Editor’s Note: ‘Along the Trail’ is a weekly column written by David Hewitt of Switzerland County; and covers all things dealing with the outdoors, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.
“If you don’t like the weather around here, give it ten minutes and it will change”…That pretty well sums up summer so far in southeast Indiana. Cool, rainy and overcast and in the matter of a day or two, steamy, hot and humid. High’s in the mid 90’s, sweltering. Nothing like late July in the Ohio River Valley…ugh!
Last Saturday was one of those sweaty summer days. 8 o’clock in the morning and already the thermometer in my car read 80 degrees. “Gonna be a nasty one” I thought to myself as I drove to the Scott County Conservation Club to meet up with friends for our monthly 3D archery shoot.
It had been a few weeks since I’ve talked with my friends and to be honest, I’d missed their company. Normally, I’m not a gregarious kind of person and I’m fine being alone, but there is something about the camaraderie that goes along with shooting bows with my buddies that makes me feel good. Our common interest in traditional archery was the spark to our friendships, but over the years, our small group of shooters has grown into a close knit bunch.
We make our way onto the archery course and step into the damp, steamy woods. It feels more tropical than Midwest as the mosquitoes buzz our ears and bite at flesh. “Thump” an arrow strikes the foam target down range and another and another. The non-stop storms have the trails to the targets washed out and turned into a soupy mud. Part of the gang slops their way to the target to pull the arrows and call out the scores. “8, 10, 5 and miss” are yelled back to our designated scorer who just so happens to be a high school teacher and probably the most trust worthy, honest fellow of our troop.
Slogging on to the next target, focus, draw, release, the arrow speeds to its mark hopefully to find the ten ring, but in my case, I’m just happy to hear it strike home. Everyone takes their turn and of course, the ribbing, teasing and jabbing are constant. I can’t count the number of times the arrow is drawn and anchor reached only to have to let the bow down and release tension, bursting with laughter at some inappropriate comment that was made by the cut up of our group, Jerry…Every group has to have a Jerry!
Two hours later, the course backed up with shooters in front of our group. We finally shoot at the last target for the day. A foam whitetail deer, angled away about 22 yards. My shooting has been less than stellar for the day, but I concentrate on the spot behind the fake deer’s shoulder, slowly draw my recurve back, feel the leather from my shooting glove touch the corner of my mouth. I subconsciously exhale as the bowstring slips from my fingers and the arrow hits its mark, ten ring. I follow up with a solid second shot, an 8! “Boiler room”, I think to myself while we walk to the target to retrieve the arrows. I check out my shots and nod my approval. I’m never one that’s competitive, but I’m happy with these last two arrows. Had the foam buck been a real one, he’d have been on the ground in short order and isn’t that the main reason I do this?
We emerge from the Scott County woods, soaked in sweat, boots muddy and bug bitten and thirsty, but my pals and I are smiling and laughing, 3 or 4 conversations going on at once, talking about everything and nothing. Score cards are tallied and turned into the clubhouse and my buddies and I say our “goodbyes” and “see ya laters”. On the drive back home, I replay the morning in my head and the good times I’ve had with these guys and realize, that is the main reason I do this…