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I know a guy who likes to bowhunt. I can tell because spanning the entire width of the rear window glass of his humungous Ford F350 there’s a decal that says “Bowhunter,” above an image of a similarly humungous arrow, complete with deadly looking broadhead (the pointy part that kills things), fletchings (which were the feathers on the backs of arrows in days of old but are now parabolic-shaped plastics designed to guide the missile to its target) and a nock (the de facto firing pin of an arrow, i.e. a notch that engages the bowstring for launching).

As you can likely surmise I myself am not a bowhunter, and in fact prefer to stay nice and cozy inside warm, insulated structures, preferably with some form of bar or cocktail lounge available. That being said, I do enjoy hunting birds with modern firearms, meaning shotguns, which requires lots of effort but overall not nearly the effort and patience it takes to bowhunt.

Or hunt wild boar. My Texan cousins took my brother-in-law wild boar hunting once. It involved driving to the middle of about 1,000 acres of mixed farm/scrub land with two gigantic Dobermans complete with spiked collars. At night. Then the four of them + two dogs started walking through the midnight fields until the Dobermans/Cerberuses caught wind of a wild board, which led them on a two-hour chase featuring several fence hopping’s (and therefor trespassing’s) until they cornered the angry, crop ruining bacon depository in some kind of gully and the dogs grabbed a hold of it. At which point my cousins handed my brother-in-law a large Crocodile Dundee-styled knife, which he asked what to do with, as anyone working in the professional services industry is wont to do when handed a gigantic blade in the humid dark of south-central Texas. The answer was to bury it in the boar’s neck. Which he did. I still think he goes to therapy over the whole thing, much to my cousins’ delight.

I’ve never been to Texas.

Anyway, the bowhunting thing is essentially the same process minus the mythological dog references and knife-wielding mayhem. You basically head up to the mountains (at least in Washington State), dress head-to-toe in camouflage, dump a bunch human-scent-blocking-juice all over your gear and flesh (those deer and elk have good sniffers), climb a tree, stand precariously on said tree hopefully with the aid of a tree stand (platform), and wait for the beast to walk under your tree so you can bury and arrow in its neck or heart or lung.

My understanding is most effective shots happen at 20 yards or less, although I’ve only ever heard one bowhunter admit that – most spin yarns about 60-yard shots between trees in the face of howling maelstroms.

Of course once the animal is deceased, you have to field dress (gut) it and pack it out to God knows where you parked. The United States Forest Service (USFS) should install more readily available parking in our National Forests, like right at the top of various mountains. They could make a killing off the hourly fees, although I imagine it would be hard for the attendants to hop from mountain to mountain to chalk people’s tires and give out exorbitantly large fines for exceeding hourly limits. Anyway, it would make the pack out easier for hunters – have you seen how big an elk is?

Once you’ve brought the animal back to your vehicle, which is likely located at least partially near a fairly well traveled state or federal road system, you have to load it up while hoping no activist-minded city folk drive by and tell you what a horrible person you are. In a way I understand their shock – I recently drove back from a bird hunting trip and saw two guys struggled to lift a slightly bloodied blacktail deer into the back of their pickup truck. The legs kind of flopped around in a disturbing manner, so I can see how it can appear undignified or disrespectful – but then again most modern civilians probably don’t really understand what harvesting animals is like on a farm or anywhere else.

(In about 1986 I took my Washington State Hunter’s Safety course. They were big on educating hunters to respect both the animal, the land, property owners and certainly the public, the latter of which was encouraged by discouraging the old habits of hunters tying deceased deer to the roof, trunk or even hood of their vehicle for the voyage home…or stringing game birds across the bumper.)

Once you’re back in your vehicle, it’s important to remember to take off all your weird gear – you don’t want to stop for gas or a snack dressed like a Qnon supporter or other form of military anarchist. It’s just not good for the public’s mental health or really our democracy.

Ultimately at this point you have to decide if you’re going to butcher the deer or elk yourself or take it to a professional. My buddy Joe lives on a farm and does all his own butchering, which makes sense (he makes really good jalapeno venison sticks). Speaking of which, your murderous spree generates all kinds of delectable treats – venison or elk steaks, jerky, sausage, ground beef…well it’s not beef but you get the idea…and probably other stuff I don’t know about that’s really quite delicious.

All in all you can see where my preference for shooting a pheasant, putting it in the special dead bird compartment of my hunting vest, cleaning it, then retiring to a motel preferably located close to a Mexican restaurant comes from. What can I say, I like ease of use and Margaritas. And pheasant, which tastes like exotic chicken. This bowhunting business (or really just hunting fairly gigantic four-legged animals with anything) is way above my paygrade.

My son recently asked for and received a recurve bow. This is a bow with limbs that curve away from the archer when unstrung – the resulting tension once strung stores more energy and delivers energy more efficiently than a straight-limbed bow. So far I’ve (a.) assembled it incorrectly several times and (b.) spent an inordinate amount of time figuring out how to actually get the bowstring on, almost injuring myself in the process. At least it’s not a compound bow (uses a levering system consisting of cables and pulleys – very powerful, weapon of choice for bowhunters), that would take me a year to figure out. But it does seem like he’s very interested in bowhunting given he keeps talking about broadheads and dead deer despite my attempts to change the subject. And he really does love going to this walk-through range that has animal bag targets in a natural hunting setting.

Frankly, I’m just glad to get him outside.

Sounds like I’ll need to get in better shape. And call the USFS to tell them about my parking idea.

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