By Jeff Jacobs
June 22, 2012: I woke up in the recovery room after major surgery to overhaul a damaged shoulder, thinking about no golf and no bow hunting for an entire year. The pain of the shoulder, though agonizing, was nothing compared to the “quiet” life I was supposed to live.
Two weeks later I started intensely painful rehab. Questioning whether or not I’d ever be able to pull a bow again, I worked hard at physical therapy. By mid-September I still couldn’t pull my Black Widow. Out of sheer desperation I dug out one of my old zippers and found a set of 40 pound limbs. I struggled for the next two weeks, trying to pull it and release an arrow halfway accurately. Opening day came and went, and though I was able to pull, I still couldn’t shoot with any confidence. I was determined to get at least some freezer meat, so I practiced every day. Amazingly, it started coming together. After 50 years of bow hunting I never thought I’d be reduced to 40 pound limbs, not much of a confidence builder for trophy hunting.
Finally the third week of October I headed off to my favorite blind, hoping to kill a doe. I had seen some nice bucks on my buckeye cam but saw no real activity during shooting light. To be truthful, with the lack of confidence I felt, I almost hoped no deer would come by.
I didn’t see anything for the first half dozen times I was out.
Nov. 1st,2012: Just sitting there and enjoying the woods and all the critters running around, I caught a little bit of movement down in the draw to my left, about 150 yards away. I don’t do much calling but at that point I thought what the heck and dug around in my backpack. As I pulled out an old grunt tube, I noticed that the movement had stopped and seemed to have disappeared.
I‘m sure every hunter knows what it’s like to go into stealth mode when you know something’s there but you can’t see it. Nothing moves but your heart. You can almost feel your eyes burning holes down through the brush, searching.
Just as if I had choreographed it myself, up the hillside, through the thickest part of the woods, came a tremendous set of antlers. He hung up at 50 yards, frozen like a statue, staring dead in my direction. What a bruiser, I thought as I looked down at my 40 pound girly recurve bow. My homemade cedar arrow knocked, poised and ready to launch. Half hoping that he wouldn’t give me a shot. I would have given anything for my 60 pound Black Widow.
As he started to move forward and put his head down everything went on auto pilot. He closed the distance to 20 yards and turned broadside. I don’t remember raising my bow. I don’t remember drawing but I do remember the thud of the string and the snuffer-tipped cedar shaft sailing right at its mark. One giant leap and a fraction of a second later he had disappeared through the woods.
If there is an upside to shooting slower traditional equipment it’s that you usually see arrow placement pretty well. I waited about 15 minutes, climbed down and beat feet back to the house to call Shawn Bail, my hunting partner and longtime friend. I had to share the triumph with him. The tracking job was a short 75 yards. I felt like a savage, just wanting to eat raw meat. (Ok… maybe not raw)
My life has been truly blessed with the gifts God has given me. I thank him for healing my shoulder and I thank him for his creation. What a wonderful world he has made!