "make a show." Without a kill, most TV programs have no show. I get that. As we all know, once someone starts sending you checks for something (hunting or anything else), they have expectations. And when a company sends you somewhere to hunt, you're expected to kill an animal and "make a show."
With that said, I can still have my opinion, and at the end of the day I am a lover of bowhunting and a TV viewer with my own expectations. So, when the hunter or host of a bowhunting program says, "Well, we've been hitting it hard for X number of days and it's just not happening with the bow. So I'll pull out my trusty .300 Win. Mag. and get one of these critters on the ground," I feel a bit cheated.
This drives me crazy, not because I hate other forms of hunting or think I am above anyone else. However, on many tough bowhunts I could have legally used a rifle, but I opted not to. On sponsored hunts, some hosts have strongly suggested I take up the rifle to get the job done and "help" their business grow through a TV program or magazine article. My response has always been, "No thanks." I am a dyed-in-the-wool bowhunter -- always have been, always will be -- and I won't compromise that with an easy fix.
- High-fence hunting on TV. If guys want to hunt on high-fenced property, that's okay with me -- as long as they are up front about what they're doing. But portraying hunts behind high fences as legit, fair-chase adventures dupes viewers, especially young hunters watching with a trusting eye. There was a time when I, as an up-and-coming bowhunter, pretty much believed everything I heard, saw, and read.
That's why I know if I were a young guy watching some of the shows on TV right now, I would be wondering, What in the heck am I doing wrong? I have the same gear. I hunt hard. I live in good country'¦Why don't I see as many monster bucks as that guy on TV? Now I know better. I think it would be great if producers of shows shot behind high fences would run a disclaimer at the beginning of each program: This is a high-fence hunt.
Things I Love
- Hunting magazines. I love the feel, smell, photos, and, of course, the words that fill good hunting magazines. I have framed magazine articles and filled albums with cutout magazine articles. I have full collections of hunting magazines -- stacks that drive my wife crazy -- that I could never dream of getting rid of. To me, they are an indelible part of history -- my bowhunting heritage, if you will.
I love hunting books and magazines and can never part with them.
In this age of online everything, some people might wonder: Are hunting magazines dying? I don't think so. I prefer hunting magazines to their online counterparts because they are real. You can touch them. The Internet spawns so much fake stuff I find myself looking at everything with an untrusting eye. While magazine photos can be doctored, they just seem different.
And the writings seem more legit because, for a print magazine to exist, the paper has to be bought, advertisements paid for, and subscriptions sold. Then writers have to put their hearts and souls into words, editors have to pour over that text, and designers have to assemble inspiring graphics. To me, all of this means something -- everything.
Online, none of that has
to happen. Anybody can whip up something as fast as writing an e-mail, post it on the Web, and instantly become known internationally -- even if the writing isn't worth a hill of beans. That's why magazines have more substance.
And, truth be known, I've always liked looking at magazine ads for hot products, or ads that feature successful hunters. They interest me. A magazine ad is more powerful for the same reasons magazine articles are more powerful than their online counterparts. With personal websites, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, anyone can tell a hunting story on the Web these days. That's cool -- just not as cool as seeing it in print.
- The Internet. Don't let that rant about online articles mislead you. I love the Internet, too, because it lets me into the lives of guys I admire. I love getting behind the scenes with bowhunters I look up to and admire, and the Internet has "let me in" like nothing else could -- except maybe being Michael Waddell's next door neighbor. I am not his neighbor, and, in fact, I live on the other side of the country from him. However, when Hoyt Archery put together its online video series "Hoyt in the House," I was addicted to learning more about him and the other hunters featured there.
After watching the episodes, I felt like I knew the hunting personalities better and had a greater appreciation for the hard work they've put in to get to where they are in life. A magazine would have a hard time making me feel this way. Internet and Web features like "Hoyt in the House" have changed the way we see hunting celebrities -- for the good.
No matter where I am, I bleed bowhunting. When I see or hear negative stuff about bowhunting, I bleed with sorrow. But for positive stuff, I bleed with passion. I strive always to present the positive side of bowhunting, and when you judge me, I hope my stuff falls under your category of "Things I Love."