The old bowhunter stood there running his bent fingers over his favorite bow. He mused how its nicks and scratches from time in the field marked its age, just as the lines on his face have marked the passing of each year and each season for him. He recalled days when this bow was easier to draw, but the familiar pull and strain as he held on target was always an enjoyable feeling. This was the night before another new deer season, and he prepared his gear exactly as he had before for so many years. Once upon a time this night was full of camaraderie, friends, brothers, and more preparing gear, making plans.
They were all gone, and he was now alone to celebrate the day. He knew the place of his morning stand, and the familiar walk in the dark he had done so often. He knew while on stand that his mind would drift back to the days spent afield with old comrades and seasons past. A bitter man would plead “where did they go, why must they leave?” This old bowhunter would not. For he knew the course life takes, the balance of it all. Age taught him everything has a course, a beginning, middle, and end. The hunt was much less than the harvest now. The limitation of the bow had taught him to become more than just a hunter. It had helped him grow and become a better man. After all, one would often go hungry if eating had relied on bowhuntings efficiency.
The hunt was a visit into the world of nature, where a man can truly feel the blessings bestowed upon him by God. Much of this he learned from his elders as a young man. The rest as a constant observer of nature while waiting on his quarry. This bowhunter had been a studious witness to the beauty of the forest, and he had learned well. Self reflection and being one with the outdoors brings peace to the soul. This is a key benefit earned, once one becomes aware of natural wonders. This was a priceless gift bestowed upon him, and he knew it.
His gear was neatly packed and placed by the door. Not too much, but just what he needed for the hunt. His old back pack had been patched several times. Inside, the buck knife his father left him, now thinned by years of sharpening. It too showed it’s age and use. Other necessities as well, just nothing he was not going to use. In his youth he carried so much excess as we all have. Age and experience taught him what he needed and what was practical. His bow was there, as well as the quiver full of freshly fletched arrows. Each broadhead as sharp as razors, and each done by his exacting hand.
He went to sleep that night with the same anticipation we all feel the night before the hunt. As his thoughts drifted into sleep, he knew no matter what the opener had in store for him it was a story still unwritten. He could have his dreams, but nature would tell that story.
The next morning the old bowhunter walked to his stand with a youthful stride he had not recalled in years. His climb into his perch effortless. Once settled he bowed his head and gave thanks for the day. This sunrise was particularly beautiful as it broke upon a crisp and clear morning. The smells of autumn were thick in the air, and filled him with each breath. A noise from his left and immediately he knew this sound to be that of a wary buck’s cautious approach.
That morning, the old bowhunters wife had found him in his bed. He had passed on to the next phase of life. She hoped as she cried that he was at peace, and in a place he wanted to be.
Bill Wright is a Manufacturing Engineer living in Northern IL with his Wife and two dogs. Passing his love for traditional archery to his wife and granddaughters has been very rewarding. Through archery, he has been blessed with the friendship of many very good friends. One old bowhunter in particular that has moved on to new hunting grounds is sorely missed.