Along The Trail 1-29-15

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Editor’s Note: This is a column written by Switzerland County’s David Hewitt. The articles center on all things ‘outdoors’, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.

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Deep down, every bowhunter is a loner.

The very nature of the hunting lends itself to solitude. The hunter pitting his or her skills and woodsmanship against the natural defenses of his prey. There is something special, almost refreshing about spending time alone in the woods with a bow in your hand. No work, no schedules, no bills – just slowing down, unwinding the clock and letting yourself become part of the natural world.

I can almost feel myself being transported to the woods as I type these words.

But once the season is over, there comes a time when bowhunters want to share. To talk about past hunts; their successes and failures; the unbelievable shots; the ones that got away; and of course the ones that didn’t.

The mid-winter sports and outdoor shows are in full swing this time of year. Crowded elbow to elbow, a sea of camouflaged folks shuffling up and down the aisles, checking out all the vendors and booths selling their goods and destinations.

All the latest gear and must-haves for next autumn that “guarantee” you success from your treestand.

I’ll admit, I get sucked into some of those outdoor shows as well. A trip to Indy, Cincinnati or Louisville always helps with cabin fever, but I seem to come away from those events missing something. Sure, there are lots of people there, I normally run into a few fellas that I know or at least recognize. I’ll hop from booth to booth checking out the new gear, this and that, but it still leaves me feeling empty.

There’s no real connection for me between the commercial side of “hunting” and outdoors and the actual relationships built between hunters and friends.

So how do I get my fix for camaraderie and bowhunting?

Well, for me, there’s nothing better than 3D archery competitions. For the folks that aren’t familiar with the concept, in a nutshell, a 3D shoot consists of a group of foam, animal shaped targets scattered throughout a predesignated course and archers shoot at varying distances for score.

But for a few of us, it’s much more than a competition.

Anyone who has every watched me loose an arrow down range knows that I’m never going to be a competitive archer and most the time, I’m grateful when I hear my arrows sinking into the foam. But more than the bend of the bow and the practice it provides, 3D shoots give me a chance to catch up with my pals that I haven’t seen for months.

Several years ago, I fell in with a group of mostly grumpy, crotchety old goats that host 3D shoots through the Indiana Traditional Bowhunters Association located in Scottsburg. We gather once or twice a month to fling arrows, chat about bowhunting, admire the good shots and laugh at the misses.

There are a handful of guys who are dead eye – Robin Hoods – but most of us are middle of the road traditional bowhunters that are all here for the same thing: fellowship, fun and friendship, oh – and food!

For me, bowhunting isn’t just about taking an animal or pursuing my pastime the fall. It’s a year ’round passion and gathering with some like minded traditional archers is just the ticket to fill my tank until the next season rolls around. For all of the bowhunting readers out there of ‘Along the Trail’, if you haven’t given 3D shoots a try, blow the dust off your bow and arrows and get after it!

– David Hewitt