Much of my free time, if there is such a thing these days, is taken up in the pursuit of the outdoors. If truth were told, fly fishing is my main passion for much of the year. I am fortunate to live in a place where I can enjoy piscatorial pursuits perennially (I know…too much caffeine today).
However, I also like to hunt. In Texas most of the land is privately owned, and while there are some public hunting opportunities to be found, most hunting access is acquired through leases. Leases tend to be expensive, and the properties run the gamut from family ranches to commercial hunting operations, some with wildlife biologists who are employed to help manage the deer herd to produce world class trophy animals.
During my youth, we never hunted deer. Our game was mainly pheasants, with a smattering of rabbits, quail and squirrels tossed in when handy.
We had access to hunt farms owned by my family, but three decades ago deer hunting in Iowa was not a big deal. Thus my experiences hunting deer were basically non-existent.
Pheasant hunting in Texas exists, mainly in the panhandle, an eight hour drive from home. So in the last decade or two, I became a waterfowl hunter, with the obligatory dove hunts to kick off the season.
This year however, something of an outdoor harmonic convergence occurred. I was invited to join a lease that is both reasonable in price and not too far from home. And leases in Texas are mainly about deer.
This gave me the opportunity to dive in to bow hunting, something I had long desired to do. In our state the bow season begins in October, a full month before the gun hunters enter the fray.
I began looking for a good used bow, and after one false start I was able to find a great bow at an equally great price. Some adjustments to the bow were needed it to fit me, and once completed, I began shooting most evenings in my backyard to get ready for the season.
I like accouterments, and both my fly fishing and bow hunting passions allow me to peruse through a plethora of catalogs of stuff. Arrows, quivers, releases, arrow rests, vibration dampeners, broad heads, scent control products, targets, blinds, etc. All require decisions to be made. Stands, feeders, attractants, stand locations and clothing all need to be considered as well. It’s a gear junkies’ dream.
It is noteworthy that both fly fishing and bow hunting devotees delight in getting close to the game. The methods used are not necessarily the most efficient for harvesting said game, but therein lies the attraction. We do it, to plagiarize JFK, “not because it is easy, but because it is hard”.
It may sound cliche, but for me, climbing up in a tree in the pre-dawn to watch the sun rise and to sit silently while nature awakens oblivious to my presence is a joy only few souls experience. Harvesting a deer, while the presumably the purpose for my presence does not define a successful hunt. Time alone to think; to listen, to look, to feel – to live. Knowing that even if I do take a shot, the air will not be rent with a sonic boom, alerting the world to my presence – but with the marriage of a stick and string and a quiet thwip as I send the arrow home.
Time will tell if my efforts put meat in the freezer, but already the journey has fed my soul.