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Author Topic: The Resurrection of Ol' Buck - by George D. Stout  (Read 375 times)

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The Resurrection of Ol' Buck - by George D. Stout
« on: April 23, 2003, 05:28:00 AM »
The Resurrection of Ol' Buck

By George D. Stout

No matter how many years we are involved in a sport, like archery, there is always something new to be learned. In my particular instance it was developing an appreciation of the skills and tools of the archers and bow hunters of old. Oh, I always had the greatest respect for the likes of Howard Hill and Pope and Young. Theirs was a true sport; stick and string archery pure and simple. But, I never had that confidence in myself to take-up the longbow as my choice for a hunting weapon. I was pretty good with the recurve, shooting instinctively, but the longbow seemed to me a much more difficult bow to shoot. It wasn't until the late 1980's that I decided to seriously give it a try .

My first longbow was a seventy-inch, sixty pound maple and bamboo model. It was pleasant enough to shoot and I managed to hit where I was looking with it most of the time. I thought it a bit long, though, and eventually traded or sold it and acquired a bow that was four inches shorter. I switched back and forth for the next two years but mostly took the recurve when I went hunting just because I felt more confident with it.

I had purchased some traditional bows from an acquaintance in 1989. Among these were two old straight bows. One was a hickory bow of about twenty-five or thirty pounds draw that I gave to a friend for his son. The other was a lemonwood bow of fifty-five pounds that I nearly gave away several times but, due to its weight, the young folks couldn't shoot it. It was to sit in the corner of my shop for almost two years and, when we moved to another house it went with us. It was in the summer of 1992 that I once again took notice to the old straight bow in the corner.

One afternoon I happened to pick up the old lemonwood and, for one reason or another, grabbed some cedar arrows and headed for the back yard. I didnt know what to expect since I had never shot a selfbow so it was more of a curiosity than anything else. The bow was sixty-six inches long and fifty-two pounds at my draw length. It was manufactured by Woodcraft Equipment Co. around fifty years ago and, being made of lemonwood, it had significant string-follow.

My target was a tire swing that was hung from a big walnut tree at the end of my yard. I marched out to the back yard with my primitive equipment and cautiously drew the bow five or six times to make sure it would hold together . After deciding it wouldn't break, I readied to make a few shots at the old tire. The first arrow flew low, probably because I was unsure of myself with the bow. However, the second arrow hit the tire with a thud and bounced back about ten yards. I was amazed to say the least.

The arrows seemed to fly very well, even though spined heavy, so I decided to try again. This time I went down the yard and pushed the tire so it would swing back and forth, creating a moving target. Once again my first arrow was low, but the next batch bounced off the tire with uncanny regularity .By the time I was through I was sold on the old selfbow. I withdrew to the house and scrounged up several dozen shafts that were in the fifty to fifty-five pound range and, that evening, fletched them with five inch, hand-cut fletching.

I used 160-grain field points because I wanted to make use of the old Howard Hill broadheads I had in my archery cupboard. It seemed to me the perfect broadhead for the old bow. I am a person influenced heavily by aesthetics and that is the main reason I wanted to use the Hill broadheads they just looked better with the old lemonwood.

I took my new arrows and the old bow and headed for my stump-shooting range. It was the best place that I knew of to test the bow. I walked into the woods about eighty yards before taking a shot at the first target. It was an old locust tree with many woodpecker holes lining it's north side. I drew the arrow, concentrated and released. The arrow traveled the twenty-five or so yards quickly and smacked the tree just under the intended target. Again I had shot low and decided I was not following through on that first shot. The second arrow proved that to be true when it struck the cavity dead center.

I spent about two hours shooting stumps that day and, by the time I was through, decided I wanted to try hunting with the old bow. It was the first of August and I figured I had time to get fully accustomed to the lemonwood prior to the October hunting season. By the third week of September I was confident enough to take the bow to the Pa. Bow hunters Festival at Forksville, Pa. It would be a good test to see how it performed on the myriad of moving and stationary targets they provided for the weekend shoot. I was again surprised to see that I could shoot as well, or better, with the lemonwood as I could any of my other bows. I was hitting turkey-size targets at forty-plus yards with regularity. By the time the weekend was over there was no question that I would hunt with this bow when archery season rolled around.

