Top Performance With a Traditional Bow

In my last column I wrote about an issue with my shoulder. Fortunately it is continuing to heal, and I have developed a newfound appreciation for lightweight bows and the performance you can get out of them with a properly matched and tuned arrow.

I continue to be impressed with the efficiency of traditional equipment, even in lighter poundage.

I have been doing some experimenting with my new Hoyt Satori, and I've learned a lot. For example, when I changed from a 21-inch riser to a 19-inch riser with the same set of 35-pound limbs, I gained 10 feet per second with the shorter riser.

I knew if I was going to hunt with a really lightweight recurve I'd need perfect arrow flight. Thanks to adjustments for tiller, poundage and centershot, I tuned the light bow perfectly.


Two whitetails fell to my Satori but I wanted to add another species with the light bow, and since I had drawn a javelina tag in Arizona, I decided to head down there this past February hoping to score.


The plan was to film the hunt for an episode of "Easton Bowhunting," which airs on Sportsman Channel and would also air on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). This meant I'd feel a little added pressure on this hunt.


Let's fast-forward to my first day of hunting. I had set up 15 to 20 yards from a well-used javelina trail with lots of tracks on it, and I was prepared to wait all day to see if a javelina came by. After about three hours I had not seen hide nor hair of a javelina, but I did see a bad storm heading our way.

My cameraman and I watched as the wind picked up and a few raindrops started to fall. I set my bow down and had just put on my raingear when I spotted some javelina heading our way. I was out of position, so I quickly grabbed my bow and tried to raise up. I got busted almost instantly, and the javelina scattered like a covey of quail.

The ones that didn't see me had no idea what was going on, and one large one circled back. I was in position now, and my heart started that crazy irregular beat that sounded and felt like someone hitting a pillow with a sledgehammer in my chest.


The javelina was broadside at about 28 yards when I slowly drew my bow. I anchored and shot in one fluid motion, and then watched as the spooky javelina ducked my perfectly tuned arrow. Trust me when I write that this wasn't the outcome I'd expected. The javelina rocketed out of the area with the others following suit. A lot of emotions were swirling around the red dust the javelina kicked up in their hasty departure.

I was disappointed the javelina had ducked my arrow, but I was happy I'd missed completely. My cameraman was equally disappointed, as this meant we were going to sit it out in the Arizona desert waiting for another opportunity.

After seeing nothing else over the next four hours, I told my cameraman I was going to slip down and try to find my arrow, and then maybe we would go glass another area. He came to help look and left his camera and tripod where we had been waiting.


I had just found my arrow when I spotted another javelina coming down the trail. I couldn't believe it. That was literally only the second time in seven hours that we were not ready and only the second time we'd seen javelina. They had shown up at exactly the wrong time, twice.

This photo is taken from the video footage of my Arizona javelina hunt. I'm at full draw, just before I released the arrow at the pictured javelina.

I pointed the javelina out to my cameraman and dropped to my knees where I was. My cameraman risked a move and crawled back to his camera just as the javelina broke cover. Normally we try to film over my shoulder, because it shows the whole hunt from my perspective. However, this was a unique situation as my cameraman and I were both pinned down, with no way to get back together without spooking the javelina.

My cameraman had a decision to make. Film me, or film the javelina. He decided to go wide angle and film us both. Meanwhile, I was on my knees trying to hide behind a small bush as the javelina continued down the trail unaware of our presence.

The javelina closed to under 20 yards and started to get nervous. I had to make something happen. I slowly drew and released, and unlike my first shot, I was rewarded with the solid thump of my arrow striking home. The javelina bolted about 30 yards, and then started staggering. A quick follow-up shot sped up the inevitable, and I had my javelina.

I'm still hoping my shoulder continues to heal so I can go back to the weight I'm used to on my recurve. But if it doesn't, I'm convinced I can continue to enjoy hunting with my lightweight bow.

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