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Bowhunting is something that is not for the weak. Bowhunting isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s not for someone who wants instant success, and consistency. Bowhunting will smack you down. It will make you humble. It will make you so frustrated you’ll want to pull your hair out. Bowhunting has made grown men cry in the midsts of heartbreak, and rejoice. It is something that you cannot and will not ever conquer, yet it can be so rewarding. Just when you think you have bowhunting all figured out, it snaps you back to reality. And the reality of bowhunting is, that you never stop learning… And that’s what I love about it.
I think what I love most about bowhunting is the challenge. You can never master it. Yes, there has been some who have accomplished so much in the sport and made it what it is today: Fred Bear, Howard Hill, Ishi, Earl Hoyt, and Ben Pearson to name a few. But none of them perfected the sport. No one ever will. Even those guys made mistakes. Some guys despise it, but I love the fact that hardly anything ever goes right in a bow hunt. It makes it that much more challenging, and in turn, more rewarding. No two hunts are the same, and nothing hardly ever goes the way you want it to. Knowing that you beat the odds against a big game animal with a bow, and out smarted it in it’s own backyard is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.
Ask any veteran bowhunter what they think, and I’ll guarantee you they say the same thing I’m preaching here to you today. I’d almost be willing to bet most of them have lost more trophies, than they have on their wall. That’s what is so frustrating about this sport. Just when you think you have it down pat, something happens that brings you back to Earth. Just this past year, I took the two biggest bucks of my young bowhunting career in Ohio and Kentucky within just a few weeks of each other. One scoring 164″ and the other a respectable 148″. I’ll be honest, I was feeling pretty darn good. My shooting form was on point, I was confident in my abilities and gear, and everything was falling into place. I was on cloud nine. Then bowhunting did what is always does, and it knocked me back down a peg or two. The following turkey season I went unsuccessful arrowing a bird the last day of the season, just to lose blood and never find it. Then, August rolled around and I trekked out to Colorado for a pronghorn hunt only to fling a few arrows at eighty and ninety yards that would never hit their mark. So even if you feel like you’re on top of the world, and you think you’ve done everything right to get it done… don’t get used to it. Don’t get too comfortable. Because sooner or later something is going to happen that will knock you on your ass.
Some guys believe it’s luck, some believe if you just do everything by the book you’ll be successful, and some believe it’ll all even out over time and if you’re having a string of bad luck, the bowhunting Gods will bless you with some good luck to break even. I believe there’s no set pattern in this crazy sport we love to do. It doesn’t matter if you do everything by the book, the odds are still in the animal’s favor. It doesn’t matter if you think it’ll even out or not. It’s just bowhunting. And anything can happen.
But now what if you add filming into the mix? That’s a whole different ball game. Filming my bow hunts has to be hands down the most difficult thing I’ve ever tried to do. Then, trying to run the camera solo, and make a lethal shot with a bow at the same time just piles onto the challenge. The synchronization you have to have between the camera man and the hunter, or the camera and bow if you’re solo filming, is so unbelievably hard to master. There are so many moving parts, and all of those parts have to go right for the hunt to be successful. If you’re filming with a cameraman you have that extra scent in the woods with you, more gear and most of the time another stand you have to bring in which is more noise, and another body in the tree which gives the animal a better chance of seeing you. If you’re filming solo, that’s more gear you have to carry in yourself, more set up you have to do so that means heading into your stand or blind earlier, but most importantly it’s more work when it comes crunch time. You have to find a way to coordinate yourself turning on the camera, turning on a second angle camera if you have say a GoPro, grabbing your bow, getting the camera on the animal, getting plenty of pre-shot footage, getting it into position where you think that animal is going to be, then drawing your bow, and making what usually is a very rushed shot with the animal still in the viewfinder, all without being detected by the game you are after.
I could go on and on about the subject of filming hunts and how difficult it is. But most of you already know the struggles. You’ve either experienced them yourself, know someone who has, or have seen it second hand on TV. We’ve all seen shows where the hunt falls apart all because of the camera. The cameraman and hunter aren’t on the same page, the camera malfunctions, the list is endless. Bowhunters who have never experienced it don’t realize, it is so difficult to pass on a big game animal because you’re also trying to get it on film. So many times the hunter could have had a perfect shot on the animal, and had it not been for the camera “getting in the way” so to speak, they would have harvested it. The fact of the matter is, it takes tremendous amounts of self-discipline to let that animal walk to hopefully get another crack at it later in the season with the camera on it the next time.
So whether you’re bowhunting with or without the camera rolling, it’s always a constant uphill battle. You’re going to have let downs. You’re going to have heartbreaks. There will be times you’ll probably want to launch your bow off a mountain side. The best way I can describe bowhunting to someone who has never even picked up a bow before is, it’s like “digging to China with a rusty spoon.” You’re never going to reach the other side of perfection in this sport, period. You can do everything by the book, stay persistent, hunt hard but most importantly, hunt smart. And yes, you can be quite successful that way and I encourage you to do so. But you’re never going to master this crazy thing all us bowhunters love to do.