Scattered? My Bowhunting Philosophy
July 19, 2012
I often joke that I'm too scattered to be considered an "authority" on anything outdoors related. I did pen the book "Bowhunting Modern Elk," guided elk hunters for 23 years and have arrowed 13 (do-it-yourself) P&Y-caliber bulls, so maybe that qualifies me as an expert there. But I've also bowhunted Alaska on 14 separate occasions, do-it-yourself deals (with the exception of a mountain goat hunt where an outfitter was required by law), two B&C Last Frontier caribou, numerous black bears, several Sitka blacktail and bull moose falling to my arrows. But I'm no expert. I've bowhunted Africa — South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe — killed maybe 17 various species including Cape buffalo, but am certainly not regarded as the authority on the subject.
I've take some gorgeous whitetail, many from public lands. I was obsessed with Coues whitetail for awhile, killing 12 P&Y-class bucks from Arizona, New Mexico and Sonora, Mexico. As far as I know this is the most taken by one bowhunter. I've done okay on western game such as mule deer, pronghorn and black bear (I once bow-shot a cougar while stalking), owning a few Boone & Crockett representatives in those areas. I've bow-shot five B&C-quality caribou (another late/passing obsession). I've killed something like 50 wild boar with bow, from the Pacific coast of California to the Atlantic seaboard of Florida, and arrowed my 60th wild turkey last spring, including gobblers from all North American species, including a single-spring archery turkey slam in 2000. The only animals missing from my own Super Slam legally require an outfitted hunt commanding $10,000-plus.
I understand all this could be construed as bragging. So be it. I'm just a little bit proud of what I've accomplished while operating on the available funds of an average working stiff. There were sacrifices, of course. You live by priorities, and mine have always involved dedicating every cent earned pursuing the next bowhunting experience (I intentionally avoid the term trophy). Too, I've energetically scattered energies obsessively fly fishing trout waters and seas, training bird dogs and gunning waterfowl and upland birds across North America.
If there has been a decided lack of focus in carving my niche in the bowhunting community, creating an ironclad business stagey, my lust for adventure, for variety most of all, has remained my lifelong loadstone, perhaps my bane. I've become jack-of-all-trades, master of none.
I'll obsessively pursue a particular animal during a particular week, chasing the golden ring, but will not burn an entire season on a single prize (no matter how big) when there are other adventures waiting. I give it my best in the time allotted and move on. I want to experience all that bowhunting has to offer — even if it's something as offbeat as bowfishing stingrays on the Texas Gulf Coast. I thirst for the next experience. I long for adventure. So this, I guess, is what defines me. It is what keeps me alive.
Scattered? I guess that's left to interpretation.