A Season of New Life and New Dreams

The calendar says we're already several months into the new year, but for most of us -- at least in a bowhunting sense -- it's really just beginning.

I spent about half of January attending outdoor trade shows, getting an up-close and personal look at all the new bowhunting gear we share with you in the pages of BOWHUNTING. Back home in Pennsylvania, February and March make up the proverbial "dead of winter," and this year has been deader than most; unusually cold and snowy. Even if there was an open archery season, it wouldn't be much fun to be outside.

So, if you live anywhere that experiences a real winter, I know you share my enthusiasm for spring's long-awaited arrival. Just when I think I might finally succumb to cabin fever, Penn's Woods will stir with signs of new life. Quiet, pink-tinged mornings will be broken by thunderous calls from overanxious gobblers, and famished black bears will emerge from their dens in search of a vernal feast. It won't be long until I'm in Iowa chasing longbeards with my good friend John Dudley, and before I know it, it'll be time for bowfishing, 3-D shoots and other summer archery fun.

Yes, the arrival of spring is a reason to celebrate every year -- and especially so if you had a long winter of regret. You see, my 2010 bowhunting season didn't go exactly as planned. Oh, it got off to a fast start. I killed two nice Kansas gobblers last spring with Field Editor Eddie Claypool, and another good one in Oregon (you can read about that hunt on p. 36 of this issue). Early last fall, I took a nice doe here at home and a great cow elk down in Kentucky. I was flying high, but once November arrived and I turned my attention to antlered quarry, things unraveled in a hurry.

Despite capturing numerous trail camera photos of nice bucks throughout the summer, I didn't so much as lay eyes on a shooter during the Pennsylvania archery season. It got so bad by the end that I didn't even expect to see one. Disgusting! And while I'll save you all the painful (at least for me) details, I came home from trophy whitetail hunts in Illinois and Alberta empty handed. Suffice it to say I had several prime opportunities in the palm of my hand, yet each time I tried to close my fist, my dreams turned to dust.

Well, as the old saying goes, you can't change the past. Lord knows I've spent enough time trying. It's a new year, and I'm ready for a fresh start -- one that involves a sharp broadhead and a lovesick tom in full strut.

New beginnings, my friends, are what springtime is all about.

Speaking of new beginnings, this issue marks the debut of The X-Factor (p. 28), a new department dedicated to crossbow hunting. The X-Factor is written by world-class shooter and hardcore big-game hunter Doug Koenig. Many of you will recognize Doug's name because of his unparalleled professional shooting accomplishments. What you may not know is that Doug is also a dedicated bowhunter whose diverse background -- in competition and in the field -- makes him a perfect fit for this new column.

Based on the feedback our initial crossbow coverage received last year, I expect The X-Factor will generate some lively conversation. In fact, the name of the column is, at least in part, a reflection of that, as crossbows have certainly become something of an X-factor in the hunting community as states and provinces throughout North America consider expanding their legal use. It's likely that expansion will spawn a variety of debate for some time.

Regardless of your position, there can be no debate over Doug's outdoor credentials. The information Doug presents in The X-Factor will be highly beneficial to readers, and I am pleased to welcome him to BOWHUNTING's industry-leading team of experts.

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