Rewarding Frustrations

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So rewarding. So frustrating. How can one thing be described as both? Because it’s archery. My first experience with a bow is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. It was very rewarding for me and extremely frustrating for my dear ol’ Dad. Have you ever seen those cute little red kids bows? I used to have one. My first experience with it would have made most parents ban me from ever touching any form of weapon…ever. Thank God I have such a patient Dad. He decided to teach me how to shoot that little red bow one day, out of the goodness of his sweet fatherly heart. He slowly showed me how everything works, where to hook the arrow, what we are aiming at and so forth. Then he kneels down behind me to help keep me steady as I draw the bow and take as careful aim as a five year old can. He said, “When your ready, let go.” and I did…but I let go of the grip instead of the string. Not a really big deal unless you are dear ol’ Dad kneeling behind your blonde daughter with your head right in line behind the deadly little red bow. Dad took a beating but handled it like a champ, he corrected me instead of just taking away my bow and it led me to my love and hate relationship with archery. On one hand, shooting a bow is a relaxing pastime. The more you shoot the more accurate you are and it is rewarding. I love that part. I also love getting into my most stealthy hunting mode from clothes washed in scent free soap to camouflage covering all of me including my face. It is exciting to be so close to a wild animal that you are concerned they might see the whites of your eyes moving. That is a thrill that is like no other. These are all great aspects of archery. Then come the frustrating sides of it. Like when you spend all that time shooting and getting ready for your extreme close encounter only to have animals deciding to wander about 60 yards away from you. Or when all of your calculating and preparation goes out the window because your bowstring makes extra noise causing that deer to duck under your perfectly fletched arrow and off to be stalked another day. The list of frustrating scenarios could go on and on but in reality all those frustrations dim in the light of one successful and rewarding hunt. All it takes is one. I know that as a fact because I have spent countless hours and days out hunting and shooting with my bow and I have only one successful archery kill under my belt. One. It was a doe. I had seen the little trail she walked on to get to the field the night before. She along with another doe and a small buck had made their way to the hay field via this one trail and they seemed very comfortable on it. I decided to ambush them there the next night. I had done similar ambushes before and for one reason or another it had never worked out. Perhaps they caught my wind, used another trail or just simply were not in the area that evening. But this night was different, this night it worked. I had been in my kneeling position for a couple hours, just listening to hear the slightest twig snap, leaf rustle or hoof thump. Many a squirrel had sent my heart racing that evening hoping that what I heard was a deer headed my way. Finally I did hear them and when I did I knew it was them right away. At that moment I drew my bow, as I could tell they were coming quick. The buck came first and since I had a doe tag I watched him go by and the doe step out behind him. She walked out in front of me at about 25 yards, just like I had always pictured it happening. It almost didn’t seem real. I let my arrow fly and it hit true. She ran only 70 yards down the field before she lay down and died. The rush that I felt in that experience was far greater than any other hunt. I have shot lots of game with my rifles and have loved every minute of it but there is something different about archery. All the years before this, that had ended with no kill and lots of frustration, just transformed into learning opportunities that had brought me to this successful moment. I will keep hunting with my bow every year. My success won’t be a yearly thing but just going out there and having my frustrating experiences will make my next success story that much more rewarding. Besides, any day spent outside lamenting an animal that outsmarted me is better than a day spent most any other way.

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