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Long time coming

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#1
My parents married on Oct. 2, 1960. My dad was a ripe 20 years old, mom was 19. I've honestly never seen a more handsome bride and groom, though I base that solely on pictures as I didn't come along until 1972. There first Christmas together, my mom gave dad a Ted Williams signature series bow that she had purchased from Montgomery Ward. It came complete with cloth limb covers in WWII camo print and a hoodless two-piece bow mounted quiver that held five hunting shafts, made of cedar and painted bright orange with black feathers. Somewhere there are pictures of it resting under their first Christmas tree.

Several years ago I got curious as to who actually manufactured the bow. I asked a lot of people and no one seemed to know for sure. Hoot Gibson guessed it to be made by Bear as it looks like a Grizzly model. I had become friends with M.R. James through Scent Smoker, so asked him. He didn't recall, so he asked Jay St. Charles about it (Jay is Glenn St. Charles' son). Jay is quite a modern archery historian, particularly with Bear bows as Glenn and Fred Bear were close friends and hunting partners. Jay confirmed that it was indeed made by Bear and marketed under Ted Williams name as he had an entire line of hunting and fishing gear at the time. It is indeed a Bear Grizzly. Well done, Hoot!

My earliest memories of Saturday mornings include looking up at the bow rack on the wall of the bedroom my brother and I shared. I would look up there as soon as my eyes opened. If that bow and accompanying arrows was missing, my brother and I would anxiously await dad's arrival to hear about his adventure. Dad loved to hunt. He loved to be in the woods trying to sort out this whole deer hunting thing. He had a group of four or five guys that would get together, put on their old WWII print coveralls and go looking for deer all over southern Ohio. They never killed a deer. One guy missed one, and to this day I can point to the stand of pine trees along Rt. 50 where the story took place. He became legend... he had a shot!

Sometime in the late 70's, my brother and I went squirrel hunting with the "legend" while dad bowhunted on the same property. It was one of those magical November mornings where bucks were chasing does all over. Amos and I were working our way back towards dad, slowly, when the sound of a chase caught our attention. We stopped beside a tree, and as luck would have it, the biggest buck I'd ever seen ran a doe off the next ridge, down through the hollow and directly up the hill to us. They came within feet of us. I thought for sure we were under attack, but Amos stood firm and told me to do likewise. Both deer looked at us curiously, walked around us and went on their way. It was amazing! Shortly, we continued on to my dad's position. When we approached him, he was standing in a blowdown, orange arrow nocked...and it was bouncing on the shelf of the old bow. My dad, my steadfast hero, was shaking like a leaf. I'd never seen him in this condition. When we were close enough to speak in a soft whisper, he tried his best to tell us the tale. He was nearly unable to speak. Just before we had come into view, two huge bucks met head to head in the pasture field above him. Instead of fighting, they walked around each other and split in two directions, one of which came directly to dad. My normally cool under pressure dad launched a cedar shaft over the deer's back and watched helplessly as he bounded off. As dad recounted the tale, he struggled to get out the words, "His rack was as wide as this arrow is long"! That was the only deer Dad ever shot at with his old bow.

Somewhere in my high school years the "trad" bug bit me. I was finally able to draw the bow and eventually learned to shoot it. I wasn't satisfied with the hoodless quiver that dad had used without complaint for all those years, so I fashioned a mount of sorts for one of my more modern Quickee quivers out of foam. I taped it to the bow's riser as drilling a hole would have been a sin. It worked well enough. I of course had to shoot modern arrows. Easton XX75 in Autumn Orange, 2117, I think. One day while still hunting behind the Circleville Bible College, I saw legs moving toward me. They were hooked to a beautiful buck that would surely be my best deer. He moved within 15 yards and I let loose. Like dad, I missed. And like dad, I was left shaking like a leaf and sick to my stomach. It was my first miss with any bow. Until that time I didn't understand how anyone could blow a shot at bow range... I had already killed three or four deer in a time when we were only allowed one a year. I thought I had this thing figured out. lol

