posted on January 11, 2010 10:30
2009 has been a very “interesting” year for all crossbow manufacturers. “Interesting” in the Chinese sense, as in “may you live in interesting times” that is. Sure, it’s great to see the new opportunities opening and welcome all those new potential crossbow hunters into the fold, and yes, it’s great to see our sales figures soar in these uncertain economic times. That said, it’s been a madhouse here at Excalibur with new building expansion, new machinery, and lots of new crossbows to build, ship, and service. Personally, I was more than ready for the sales season to trail off and I have really welcomed the peace and relaxation that deer hunting near my home has brought to me recently.
Over the decades my attitude regarding hunting whitetails has wandered from one extreme to another. When I first started crossbow hunting for deer back in the 70s it was all about the challenge of harvesting any deer. Big, small or in between, they were all the impossible dream. Heck, I counted it as a great week’s hunting if I even saw one, and it took me 4 or 5 years of hard work and experimentation to kill my first deer. Every outing was about the possibility of shooting a deer, any deer; every minute was packed with anticipation that something brown with cloven hooves would happen my way. Happy times!
Once I learned how to hunt and the deer population started to rise I became proficient at regularly harvesting a whitetail. It was about then, probably in the early 80s, that I started to challenge myself to shoot only bucks, and as time went by I started stacking the odds against myself by setting the bar higher and higher regarding antler size. Soon I was turning down plenty of does and some pretty nice bucks in the hope that a bigger one would come by. An exercise in ego? Perhaps, but it kept me learning and lengthened my time afield, plus it put some dandy antlers on my wall!
I suppose that I’ve now come full circle. Why? The addition of multiple extra tags to control the deer population, an influx of interest in deer hunting making good bucks a rare commodity, and let’s be honest, the inroads of father time into how keen I am to kill a bragger. I just don’t have the patience to hang in there any more, these days those deer all look good to me. Before, when a button buck walked out I treated it like an inconvenience and wished it away in case it caught me and blew my setup. Today, that same deer looks pretty good, and if it’s mummy doesn’t join it quickly and my freezer isn’t full I just might invite it home for supper!
Now before you start the “Oh how the mighty have fallen” stuff, hear me out! I don’t have a lot to prove any more about antlers; I’ve been there and done that. I happen to like venison, and those yearling does and button bucks, although small on quantity, are very high on quality. Smaller deer are also a heck of a lot easier to drag out for us over 50, and oh ya, did I mention that I just love shooting deer!
So what’s the up side of this epiphany in deer minor? Simply that every outing is an experience in anticipation. I no longer sit for hours hoping for something barely within reach looking at smaller deer as below my lofty standards. Every second when you aren’t locked into trophy hunting is fraught with the possibility of action! Certainly this is a lot more like hunting is supposed to be, rather than an exercise in keeping up with the Jones’s, and I’m not ashamed to say that I really, really enjoy it!
Do I still have dreams of trophy bucks? Of course I do, and I’ll jump through whatever flaming hoops are required to take one when the possibility is there, but the fun of once again playing the “brown is down” game has changed hunting for me and it’s something that I never want to lose again.