Sunday, March 10, 2013

   First Blood
WARNING:  I’ve hunted most of my life. It involves blood, and sometimes it isn’t pretty.  You may not want your young kids to read this.


Due to poor planning, unforeseen travels, weddings and funerals, I missed out on the rifle hunting season last fall. I just didn’t get a chance to get out. However, there is a late bow hunt for deer and elk in some of the units. Now, I haven’t bow hunted in several years but I used to enjoy it a lot. There was an early hunt in September and the weather was always great. The aspen trees were bright yellow and the pines a deep green. I could hunt the early mornings and late evenings and lay in the sun during the warm afternoons. The late hunt in November and December required more clothes and some planning to stay warm when sitting, and cool when climbing the mountains. Some of my best memories are of these bow hunts.

I dug my old Martin Firecat out of the shed and looked it over. It was in pretty good shape but I needed a new string and a few arrows. The release still looked good and worked well with a little oil on it. The release straps onto your right hand and it has a latch to hold onto the bow string. The latch holds the string tight while drawing the bow back to shoot. On the release there is a trigger mechanism, not unlike a rifle, that you squeeze with your index finger to let loose the string and fire the arrow. The trigger mechanism is smooth and has no drag or movement. It eliminates the problems created when using your fingers directly on the string.  A trip to the bow shop and I had a new string and sight as well as a half dozen aluminum arrows.

There is an archery shooting range close to my office on the north end of town. I had my bow in the truck and I drove over to the range one day at lunch time. I pulled up to the range and noticed several cars already parked there. I looked out at the range and there were 4 or 5 people shooting. There are about ten different shooting lanes so I would probably be fine, but something told me that I should wait.  My first time shooting this season should be just me. I hadn’t shot in a few years and I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of people.  I have a pretty good sense about this type of thing so I decided to wait and shoot another time. The people shooting had fancy new bows and gadgets on them and my bow is probably twelve years old. I watched from the truck for a minute and then went back to work.

A couple days later I went back to the range. Not a soul was around and the wind was calm. I got ready and walk out on the range and picked a 20 yard target to start on. I got my arrows out and snapped one on the string. I locked the release around the string and checked to make sure it held. I hadn’t shot for a while and the older bows require pretty good strength to pull them back. I pointed the bow up in the air a little and began to haul back on the string. About halfway back in my pull, something smashed into my face. It hurt pretty badly and I was seeing stars for a second. I didn’t go down but staggered back a little. It reminded me of getting in a fight when I was a kid and blocking all the punches with my face. I looked out towards the range and saw my arrow coming down out of the sky until it stuck straight up out of the ground, Somehow, with the bow pulled halfway back, I had hit the trigger, the string released, launching the arrow straight up.  My hand slammed into my nose and face. As the stars cleared from my eyes I realized that my nose was bleeding. There was blood running down my face and I tried to stop it with my hands. I soon had blood on both hands, my face and on my shirt. I stood around holding my nose with my head back trying to stifle the bleeding. I walked out and got my arrow and came back to the shooting area. When the blood stopped I was ready to try again. I ended up shooting pretty well that day and got the bow sighted in at 20 and 30 yards. I knew I shouldn’t stay too long because if someone came and saw the blood everywhere they might start asking questions, and how do you explain something like that?  I was also happy that the ol’ warning light had told me not to shoot the first time with other people around. When I do really stupid things, it’s kind of nice to not have an audience gawking and laughing.  Experience is a good thing I guess.  Anyway, I shot a couple more times during the week and did pretty well. Next year, I might even go hunting with that bow.