STRAIGHT ARROW: Bowhunting the first day of the New Year

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Straight Arrow

By Gene Culver

After missing a doe on New Year’s Eve, I was a little frustrated with myself for rushing the shot, and I really wasn’t every excited about bowhunting the evening of Jan. 1, especially since the temperature was going to be colder than the previous two days.

A little after lunch, I called Eric to see if he wanted to go with me. He said he thought he would pass, so I called my nephew Drew, but he was in the middle of a remodeling project and couldn’t go. So with neither one of them going with me, I thought I would just stay in where it was warm, watch “Street Outlaws” and relax on the couch.

This worked fine for a couple of hours, but as time neared to get ready to go hunting if I was going, I finally made up my mind at 2:15 p.m. I rushed to get a shower with non-scented soap, got my gear ready and dressed for the cold. Bonnie thought I was crazy for going back out again (for the third evening in a row) with the temperature at 17 degrees and falling to 10 by the time I would be getting out of the stand. But she probably knew I would go before I did.

Just before I left, Eric called and said he had changed his mind and would go, but he wanted to hunt in Nelson County, while I was going to Hart County. We wished each other luck and I was on my way.

I forgot to take anything to drink. I had a half a bottle of water in the truck, but it was frozen. I laid it on the dash, and with the sun shining and the heater on defrost, by the time I got to the farm I had a drink of water.

It was sunny and 17 degrees when I left the truck and walked a half-mile to a stand. I settled in at 4:15 p.m., and at about 5 I had three deer come my way. Two passed by 40-50 yards away, but the third one came in to about 12 yards, and this time I did everything right and had more venison for the freezer. It was 11 degrees when I field-dressed the doe and got it to the truck.

Eric had seen one button buck that evening, but one part of our management goal is to not harvest any button bucks. So Eric just watched this young buck feed until dark, climbed down and slipped out to his truck. Maybe they will meet again in four or five years.

You may wonder why anyone would want to be in a treestand bowhunting in these weather conditions. First is the challenge of bowhunting. Second is the added challenge of bowhunting in late season, where the leaves are mostly off the trees, giving you less concealment. The colder temperatures mean wearing more clothes to stay warm, making it harder to shoot your bow. But regardless of whether you even see a deer, the sunsets in colder weather seem exceptionally clear and beautiful, and Monday evening as I drove home after the sunset, I watched as a huge full moon crept over the horizon, making every minute outdoors special.

And the good news is even if you have no desire to hunt, to experience some of what we do, bundle up and get outside for an hour or two just before sunset, go for a walk in the woods and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.


Local archer and outdoorsman Gene Culver operates the Bent Arrow Archery Shop (www.bentarrowarchery.com) with his wife, Bonnie. Contact them at 549-8119 with questions.