As with all things, I moved on to bigger and better bows. I had custom built recurves, some great factory bows too. All much heavier poundage and far prettier woods. I had a few really good "elitist" years in there, killed a few critters too. but through those years, I left dad's old bow in the recesses of my mind, until about ten years ago. Dad and mom sold the home I grew up in and have bought a few houses and condominiums since then and somewhere along the way he grew tired of seeing that old bow in the moving trucks. He gave it to me. A few years back I decided I'd give it a go and see if I could kill a deer with it. I enlisted the help of a friend. Our very own Geezer. I asked him to make me up some pretty arrows for the task and he obliged. I think a lot of Geezer, and it seemed fitting to try with arrows he'd made. One November morning, I had a golden opportunity at a beautiful young buck. He was gorgeous, but not overly big or mature, maybe 115''. I took the shot at 15 yards and absolutely blew it. Still to this day I don't know what happened. I jerked the bow back and let it fly without hesitation, and thought I'd missed completely. He hung around for half an hour or so and I could see he was bleeding from the leg but not badly. He survived and I was completely deflated. I did manage to wear out the arrows Geezer had made me and have refletched them countless times. They are not nearly as pretty as they once were.

This season, Mason and I were fortunate to kill our bucks early, leaving a lot of time to hunt other things. I decided I'd put forth a little effort in pursuit of a deer with dad's bow. I cannot shoot a recurve or longbow anywhere close to as well as I once did. I'm getting old. I have issues with my joints these days and shooting trad bows really causes me issues. I love to shoot, a lot, I just cannot do it like I once did. With that in mind, I decided if I were going to do this thing I'd have to have an extremely close shot. I remember back in the day Hoot or Jamie saying "It's not how well you shoot, it's how close you get". For me, that's more true today than ever, at least with this bow.

I set up a sure fire corn pile at the Gar Hole farm a couple weeks ago, complete with a Penthouse blind. It's huge and provides plenty of room for me, Mason and two traditional bows. I showed my set up to Jamie while we were squirrel hunting the other day. It's laughable, really. The corn pile is probably 10-12 yards from the blind. The farm has a good population of deer, a rare thing in this area, really, and there hasn't been a deer shot off it in two years. A golden set up, it just took a while to get the right wind.... and yes we waited for the right wind. The first hunt, Mason was in the hot seat with his recurve. When he was presented with a 12-15 yard shot, he opted not to shoot. I told him to shoot and he just replied , "Nah". He's growing up. I'm proud of him.

So, we went to the blind for our second hunt with Mason insisting I be in the shooters seat. He knew I wanted to kill one with the old bow. The hunt itself was anticlimactic. Four antlerless deer came in, two presented a good opportunity, I picked the one on the right and shot. I could not tell where I'd hit, but knew it was through her at the right height. My arrow told me I'd shot her through the guts. I was sick, and the recovery was a chore, but I was pleasantly surprised that I'd made a decent shot. Apparently my arrow was related to the bullet that killed Kennedy. It makes no difference, really. The challenge has been met, and I'm confident I can now hang the old bow on the same old bow rack and let it rest. It will likely just adorn the wall of my man cave from here on out, it's mission in life complete.

Thanks for reading, sorry I'm a wind bag. :)
 

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Jackalope

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#12
Awesome stuff buddy. Nothing better than honoring the old memories. Something honorable and majestic about closing out old tasks.
 
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#14
Thanks for the thoughts, fellas.

Mason will not be hunting with this bow just yet. He shoots his recurve surprisingly well,but the few extra pounds of draw weight on dad's bow makes it tough for him to shoot accurately. He's gonna have to wait a little while.
 

"J"

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#16
Thanks for the thoughts, fellas.

Mason will not be hunting with this bow just yet. He shoots his recurve surprisingly well,but the few extra pounds of draw weight on dad's bow makes it tough for him to shoot accurately. He's gonna have to wait a little while.
Looking forward to when it’s his turn...
 

Fletch

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#17
Loved reading that story.. Memories mean so much when pursuing our passion. Only a matter of time before Mason harvests a deer with that bow. Congrats...