Archive for category hunting

You Have to Take a Shot or at Least Hit the Ball Over the Net

Up at 3:45 am to be settled in the woods before first light, which is now around 4:40. I am determined to harvest—don’t you love that politically correct word—a tom turkey eventually. One position, no movement for an hour, waiting for the birds to come out of the trees. I was about to give up…then my patience was rewarded: one lone hen flew down too far away. Still glad I out-waited her. Still glad I woke up so early.

In a nearby hayfield I called in three toms to my woods. (You make the sounds of a hen to appeal to the tom’s mating urge.) One approached my clucks curiously. He was only 25 yards away, but between two trees just two feet apart. There were lots of small branches to dodge between him and me. The opening might only have been a few inches. It would have to be a Robin Hood shot that only Kevin Costner can do in his movie. Licking the arrow feathers (the fletching) like Kevin did in the film might have helped. I decided to wait for a better shot. The bird turned away, and I never saw him again.

I should have taken what I had. I gambled and lost. How often do we do this in our lives? Wait for something that might be better? Girlfriends. Wives. Jobs. Business opportunities. So many times we pass up our chance for now and curse ourselves later when we realize what we missed

My first tennis coach said that you have to first hit the ball over the net. That is 50% of how you win the point. Even if it is a poor shot that your opponent smashes right past you for his winner. Hitting into the net is a sure loser.

Now no one hits into the net intentionally. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Week of Casual Conditioning—Frisbee, Tennis, Squash, Beach Running, Hiking After Turkeys

It’s been a busy week. I went to NY City last Wednesday (the 6th) to pick up my son from the end of his junior college year. I thought I could take it easy when we arrived home. However within five minutes of returning from my seven-hour round trip and unloading the car, I was “invited” to play Frisbee. Turns out my son wants to try out for the NYU Ultimate Frisbee team next fall and needs to practice. It was too good a chance to bond with my boy, so I re-learned how to throw and catch. I still have some bruises almost a week later.

After an hour of running after the spinning disc—no leaps, jumps and falls—I gave up and admitted I was tired. I had really been pushing hard and hoping he would want to stop first. In fact he played for another hour with his friend who happened to drop by shortly after I called it quits.

The next morning I was playing tennis doubles for 90 minutes, then an hour plus of practicing my spin serve with one person. My tennis game is really improving. Yet I am impressed that players who are not as good as I am overall are very comfortable correcting my game. And you know what—they often make good points, even if I think that I should be the one giving advice.

Then I fit in an hour of squash practice—mostly return of backhand serve. Read the rest of this entry »

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You Need to Keep on Exploring Even If You Keep Receiving Different Advice From Different “Experts”

Well it’s been a month, and I am still exercising and playing sports. Blogging—even just to myself, because I haven’t yet designed my web site—is forcing me to stay on track. And also knowing that I am going to go public puts some good pressure on me. I know that I am improving.

Yesterday I fired some arrows, lost one in the grass, missed the target lots of times…until I finally started hitting it. Later in the afternoon, I even scouted the farm I was going to hunt this morning, when the turkey season started for three weeks.

I woke up at 4:15, but it was raining pretty hard, so I went back to sleep—no fun sitting in the rain when it is 40 degrees. At 6:40 three toms (males) were gobbling in my garden 25 feet from the bedroom window! Sounded like they were laughing at my laziness and worries about a little rain—did I think I was going to melt? Didn’t that happen to one of those wicked witches in the Wizard of Oz?

Yesterday I also took another squash lesson, this time from the head coach at another prep school only 30 minutes away. Read the rest of this entry »

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Two Basic Life Lessons from the Bow and Arrow.

Some more thoughts about the importance of practicing correctly that come to mind when you use the bow and arrow. When you draw the arrow and string back, you should repeatedly place the same part of your hand that is holding the string on the same spot of your cheek. It is called the anchor point. That way for every shot, your eye is always looking at the target when there is a constant relationship among the bow, arrow, and the released arrow’s flight path.

My initial practice each season is out in the open, with nothing between me and the target. I am always kneeling, because that is how I will be positioned on the hunt. Once I am able to hit the target consistently—and I do this by finding the same anchor point for each shot—I change my location. I was smart enough all these years to realize that I had to be behind a tree when drawing the bow on a real turkey—if I drew out in the open, the bird would see the motion. So I’ve practiced shooting from behind a tree. First I draw slowly with maximum concealment. Then I lean over to the right, peering gradually to minimize my movement and still see my prey. And then I often miss the 3-D target and in the field the live bird.

What I noticed three days ago is that as I leaned over, I was not making sure that my hand was connecting with my anchor point. So my alignment was off, and I was shooting high and/or wide. Lots of frustration. But then I figured it out. Lesson to be learned: re-examine what might be going wrong when things aren’t going right. I have “only” been hunting with a bow for maybe eight years. No wonder I have taken just one bird in all that time.

The other technique I learned recently is that when shooting down at the bird from a higher elevation, like a hill, one should NOT aim based on the actual distance between me and the turkey. Pretend it is less, and shoot as if it is less.

I was complaining to an engineer friend of mine who bow hunts how often my arrows went over the bird’s back. Read the rest of this entry »

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What Hunters Like About Hunting

Was determined to reach the gym—need two more visits this month to make eight total. But also wanted to practice archery in preparation for the turkey-hunting season, which starts on May 6th. So at 6:30 pm, I went out to the life-size, three-dimensional rubber turkey target and fired off a few arrows for the first time since last fall.

The first two hit the bird; then I started missing. In the second group of eight arrows, only three hit the target. But by the end, 8/8 were in the turkey. This is really good for me. So I stopped and raced off to the gym, which stays open until 10 pm.

I learned how to hunt in Connecticut (many many men do it here) with a shotgun in the early 90’s. My neighbor used to own a hunting and fishing shop, and he introduced me to this aspect of rural life. I discovered that I loved the outdoors, the silence, the aloneness, the commune with nature, bumping into deer and coyotes and bobcats and many birds singing their different songs. I learned that I loved the taste of wild turkey, which is nothing like a domestically raised bird. I loved the challenge of finding the turkey, calling it in close with a noisemaker that simulates a real bird, hitting it, plucking it, gutting and dressing it and learning the different ways to cook it.

It’s all part of a hunting/gathering tradition that humans have known for thousands of years, and almost all city-folks are totally unaware of. I felt like I was connecting with my roots, my past, unknown ancestors and the present natural world at the same time. I must confess that I was such a city guy, so naive and uninformed about the outdoors, that I did not realize until I was 46 that birds had different sounding songs that could be used to identify them. Can you believe that? I am still astonished that I was so out of touch with Mother Nature. Read the rest of this entry »

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