Killing something with this bow proved considerably more exasperating. In fact, I quickly came to consider the bow utterly jinxed!
My arrows, initially Sitka spruce tipped with 1947 Zwickey Black Diamonds, sailed over the backs of two point-blank whitetails during the early season. And on the final day of the late season, in sub-zero weather, I missed a trophy buck I’d pursued since fall. I guarded bear baits the following spring with my primitive bow, small bears appearing regularly, but never the shooters featured on camera when I’m absent.
A custom recurve made for me by South Cox (Stalker Recurve Bows) coaxed me to shelve Alan’s bow an entire season, catching up in my killing, but by the following spring it called to me again. I carried it to guard bear baits once more, but after only a single evening with a new recurve in tow, a trophy bear showed up to offer a shot. And then it’s fall once more.
There’s a gap between September archery-only deer/elk season and mid-October’s general-season opener normally reserved for hunting upland birds. Yet fall bear remains open and bait sites I’ve enjoyed good results over during spring months are being pounded again in short order. A faithful trail camera is capturing regular visits from several bruins, one of these a burly fellow with lustrous fur and pumpkin head. He impresses enough that I spend nearly two weeks sitting for him, a shy brute inclined to show only under the cover of darkness.
It’s a chilly evening at altitude, heavily overcast, threatening rain, maybe snow. Shooting hours are winding down and I’m keeping an eye on my watch, ready to climb down after four hours of uncomfortable boredom. Shooting light’s uncertain, despite the hour. All confidence has left me. He won’t show, and my conviction of Alan’s bow being cursed is now complete. I tell myself it’s fine. I’ve taken a beautiful spring bear, and there’s no one here to help track and drag and skin. Plus, I’ve 3 1/2 hours of white-knuckle driving to reach home.
And then he’s just there. He has appeared, like a wraith, on silent feet. He’s broadside and only 18 yards away.
I fight to control my breath, giving myself a minute to pull it together, the end of shooting hours looming. And then it’s time — shifting slowly to twist my legs aside to make room for the reaching bottom limb, tugging the string snug into anchor, making sure of it, followed by the sibilant chorus of cutting feathers. The boar crashes away and I can’t even guess where my arrow’s gone. I strain to hear something more, but only the beating of my heart fills my ears.
I quite literally trip over my prize 70 yards into the tangled alder, Juneberry, cedar and willow. The heat-tempered bamboo shaft (ordered online from an Englishman who sorts from thousands a dozen matched for spine and general diameter) has driven the 1941 Ace Standard (chosen due to parallel ferrule creating a natural mating over hollow bamboo) completely through both lungs. I’m quite beside myself, a long night lying ahead, but my heart as full as Neruda’s interminable artichoke.
Alan will be pleased. I can’t wait to write him about it. I can count on him calling from the ancient payphone in town after receiving my letter. It’ll be good to talk to him again.