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.
Seasons come, seasons go…
It’s in the air again. Just a hint of coolness to the mornings. The wild cherry trees are beginning to shed their leaves. The sycamores, cottonwoods and poplars are starting to fade and curl. The corn stalks are making their change from green to yellow.
I sit on the front porch, the dew lays heavy on the grass. The morning temperature hovers in the mid 50’s, cool for mid-August, but I know the day will warm quickly. The days are growing shorter minute by minute and autumn is on my mind and with it, hunting season.
I run the file along the edge of the arrow’s broadhead, ten strokes right, ten left. A fine metal burr raises along the business end of the point. A pass from the file hones it smooth and to a sheen. I pass the edge broadhead across my forearm and pop the hairs from my arm like a razor. “Sharp enough”, I think to myself and a grin of satisfaction comes to my face. One arrow down, 5 more to sharpen.
Over the next hour or so, I sit on the porch swing, sip at my glass of tea and keen up my hunting arrows. The hardened steel of the hunting points is tough, but after the file work, the edges are shining sharp and deadly. If all goes as planned, I hope to send one of these through the boiler room of a bull elk and then later this fall into the ribcage of a fat whitetail. My mind wonders during the routine, “How many times have I done this?”, “How many years have I been hunting?””How many hunts do I have left?,” the questions go through my head.
I think of all the deer I’ve been privileged to take with my simple bows and arrows. Big ones, small ones and a lot somewhere in between. I remind myself of how I found my way onto this path of traditional bowhunting and of all the good people I’ve met along the trail. So many memories, so many laughs, so much adventure. I smile at the thoughts and think ahead to the future.
Another drink of sweet tea, the dew gradually evaporating from the grass in the morning breeze. I file one more broadhead and give it the shaving test. The hair falls clean, slick.
I put the arrows back into their quiver, each one in its own spot. I stare at the longbow I’ll be hunting with and my mind goes again to the past and I’m grateful for all the memories that bowhunting and the outdoors have provided me. I think of my friendships, my kids, my closest friends, my small circle and again I smile at the thought. I think of my recently passed pal and a lump forms in the back of my throat and my eyes mist just a bit. I glance at the cell phone lying on the swing next to me waiting for it to ring and to hear my friend’s voice on the other end.
The arrows are sharp and ready. The time will be near to put them to use, for their intended mission. The tea is gone and the dew has all but disappeared as the sun makes it rise into the sky. It’s time for me to get to work on something productive, but autumn, bowhunting and my friends are always in the back of my mind and soon enough it will be their time.
– David Hewitt