Most people, a lot of hunters included, think Whitetailus giganticus, the monstrous whitetailed buck, is extinct. Not so. Proof his existence was there across the creek, fifty yards away. He was about three pounds lighter than a Clydesdale and packing antlers that would put most elk to shame. And he was coming my way.
After crossing the creek and topping the bank in front of me, he stopped behind a big ash tree, raised his head, licked his nose and sniffed a couple of times. After another sniff he peeked under a large branch jutting out from the tree and stared at the strange apparition in front of a big cottonwood tree, me sitting on my folding stool with an earth-toned afghan across my lap (I like to be comfortable when I hunt), decided it was harmless and stepped out from behind the tree. A pheasant’s cackle far to the south attracted his attention. The instant his head turned the bow was up and the arrow was gone. I watched its flight and was astounded when the perfectly released arrow clipped a few hairs as it cleared the deer’s back.
It was a chip shot, venison on the meat pole, or so I had thought. I had mentally begun checking off the ingredients needed for a Hungarian recipe with fresh venison liver. I had just checked off red kidney beans and celery when nephew Gene’s voice interrupted my thinking.
“How did you miss that shot? You could have stabbed him with a knife!”
Gene had made a slight exaggeration, the distance as ranged later was fourteen yards, hardly stabbing close. Still, I was perplexed as to what had happened. I never miss!
It wasn’t until three days later and after hours spent perusing little known writings related to archery that I found the work of Benther Dunthat and, through those writings, enlightenment.
Benther, like most traditionalists, was an interesting fellow. He was a combination archer, astronomer, and physicist. Also, like most traditionalists, his mastery of his chosen weapons was stellar. When Ben, as his friends called him, stepped to the line, women in the audience fanned their heated faces and tried to still the palpations of their hearts while men in the spectator gallery slumped in dejection, knowing that they were about to witness perfection personified. They were seldom disappointed, but when they were, the fault did not lie with Ben.
It’s true that on occasion his arrows did behave like truant children. They seemed to have minds of their own, refused to follow instructions and struck willy nilly all over the face of the target. When this happened the uncouth and uneducated in the audience hooted, hissed, booed, clapped their hands and made fools of themselves because of their ignorance. Little did they know that Ben knew exactly what was happening and why it was happening, but that he was powerless to change anything.
According to Ben, and I have no inclination to disbelieve a fellow traditionalist, his enlightenment came via an article he had read in an Arabic newspaper. According to the story, on the very same day and at the very same time that he had launched an arrow that failed to connect with its intended target, a perceived miss but actually an errant arrow, a camel trader while searching for a camel he had lost in the desert, dislodged a fist-sized rock and sent it bouncing into a deep gorge. The bouncing rock nearly killed the camel trader’s brother-in-law who had actually stolen the camel and had hidden it in the gorge.
As with most sensationalist rags, the newspaper had viewed the relationship between the camel owner, Atkamal Izmine, and the brother-in-law, Noah Tzmine, as the story. Little did they know that the real story, and by far the most important story, had to do with the rock. The the rock’s action after being dislodged was what affected the flight of Ben’s arrow.
Ben spent months of figuring, refiguring and figuring again to understand what had happened in that rocky gorge to influence the flight of his arrow. His persistence paid off. What he discovered is well on the way to changing the lives of archers around world. There is even some talk of having his shanty in the bluffs above the Missouri River in Nebraska put on the National Register of Historic Sites.
How, you are probably asking, did a bouncing rock half a world away have anything to do with with Ben’s arrow going astray? The answer is really quite a simple once the facts are examined; the rock, though it had mass, had no weight while it was airborne. This sudden diminishment in the weight of the Earth lessened its gravitational pull to the same degree. The result of this action on the arrow was that because of decreased gravitational influence, the arrow was lightened and flew high.
The reverse of this action is also seen at times, an errant arrow striking beneath its intended target.
What happens in this instance, is that when the string is dropped and the arrow begins its flight something, perhaps a duck or a goose, leaves the air and settles to earth at the same time the arrow is released. This, of course, results in an increase in the earth’s mass and its gravitational influence, hence the errant arrow strikes low. How low the arrow strikes is directly proportional to the weight of the item or thing touching down. A humming bird alighting on a flower, for instance, has little affect on an arrow’s flight. A 747 landing is something entirely different, however, and can result in caustic remarks concerning your archery prowess if you happen to be in the company of an uninformed hunting companion at the time.
