By Bruce Ingram
I’ll never forget the first time I killed a deer with a bow. It was opening day of Virginia’s archery season in 1994 and my fourth season of going afield with the proverbial stick and string. A young doe walked by my Botetourt County tree stand, and I pulled back my compound and released an arrow. The intensity of feeling as I followed the blood trail and the sense of wonder and joy as I stood over the whitetail are memories I still cherish.
The first person I called to share my jubilation was legendary Virginia archer and Trebark inventor Jim Crumley, who then and now is my bowhunting mentor.
“The best part of bowhunting is being out in the October woods and witnessing the songbirds and hawks migrating, the cooler temperatures and the bluer skies, and the subtle changes in the forest as the leaves turn,” says Jim. “Yes, bowhunting will lengthen your hunting seasons and give you more chances to kill a deer.
“But bowhunting is most definitely not about killing more deer. To be successful, you’re basically trying to learn how to position a tree stand so you can have a 20-yard shot – and you’ll have a steep learning curve to go through to gain that skill. A major appeal of bowhunting is learning about what foods deer eat, where they bed, and where they travel. A major appeal to me and many others is just sitting in a stand, alone with my thoughts, and watching the sun set.”
Crumley adds that a number of outdoor organizations can help folks new to hunting as a whole or new to archery accelerate that learning curve. He urges interested individuals to contact local archery clubs as well as local chapters of such organizations as the Izaak Walton League, National Wild Turkey Federation, Quality Deer Management Association, and the Virginia Deer Hunters Association. All of these organizations welcome new members and have volunteers who would be glad to serve as mentors for novice adults and youngsters.
I was fortunate to have someone like Jim Crumely guide me during my novice days as an archer. There’s someone out there that would be glad to do the same for you.