The emptiness of my freezer notwithstanding, 2013 was good to me. A year of firsts in the truest sense of the word. I enjoyed my first turkey season, missed my first turkey and then missed him again, hunted out of state, and even had a run in with a Georgia black bear. All with a longbow and without a tree to stand in.
“That’s great Nick, but what about deer? Don’t you deer hunt?
I plead the 5th.
The ’13 whitetail deer season was pretty awful deer wise and this is coming from a guy that never says “awful” and “hunting” in the same sentence. Similar sentiments have been tickling my ears since opening week so I know I’m not the only one. Some claim we’re recovering from 2012’s EHD epidemic. Others blamed it on the weather. I even heard a hypothesis regarding the phases of the moon and a “Trickle Rut”.
Whether Science or Voodoo, deerhunting in 2013 really wasn’t about deer at all. I saw four deer, all in late-October and didn’t have an opportunity at any of them save for one incident with a spike-horn that occurred only because I drank too much coffee, ate too much granola, and had to exit the woods promptly to avoid an uncomfortable accident (see Woods, Wool, and Wings). The year was full of this kind of luck. I stumbled into every opportunity I had and none of them panned out.
The Lord giveth; the Lord taketh away.
Thankfully, I was able to fill my journal with the mistakes I made afield and the friends I made in the process.
My Georgia hunt was also fairly quiet, but only in the woods. The experience of hunting out-of-state and sharing a few laughs with close friends was unforgettable. The sight of a black bear from a ground blind, as exciting as it was, was icing on the cake. I learned a great deal and made plans to return again this year to try my hand at hog hunting.
Hunting aside, 2013 was a year of involvement, beginning with my election to the Michigan Longbow Association (MLA) council. While the hunting was lame, the MLA was anything but. I forged new, long-lasting friendships with a community of exceptional human beings and was granted an opportunity to serve our Michigan stickbow hunting community. My fellow councilmen were tremendous ambassadors from the very first meeting. They encouraged me to take my daughter Aubrey camping for the first time at the Spring Shoot (see “Throwing in My Hat“) and my entire family at the Great Lakes Longbow Invitational (GLLI) in August.
I decided to spread the wealth by reaching out to others and encouraging them to join. My buddy John Buchin was my primary prospect. He’d already built a bow and begun shooting, but had not yet experienced a traditional gathering. After attending the Kalamazoo Expo and our GLLI event, he was spellbound. It was exiting to see someone so excited to shoot a bow and be the one responsible for it. Likewise, John was the guy who introduced me to turkey hunting and I’m sure he felt the same.
Overall, 2013 was a great year, but 2014 is fixing to be a whole lot better. I don’t have any resolutions to speak of, but there are things I’m hoping to do. I’ve included them below.
- Seek further opportunities to share traditional bowhunting with other audiences. (I’ve got a head start on this one thanks to Carrie Zylka.)
- Introduce three people to the longbow.
- Harvest my first hog (I’ll get my chance in Georgia on January 23).
- Harvest my first turkey.
- Hunt with one of my self bows.
- Put a deer in my freezer.
I may not accomplish them all, but having too many goals is never a bad thing. Completing one or two will make me a happy man. Feel free to comment with a few of your own!