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COMMENTS BY KIM: Bowhunting more than a hunt

The state’s longest hunting season, deer with bow and arrow, is underway. I’ve had my bow tucked away for several years, but by no means forgotten. Several hunting seasons taught me a lot about bowhunting and archery.

First of all, there’s a lot of bowhunters who are far better at it than I ever was. Sure, I put in the time on the practice range and enjoyed every minute of it, but what bowhunting really teaches a hunter is that there are few things in life that can match what a bowhunter experiences in the field. It is so much more than what many thinks a “hunt” is.

I’ve watched a string of deer tightrope their way across a four-inch wide concrete dam, with water flowing over it, in the light of an evening sun. The scene is etched in my memory forever. Bowhunting is the reason I was in the field but those few minutes, watching those deer do something I’d never seen before, was a wonderful reward.

Another time I was sitting in a ground blind near a waterhole in the Badlands. It was a particularly hot day and I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of a mule deer buck that I knew was using the waterhole. Suddenly I was startled from my stillness by a loud sound overhead, very close overhead. So startled that I reacted with a quick turn of the head.

The source of the noise was the flapping of the wings, the sound of air passing through gliding wings, and the guttural chuckle of sage grouse, which was incredibly loud during an otherwide perfectly still evening. About a dozen of the big birds were coming in, very loudly, for water. As I watched them strut along the shore and dip their beaks into the pool for a drink another motion caught my eye.

Just off to the side of me, only a few yards away, was the mule deer buck I had been waiting for. Busted! My movement in reaction to the sage grouse invasion gave me away to the mule deer. He let out a grunt and quickly disappeared out of view.

Disappointed? For a few seconds, maybe. But I had just witnessed something few ever get to see. Another benefit to spending time in the field with bow in hand. Another memory I’ll never forget.

Bowhunters everywhere have similar experiences. Sometimes it can be small things too, such as watching a spider spin a web or a coyote teaching her pups how to catch grasshoppers. All these things are trophy events to a bowhunter, but you won’t find photographs of them on a cell phone or I-pad or album. They are personal memories more lasting than any picture could be.

Make no mistake, bowhunters like to be successful, it’s just that not all hunts can or should be judged by filling a tag and posing for a photograph.

Here’s another thing, anyone can do it. You don’t have to be a bowhunter, just take a few hours one morning or evening to seclude yourself in the outdoors. Listen. Look. The rewards will be all around you.

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