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Author Topic: A KINSHIP - By Mickey Lotz  (Read 299 times)

Offline Terry_Green

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A KINSHIP - By Mickey Lotz
« on: April 10, 2003, 08:47:00 AM »
A KINSHIP
                                                  By Mickey Lotz

 

     Scraaaape, scraaaape. As each brilliant yellow curl fell to the floor, this piece of wood which was once part of a gnarly tree growing in an abandoned fence row, kept getting closer to becoming the object of my desire. An Osage selfbow crafted with my own hands, capable of driving my cedar arrows unerringly to the mark, be it foam or flesh. I placed a handmade Flemish twist string over the top limb and anchored it into the bottom nock. Pulling the bow close to my body with my left hand while pushing with my right, I slid the string into the upper nock forcing the bow into tension. Pulling the string ever further I examined the limbs for symmetry and to make sure each part of the limbs were doing their share of the work. Satisfied with what my eyes were telling me, I pulled it to full draw several times. It felt good. Just enough strain on my back muscles to let me know we were both working. When shooting a selfbow, you and your bow must become a team. You exert, it resists. You relax, it exerts. You must spend considerable time together to get to know each other’s likes and dislikes as well as your combined limitations. I measured the weight at 51# at my draw length of 28”. Although unfinished, I just had to try it out. Grabbing a cedar from my quiver, I faced the target bag some twenty feet away. Placing the arrow on the string, with its front portion laying on the top knuckle of my bow hand, I drew back until feeling a familiar anchor point. I held that position for an instant before relaxing my grip on the string. The limbs of the bow leapt forward propelling the wooden missile into the target with a loud thwap.  The pink welt forming on my inner forearm reminded me of why we usually wear thick leather armguards when shooting. The swelling would go away.

     Over the next couple of days I put the finishing touches on my new hunting partner. First I sanded the wood with progressively finer sandpaper until all tool marks had disappeared, and the wood felt glass smooth. Next, using a quill pen and India ink, I inscribed her belly with pertinent information such as length, weight, brace height and date of birth. I then adorned her with the name “Contrary” in honor of the gentleman who bestowed this particular piece of wood upon me. Although well known as an ornery cuss, in reality he has a heart of gold.  Six coats of satin polyurethane would protect her from the elements. A small leather arrow shelf and strike plate, and a leather grip hand laced with artificial sinew were added. A couple of strips of beaver fur wound into her string for silencers, a wad of dental floss for a nock point and a 4-arrow Great Northern strap-on quiver completed the bow.

     No ordinary arrows would do for such a beautiful bow so I stained some cedar arrow shafts bright yellow to match using Rit dye. Fletched with yellow nocks and turkey feathers and topped with shaving sharp Zwickey 2-bladed Eskimo broadheads for maximum penetration the ensemble was simply stunning.

     Months of practice followed. Countless arrows launched from various distances trained the eye and the hand to work in unison. The partnership was becoming a marriage. Maybe that is why we tend to address our bows in the feminine gender. As the leaves were changing from the lush greens of summer to the vibrant yellows and oranges of fall, as the winds shifted from the west to the north, as the days grew shorter and the whitetail’s hair changed from summer red to winter gray, “Contrary” and I prepared. Mid November would be our time. We watched together as the dynamics of the local deer herd changed. Strange bucks began entering our woods. Bucks with swollen necks, and urine stained tarsal glands searching out does ready to breed in a seemingly endless game of hide and seek. It was time to be on stand. I chose a stand in one particular cedar tree for several reasons. Well-worn deer trails passed closely by on both sides of the tree. Its thick branches would provide maximum concealment. In addition, the quartering wind would be an ally allowing the deer to pass by before catching any alarming man scent providing an opportunity for either a broadside or quartering away shot.

     As I climbed into the stand that evening, I had no idea what fate had scripted for us. I pulled “Contrary” up and snapped an arrow on the string. It’s a ritual we were used to. Leaning back into the tree I settled in to wait. Each gray squirrel scampering though the leaves commanded my attention. I caught sight of a red fox also out hunting. The squirrels saw him too and sought overlooks from which to keep an eye on him, all the while sounding an alarm for all to hear. An annoying bark- whine, which they carried on long after the fox was out of sight. I feel a kinship to other predators like the fox and the hawks. I understand their life and death struggle, one, which means killing or starving, and I am thankful that I don’t have to live under those circumstances. The next delicate footsteps in the leaves belonged to a pair of does filtering through the cedars. When they were within 20 to 25 yards of my tree they spooked. I was sure they hadn’t detected me and was confused as to what had spooked them. Then I heard the sound of something large, walking deliberately in the leaves. Glancing over my shoulder I saw the rack of a nine point buck that we had been seeing in the area.  That explained why the does spooked, they didn’t want to be bothered by the rut crazed buck. He was angling up the hill in an attempt to cut the does off. If he continued on his present course he would pass very close to my treestand. I had one shooting lane to the left, but in that one his body angle would be wrong. Another shooting lane directly in front of the stand would be much better and give me an 11 yard slightly quartering away shot, so I set up to shoot in that direction. As the buck entered the shooting lane I came to full draw, concentrated on a dark fold of skin above his elbow, and released. The bright yellow shaft entered tight and low behind the front shoulder exiting the hide low on the opposite side. As the buck bolted the fletch end of the cedar shaft caught on a sapling and snapped off, flipping in the air before coming to rest on the ground beside the bucks escape route. The flight was short, only 4 or 5 bounds before the buck stopped; unsure as to what had happened. He stood for a moment on wobbly legs before losing his balance and falling. It’s truly amazing how effective a sharp broadhead propelled by a simple stick and string can be.

     As I approached the deer I felt both jubilation and regret. I squatted by the buck stroking his hide and admiring his rack. I thanked our maker for allowing me to be successful. For allowing that my aim be true and for not letting the animal suffer. I pulled my belt knife and proceeded with the job that always follows a successful hunt, ensuring that the meat would be properly taken care of. Once again my family would be able to enjoy a fresh venison roast on our Christmas dinner table.

     Some would say that I didn’t need to kill this magnificent animal. They say that I don’t actually need his flesh for my table. I suppose that’s true. I can afford to buy a beef roast at the grocery. I took this animal with a bow that I made with my own hands, using an arrow that I had fletched, with a broadhead that I had sharpened by hand with a file. In doing so, I feel a special kinship with those before me whose very lives depended on a man being able to do just what I did.

     Someday we may lose the right to hunt by rule of popular vote. Laws dictated by those far removed from the life and death struggles of their ancestors, too far removed from the family farm. Those who believe that meat should come from a store wrapped in cellophane, or worse, that we shouldn’t be eating meat at all. Well intended but misdirected individuals banded together towards a common goal, who don’t seem to understand that for one thing to live, something else must die. Should this happen, it won’t be just hunting that we will lose. It will be our heritage and a part of our very souls that will have been lost.

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