Nephew Gene, being uninformed, was skeptical until I explained what had happened. When he was in complete understanding, he admitted that he was sure that he had had similar experiences at times. I was quick to point out that though that could be true, his miss, not really a miss but rather an errant arrow, could also have been the result of one of two other things according to Benther; a Terrance shot or a canonizing shot.
The Terrance shot is similar to the gravitational anomaly with the exception that the errant arrow strikes to the left or right of its intended point of impact. The recalcitrant arrow is the result of aberrations in the orbit of a little known asteroid, Terrance, in the outer fringes of the galaxy. Terrance and its affect on archery were also discovered by Benther.
Ben was having trouble with errant arrows striking to the left or right of the intended point of impact. He, like most traditional archers, knew that his form and release were perfect and that some force from somewhere was affecting the flight of his arrows. He long suspected that some unknown celestial event was responsible but couldn’t prove it. That changed on a frigid February night, which will loom large in Ben’s mind until the day he goes hoofy side up.
The specific day was February 14, Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately it was also the day, on which five years previously, he had pledged to be forever faithful and to love, honor and cherish his lovely bride Diana until “… death us do part….,” and he was near death that night. Had Diana not been like her namesake, the Roman Goddess of the Hunt, a huntress, Ben might have been referred to as late and great in light of the fact that Diana took anniversaries and dinner dates very seriously, but fortunately for Ben, she too had been having trouble with errant arrows on the horizontal. Rather than being thumped soundly about the head and shoulders for his tardiness, he was enfolded in loving arms and all was forgiven when he rushed in and told her what he had discovered.
After months of nights spent peering at night skies through his telescope and using reams of paper in working on theories, theorems, formulas and equations, Ben had spotted Terrance slipping through and behind nebulae, much like a wise old mule deer buck sneaking through the sagebrush. Even though he had long suspected some such thing, Ben still couldn’t believe his eyes when he actually saw Terrance and how it behaved. He leaned back, rubbed his eyes and wore out three pencils cubing the square root of 13,313 (the number of errant arrow flights he had had) multiplying that by y to the eighth power (the number of times he had thrown his bow down and stomped it after an errant arrow flight), dividing that sum by the square root of .0003 (his success percentage) and came up with MAD (Missed Again, Doggone). He looked through his telescope again and was lucky enough to confirm his suspicions and calculations by seeing Terrance disappearing behind the nebula Whrize.
Terrance is, perhaps, singular in the whole universe in that its orbit is totally unpredictable, much like the trail of an archer stalking the afore mentioned wise old mule deer; forward, side to side, circles, curlicues and occasionally back over the route originally traveled.
The study was, as Ben said after more weeks invested in watching and figuring, wadding and kicking reams of paper and chewing a truckload of pencils to nubs, “Frustrating. Totally frustrating! Nothing about Terrance makes any sense. I know it’s responsible for errant arrows on the horizontal. I know it! But there is nothing I can do about it, nothing but continue to have errant arrows because of Terrance and its stupid inconstancies!”
The Canonizing Shot is something entirely different. It occurs most often with birds, particularly with quail and doves, though I have made a couple of canonizing shots on caribou. This shot is a rare instance of a true miracle, hence the name Canonizing Shot. There is no other explanation.
What happens is this: a gunner or archer, who, when hunting alone, has never failed to bring home meat for each shot fired or arrow released sometimes has trouble when hunting with others. This is because he has been visited by the Canonizing Shot. A bird or animal, which has clearly had its heart shot out, flies or runs off as though completely unscathed. A miracle has happened, there is no other explanation.
This information, however, as important as it is, has never, to my knowledge, been mentioned in hunter education courses or in articles in outdoor magazines. Unfortunately, and I say this with much regret, I have to include TB in this group. How archers with the ability and experience of such as T.J. Conrads, E. Donnnall Thomas Jr. and G. Fred Asbell cannot be aware of the real reason for errant arrows is beyond me.
Come on guys, check the little known works of Benther Dunthat. You will find them enlightening. You owe it to the world of archery.