I named the bow "Ol' Buck", after my father-in-law, Buck Waugerman. It reminded me of him; kind of grizzled and tough from many seasons in the field. I then fashioned some hunting arrows from the same ones I had used all summer, tipping them with the Howard Hill heads. They looked deadly and flew perfectly. I shot them for about a week at clumps of sod and rotten stumps. The day before hunting season opened I took two shots at a fence post that was a good forty yards distant. The first arrow glanced off the top and landed in the dirt beyond. The second buried itself solidly in the post and had to be dug out with a hand axe. I was ready!

The first day of season dawned clear and cold with the promise of a summer-like day in the offing. I was on stand by six-thirty in the morning. It was positioned in a patch of scrub oaks by a large hickory tree. There was a good bunch of hickory and dead locust behind me to help aid in my concealment and the trail I was watching was below me and to my left. If the deer came from the field, which I expected them to do, they would offer a going away, quartering shot. I had basically given up on tree stands two years earlier in an attempt to increase the challenge of true bow hunting. I still had one left that I used from time to time but was slowly weaning myself from them. At any rate, this morning I was on the ground, next to the old hickory tree watching for a buck.

The first hour and a half was fairly uneventful, with the only activity provided by the gray squirrels. They were involved in the gathering of acorns and wild grapes to supplement their winter larder. About eight A.M., however, things started to develop. The first indication was a squirrel barking from an oak plot about two hundred yards west of my stand. That was not where I was expecting deer to come from, as it was a known bedding area. However, as we should be aware, nature does not do anything that can be classified as a sure thing so I set my attention on that area. The old gray was very upset so I knew there was either deer, fox or man messing around over there. After a few minutes I could make out the presence of four or five deer and they were feeding in my direction.

As they worked their way closer to me I could see that they were all bucks, five in number. The one in the lead was the largest of the lot and was about thirty of forty yards in front of the others. I could see them at quite a distance and, as it turned out, this was a good thing as it gave me time to get settled down from the initial sight of them. As I said, they were feeding in my direction and soon the lead buck was getting very close to my hiding place.

He was in no discernable hurry, but was instead mincing his way among the White Oak trees that lined the ridge I was hunting. Several minutes had passed until he stepped into the logging road that was just fifteen or so yards from me. He was not in a position for a shot; as a matter of fact, he was facing directly toward me and I thought for sure the game would be over very soon. He almost had to sense my presence at that distance. The wind was kind that morning and I am sure that was a big asset to me as it kept my scent moving behind and away from both me and the deer. I could only wait and allow the buck to make the next move.

He made about five or six steps and stopped once again to pick up some acorns. This time, however, when he stopped his head and neck were behind a Red Oak tree and he was just eight steps from me. I quickly leaned back from the tree and pulled the lemonwood's string to my cheek and stared at his chest cavity. When I released I saw the red fletching sticking from the exact spot I was staring into. It was about two inches above his heart and directly through the lungs. By his reaction I could tell he did not realize he was even hit. The arrow had broken on both sides of him and fell to the ground as he made his initial jump. He simply trotted off with the other bucks.

I was beside myself with excitement. This was undoubtedly the greatest moment of my bow hunting life. I knew I had made a great shot so I just sat there and thought about what had transpired. I was quickly brought back to reality though when I heard a deer snort several times from the direction my buck had taken down the hollow. I decided to go ahead and follow up on the shot, as I was sure it was deadly.

There are always some thoughts of apprehension in these situations. Even though you saw the arrow strike and know in your heart it was very deadly, the misgivings are still there until the game is recovered. I took the trail of the stricken buck with these thoughts in mind. The blood was not plentiful at first, but after about thirty yards it became more prevalent. The color of the blood affirmed the shot was indeed a good one and I only need to keep-the-trail. I followed for about sixty yards further and looking to my left, and down the hill, I saw my prize. I ran down to him and knelt beside his fallen body. I closed my eyes and thanked God, as I always do, for allowing me to take this wonderful creature. Then I looked at the old bow and let out a yell that I am sure was heard for at least half a mile. I moved the buck about ten yards to get the sun behind us and took several pictures. Then I set to the task of field dressing and the long trek back to the Bronco.

I've many times since wondered about the bow and what its background was. Was it someones hunting bow? How many deer fell to its speeding arrows and who did it belong to? If it could only talk oh, the stories I bet it would tell. Whatever its history, its future is clear; it will be my hunting bow. It will grace my bow-room wall with its beauty, and it will share many of my autumn hunts; what more could a person ask?


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