My first deer I shot with a bow, was at a distance that would have been a better shot for a rifle. Before I tell you how long the shot was. I want to give you some background. That way you will understand why such a shot was even taken.
I have shot a bow for a long as I can remember. I made my first bow, with my dad’s help, from ash saplings. After that came solid fiberglass bows, and wood longbows. In the early 60’s I purchased a Bear Grizzly recurve bow. It was a vast improvement over my previous bows. I shot this bow for several years.
Where I grew up in Indiana, there were very few deer in those days. My hunting was mostly confined to small game. Bowhunting was not a common sport then. It seemed that archery was more of a shooting sport, rather than hunting. I learned to bow hunt from reading about the exploits of Saxton Pope, Arthur Young, Fred Bear and men like that. Men who didn’t put any limits on their bows or themselves. Because of these men, I likewise saw the only limit as far as distance was concerned, to be my shooting ability.
In the mid-sixties, I was living in the southern part of Michigan. Very few people bow hunted at that time. It wasn’t until Michigan made it possible for bowhunters to take an extra deer, that bowhunting really took off.
In 1966 my hunting buddy, Huck, and I decided to bow hunt for deer. We hunted on a farm that contained a few deer. In those days it was only legal to hunt from the ground. We were seeing some deer, but couldn’t get close to them. The deer were aware of us, and the ones we were seeing were farther and farther away. As a result, I had started practicing shooting at longer distances.
Each night I would shoot until my arms would tire. I was shooting my 50lb. Grizzly. It wasn’t a very powerful bow, compared to today’s compound bows. However, I had been shooting every day for months, and I could consistently place my arrows in a ten-inch circle at forty, fifty, and sixty yards. I would always shoot a few arrows at greater distances as well. Fiberglass arrows were new then, and I was shooting them. They were heavier than the wood and aluminum arrows, but they were nearly indestructible. The heavier weight required more elevation when shooting, but when you shoot instinctively, You don’t think about allowing for elevation. It just comes naturally with practice. The heavier arrow weight made for excellent penetration.
The last day of the season was on a Saturday. Huck and I had planned on hunting that morning. The fact that we woke to a blizzard didn’t deter us. It was the last day, our last chance for the year.
Huck suggested that instead of walking across the fields in this weather, that we drive over to a couple of old farmers he knew and ask them if we could hunt their woods.
They agreed that we could hunt. It was obvious that they thought we were nuts, to be hunting with bows and arrows in a blizzard.
We walked from their barn to the woods, a distance of only a couple hundred yards. No sooner did we get to the woods, then we spotted three fresh deer beds. The deer had been lying on the south side of the woods, out of the wind. Their tracks and beds were fresh. The story was plain. They had seen us come around the barn, headed toward them in the woods. The deer had fled north, away from us.
After a quick discussion, it was decided that Huck would slowly follow their tracks and I would circle around to where the deer would hopefully emerge from the woods. With a little luck, one of us would get a shot.
I was crossing a field, to get to the far side of the woods, when I happen to notice the three deer at the edge of the woods. They were under a large tree, partly sheltered from the storm. They were watching me, so there was no way I could get closer to them. I decided I would shoot from where I was. I picked my target and let my arrow fly. It was short, a miss. The deer I was shooting at disappeared into the woods. I shot again at the larger of the two remaining deer. Instantly they both fled into the woods. It appeared I had missed again.
Disappointed, I found Huck and explained what had happened. Together we walked to where the deer had been standing. There was blood all over the snow. We decided to wait fifteen to twenty minutes before following the tracks, giving the deer a chance to lay up. As we were waiting we saw the other deer coming back. We certainly weren’t expecting that.
Huck drew his bow to be ready. Both deer walked to within about ten feet of us before they spotted us. We were kneeling and snow covered, so they weren’t sure what we were. Suddenly the deer whirled and bounded away. As they turned, Huck released his arrow. Somehow he managed to get a killing shot through the heart. We found both deer within thirty yards. My arrow had penetrated the lungs of the one I shot.
We walked out to where I had shot from. We both then paced the distance off at seventy-eight yards. A long shot for today’s archers. But considering the distances I was practicing at, it was not much farther.
Forty-five minutes after entering the woods, we were back at the farm house. They could not believe we shot two deer in a storm, in such a short time. They were pretty impressed. Of course, they weren’t aware of the weeks of unfruitful hunting, we had already put in
The next day, Huck was in the sporting goods store. The owner knew both of us. Huck mentioned that I had shot a deer through the lungs at seventy-eight yards and he had shot a running deer through the heart. He was good-naturedly called a liar.
The story is completely true. Anyone who has spent a lifetime fishing and hunting will have similar stories of amazing shots and events.
I have been witness to many amazing things in God’s great outdoors. They are nothing to compare to what I have witnessed as a follower of Jesus Christ. I have witnessed many miracles. I have seen people healed, including myself. I have observed divine intervention, that left no doubt, but that God’s hand was involved. Best of all, I have felt the presence of God in times of crisis and trials. I have felt his love surrounding and supporting me.
“ But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” – John 17:13 ESV
God’s great outdoors is awesome, but it’s the life lived with Jesus that is full of beauty and wonder. It’s a life free of strife and unforgiveness, free of fear and rejection. It’s a life full of love and peace and contended, complete joy.
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